Profile: Jayson Pearl, Chief Brand Officer at BrightStar Care

As chief brand officer at BrightStar Care, Jayson Pearl leads cross-functional teams responsible for marketing, clinical operations, and national account management for 275 locations. Pearl, who has served in this role for the past 18 months, has been with BrightStar since 2009 when he became vice president of marketing and franchisee onboarding. In that role, he led the implementation of a system-wide rebranding effort, the development of the BrightStart franchisee launch program, and the pilot program leading to Joint Commission accreditation of all U.S. BrightStar Care locations. He also served as senior vice president of the brand development group before assuming his present role.

With more than 25 years of franchising experience under his belt, Pearl is also familiar with franchise marketing and product development. He's had stints at San Jamar/Chef Revival, and he spent 15 years leading marketing and field operations for several large Burger King franchise groups and regional franchisor Rocky Rococo.

Describe your role.
As chief brand officer, I lead our corporate teams responsible for marketing, clinical operations, and national accounts. Formed as the brand development group, we're accountable for driving the leading metrics that result in incremental sales and profits. Our mission is to both grow and protect the BrightStar brand.

What's the most challenging part of your job today?
Creating a balance between investing to differentiate while ensuring franchisee buy-in and adoption of key initiatives. With a fast-growing brand in a rapidly changing industry, we are constantly calibrating our passion to lead, with the proper velocity of change for our owners.

What are the 3 most important keys to being an effective brand leader today?
I often tell my team members that to be a great marketer, you don't have to have all the answers--but you better have the best questions--so we:

  1. Listen to the voice of the families. We've been tracking our consumer experience of the seniors and children we serve since 2007 through client surveys that measure satisfaction on attributes that drive our Net Promoter Score. Correlating certain attributes that create Promoters to revenue impact creates a feedback loop for prioritizing initiatives, new clinical programs, and sharpening our marketing story.
  2. Listen to the voice of our franchisees. Great ideas and programs are only as great as their ability to be understood and easily executed with ROI achieved by our owners. We perform an independent franchisee survey every six months. Communication with our owners early and often on new programs and services is critical.
  3. Listen to the voice of our CEO and senior leadership team. Ensure that marketing initiatives and investments are aligned with our strategic plan and resources, while remaining agile to respond to new opportunities.

How do you measure marketing results and effectiveness?
In three ways: 1) performance metrics (including media direct response, lead generation, and conversion ratios, PR value with correlation of programs and campaigns to revenue increases); 2) franchisee feedback loop (independent and internal surveys on the value our team and investments are driving for their businesses); and 3) consumer sentiment (client and family feedback on our messaging, referral relationships, clinical expertise, and service touches through surveys and social listening).

Describe your marketing team and the role each plays.
Our internal team members act as both producers and leaders of social media, PR, creative production, local marketing toolkits, and service innovation. Their most important role is helping feed our high-performance culture with deep knowledge and accountability of their areas while being of service to our franchisees. They're also accountable to judge what can be done most efficiently with their own efforts versus sourcing work and additional expertise with our marketing vendor partners.

Discuss the importance of marketing having a "personal touch" in helping the brand connect with customers.
Consumers today have so many resources to learn about a brand before they click or call. In a business of serving seniors, children, and families at their time of need, the promises we make in our marketing have to reflect the truth of our service experience. Connecting to the emotional benefits sought by consumers helps us sharpen both our brand messaging and operational execution.

Are you using cloud technology? How?
One of the most exciting ways we're using cloud technology is through an online platform we developed for family caregivers called CareTogether. It's a free, private, secure online toolkit that gives consumers for asking for and coordinating family and community support for their loved one. We give them scheduling, journaling, photos, communication, and condition-specific educational materials. Families don't need to be a BrightStar client, but if they are the CareTogether system connects with our business system to provide a consolidated calendar for the family.

How do you work with other internal departments?
Does technology help? I believe that marketing work is group work. Our brand-building initiatives and projects have to be informed by financial, technology, operational, and regulatory considerations. It starts with creating a "project charter" that articulates the expected financial impact for our franchisees, the roadmap to make it happen and--most important--the measures of success to ensure accountability to our internal partners and franchisees. We create online work spaces for collaboration and documentation on our intranet, which allows us to manage access to resources between internal teams and franchisees involved in our task force initiatives.

How do you manage costs and budgets?
We begin the budget process for our general marketing fund as part of our annual strategic plan, calibrated against our 3- and 5-year goals for the brand. We are consistently looking at the most efficient use of dollars versus results--for example, balancing the deep knowledge and high service of our internal marketing team but pivoting to outside agencies when scale, external insight, or unique resources warrant. Last year, I developed a to provide visibility to the rest of our senior team on the key metrics these investments are driving. Our brand development dashboard is a way to look at impact and trends versus our goals. We review spending versus budget on a monthly basis and link expenses to performance.

How have marketing strategies/tools changed over the past decade?
How have you adapted? The most profound change I've seen in the past 10 years is the brand message being delivered by consumers along with marketers. If customers are writing reviews about your brand that are in conflict with your marketing claims, there's a problem. We see this as an opportunity to understand and engage with our clients, families, referral sources, and nurses and caregivers about what is most highly valued in our type of service. Then we're empowered to help the promoters for our brand, well, promote--and make improvements through marketing, training, or operations to any concerns we hear from brand detractors. As marketers, our ability to monitor and engage in customer conversations about our brands is a tremendous opportunity. The franchise concepts that are able to create a community of brand evangelists among their corporate team, franchisees, referral network, and front-line employees will win.

How is your marketing/branding strategy developed, and how does it flow through the system?
We're truly blessed with the active involvement of our co-founder and CEO, Shelly Sun. Shelly involves our senior team, corporate staff, and franchise community in the development of our strategic plan based on the vision she and JD (her husband) had when they started BrightStar 10 years ago--and that informs our 5-year vision and 3-year strategic plan. Our marketing plan is informed by the 3-year targets and is built on the initiatives that are consistent with Shelly's vision for market share, service offering, and brand portfolio for BrightStar over the next 5 to 10 years. Our sophistication for creating and sharing this plan within our system has become much sharper over the 4 years since I joined this amazing brand. In many ways, we're making strides in communication flow that one wouldn't expect from a system that's grown 3 times in size since 2009. Higher involvement with our franchisees at the front end of key projects, greater shared business intelligence data, and increased field experience from key personnel are just some of the ways we're making better decisions as a brand and providing toolkits and marketing to our franchisees that drive results.

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