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3 Tips for Overcoming Healthcare Marketing Challenges in a Post-COVID World

The following is a guest article by Cortney Williams, Sr. Account Director, HealthIT, at ARPR

Having worked as a marketer in the healthcare technology space for several years, there is one thing I know for certain — the industry, historically speaking, has been extremely slow to innovate. From challenges to really understand healthcare consumerism to regulatory, compliance and security hurdles, our sector lags behind just about every other industry when it comes to digital transformation.

This was still the case heading into 2020. Then COVID-19 hit.

When the World Health Organization first declared COVID-19 a pandemic, healthcare as we know it changed. Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring surged and became relied on by patients and providers alike. EHR vendors rolled out new medical billing solutions to help practices stay afloat amid drastic dips in patient and procedure volumes. At the same time, IIoT companies leaned in to support health systems as cybersecurity attacks on hospitals increased, and biotech companies pivoted to work on developing mass quantities of viable coronavirus diagnostics and vaccines. While the pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated HealthIT growth and adoption, this rapid pace of change has brought both challenges and opportunities for marketers.

With planning cycles shortened, in-person touchpoints reduced and marketing budgets up in the air, it’s critical that healthIT marketers rethink their approaches as we look ahead to 2021. This fall ARPR hosted a virtual panel on Healthcare Marketing & Innovation in a Post-COVID World to discuss how our industry can do just that.

Below are three tips for healthcare marketers to cut through the clutter, engage your audience in a meaningful way, and ensure success in 2021:

  1. Amplify your Messaging & Content Marketing Efforts. Since COVID-19, the majority of marketers have increased content marketing (blog posts, data reports, playbooks, etc.), as compared to other activities, such as media relations or social media. This is not expected to change any time soon, as 54% of our webinar attendees said they plan to allocate the majority of their marketing dollars to content marketing in 2021.Studies show that nearly half of all B2B buyers say they now rely more heavily on content to research and make purchase decisions than they did in years past. As a result, it’s important to produce decisive messaging and dynamic content that fulfills prospects’ needs at each stage of their journeys. With the healthIT market becoming more saturated, it’s critical that your content explains exactly how your solution or service solves niche challenges while also providing relief – both from a financial and productivity standpoint. Furthermore, your content must be concise and data-filled in order to demonstrate how yet another health tech solution or tool can provide valuable ROI while also streamlining workflows. Many healthIT buyers are focused solely on the bottom line right now, not bringing on new products for innovation’s sake.
  2. Maximize Virtual Events. Our industry was rattled this spring when HealthIT’s Super Bowl — the annual HIMSS conference — was cancelled due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus. But with the “end” of the pandemic nowhere in sight, tradeshows and events — like everything else — must be reimagined. Now, this does not mean we need to throw our traditional tradeshow strategies out the window, rather, this provides an opportunity to explore the possibilities of virtual events.Without in-person interactions and networking, content marketing and high-impact organic and paid social media campaigns are more critical to gaining attention among prospects and attendees ahead of — and during — events. Consider new tactics such as live engagement, Twitter ads, a virtual booth giveaway and Facebook live content. Follow this up with a post-show strategy that consists of media follow ups, collateral and social media recaps to further capture the attention of your desired audience.
  3. Revolutionize your Go-to-Market Strategy. Communicating and selling to an audience of physicians and providers – and doing so with empathy – during a global health crisis is not easy. Over 30% of our webinar audience said new customer acquisition has been their number one challenge this year. This is of little surprise considering news cycles are now changing by the hour, and both media and healthcare professionals are caring less about a sales pitch and more about product value propositions and how it actually impacts customers and patients. As a result, pre-COVID go-to-market approaches must be reworked.Start by identifying your current customers’ unique needs, pain points and buying behaviors, and how they have changed over the last year. They are more likely to share specific challenges, and are also usually the most willing to spend time engaging with your content and learning about your new product or service offering. Consider a customer survey to better understand the specific needs and desires of your buyers. This knowledge should then inform your evolving key messaging, strategies, marketing content, and tactics as your organization begins to prepare a proactive, yet nimble roll-out strategy.

2020 has certainly been a year for the history books. But in the words of Jeanette Coron: “Comfort and the fear of change are the greatest enemies of success.” While unprecedented, this pandemic has taught our industry many important lessons, and we must reflect back on what we’ve learned in order to successfully navigate the somewhat uncertain year that lies ahead and work to improve healthcare for all. Our team is up for the challenge — who’s with us?

About the Author
As a Senior Account Director within ARPR’s Health IT practice group, Cortney Williams brings her strategic vision and media relations chops and hunger to the forefront to land strategic placements and drive leads for clients. In 2019, a campaign Cortney led for iCAD entitled, “Nothing Artificial About It: Launching the World’s First AI Mammography Solution,” won the Holmes Report Sabre Award for MedTech Campaign of the Year. That same year, she was named PR News’ Account Lead of the Year.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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The Healthcare and IT Marketing Community (HITMC) is an extension of the HITMC conference that is the first of its kind event that brings together marketing and PR professionals from throughout the health care community. We strive to provide amazing marketing and PR related content that helps HealthIT companies and healthcare organizations  stand out amidst all the noise of the industry. If you’re looking to market to hospital executives, doctors, practice managers, patients, or other healthcare professionals, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the HITMC community!