This chat will focus on “Sponsored Content in Healthcare Marketing” and is hosted by John Lynn from Healthcare Scene. One of the most popular topics discussed at the Health IT Marketing and PR Conference is sponsored content. As healthcare marketing has evolved, most organizations are evaluating sponsored content as a part of their larger PR and marketing strategy. However, it’s a challenge to know how to do sponsored content effectively. Join us for this Twitter chat to discuss your experience with sponsored content and learn from other people’s insights.
Now for the 5 topics we’ll be discussing: T1: Why do you do sponsored content or not do sponsored content? #HITMC
T2: What are the keys to doing sponsored content effectively? #HITMC
T3: What benefits have you seen from doing sponsored content? #HITMC
T4: Is it better to create the content on your own or outsource the content? Why? #HITMC
T5: Where are the best sponsored content opportunities? #HITMC
Bonus: What’s the right balance between sponsored, earned and owned media? #HITMC
This is the first in a two-part series addressing the user-generated questions that were posed during the “unconference” session focused on content at last month’s Health Care IT Marketing and Communications Conference (HITMC). I asked session facilitator Don Seamons of Lumeno Marketing to join me in sharing his answers to each question in his own words. We hope this leads to further discussion, especially for those who were unable to attend the session.
The 2016 HITMC in Atlanta served up two days of excellent education and networking. Cases in point:
Both of us learned a great deal from an “unconference” session on health IT content marketing. Don facilitated an hour-long discussion on content marketing that included about 75 people from across the HITMC spectrum.
The unconference session was jump-started by 11 topics/questions written by HITMC attendees on a poster throughout the show. Don facilitated the session and Jared shared some opinions, but we agreed there was more we wanted to say on these topics. So, through the good graces of John Lynn, our opinions are published for you below. We’d love to see your opinions in the comments section.
1. How is accountable care changing IT marketing?
Don: This is an intriguing question. I can’t say with certainty that accountable care changed the way we market health IT, but it did come to the forefront of the health care industry at about the same time that content marketing was starting to take hold of the marketing profession. Before the Affordable Care Act was passed, not many people in the health care industry understood — or even knew about — the concept of accountable care or its corollary: value-based care. Because it was an unknown, health care organizations were able to shape the thinking around this critical topic through content such as white papers, eBooks, infographics, case studies, videos, etc. Instead of becoming a top-down exercise, opinion was shaped from the bottom up. And as a result, many industry experts who happen to be employed by private for-profit and not-for-profit businesses are seen by the market as thought leaders. That helped build the brand of the organizations for which these experts work, and, at least from my perspective, showed health IT businesses that content marketing works.
Jared: As a result of consumerism in health care being accelerated (not caused) by the ACA, health IT vendors can gain a competitive advantage and position themselves more strongly by adding the voice of the patient in their marketing. While everyone says that they are focused on patients, few actually include the voice of patient advocates and end users in their marketing because it requires moving away from discussing their products or services. Consider learning more about the Society for Participatory Medicine or looking to well-established patient advocates such as Linda Stotsky, Casey Quinlan, “e-Patient Dave” deBronkart, Bernadette Keefe, Hugo Campos and others to better understand what patients truly are demanding from health IT.
2. Is the press release extinct?
Don: There’s a place for the press release in health IT marketing, and there likely always will be. Although the media industry is in flux, journalists and editors still function as gatekeepers to audiences we want to reach. So, here are a few suggestions to keep press releases viable:
Have something to say. Press releases have a well-deserved reputation for being uninteresting. Don’t waste your time on something unimportant to your audience.
Write well. Nothing bugs an editor more than poorly constructed sentences, spelling errors or grammatical fails.
Remember the long tail: If your only purpose for writing the release is to get your corporate keywords on “the wire” and drive search engine traffic, you may think you can get by with a shabby release. But words get read by people, not just bots, and they reflect on your brand forever once they’re online.
