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Customer Stories: The Holy Grail of HealthIT Marketing

The following is a guest blog post by Colleen Pinto.

With the end of the year upon us, many healthIT businesses are evaluating their 2016 marketing ROI and goal setting for 2017. Tis the season for lessons learned. According to HealthcareIT News one of the biggest mistakes healthIT companies make is focusing their marketing efforts solely on their specific solution rather than their customers’ pain points. Whether a company’s tech streamlines patient check-in or helps maximize revenue cycles, the solutions themselves are sterile – simply software or equipment. Companies need to remember that on the other end of the solution there is a physician – who is having to spend hours of his day importing data into a computer; a patient – who needs a second opinion as soon as possible; or even a loved one that is impacted.

That’s why in my role as a healthIT marketer, I am constantly drawn to the powerful role that customer stories play in healthcare. By putting a face to the product, they humanize the technology and clearly demonstrate outcomes – which is critical in the era of value-based care. As you craft your 2017 marketing programs, here are the top three ways to make the most out of customer stories in healthIT.

  1. Case Studies

Case studies are probably the top piece of content healthIT companies think of completing after obtaining a customer story – and for good reason. These pieces tell stories, make brands and technology come to life, and demonstrate momentum. According to Gartner, peer reviews also continue to be one of the more significant buying influences for tech buyers. Since case studies are written from the client point of view, it is easy for prospective customers to see how a product or service can also benefit them.

For example, say a hospital is experiencing inefficient workflows because its physicians are constantly dealing with corrupt or lost CDs containing patient images. The hospital then does a search for a cloud-based imaging solution. It comes across a case study showcasing a system that has helped another hospital not only reduce CDs by 90 percent, but has also enabled physicians to receive images before a patient even arrives through the hospital doors. Chances are that one piece of content is going to have a strong influence in the hospital’s vendor selection process.

Once a case study is complete, you can then leverage the content in inbound marketing and lead generation efforts. This includes hosting the content on your website, adding it to appropriate lead nurture streams, and ensuring it’s seen by the right buyers by distributing it via LinkedIn ads. If you have the resources, consider embedding video testimonials in corresponding case studies to make them interactive.

(Have a customer that’s not referenceable? Determine if the opportunity can provide enough detail to tell a strong story, with measurable results. If so, an anonymous case study can still be of value.)

  1. Media Relations

Case studies are just the beginning when it comes to leveraging customer stories. Next, it’s time for companies to expand the customer story’s reach even further through strategic media relations initiatives.

Imagine that a healthIT company is about to make a press announcement surrounding the latest version of its product, or wants to insert itself into a healthcare conversation that is making national headlines. Simply including a customer quote in a press release or having a customer available for media interviews will greatly increase a company’s ability to garner top media coverage. (INSIDE TIP: Bring customers along to industry tradeshows as a secret sauce to garner more media briefings and interest.)

Why? Because validation is a powerful tool. While a company’s technology itself may be fascinating, Joseph Goedert, news editor of Health Data Management notes, “What reporters want is to know what the real news is and to talk with a user about their experiences–including what went well and what didn’t go so well–to inform their peers about how best to optimize the technology.”

  1. Social Media

Social media is one of the most affordable ways to reach large and/or targeted audiences. LinkedIn’s latest report indicates that at the end of 2013, there were over 4.4 million healthcare practitioners, executives, channel followers, and opinion leaders on LinkedIn. Further, in 2014, more than 75,000 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and consultants posted 152,000 tweets a day.

With decision makers and potential customers right at your fingertips, it’s crucial for marketers to continuously leverage customer stories every day via your corporate social media channels. For example, companies can utilize customer quotes, images and videos in tweets and LinkedIn posts that link back to case studies, media articles and more. As you plan your customer engagement strategy on social media, ask yourself:

  • Does my company have a public Twitter list of referenceable customers?
  • Are case studies, testimonials, etc. in a regular rotation in our social editorial calendar?
  • Are my leadership and sales teams connected via LinkedIn to all customers and prospects?
  • Does my company welcome new customers publicly on Twitter to show momentum?
  • Does my social media manager actively engage with our customers on all channels?

