Podcasts   //   January 16, 2020

Ro’s Will Flaherty: TV advertising gives you legitimacy

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Roman launched in 2017 with a specific mission: Treating erectile dysfunction online, with doctor consultations and medication delivered right to customers.

The company has raised $176 million in funding. It’s also changed its name to Ro and turned Roman into just one of the the brands it owns, expanding its telemedicine offerings to also tackle nicotine addiction (with a brand called Zero), perimenopausal conditions (Rory) and more.

“We really realized that we had built a platform that could treat and serve far greater needs than just that one condition area,” said Will Flaherty, the company’s vp of growth, on the Modern Retail Podcast.

Flaherty talked about how Ro’s differentiation lies in service over product, why TV is central to its strategy and more.

Here are a few highlights from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

Service is the deal-maker
“Because the product is a commodity in many respects, service is our one area where we can meaningfully differentiate. When we think about the quality and responsiveness of our physicians, our customer care team, speed and discretion of shipping and packaging, those are things we’ve really leaned more heavily into as we’ve gotten off the ground and continue to really value and put a lot of time and effort behind. That’s where we can put some competitive space between us and the rest of the pack.”

Juxtaposition with big brand ads helps you fake it until you make it
“When we’re advertising the World Series, it’s an ad of us and Geico and Bud Light. All these national brands that everyone knows, and just the adjacency to that, it seems kind of crazy and it’s not very quantifiable, it’s hard to gauge, but I think we’ve gotten a lot of value out of that. And a lot of the traditional logic would say ‘don’t do this,’ and when you look at the performance metrics of doing maybe a more high profile TV advertising, the initial metrics of ‘how many visitors come to the site and what was the cost?’ It’s not going to look as strong. And you have to almost embrace this more difficult, murky environment and hope for the best. And we certainly saw good results from it.”

Advertising in the off-season
“We’re fortunate that we can take advantage of times when other brands are not as active — considering that the November and December periods are generally, from a behavioral standpoint, times when people don’t do as much in the healthcare space in terms of taking care of themselves. They’re thinking about others. As January rolls around of course they start thinking about going to the gym and taking care of their health. So we’re somewhat fortunate that we can be active when others are a little more passive on these platforms.”

Facebook’s CAC problem
“We’re in a bit of a different situation than maybe others largely because of the breadth of our audience. We’re fortunate that we’re not going after just a 20 to 30-year-old customer. Now, we still reach plenty of those folks, [but] I wouldn’t say we have experienced the same cataclysmically challenging environment on Facebook that maybe others have reported.”