Note: The press release as a means for driving Google juice is getting less effective as SEO turns more to social media as a means of assessing relevance.
Jared: The press release still has its place, but not in the same way. The strategy of bombarding media contacts with a steady stream of press releases about your company’s awesomeness is no longer the pipeline to media coverage and is obsolete at best. “Corporate” announcements such as winning industry awards, landing big health systems as clients or hiring a new CIO can still strengthen your brand, but only in smaller doses. The competitive advantages goes to firms that learn how to sprinkle press releases in with a strong presence of engaging content and sharing with influencers.
Don: To gate (put content behind a “gate” via a web form) or not to gate (give away content in the hopes that it will be seen by more people)? That is the question. I say do it. For sure. It’s the means by which modern B2B marketing works. You can’t call someone a lead if you don’t have relevant details on that person. And what’s the point of tracking a person via marketing automation without knowing who you’re tracking and how to contact that person? So have a strategy. In general, make introductory content free, but as the content increases in value to the prospect, start asking questions via forms. Ask a few at a time, then slowly build out your prospect profile.
I must say that I fear that in the nearer-than-comfortable future, we’ll be able to track visitors without gating. Much of the information we’ve shared as web consumers either knowingly or unknowingly is already for sale, and as it becomes more widely available, it’s going to get cheaper and easier to access. But I think for the sake of your brand, you’ll want to build a relationship with prospects that is based on permission and trust. So gate. And offer. And ask.
Jared: This one seems pretty cut and dry for me. Map your content to your sales funnel and determine your objective, as well as consumer expectations, for that type of content. You would typically gate content if your objective is to fill your funnel with actionable prospects whom you can nurture over time.
Be mindful of making a form too long or cumbersome. One session attendee said her analytics showed that the strongest turn-off was making phone number a required field. Find the balance between the amount of information needed at that point in the customer journey and your ability to reach your objectives.
Of course, then I read this article about one company’s decision to do away with all gated content — blog.drift.com/no-more-forms — and wondered if I’m right after all.
4. Quantity vs. quality of content
Don: As a writer who thinks pretty highly of his skills, I say go for quality. Quantity without quality is damaging to your brand. That’s especially true in health care. Tell authentic stories (shout-out to @ctrappe), ones that speak to your expert audience. If they’re not authentic, interesting and well-told, it won’t matter how much content you have.
Jared: I have written and talked a lot about this topic. The answer is more obvious than some want to admit; aim for both! In fact, it’s still highly possible to lose the quantity battle but win the content war. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 76% of B2B content marketers plan to produce more content in 2016. Quantity is important, looks good on the surface and tends to increase top-line traffic. Quality can be more difficult to assess, but quantity means absolutely nothing without it. Focus on finding the angle or expertise that makes you different, and avoid adding to the noise at all costs.
Don: How much should you pay for content? It depends on how much a prospect is worth to you. Marketing value always comes down to return on investment. Good quality content has a cost, but it also has value. As you determine your marketing budget and estimate your lead value, make content part of the equation.
Jared: Common methods to reduce content costs include repurposing content, amplifying well-performing content and curation. (Although I tend to only prescribe curation in moderation.) Budget for owned, earned and paid promotion of your content. The mix of all three tends to give the chance of the best ROI.
6. Distribution options
Don: As distribution options expand, go where your audience goes. We can compare our audience to water. Like water, the audience flows through channels and takes the path of least resistance. As a marketer, it’s been relatively easy in the past to find that path. Television and other mass media were like massive rivers of audiences. We just needed to dip our buckets into the rivers to capture what we could; the bigger the bucket (or the bigger the spend), the more we could capture. But things are different these days. The rivers of mass media have been diverted into smaller channels. It takes some effort to find the creeks and rivulets where our audiences are running. And rather than dipping buckets into the water, we’ve got to get into the water and go with the flow. The mass media rivers, while smaller, are still effective. But the social media creeks are highly targeted and can yield more value in niche markets such as health care IT.
