Category Archives: Marketing Creativity

Don’t Feed The Bad Wolf

My company, Cobblestones Consulting, provides hospitals and small healthcare organizations (SHCO’s) in India with non clinical solutions and services. We help clients shift the focus from the volume of services they provide—physician visits, hospitalizations, procedures, and tests—to patient outcomes achieved. We do this by working alongside the management team to align operations management to the achievement of their business objectives and facilitate the existing I.T set-up in the organization to be more user friendly and results driven. We work with our clients in three overlapping domains – Business Restructuring, Corporate Training and Market Research.

But this was not always my business focus. I am a blue chip market research professional & a national level, post graduate teacher of Marketing Strategy and Business Research, with two decades of experience. In 2013, I started my independent management consultancy firm in Pune, India, to provide businesses in India with Business Research, Marketing Strategy and Corporate Training services. We have worked with A-list national brands in both B2B and B2C domains as well as government departments and social organizations. The going was good.

In September 2016, I lost my father to medical negligence. As I was looking for the appropriate medical council to register my complaint, I was actively dissuaded from doing so by friends and family. The common perception about medical councils in India is that they favour doctors. Also, that it takes too long to get justice.

So I continued working as if all was well. But I was not at peace. When death takes your father, it doesn’t just steal that word forever. I felt as if a hole was shot straight through me, a painful constant reminder, an absence I could never fill. My life didn’t come with a manual. It came with Appa (my father).

They say the best antidote to grief is work. So in December 2016, I decided to carry out a small qualitative research study in Chennai, Delhi and Pune. Over 23 days, I conducted Depth Interviews in these cities, with 135 individuals, 15 doctors, 3 Board Trustee’s of large hospitals and 18 non-clinical health providers. I was looking to understand “The Perception Of Doctors Among Lay People”. For my own peace of mind and to understand why my father had to needlessly die. What I discovered was grim.

The growing numbers of people that dissed medical doctors for lack of empathy, for their condescending attitude in the face of distressed caregivers desperately seeking more information, was astounding. Most doctors were perceived to be experts in their own silos with a microscopic understanding of the microcosm they work on in the human body. This was a community which was perceived to possess little to no understanding of holistic health, nor the understanding of the nuances of what it means to be human. People believed doctors viewed common people, folks like you and me, as preserved tissue samples in formaldehyde jars that they dealt with in their medical schools. Or worse, like walking ATM machines. This was a species that lived in a cloistered world seeped in arrogance. Forgetting that while they were soaking in an enormous amount of pressure, India was quietly changing.

A little more diligent investigation led to unearthing the most common types of complaints against doctors. In order of magnitude these are – death due to medical negligence, lack of communication, unnecessary treatment and allegations against doctors, fake degrees, issuance of false certificates.

Rich Doctor

So what next? Something had to be done.

Who would tell the doctors that the India of today was all about I.C.E – Information. Communication. Engagement.

From the banking sector to media houses, from the commercial bourses to government ministries, in India, it is all about I.C.E. Doctors can no longer get away without explaining the nuances of their prognosis to the masses. With mobile apps like Health Tracker and web portals like WebMD and PubMed at our finger tips, we know what we need to know. And if overworked medics cannot give us a reasonable and comprehensive explanation regarding the line of treatment, they’ll get lynched.

The situation had to be remedied.

So I decided to do what I do best. I put my money where my talk was. When your parent dies at the hands of a doctor, all of what they stood for and lived by begins to fall into place. I could remain angry and bitter about my dad’s needlessly early passing, but life has taught me that the opposite of anger is not calmness. It is empathy. I was always a quick learner!

If I learnt anything from Appa (my father), it was how to be the solution. Not just a small part of it! So I took stock of the situation. In my dipstick study, I had discovered what ails the medical fraternity in India. Rather than painting the entire medical world in shades of black, I decided to use my talents to facilitate their operations.

In 2017, I decided to offer my expertise to the medical world for managing their non clinical solutions and services. Leaving the doctors free to focus on what they do best. Treating people in discomfort, pain and duress. So far, this has proved to be a win-win situation for both the medics and me.

I was able to get three large corporate hospitals, two large public hospitals and four small multi-specialty clinics as clients last year. I worked closely with them to grow their business exponentially, through developing targeted business strategies, data management competencies and operational excellence that was aligned to their overall business goals.

And in doing so I learnt more about Indian doctors and what they feel, than they care to reveal.  I had underestimated how difficult it is to work at an Indian hospital and try to maintain either sanity or compassion. That however, is a story for another post.

** Don’t feed the bad wolf. Replace your judgement with kindness and your fear with curiosity **

Image Source:

The Flying McCoys Comic Strip, May 05, 2014 on



Quality Healthcare.