Ultimately, through these collaborative initiatives, healthIT organizations will be able to effortlessly increase the reach of their customer stories more than they ever thought possible.

About Colleen Pinto
Colleen Pinto is the savvy storyteller and integrated comms catalyst at AR|PR specializing in leading and servicing a growing roster of tech clients in the healthIT and mobile sectors. Follow AR|PR: @AR__PR

Conference and Event Planning Insights from Inbound 2016

The following is a guest blog post by Patty Dickerson.

Conferences and events are an important part of most marketing strategies, so as marketers it can be a special treat to go to a conference as an attendee. A few weeks ago, I was able to attend HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Conference in Boston and came away with quite a few insights I’d like to share with the HITMC community.

Inbound Overview:

First held in 2011, the conference has grown significantly in the last five years with close to 19,000 attendees as well as over 170 sessions and eight different topical tracks this year.  I haven’t been to Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit or Salesforce’s Dreamforce so I’m not sure how HubSpot’s Inbound conference compares to them, but I did attend last year and am a regular HITMC attendee.  Compared to HITMC, Inbound can seem a bit overwhelming. It is primarily geared toward digital and inbound marketers, but in this first post, I’d like to share some ideas and observations from Inbound that can help those of us who plan events and conferences.

Conference Timing:

Inbound16 was held November 8-11 with the main conference kicking off on Wednesday, November 9th. Date ring a bell? Yup- that’s right, Inbound officially kicked off the day after one of the most polarizing elections in U.S. history. An interesting day to start, while half of the population was elated the other half was despairing, and the mood of the conference that first day was very odd. Additionally, the kick-off keynote speaker, Ta-Nehisi Coates, switched up his talk to directly address the election results. As a content marketer, I respect his decision to do so, as he was being authentic, transparent, and relevant in his content delivery. However, it did seem to polarize the conference, as well as the conference conversation on twitter. I’m sure HubSpot will think again about hosting Inbound the same week as a presidential election.

  • If any of you are planning big user conferences, be sure keep in mind any sort of external events that could impact your event.

Session Organization and Selection

Inbound 2016 had a variety of “Inbound Itineraries” to help plan which of its 170+ sessions to attend. This is a great idea for larger conferences with a variety of session options. Since I wanted a broader experience, I ignored itineraries and tackled my schedule one day at a time, focusing instead on sessions that were geared toward marketing strategy, lead generation, social media, and email marketing. Unfortunately, within the full agenda, there wasn’t a clear way to tell if the session was for beginner, intermediate, or advanced marketers, so choosing sessions based on skill level was a bit difficult. I hope that next year Inbound notes skill/experience level within a session description. This is a good idea for any large conference with overlapping sessions.

  • Group agenda options into common topic themes
  • Label sessions by skill level

One big improvement at this year’s Inbound was the ability to pre-register for sessions. This meant that if you planned your schedule in advance, then enrolled in sessions the week prior to the conference, there was no problem getting into the sessions. This was a big problem at last year’s conference and there were one or two sessions that I missed because the rooms were full. Compared to last year, I was able to get a least one interesting insight from each session, though the quality of one or two of the sessions I attended was a little disappointing.

  • Provide pre-registration to popular sessions or make sure that there is room to fit all attendees who want to attend

Conference Website and Mobile App:

For the most part the conference website, Inbound.com, was easy to use, and attendees could login to create a customized schedule from the agenda. The recommend itineraries were easy to find, but if you didn’t use them, the daily sessions weren’t listed in chronological order. This made it harder to see which sessions were being held at same time. You could tag sessions to “My Interests” then go back and view a shortened list, but the lack of chronological ordering made the session planning a little harder, which was also complicated by an automatic log out if you were inactive for a short period of time.

