Discovery health success – 4 Entrepreneur Lessons

Discovery health success – what Entrepreneurs can learn from the success

Discovery Health Success – An inspiration to many South African Business owners, the success of a large South African company is seen as admirable by many local business owners and rightfully so. The Discovery Health success has become the basis for innovation in a stale industry. The vision of Adrian Gore enabled the business to turn the health, insurance and financial industry on its head.

Adrian Gore Graduated with bachelor’s degree in actuarial science in 1986 from University of the Witwatersrand and ended his employment from Liberty Life 1991 just in time for the Launch of Discovery Health in 1992 for which he is still the CEO.

As far as I understand it, Adrian Gore presented a few innovations to Liberty Life whilst employed and these innovations were turned down as the insurance industry just didn’t operate in that manner.

Discovery Health and Adrian Gore, The Business Interruptor

I see Adrian Gore as one of the first interrupters of out time, maybe second to Elon Musk and his PayPal innovation. The Discovery Health mission became to make people healthier so that more sustainable insurance could be offered. Boy was Adrian right.

This seemingly simple innovation flipped the insurance industry on its head and many other companies have since followed suit. Discovery Health has been on an upward trend almost ever since inception. The looming National Health Insurance disaster may even benefit the company in the long run as Adrian Gore has predicted.

Discovery health has many accolades under their belt and the fact that they are so successful should inspire South African entrepreneurs from all walks of life, different industries and niches to realise that success is within their reach.

Entrepreneurial success

Entrepreneurial success comes in many forms. We don’t all need to be another Discovery Health but we need to base success on our goals and the capacity the market has for our products and services.

Here are 4 lessons we can learn about Entrepreneurial Success


1 – Reevaluate your business model

As defined on Wikipedia:

“A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value,[2] in economic, social, cultural or other contexts. The process of business model construction and modification is also called business model innovation and forms a part of business strategy.”

In short, what you sell and to whom you sell it, how and what you charge and how you promote and profit from your products and services.

The basic premise is buying low and selling at a higher margin that is substantial enough to cover costs and generate an overall profit.

[bctt tweet=”A successful business model will carry a business through daily operations delivering profit each financial year. This is usually based on the value component clients perceive from interacting with the business.” username=”marketmagnet”]

Your business model should be revisited on a regular basis to ensure that you keep delivering value and that clients keep buying. The best way to keep your business in profit is by identifying ways of encouraging repeat business. Getting clients to buy from you on a regular basis will be a real testament to the value you provide and the willingness of clients to spend their money with you.

2 – Don’t let past habits hinder future growth

A while back I was on a marketing consultation with a Volkswagen dealership and we were exploring new creative marketing ideas. I presented what I believed was a really good set of marketing and promotional campaigns. At the end of it, the Dealer Principal boldly said, “I don’t know why we should do these, we have been selling this way for the past 40 years… Why should we change now?” I responded by saying,” 40 years of experience has got you to where you are today but things are vastly different from 5, 10 or 15 years ago. No change in strategy for 40 years is exactly why you should run these campaigns.” Fortunately, I was asked to run the campaigns on their behalf.

We firstly tackled a new mindset as thinking outside of the 40-year-old box was imperative to the success of the new campaigns. After we implemented the first campaign and gained decent traction the team was fully on board. We ran a years worth of mostly successful campaigns and generated a whopping 58 000 leads!

Unfortunately, I was not asked to be involved in the sales side of the campaign and therefore I cannot track the sales results of all those leads but I suspect that the correct follow-up procedures were not followed correctly. I think 40 years of habit crept back into the sales team and they returned back to the old way of doing things. Back in the day, customers would walk into the car dealerships to research and test drive cars. Today, people research online and buy the car that appeals to them and the dealership facilitates the paperwork. This is very different from the past.

In a similar way, the insurance industry operated in an archaic manner which is what Discovery Health changed.

3 – Keep Innovating for differentiation and client engagement

Product and service innovation are two obvious differentiation areas however, it may not always be possible. Innovating your brand, marketing approach, sales cycle, delivery and after-sales service will definitely make you stand out above the competition. This is an ongoing process of observation and optimisation. Take a careful look at your competitors’ approaches and see how you can improve your approach.

Let’s unpack your innovation potential to help you market your business:


Knowing that there is far more to a brand thank a pretty logo, if your brand promise is structured to build confidence in your company and industry then you will start building your longterm success. In the beginning and still to today, Discovery Health leads the pack as their operation and brand promise aligns well. This is, “To make people healthier and enhancing and protecting lives.”

Make sure your brand, your brand promise support the products and service you deliver.

Marketing Approach

Presuming that you know your niche and where your clients spend their time, place your marketing there. Discovery Health knows that making people healthy and enhancing lives means spending time in a stress-free environment, away from work and out of the office. This is why discovery is very involved in sporting and outdoor actives. They have created a culture that says being healthy and fit is good and so now they meet their customers where they are at: in the gym, on the bike or in the pool. Where are your customers? Meet them there…

Sales Cycle

The sales cycle will differ from business to business so you will need to optimise your sales strategy for your unique situation. The trick is to know what your customer needs and when. How much attention do they need prior to signing the deal and how much is too much. There is no doubt that some sales cycles are long but shortening the sales cycle as much as possible will aid your cashflow and deliver efficiency. The insurance sales cycle can be summed up like this:

1 – Insurance assessment

2 – Product matching

3 – Offer

4 – Signing

This process generally takes a week or two and you have a life policy that promises many benefits if you die, retire or become injured. The insurance industry has mastered a quick sales cycle for a complex sale. Make sure your sales cycle aligns to the value and complexity of your offer.


Delivery of insurance products seems simple enough on the surface is I will not go into the complexities we don’t see as customers because from a customers perspective it doesn’t matter as long as you are covered or get paid out.

Work out the best delivery experience for your customers.

Same day delivery with a smile… Go the extra mile and make the completion of the deal as pleasurable as possible for your customer.

After Sales Service

After-sales service is an area where most businesses struggle. The deal is done, the money has been paid, why should anymore be done? LIFETIME VALUE is the answer.

[bctt tweet=”You want the client to buy from you again and again as well as recommend you to others.” username=”marketmagnet”] Deliver the best after-sales service possible and with a smile…

In my opinion, the insurance industry is particularly bad at this and I would say that it is at the broker level where this goes wrong.

Generally, you only hear from your broker when you call them to change something or a new broker investigated your affairs and your old broker gets a notification. That is when they call and say that they see someone else is looking into your policies and suggest a meeting to review. To me, that is too late… Brokers receive generous commissions and should proactively look after their clients.

4 – If possible, Tackle new territories and cross border markets

The innovative products on offer by Discovery Health have captivated the UK and American markets. Your products may or may not have such reach, either way, how far afield can you spread? Different city or Town, Province or just across the border? In the last couple of years, I have ventured out of South Africa and although apprehensive at first, I am finding success servicing countries as far off as Australia, Pakistan and Zambia.

Don’t let local market saturation hinder your growth. There are many low-cost methods of expanding to new territories. Think about licensing, distributorship, divisions or branches that will represent your brand to new markets.

We can learn a vast amount of business wisdom from companies like Discovery Health and their visionary CEO Adrian Gore. Take what you can from their mistakes and experiences and implement the value of the lessons learnt into your business.

If you need help implementing cutting edge marketing and sales strategies into your business contact me and I will take you through our free marketing and sales assessment where you will discover the hidden marketing assets in your business that will help you grow without wasting money on advertising.