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HITMC Sneak Peek: Brand Building in a Time Crunch

The following is a guest post by Kelcie Chambers, Account Director at Dodge Communications.

It takes time to successfully rebrand a company, but in the world of healthcare marketing, time can often be a luxury – not a guarantee. Though many marketers are familiar with the various components that make up a successful rebranding campaign, a short time frame can impact the rules of the game.

Here are 5 ways to ensure a smooth rebranding effort when you are up against the clock.

  1. Discuss business goals and limitations openly. Transparency is crucial during every step of the rebranding process, and this is especially heightened during a tight turnaround. There’s simply no time to go down one road, only to land back at square one because of unspoken legal parameters or business conflicts. Discuss the company’s business goals openly and don’t hold anything back. This drives the purpose of the project, brings people together around a collective goal and helps avoid one-off tactics. When stakeholders are on the same page, you can be sure the end result will resonate with everyone – most importantly, your target audiences.
  2. Make research a priority. When facing an impending deadline, it can be overwhelming to consider the long list of to-dos and be tempting to cut corners. It’s important to know how and what to prioritize before you begin. Often, research and planning get the boot while marketers jump straight into tactical execution. Invest time in competitive research. Conduct focus groups. Engage detractors, not just advocates. If you don’t prioritize market research, you may set yourself up for failure.
  3. Establish milestone markers – down to the hour. If you’re up against a tight timeframe, chances are your final deadline is engrained in your mind. While it’s important to keep this date at the forefront, you must mark milestones along the way to ensure the project stays on track. When the clock is ticking, every minute counts. Set deadlines down to the hour, so deliverables and feedback are in hand when you need them. Take the time to understand how everyone on your team works, so you can cater to different project management styles for maximum efficiency and better results. Try letting go of sticky note murals, and upgrade to a digital project management tool that will allow your entire team to view project activities, deadlines, and updates.
  4. Set expectations with decision makers. Timelines and assignments aren’t just for marketers. Educate the executive team on exactly what you will need from them and when you will need it by. Bring the right decision makers into the conversation mix from the beginning, and set aside ample time to collaborate as a group. It is important to hold everyone accountable and communicate that missed deadlines can derail the entire effort.
  5. Don’t set the finish line prematurely. When thinking about a rebrand, typically a new name, logo, tagline, and look and feel come to mind. Be careful not to declare victory too early. While these components are a critical piece of the overall effort, what follows is as important as establishing the visual elements. Launching the brand is exceptionally important, from internal communications to the external rollout. Make sure that messages are reinforced regularly with PR, email automation, newsletters and other communications support.

Kelcie Chambers, account director at Dodge Communications and Betsy Martinelli, senior manager, corporate marketing at Omnicell learned these lessons firsthand when undergoing an entire rebrand and launch within just 3 months. Be sure to catch the pair’s session coming up at the Health IT Marketing and PR Conference (HITMC), “Building a Solid Brand When the Clock is Ticking.”

During the presentation, you’ll receive practical advice on how to drive a rebranding initiative on a tight timeline, including what elements need more attention than others, what deadlines are realistic and how to get all members of the team working together toward the same goals. The presenters will also describe the essential components of an effective rebranding strategy, including corporate identity development, advertising, web, social media, and public relations.

After their successful rebranding effort several years ago, these marketers continue to work together today. Hear directly from Kelcie and Betsy as they share their firsthand insights on Thursday, April 6 at 3:15 pm at HITMC.

About Kelcie Chambers
Kelcie Chambers combines years of agency experience with a thorough understanding of the healthcare and technology spaces to strategically oversee a wide variety of Dodge’s public relations and marketing accounts. Committed to helping clients strengthen their market share, she has successfully created and executed powerful integrated campaigns to enable some of the world’s most recognized brands enhance awareness, advance thought leadership and nurture demand. A news junkie at heart, Chambers’ passion for storytelling is the catalyst driving her to help companies discover the unique messaging and communications vehicles that foster relationships with target audiences and set them apart from the competition.

Answering your Content Marketing Questions from #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.

