Springtime in Atlanta is best known for three things: perpetual pollen, colorful flora and enjoying our large, wraparound front porches. For health IT marketing and public relations professionals, spring is widely recognized as a season to learn, network and celebrate at the Health IT Marketing Conference (HITMC). Agency Ten22 has sponsored and attended HITMC for six years running. Every year brings new knowledge, additional connections and greater health IT insights.
My personal reveal at this year’s event was hearing the likes—and dislikes—of health IT buyers. Thursday’s customer panel included the perfect blend of CIO, CMIO and MD insights. These panelists collectively shared what works, and what doesn’t work, in health IT marketing. Here are three important takeaways.
Treat Me with Respect
Healthcare executives are busy professionals. Vendors must respect their position, inboxes, intelligence and responsibilities. A single instance of vendor disrespect could lead to decades of buyer dismissal for your company, products and services.
Panelists provided a few excellent examples of how marketing and sales professionals can ruin a company’s reputation in a single blow.
- Assume I have time to meet with you: Never suggest a time to meet via a cold email, call or voicemail. My schedule is more important than yours—always.
- Spell my name wrong or in a different font: Mass email messages blasted out to hundreds of prospects are the nemesis of health IT buyers. If you get my name wrong, you land on my junk list.
- Fail to provide anything of value: If you are going to send me an email, please include something of value. Case studies, white papers, infographics, educational videos and best-practice checklists are all good ideas and will garner my appreciation.
- Use my personal cell phone for text messages: Only text-message me if we have an established relationship and I’ve given you permission to do so.
Know About Me
All providers are not the same. Before sending a pitch or including a healthcare executive in campaigns, vendors should target their efforts. A solid academic medical center case study will be immediately rejected by rural hospital buyers. Likewise, if your solution works best in medical groups and physician clinics, don’t even try to contact the CMIO of a multi-hospital health system. Here are a few more tips recommended by the HITMC panel:
- Learn about my personal interests, associations and memberships: Use common experiences as a starting point for the conversation.
- Introduce yourself at events or connect through mutual contacts on LinkedIn: Show up in real life and use personal referrals versus cold email campaigns or telemarketing.
- Research industry databases to know which solutions I’m looking for: Don’t pitch me on a technology or service that we just implemented.
Show Up in the Industry
Panelists agreed on one very important piece of the health IT marketing and PR puzzle: Thought leadership in the healthcare industry matters. Vendors that share their knowledge and customer success through published media interviews, bylined articles, contributed columns and speaking sessions are more effective in reaching healthcare buyers.
Another important channel for established vendors to engage is KLAS. The HITMC panelists review KLAS research reports when making purchase decisions—especially when considering an established health IT vendor. If your company is a startup, participation in KLAS is less important. Buyers understand it takes a substantial number of customers to participate in KLAS research, something newly formed innovators won’t yet have.
Have Fun on a Budget
The last nugget of wisdom shared by the panel was to make marketing fun. Panelists appreciate a little humor along with information and education from health IT vendors. Marketeers were encouraged to post informal videos on a YouTube channel or use paid LinkedIn promotions. While over-the-top, costly mail campaigns were frowned upon, a fun video shared around the office could be an instant winner in the lead generation game.
My own personal recommendation for health IT marketing and PR professionals is to attend HITMC20. The conference is jam packed with important information to improve your campaigns and appeal to the health IT buyer.
HITMC is like a big Southern front porch—fun, welcoming and relaxing all at the same time. Join the fun by following the HITMC community, joining a twitter chat or receiving the group’s weekly updates.