Jared: I assume this is referring to which channels to publish in and the debate of building on “rented” vs. “owned” land. I subscribe to Gary Vaynerchuk’s unconventional answer from his new book, #AskGaryVee:
“Most people try to tell new marketers that they need to own their content and keep it on their own site so they can monetize it, usually with low-paying ads. The problem is that when you’re only posting on your own site you’re at the mercy of the traffic that goes there. For most people that’s not a huge number, or at least it’s not as many visitors as they’d like. But if you post content on sites where the potential for virality isn’t dependent on your popularity but on the quality of your content, you can gain a lot of followers … In short, don’t worry so much about owning and monetizing your content, especially early on. Get it out whatever way you can.”
Stay tuned for part two of the series, and let us know what you think in the comments.
Since the normally scheduled #HITMC (Health Care IT Marketing and PR Community) chat was so close to the 4th of July and most of us are enjoying various summer travels, we decided that July and August would be a great time to take a break from the monthly #HITMC Twitter chats. So, enjoy your summer and find some time to spend outside with family and friends.
Don’t worry though, we’ll be back with the monthly #HITMC Twitter chats in September. Join us for the September #HITMC chat on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). Put it on your calendars and see you then.
One of the consistent themes at the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference is that the healthcare sales cycle is a long, complicated process and the process usually involves a large number of different stakeholders. There are no “impulse buys” in healthcare. It’s usually a longer, drawn out process.
With this concept in mind, it’s no surprise that we often talk about the importance of content marketing as part of a healthcare IT company’s strategy. The beauty of content marketing is that you can influence a wide group of stakeholders with your content as opposed to a salesperson who likely only builds a 1 to 1 relationship with only one person in the decision-making tree.
I recently came across this great article by Aloft Group on inbound marketing for healthcare that provided added insight into why inbound content marketing really matters in healthcare:
I recently asked a CIO at a large hospital system in the US what she finds most important in firms that she chooses to work with. I can tell you that none of the items in the above list [better patient outcomes, efficiencies, cost savings, patient safety, etc.] even came to her mind. She assumes you better be able to do those things. Her answers were interesting—and much “softer” than marketing people like to hear. She cited attributes like integrity, honesty, being proactive, intelligent and a strong listener. Not exactly something you’ll see in the standard feature/benefit column.
There’s an important lesson to be learned here. The companies that are most successful in marketing to providers are the ones that certainly solve problems, but also bring strong human qualities into their product and service mix.
But this is tricky, right? “Human qualities” aren’t something you necessarily talk about; it’s something you do. But how do you demonstrate this when you aren’t even working together yet?
How are you making sure that you position your company as one that is full of “integrity, honesty, being proactive, intelligent and a strong listener”? Are your salespeople doing that for you?
From my experience, creating the right content will illustrate your company’s intelligence and ability to listen and understand the market. It will demonstrate how you’re proactively moving the market forward in an honest and effective manner. That’s a high bar for content, but that’s what’s possible.
Of course, it’s worth noting that displaying the “human qualities” of your company isn’t something that happens overnight. Things like integrity and honesty are proven over time. However, once it’s built, it’s a powerful and unique attribute that’s hard to replicate by other companies.
It’s worth mentioning that displaying these attributes through your content is one thing. Making sure the right people are reading that content is another, but that’s a topic for a future post. Start by making sure you’re sharing the right messages and then you can start working on distribution of that content.
This chat will be an opportunity for the HITMC community to learn, explore, and experience a new social media platform together. The platform we’ll be talking about and using is Snapchat. Our exploration of Snapchat will be hosted by John Lynn (Snapchat Username: crashutah) from Healthcare Scene.
During a recent exchange, I got the idea that it would be fun for the #HITMC Twitter chats to be more actionable and for all of us to dive into a new social media platform or technology at the same time. Snapchat has become extremely popular for many people and so it seems right that we take a minute to explore Snapchat and see if it makes sense for us to use it in our healthcare marketing and PR efforts.
