6 questions with: Blair Primis of Flagship Specialty Partners

Blair Primis shares his mantra that encourages teams to reject the status quo and think outside the box.

Blair Primis, the chief marketing officer at Flagship Specialty Partners, has a distinguished 20-year marketing career. Primis has a gift for establishing successful creative teams in and out of healthcare. Over the past 14 years, he has led marketing, communications, content, creative, and event teams in the private practice sector, leveraging his expertise in both the demand and growth sides of marketing to develop a results-driven strategy for practices within the Flagship platform.

We caught up with Primis to get his take on the future of the communications industry.

 What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing?

A marketing career was actually not in my playbook! When I began my job hunt after college, I interviewed across industries and disciplines, looking for a job, not the job. Yet what truly excited me was the energy, creativity, and passion for brands I discovered while interviewing with McCann-Erickson (now McCann). When I accepted a media supervisor position there, I didn’t realize that this would help define my career in marketing, but I’m glad it did! I also worked in marketing at McDonald’s early in my career, which I credit as the place I received my on-the-job MBA. Being immersed in one of the world’s most universally recognized brands ignited my passion for building brands beloved by consumers, a passion that continues to guide me today.

 What’s your favorite underrated tool or software?

 There are a few I’d say. In no particular order, I find Semrush for analytics and Monday.com for workflow management to be very valuable. Specific to my role today, my team and I are thrilled with our partners at Liine and Intersect Technologies. They both have proven to be insightful software tools and outcome, action-based platforms.

What’s a memorable moment or project that defined your career?

Before becoming CMO of Flagship Specialty Partners, a healthcare management services organization for oral surgery practices, I was in a similar role at OrthoCarolina, one of the largest orthopedic practices in the U.S. When I began working there, it was a daunting challenge to brand orthopedics, especially because healthcare was not then – nor is it now – a traditional consumer-facing industry. The private practice specialty marketing playbook our team developed demonstrated how a healthcare brand can be recognized for being a part of people’s lives, even when it’s not needed 24/7. This work led me to my current role at Flagship Specialty Partners, where we are focused on recalibrating how consumers understand the oral healthcare specialty, including the positive role management services support plays, and why it’s imperative to seek an oral surgeon’s care.

 How do you balance creativity and strategy in your communication efforts? 

The healthcare system in the U.S. poses the greatest challenge of our time. Creativity and strategy go hand-in-hand when solving this challenge — solving it demands fresh thinking as we explore how we think about and consume healthcare. Balancing creativity and strategy requires being open to innovative ideas, a willingness to try new things — however crazy they seem — and testing an idea’s effectiveness, even when it doesn’t make sense at the outset. I like to think that my “let’s try it” mantra encourages my teams to reject the status quo, think outside the box, and move the needle on our strategies and outcomes.

What role has mentorship played in your career development?

 Being mentored by marketers and healthcare leaders I look up to has taught me the importance of building authentic relationships and championing my team’s knowledge, skills, and ideas. Through mentorship, I learned to hire brilliant people who are smarter than me and guide them to become expert healthcare marketers. As Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do.” Like Apple’s visionary leader, I work hard to hire smart people so they can tell us what to do! This is the key to driving revenue, as well as becoming a relevant and beloved brand. It also ensures Flagship Specialty Partners will create value, viability, stability, and long-term sustainability for our partners.

Can you recall a humorous or unexpected experience from your career journey?

 Not only did I not know I wanted to be a marketer, but the fact that marketing the Golden Arches with McDonald’s is part of my journey is something I still find unexpected. This experience continues to guide me today and my passion for building brands beloved by consumers.

Isis Simpson-Mersha is a conference producer/ reporter for Ragan. Follow her on LinkedIn.


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