The creator of a new and well-financed consumer site for individuals and families looking for addiction treatment also grew highly successful sites in the automotive and insurance industries. He has already has seen significant differences in the addiction field where he now focuses.
“As soon as we've told people that we are a marketing firm, we felt we were the leopard in the room,” says Jason Brian, 27, who runs West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Redwood Recovery Solutions and is launching the website 1-800 Addicts. “I've never encountered a reaction like this. It's almost as if we want to come up with a different word for 'marketing.'”
Brian hopes 1-800 Addicts, which is being formally announced this week, will prove to be a productive alternative for treatment facilities and a public that both have arguably suffered harm from ethically questionable marketing practices in the industry. The site will allow treatment centers “that meet certain ethical and business practices,” according to a news release announcing the launch, to acquire qualified calls from individuals seeking treatment, although Brian says the access will be spread across numerous centers so that no facility obtains a dominant presence via the site.
“There really isn't an unattached site out there anymore,” says Brian, referring to the recent acquisition of Recovery Brands by treatment chain American Addiction Centers (AAC), a deal that has generated significant speculation about the impact on referral patterns.
The business model for Redwood does rely, however, on facilities paying to receive treatment leads, which prominent leaders in the treatment field consider among the ethical challenges that have plagued the industry.
These are among the provisions listed in the code of ethics posted on the 1-800 Addicts website: “We commit to truthful representation of ourselves and our clients to callers seeking treatment and treatment facilities. We will not intentionally mislead or misdirect any client or caller," and “We commit to working only with treatment facilities that practice and uphold commonly accepted ethical standards, and provide the best medical care available.”
Brian adds that his organization looks into whether participating centers have any pending litigation over care issues, and says it also intentionally targets accredited facilities for participation.
Consumer-focused content about addiction and recovery also will be a major priority for Redwood with 1-800 Addicts, as around 15% of the monthly budget for the operation will support acquisition of content (much of it contributed by field experts) designed to enhance its credibility in the industry and its search rankings.
Maryland-based digital marketing firm Dreamscape Marketing is building the 1-800 Addicts site through a standard vendor relationship, with 300 pages created so far and an anticipated total of 1,200 by Oct. 1, says Brian.
Brian projects that the typical user of 1-800 Addicts will be farther along in the process of investigating treatment options than someone who may be responding in an impulse buying sort of way to a media ad. Redwood, established in 2014, will continue to operate the TreatmentCalls.com site as a separate entity to the new site. The Redwood team includes former Unity Recovery Group CEO James Hull, who serves as Redwood's vice president of operations.
Brian says consumers generally have been unaware of some of the marketing practices that have been highly scrutinized within the treatment industry. He says he has been somewhat surprised by the undertone of the discussion, including as it affects the kinds of business propositions that an organization fielding a high volume of consumer calls might receive.
“From a consumer's perspective, I'm finding that identifying good intentions from treatment centers is more difficult than I imagined it to be,” says Brian.
He wants to offer a shared advertising platform in which smaller treatment organizations can have a role that is as meaningful to them as larger organizations' presence is to them. “Here, someone with a budget of $15,000 can compete with someone who has a million and a half,” he says.
Brian's previous work, in which around one-third of overall consumer web search traffic in automobile sales, auto finance and insurance products was coming through his sites, earned him recognition in a 2011 Forbes piece titled How to Make a Million Dollars Before You Graduate.