Like a usual #HITMC chat, we’ll be using Twitter to discuss what’s happening and for all of us to connect. We’ll also use Twitter to help people who might be having issues with snapchat. However, as you’ll see in the “topics” below, we’ll also all be spending time connecting with others in the #HITMC community on snapchat along with learning about snapchat features like stories. What better way to learn than to do? Don’t worry if you don’t know snapchat already. You’ll be in good company. The point of this is for us to all learn together. #NoJudgement
Now for the 5 “topics” we’ll be discussing: T1: Share your snapchat account so others can follow you. (Manually post or use the Snapchat share feature) #HITMC
T2: Connect with 5+ other #HITMC people on Snapchat (Tutorial). Ask questions on Twitter if you have any issues.
T3: Post a #HITMC related idea to your Story (Tutorial). Ask questions on Twitter if you have any issues.
T5: Send a message on Snapchat to someone you connected with. #HITMC
Bonus: Do you think Snapchat has value in healthcare IT marketing and PR? #HITMC
Note: Please do download snapchat to your mobile device before the Twitter chat. Yes, it will probably be best to do snapchat on your mobile while following and contributing to the Twitter chat on your laptop/desktop.
Each year at the Health IT Marketing and PR conference (HITMC), I get a lot of feedback from the community on what we can do to better serve their needs. At HITMC 2016, one of the feedback I got over and over was a desire to hold some local HITMC meetups outside of the annual conference.
With that in mind, we’re excited to announce two HITMC local meetups that are already on the books while a number of other cities are still in the planning stages and will be announced later.
HITMC Utah Meetup – Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 7:30 PM MT – The Grand America Hotel Lobby Lounge in Salt Lake City Utah – This meetup is happening during the WEDI Annual conference, so it should be a great mix of local Utah healthcare IT marketing and PR professionals along with a number of HITMC community members that are just in town for the conference. You can register for the event here. See many of you in Salt Lake City.
UPDATE: The Atlanta Meetup had a change of dates. See the new dates below. HITMC Atlanta Meetup – Thursday, June 28, 2016 at 6:30 PM ET – Park Tavern in Atlanta, GA – We’re excited to have Dodge Communications hosting the HITMC Atlanta kick-off event. At the event, they’re looking to discuss the goals of the local group, cadence for the meetings, venues, etc. No doubt there’s some great momentum for the HITMC community in Atlanta after holding the HITMC annual conference there. Register Now if you plan to attend.
We’re really looking forward to having the community grow through these local events. If you have a colleague or friend that might be interested in attending one of these events, please share it with them. Everyone is welcome!
One of the beauties of the healthcare IT marketing and PR community (HITMC) is that we’re happy to share the lessons we learned. We got to see this first hand yesterday when community member Colin Hung was live tweeting his experience at the Marketing Summit conference in Las Vegas (#MKTGnation) on the #HITMC hashtag.
This is a massive marketing event hosted by Marketo that many in the HITMC community would have love to have attended. Unfortunately, most of us weren’t able to attend, but we can vicariously attend and learn thanks to people like Colin who give back to the community by sharing the insights he gleans from the conference. We hope that more in the community will do the same as they go to other marketing and PR events.
Here’s a sample of some of Colin’s tweets from the event including the keynote session by famous actor Will Smith.
This chat will focus on “Actionable Advice for Healthcare IT Marketing and PR” and is hosted by John Lynn from Healthcare Scene. Coming out of the Health IT Marketing and PR Conference, we like to focus people on the actionable advice or ideas they got at the conference. With that in mind, we’ve focused the entire #HITMC Twitter chat on actionable advice for those working in healthcare IT Marketing and PR. No doubt, much of the advice that’s shared will come from the conference, but we certainly welcome any and all advice whether you attended the conference or not.