  • Make website easy to use
  • Order agenda sessions in chronological order
  • Provide ways for attendees to tag sessions of interest

As I mentioned previously, the session pre-registration worked well. In addition, I was able to download the calendar to my google calendar, which was vital the first day because the mobile app didn’t initially sync personal schedules from the Inbound website. The full agenda from the desktop site was available, but this required logging into the conference website within the app. Though frustrating, it was corrected the first afternoon, and personal schedules were available on the mobile app with session notifications for the duration of the conference. For any of you considering mobile apps for your conferences, it is a good idea to test the app before the conference to make sure it is set-up properly.

  • Ask attendees for feedback on the conference app before the conference starts
  • Test conference app prior to the start day
  • Fix app problems quickly

Food:

Lunch is also quite unique at Inbound, as HubSpot arranges to have local food trucks parked next to the Boston Convention & Exhibit Center where the conference is held.  Attendees with All-Access and VIP passes could scan their badge to get lunch at any of these trucks, but food was also available for purchase to those with Community passes. Most of the trucks parked within “the Lawn on D” that is located on the east side of the convention center, a bit of a hike from the west side, but doable.  Having lunch outside was risky, given that the conference was so late in the year, but the weather cooperated and while a little cool, it was mostly sunny.

  • Don’t be afraid to try something different for food, but have back-up plans.

While no lunch session or break was scheduled, food was served from 11am-2pm. This helped spread out the lines for food. I would have liked a list of the food trucks and their location so I could plan my meals efficiently, since my goal was to be able to attend sessions during the 11am-2pm time frame.  Regardless, the food was great; my favorite lunch was the Green Muenster Grilled Cheese from Roxy’s. It was a little hard to eat without a lunch area, which along with the spaced-out lunch time, made networking a bit of a challenge. Just some more food for thought (pun intended) as you plan networking opportunities into your own conferences.

  • Consider how to best optimize mealtimes for attendee networking.

Attend again?

In addition to these event planning takeaways, I was able to get some great insights from Inbound’s content sessions. Although I did get a lot more out of the conference this year than last, the price was high, especially when you pay out of your own pocket. Travel expenses would also be a factor. I’ll likely go only if I can get one of the really low discount rates, which means booking far in advance.  However, if I’m paying for the conference on my own dime again next year, I might be tempted try a new conference like Content Marketing World.  Of course, this would be in addition to HITMC which is my must attend conference.

Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community Local Meetups this Fall 2016

Coming out of HITMC 2016, many people wanted the opportunity to get together in their local communities with others from the HITMC community. I loved the idea since there are many people who can’t make it to the Health IT Marketing and PR Annual conference. Plus, if you’re anything like me you need a little bit of HITMC to tide you over in between conferences.

With that in mind, we’re excited to announce a whole series of HITMC Meetups that will be happening across the country this fall. Many of the events will coincide with other Healthcare IT conferences, so we’ll hopefully get a good mix of locals and HITMC members attending the various conferences.

Here are the local meetups we have on the schedule so far:

Utah – Wednesday, 9/28 at 7 PM MT
Water Tower Plaza at Thanksgiving Point
3003 N Thanksgiving Way Lehi, UT 84043 (MAP)
Register for Utah HITMC Meetup

Atlanta – Thursday, 9/29 at 6:30 PM ET
Marlow’s Tavern
2200 Avalon Blvd, Alpharetta, GA (MAP)
Register for Atlanta HITMC Meetup
*Thanks to Dodge Communications for helping organize the Atlanta meetup

Baltimore – Monday, 10/17 – 7 PM ET (During the AHIMA Annual Convention)
TIR NA NÓG Irish Bar & Grill
201 E. PRATT ST., 2ND FLOOR, Baltimore, MD 21202
Register for the Baltimore HITMC Meetup

