Vital Decisions: A Startup Re-boots

A fast-moving healthcare startup asked us to help them slow down and focus.


Vital Decisions (VDI) assists patients facing difficult, often terminal health diagnoses, providing telephone counseling that culminates in the development of an Advance Care Plan. VDI sells their services to health plans, who offer it free to members.

Our Marketing Audit included secondary market research, interviews with current and lost prospects, internal interviews/assessments, participation in sales/client meetings and trade shows, regular consults with the CEO/CMO.

The company’s positioning was muddied and inconsistent, feeling more technical than human, and didn’t reflect a first to market leader in a new category. Their marketing was deemed “difficult to wade through” by busy health plan senior executives who spend most days in tightly booked meetings with vendors making similar claims.


Our Strategic Plan recommended a ground up marketing rebuild, starting with a new positioning that capitalized on the Master’s level behavioral therapists who do the bulk of VDI’s patient interventions. We tapped into a powerful customer insight that recognized the specialized nature of addressing complex family systems near the end of life.

“I have 4000 nurse case managers” said one health plan Chief Medical Officer, “and very few can do this.”

A refreshed Corporate ID was introduced to reflect a more contemporary image, and a Brand Standards guide issued to ensure consistency over time.

Sales Materials brought the new position to life, creating a visual/language library that could be used in a variety of sales/marketing settings.

The Consumer-facing website was redesigned to reflect VDI’s deep compassion for patients, and be responsive in all digital platforms.

A new Thought Leadership Program, broadcast in print, digital and social channels affirmed VDI’s unique expertise.

Client Case Studies were updated to deliver more robust patient updates at monthly client progress reporting sessions.

With a new position and marketing foundation in place we then developed a comprehensive Retention Roadmap, an account-based marketing process to increase the frequency and quality of interactions with VDI’s high value clients.

The Roadmap included Client Satisfaction Interviews to determine current perceptions of VDI services and opportunities for improvement.

Account management Personnel Assessments were conducted to capitalize on strengths and consider new hires to augment current staff/capabilities.

Detailed Account Profiles were created to serve as the basis for monthly Key Account SWOT discussions and keep teams on task.

A yearly Key Account Calendar was developed to ensure VIP client constituencies each received a consistent level of attention.

An Executive Dashboard was created to give senior clients up to the minute ROI reporting, collapsing a cumbersome quarterly analysis into 9 easily digested KPI’s.


VDI is growing fast and has expanded nationally, opening three new offices in the past year. Client retention is excellent and they are poised for significant growth.