Now for the 5 topics we’ll be discussing: 1. What advice would you give health IT PR Professionals?
2. What advice would you give healthcare IT marketing professionals?
3. What advice would you share around health IT content?
4. What advice would you give about tools for your health IT marketing and PR efforts?
5. What advice would you give around health IT careers?
Bonus: Any other advice for healthcare IT marketing and PR professionals?
Last week, the healthcare IT marketing and PR community gathered in Atlanta at the Healthcare IT Marketing & PR Conference. One message was clear – change is afoot – and this group is working hard to contribute to positive change for their organizations, and most importantly, for patients.
Health providers face new expectations for the patient care process and must transition from fee-for-service to value-based care models. As they search for new ways to decrease risks/costs and improve quality, health IT marketers must also acquaint themselves with the new landscape.
Several trends bubbled up from the sessions and conversations, also supported by new research launched at the conference from 300Brand.
#1 Patients First
Improving the patient experience is a top priority. Both IT and non-IT healthcare provider decision makers surveyed said improving the patient experience is a top tech goal for 2016. And, almost a quarter (23 percent) said they have a Chief Experience Officer today. As that number grows, these leaders will bring different perspectives, many coming from consumer-focused industries outside of healthcare, such as hospitality. New applications, ranging from integrated analytics that identify patients most at risk for medication non-compliance to tools that alert patients when doctors run behind schedule, will help providers of all sizes improve the patient experience. (No more waiting rooms – very exciting!)
#2 New Players
The health IT decision making process is changing and there are more players at the table than ever before. The IT executives we surveyed said they are involved in IT decisions 92% of the time. But, the non-IT execs disagreed, reporting IT is involved 78% of the time. More than half agreed that IT purchasing is influenced by more stakeholder groups than two years ago. In addition to clinicians, these new decision makers include legal/compliance teams, risk managers, and the C-suite. Attendees in Atlanta confirmed the research – they are seeing purchasing decisions and influence outside of the IT department.
#3 Keep It Personal
New players and personas mean that marketers must become fluent in new “business languages.” Each decision maker has a slightly different business priority and perspective, driving the need for even greater micro-targeting. The Customer Experience Officer and the Chief Data Officer have very different perspectives and requirements, yet might be weighing in on the decision process for a new CRM solution. IT marketers have to adept at speaking both languages at the same time – no easy task!
For marketers, this means new opportunities as we rethink messaging and tactics to ensure we are addressing this broader community. As the roles are in flux and responsibilities in transition (Chief Data Officers, Chief Experience Officers, Chief Digital Officers, etc.), it’s more important than ever to listen to our customers and understand their unique needs and priorities. Interestingly, when we asked healthcare providers what IT vendors/marketers are doing wrong and how we can improve, their response was to listen better so we understand their goals.
What we once thought was the “future” of healthcare is here now, and there is enormous opportunity ahead – exciting possibilities for providers and the patients they serve.
It was great to be with the health IT marketing community in Atlanta. If you didn’t make it, plan for next time – it’s a five-star opportunity to connect and learn.
And, to learn more about how healthcare IT decisions and decision makers are changing, download our full report: Time to Double Down: How to Beat the Odds in a New Era of Health IT Marketing – http://www.healthitinsights.com/double-down.
300Brand was a proud sponsor of the 2016 Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference.
Can you believe the third annual Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference is already a wrap? It was a fun-filled, information-packed few days in Atlanta! The growing number or first-timers and the strong core of returning attendees are a testament to the engagement in this community and the commitment to growing our field. It’s truly amazing to see.
Before you get too carried away in the post-HITMC daily grind, it’s important to reflect on what we learned and implement some of the insights to improve our own efforts. Don’t let your HITMC ideas sit in your notebook! Make a plan to put your thoughts into action this year.