This word is such a misnomer. But how often have you heard it bandied about by providers of clinical care and solutions? Far too many times for this to even register as an anomaly, correct?

Why is this word so overused in communication by healthcare providers in India?

It reflects a rather weak understanding of patient perception. It’s just like those pesky ads that you see and smirk at! The ones shouting “FREE OFFER” or “BEST PRICES” or “SALE”.

When patients approach a healthcare provider, it is because they know they will be betting the best treatment, hopefully within their budget. Spelling it out as “QUALITY HEALTHCARE” reeks of either condescension or ignorance on the part of healthcare marketers.

In the competitive market for clinical services and solutions in India, what sells is proven competence, a consistent success rate, best in-class treatment facilities, patient-centric care and transparent billing. All else is just noise. Or like we Indians like to call it, garam hawa (hot air).

At Cobblestones Consulting, we help providers of healthcare solutions and services deliver consistently profitable and sought-after programs by following our advice E.A.R.L.Y.©. We tailor these programs around how clients consider and choose a healthcare provider.

At the most generic level, we get our clients to highlight the following in their brand communication and healthcare delivery:

E – Easily accessible healthcare facility

A – Affordable care – insurance-friendly, practical (need-based, not billing-based) and care-driven (not caregiver-driven)

R – Rigorous clinical protocol followed in every case

L – Legal in terms of compliance with norms of the government, local area corporation, statute and insurance

Y –  Yearly cost-benefit organizational review of performance, processes and people centred around patient satisfaction criteria

The key to succeeding in the healthcare market in india is simple. Keep your communication direct, keep your healthcare delivery low-cost and world-class, keep your billings transparent and don’t underestimate the native understanding and jugaad-tendency of your target audience.

Sure, you offer ‘QUALITY HEALTHCARE”. Got that. But if you need to say it out loud, then you’ve already lost the war for the client’s consideration even before you sounded out the battle cry!

Sounds like something you’d like to do for your organization?

Reach out to us.

You will be helped to move away from a supply-driven health care system organized around what physicians do and toward a patient-centered system organized around what patients need. We will help you shift the focus from the volume of services provided—physician visits, hospitalizations, procedures, and tests—to the patient outcomes achieved.  Our final goal is to help you become a leading local health care provider with a system in which services are concentrated in your health-delivery organization, in the right location with the necessary conditions to deliver high-value care.

– Priya Ramachandran, Founder & Principal Consultant


Mugdha Gulavni Nirmal,
Partner & Consultant


Rise & Slay

Retaining customers in the digital age is literally a walk in the P.A.R.K.

Its actually that simple! 

At Cobblestones Consulting, we work with clients in fields as diverse as healthcare, B2B, nanotechnology and B2C to offer them strategy insights based on robust market research.

Our P.A.R.K. model of customer engagement helps our clients leverage their business strengths to attract-retain-monitor-measure and amplify carefully selected customer segments.

The model in a nutshell is as follows:


If you want to be a resource to your customers instead of a sales pitch, reach out to us in the comments section to this post. We’d be glad to serve  you!

**A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all **

PM Modi’s Third Marketing Mantra – CREATE

You have decided to enter the Indian market, much encouraged by the initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. You have engaged the consumer, segmented the and market and now stand poised to take the next step, when media gets buzzing with the GST bill. In the fast changing Indian markets, this is just a reminder to you.

GST = Get your Strategy Together!

A very important third step in Modi’s Marketing Manual is CREATE. Read about it more at

Create like Modi - 1

Case in Point:

The Prime Minister is a firm believer in the power of technology. Since taking office in May 2014 the Prime Minister has sought to increase the usage of technology in the working of the Government. He launched the Digital India initiative, an all-encompassing programme, to invigorate the working of the government with latest technology and provide solutions to people’s problems through the power of technology. The Prime Minister has started a unique initiative PRAGATI, a technology based multi-purpose and multi-nodal platform where projects are monitored and people’s problems are addressed. On the last Wednesday of every month, the Prime Minister himself sits down with top officials during the PRAGATI sessions and covers substantial ground in a wide range of sectors. This has made a very positive difference in the lives of many Indians.

Like PM Modi, do you have an  Automation, Technology & Engagement Strategy (A.T.E. Strategy) in place to capture a large market share?

Here are a couple of pointers to get you started:

Create like Modi - 2

It is common knowledge that the proven channels that helps businesses top the ranks in digital marketing ROI and which offer them a cost-effective way of reaching out to customers are, email marketing, closely followed by social media listening. Automation technologies for data storage and sharing as well as for measurement & analytics can help businesses perform better and deliver results no one expected.

Do you have an integration mechanism ready for this in your marketing strategy?

Create like Modi - 3

Navroz Mubarak, peeps. May this New Year be filled with success, prosperity & happiness.


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