Boston – Tuesday, 10/18 – 7 PM ET (Near Connected Health Symposium)
Coppersmith
40 W 3rd St, South Boston, MA 02127
Register for the Boston HITMC Meetup

San Francisco – Monday, 10/31 – 5:30 PM PT (During the MGMA Annual Conference)
Perry’s San Francisco
155 Steuart St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Register for the San Francisco HITMC Meetup

Phoenix – Tuesday, 11/1 – 5:30 PM MT (Phoenix Time) (During the CHIME Fall Forum)
twenty6 (Inside the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa)
5350 East Marriott Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85054
Register for the Phoenix HITMC Meetup

Chicago – Wednesday, 11/30 – 5:30 PM CT (During RSNA)
Vapiano
44 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Register for the Chicago HITMC Meetup

New York City – Monday, 12/5 – 7:00 PM ET (During the Digital Health Conference)
District Tap House
246 West 38th Street, New York, NY 10018
Register for the New York City HITMC Meetup

Nashville – Thursday, 1/12 – 5:00 PM CT
iHeartMEDIA
55 Music Square West Nashville, TN 37203
Register for the Nashville HITMC Meetup

As you can tell, we’re still finalizing the venues and times for many of the meetups. We’ll update this post as those details are finalized and registration for the local meetups is opened. If you live in one of these cities and have suggestions on great locations, we’re all ears.

See everyone at these local meetups and please share them with your friends and colleagues that might be interested in being part of the Health IT Marketing and PR community.

Learning Healthcare Marketing Lessons from Will Smith

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.

The conference has just begun, so watch Colin’s Twitter feed for other insights. Let us know if you’ll be going to other events and be sure to share any insights on the #HITMC hashtag.

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.

Conquer Healthcare Tradeshows with Marketing Automation

The following is a guest blog post by Nicole Wojno, Director of Marketing at Dodge Communications.
Nicole Wojno - Healthcare Marketing
Attending tradeshows serves as a one-of-a-kind experience for healthcare companies to accelerate and position themselves ahead of competitors in the industry. In this fast-paced industry, nothing compares to the face-to-face contact at tradeshows that helps build direct relationships with current clients and prospects. However, tradeshows can be expensive and require extra time, making it imperative to generate leads and show ROI.

The key to tradeshow success is utilizing a robust marketing automation tool throughout the process along with other integrated efforts. With HIMSS around the corner to kick off the busy tradeshow season, now is the time to make sure you have developed a marketing automation strategy for pre, during and post show to capture and nurture leads.

Pre-show. When it comes to tradeshows, preparation is key. If you want clients and prospects to know that you are going to be at an event, you need to inform them. Develop an email campaign and have a dedicated landing page with a form that will offer attendees some sort of incentive to schedule a demo to see your solution or invite them to a case study presentation at your booth.

Be sure you’re segmenting prospects and customers accordingly, and providing relevant content to each group. If you’ve developed new content such as a bylined article for a healthcare IT trade publication or a new data sheet, use that information in your current campaigns or link to it on your website as a download. In an effort to execute an integrated campaign, tie in other elements like direct mail, social media and your company’s blog and ensure your corporate collateral is up-to-date and ready for distribution at the show.

Showtime. Nothing beats facetime with prospects, giving you the chance to really showcase your product or solution and industry knowledge. Be sure to create a learning environment within your booth – there is a direct correlation between learning and inclination to buy, and the more interaction you deliver, the more memorable the event.

With marketing automation, there’s no longer a need to manually input information from each booth visitor or rely on a sales rep to keep track of business cards and input them in the CRM. Instead, you can employ a landing page in kiosk mode on a tablet where leads can input their information directly to your marketing automation tool which allows you to quickly collect prospect details and demographics for post-show follow-up. If your team has meetings lined up with prospects, don’t pitch to them. Be personal and provide ways your business can help solve their problems and help them grow.

