CASE STUDY: Tennessee Oncology Branding and Marketing

Nashville is home to one of the largest, most innovative community-based cancer care networks in the U.S.

And no one knew it.


Tennessee Oncology treats more patients than nearby powerhouse Vanderbilt, and enrolls more patients in clinical trials than any other community-based oncology practice in the country. The 100+ physician practice grew steadily since its inception in 1976 by delivering quality cancer care, but invested little in its brand, relying almost exclusively on strategic partnerships and referrals for patient volume.

The practice wanted to increase and strengthen its regional brand awareness by distinguishing itself from its partners, and publicizing its many unique advantages.

The physicians themselves often carried name recognition among patients, and referral sources, but were often wrongfully associated with the hospital in which they practiced. The practice also held a close association with a nationally recognized research institute so patients would have access to cutting-edge clinical trials. These associations caused market confusion and in many ways obstructed Tennessee Oncology from exploiting its own identity.

Practice administrators and physician leaders chose LAM.AGENCY to help raise brand awareness, while maintaining important relationships with all its partners.


LAM.AGENCYLAM.AGENCY rebranding and marketing for Tennessee Oncology began by developing a new identity package to replace the outdated brand and represent a stronger look and feel that was commensurate with Tennessee Oncology’s dominant industry position. Signage was installed in more than 30 locations across Tennessee, including some in hospitals and medical centers where there previously was little to no brand visibility.

“Our patients sometimes didn’t even know they were being treated at a Tennessee Oncology clinic,” said Dr. Jeff Patton, CEO of Tennessee Oncology at the time. “Having appropriate signage and other branding in all our locations seems like a simple, easy solution, but we needed to work through the entire marketing strategy to move in that direction.”

LAM.AGENCY also developed and launched a new web presence with embedded YouTube videos and rich content to boost search engine optimization. All marketing efforts drove traffic to the new website.

Once the foundation was laid and the website was live, Tennessee Oncology launched an aggressive but cost-effective regional advertising and public relations campaign. All components of the campaign, including the website, revolved around three core messages.

  • expertise – delivering the best possible patient outcomes and the highest quality of oncology and hematology services
  • innovation – advancing the science of cancer care by developing innovative treatments and clinical trial participation
  • convenience – providing access to academic-level medicine in communities where people work and live

The media buy was limited primarily to Nashville, where Tennessee Oncology had the greatest challenges and opportunity to raise brand awareness among its target demographic patients, and a bevy of existing and potential referral sources. Nashville was also home to well-known competitors who aggressively marketed their oncology services. LAM.AGENCY began to build the Tennessee Oncology brand – and counter competitors’ efforts – with a heavy schedule of print and online ads in the most popular daily, business, and healthcare media outlets, and billboards in the highest traffic areas of downtown Nashville, which happen to be near the city’s two largest hospitals.

An aggressive PR campaign generated consistent media coverage in Nashville and other communities across the state. LAM.AGENCY used local physicians and real patient stories, where possible, to carry the Tennessee Oncology messages, place articles, pursue awards, coordinate special events, and position the practice as the area’s most comprehensive and innovative cancer care provider.

“Tennessee Oncology was in the news more than ever when we partnered with Lam.Agency. They consistently found ways to help us recognize our physicians, tell our patients’ stories, and increase our overall brand awareness. They are PR professionals who deliver impact and value,” said Patton.


By the second year of the campaign, Tennessee Oncology had added more than a dozen new physicians and expanded or relocated several clinic sites, accelerating its growth pattern while maintaining its independence as a physician-owned practice. The group also completed its first merger/partnership in several years, which brought on six additional physicians and extended its reach to Chattanooga and Northwest Georgia.

Tennessee Oncology’s growth and success is a direct result of its physicians, nurses and other colleagues who share a relentless pursuit of quality service, innovation, and the best possible patient outcomes.

Elevating the group’s public image gave them the recognition they had long deserved, and supported Tennessee Oncology’s strategic vision of giving all patients access to the highest quality of cancer care, close to home.

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