HITMC content marketing
HITMC attendees listed questions about content marketing that were addressed during the “unconference” 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.

3. Gating

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.

5. Cost

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.

Pay vs. Pitch: Three Considerations for a Kick-Ass Content Strategy

The following is a guest blog post by Beth Friedman, Founder and Chief Content Officer of Agency Ten22.
Beth-Friedman-Healthcare-IT-PR-Professional
Agency Ten22 frequently meets with healthcare IT software and service companies. From CEOs to marketing managers, the same question always comes up: “Is it better to pay for content placement or earn opportunities through media relationships?” The answer is both!

Paid placement of your content is a critical component for successful lead generation campaigns. Downloads are tracked and leads are received for long-term nurturing and sales follow-up.

However, research shows that earned interviews and article placements carry more weight with your company’s target audience—healthcare executives and departmental directors. Social sharing and summary blog posts magnify the impact of these earned efforts, typically at less cost than paid placements.

During the upcoming Health IT Marketing Conference, a panel of experts plan to debate this age-old question. I invite you to attend our Sponsored Content Panel session at HITMC16. And in the interim, consider these three steps for building a solid, lasting content strategy.

Step One:  Build Relationships

Healthcare is a people business. Everyone from top industry editors to niche reporters and channel salespeople appreciate time spent building partnerships and trust. These in-person meetings generate a wealth of content ideas and media opportunities. Here are three proven tips:

  • Pitch your targeted editors and sales staff separately. Meet in their offices versus crowded conventions. Food and drink are highly recommended.
  • Suggest new types of paid placement opportunities—get creative.
  • Make meetings perennial. Building trust takes time and repetition.

Step Two: Be Prepared

Both sides of the content house—sales staff and editors—respect industry knowledge. Do your homework. For every publication, know the last article written or piece of downloadable content posted by a competitor. Be fully aware of industry issues and upcoming regulatory changes that impact your key buyers. And finally, spend time reviewing the publication’s website for relevant niche channels, guest blogs or contributed content. Their subpages are important landing pads for content too!

  • Review editorial calendars and sync up your strongest subject matter experts and provider customers. Push for contributed articles or confirmations as an interview source.
  • Include color pictures and brief bios of your experts—remember, we are a people business!
  • Don’t see a fit for your product or service on the editorial schedule? Don’t worry. Schedules are only a guideline, not the final word.

Step Three:  Close the Deal

Finally, focus on follow-up! As healthcare marketers are all aware—the devil is in the details. Quickly secure all editorial ideas and subject matter sources before your competitor steals the opportunity.

  • Provide a detailed summary of ideas discussed and ask the editor to confirm in writing, with exact deadlines and word counts.
  • Confirm opportunities with your subject matter experts and provider customers. Obtain all prior approvals and authorizations to participate.
  • Send a thank-you note—always.

Both types of content, sponsored and earned, play an important role in demonstrating your brand’s thought leadership within the healthcare industry. The three steps above provide a practical roadmap for getting started. Agency Ten22 wishes you all the best on your content journey and looks forward to seeing you in our hometown of Atlanta for HITMC16!

Agency Ten22 is a sponsor of the 2016 Health IT Marketing and PR Conference.

Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference Preliminary Schedule

We’re getting really close to announcing the full Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference (HITMC) schedule, but while we finalize a few sessions and confirm the session times with all the speakers we thought we’d share the preliminary schedule for the conference with the community (click on the image to see the larger version on the HITMC conference website):
HITMC-2016-Draft-Schedule
We think you’ll be really impressed by the wide variety of topics we’ll be covering over the 2 days of conference programming. Plus, we have an extraordinary group of speakers preparing to present at the conference. You can see almost all of their speaker profiles on the Health IT Marketing and PR Conference speaker page. We really appreciate all the time and effort these professionals put into making the event so great.

We’re just over a month away from the event. Registration for the conference is still open, but it will close on March 17, 2016. So, register now and join hundreds of your healthcare PR and marketing colleagues in Atlanta.

Welcome to HITMC!

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.

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