Lastly, enhance your social media presence leading up to and during the tradeshow. During the tradeshow, use the event hashtag, healthcare IT-specific hashtags or even create your own to participate in conversations through channels like twitter. Aligning hashtags with upcoming tradeshows such as #HIMSS16 and #RSNA16 will create more visibility for clients before, during and after tradeshows. Hashtags can also be used to support campaigns and increase engagement among your audience when discussing a certain industry issue. Lastly, make sure to connect with prospects and clients on social media platforms to show them their importance to you and the business.

Post-show. Following up with attendees is one of the most important steps. First, look at your marketing automation system to segment leads and decide which prospects are most important. After creating a list of hot leads, assign sales ready leads to reps for individual follow up emails to thank them for stopping by and provide them with valuable content to keep them interested. The rest of the leads can be put in a thought leadership/educational campaign to keep your company top-of-mind. These drip campaigns should include relevant content, such as a recap blog or key conference takeaways, to remind prospects of your industry expertise. Whether your company offers patient engagement services, medical billing or workflow management systems, be sure to distribute content that highlights how you’re helping solve industry issues and prospect pain points.

Within a marketing automation system, prospects are attached to campaigns, making it easy to attribute revenue to its source and judge the ROI of your tradeshow presence. Use marketing automation to find out the metrics that your C-suite cares about and succinctly report on that data. Once you have knowledge of your tradeshow ROI, you will be able to precisely budget your time and resources for future tradeshows and events. Moreover, you will have a better understanding on what strategies are working and which ones are not, allowing you to make necessary changes for better success at the next tradeshow.

Overall, attending tradeshows is an opportunity to create personal relationships and position yourself as a leader in the complex, healthcare market. After putting time into planning your presence at the event, marketing automation can make it easier for you to track, measure and report on your event’s performance. At the next event you decide to attend, harness the power of a marketing automation tool and promote your presence before, during and after the event and gain the most value from your experience.

Dodge Communications is a proud sponsor of the Health IT Marketing and PR Conference and a leading integrated communications agency focused solely on the healthcare sector. More than 250 healthcare companies have accelerated their growth through the agency’s PR, marketing and digital services. Dodge strengthens brand awareness, enhances thought leadership and drives sales through strategic, integrated campaigns that are tied to key business objectives. For more information, visit www.dodgecommunications.com or call (770) 998-0500.

Making the Transition From TV Reporter to Healthcare PR

UPDATE: If you missed the live chat, you can watch the video recording of our discussion in the video below:

As the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community (HITMC) grows, it never ceases to amaze me the diversity of people that end up working in healthcare PR and Marketing. We’re lucky to have such a diversity of backgrounds available in the community and I think that makes us stronger for it.

One example of this is Marcy Fleisher from Team Fleisher Communications who started as an on air TV reporter (Check out this great flashback video of Marcy). On Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at Noon ET (9 AM PT), I’ll be sitting down with Marcy Fleisher to talk over the lessons she learned as she entered healthcare PR and things healthcare could learn from her experience as a TV reporter.

You can join my live conversation with Marcy Fleisher and even add your own comments to the discussion or ask Marcy questions. All you need to do to watch live is visit this blog post on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at Noon ET (9 AM PT) and watch the video embed at the bottom of the post. You can also subscribe to the blab directly. We’ll be doing a more formal interview for the first 30 minutes and then open up the Blab to others who want to add to the conversation or ask us questions. The conversation will be recorded as well and available on this post after the interview.

I’m personally very excited to sit down and talk with Marcy about her transition to healthcare public relations. I first met Marcy when she planted herself in front of the press room at HIMSS much like a reporter might do to get a story. She stopped me and pitched me a story for one of the companies she represents. Since then, she’s always brought a wide variety of creative ways to pitch me her client’s stories. I think much of that is attributed to her experience as a TV reporter. I hope you’ll join us on Tuesday so we can all learn from Marcy’s experience.

If you’d like to see the archives of past HITMC videos, you can find and subscribe to all of Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community videos on YouTube.

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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