While the HITMC experience is different for each attendee, I identified three major themes of the presentations I saw and conversations I had. If your experience brought to light other main themes or takeaways, leave them in the comments!
Sales and marketing alignment emerged as a major theme of the conference this year. I’m not just plugging sales and marketing alignment because my agency presented on the topic. We also heard stories of alignment (and misalignment) from several other presenters.
Steve Giovinazzo and company discussed the importance of aligning sales and marketing teams as one of the steps to overcoming the most common marketing automation pain points. And who better to give advice on sales and marketing alignment than the Regional VP from Salesforce’s Pardot? Steve suggests engaging sales in the content creation process, developing a comprehensive content database, and training sales how to leverage content effectively.
Jennifer Russo’s session on Best Practices in Marketing Measurement sparked a conversation about how MQLs and SQLs are defined and how leads are transitioned from marketing to sales. There is definitely tension in the air when it comes to lead handoff. Sales teams tend to want every lead that comes in the door, but we must stick to our shared definitions if we want nurture programs to successfully run their course.
And Erin Wold’s presentation on Account-Based Marketing (ABM) highlighted how targeting just a few key accounts give sales a seat at the marketing table. Effective ABM requires sales and marketing teams to hyper-personalize and customize campaigns.
Increased adoption of marketing automation tools has magnified the need for synergy between sales and marketing teams. It’s time to nurture those relationships to make the most of our leads and opportunities.
Our first job as marketers is to tell great stories. It’s easy to lose sight of this goal as we get caught in the content generation cycle. This year we were reminded to get back to basics by sharing real, honest, entertaining stories.
Stacy Goebel kicked off HITMC 2016 with a motivating keynote reminding us to take risks and tell better stories. The solo rap was a great performance, Stacy, but I think a full HITMC Rap Battle is a must for 2017. You’re the odds-on front-runner in Vegas!
Christoph Trappe headlined day two with an engaging session on authentic storytelling in digital media. In an industry filled with change and uncertainty, Christoph reminds us to let our brand and message be the constant voice. Make a habit of relevant, authentic and compelling storytelling to connect with your customers.
HITMC also featured a storytelling workshop where we learned how to make the most of our success stories and customer endorsements, multiple discussions on telling your story through branding, and sessions on using internal and external champions to tell stories on social media, in podcasts, on video, and in collateral. We also had some great unconference chats on content marketing and strategy.
The third major theme I picked up at HITMC this year was trust. Conference programs, unconference sessions, and informal conversations had many of us discussing trust in healthcare marketing – trust between sales and marketing, agencies and clients, developers and marketers, media and audiences, buyers and vendors, providers and patients.
So how do we earn and keep this trust? Through paid or earned media? With authentic storytelling? Through honesty and understanding?
In my unconference session, someone mentioned how low hospital margins are, and how hospitals simply cannot afford to be burned by another solution that doesn’t deliver or takes too long to implement. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations with budget constraints have a natural disposition to distrust vendors. Overcome this issue by starting every engagement with an understanding pain points, being honest, and giving great advice to build trust over time.
Trust can be hard to gain in healthcare. Set out every day to build it and earn it in all that you do.
Thanks again to John and Shahid for hosting another successful HITMC. I can’t wait to learn, network, and be inspired again at HITMC 2017!
Clarity Quest Marketing is a leading healthcare and technology marketing agency and proud Gold sponsor of the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference. Clarity Quest is a full-service provider of marketing strategy, branding, public relations, digital marketing, graphic design, and more to companies in the healthcare, technology and biotech industries. For more information on our marketing services, visit www.clarityqst.comor call (877) 887-7611.
We're glad you found the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community (or as we affectionately call it...HITMC). This blog is a place for healthcare IT marketing and PR professionals to come together and share their insights, skills, expertise with other people trying to make healthcare better through the use of technology. This blog grew out of the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference which is held annually. We look forward to connecting and learning from you. Please feel free to reach out to us on our contact us page if you have any questions.