Leadership and Management Marketing General

Healthcare Marketing Predictions for 2021 with John Lynn and Colin Hung

Nobody could have predicted the train wreck that was 2020. That’s why I’m sure many of us are looking at 2021 with both anticipation and dread. To better understand what we can expect this year and what we should be paying close attention to, I connected with our very-own Colin Hung and John Lynn for their perspective of what lies ahead for healthcare, PR and IT marketing in 2021.

Let’s take a look at their 2021 predictions:

Brittany Quemby: How will video production and consumption change in 2021?

John Lynn: 2020 changed the game when it came to video. The unpolished video became acceptable in situations where it would have never been acceptable previously. 2021 is going to be more of the same. Although, I think consumers will become more particular about what videos they consume since they’re likely to be inundated by video and they’ll still be experiencing Zoom fatigue. Therefore, if you’re not going to go the fully polished, produced video route, then you’re going to want to pin your video efforts on something else like the value of what’s shared from an educational or entertainment perspective.

Colin Hung: Shooting and editing your own videos has been getting cheaper and easier for years, but it wasn’t until we were all forced to work from home that home video studios became popular. Now many people have semi-professional lighting, great cameras, high quality microphones, etc. at home. Because of this I believe in 2021 we will see a leap in the quality and quantity of produced-at-home corporate videos. We’ll see educational videos first, but it won’t be long before we start to see CEO interviews, client case studies, and promotional videos. On the consumption side, I think we will all be looking for short videos (under 10min) to watch. Shorter-form videos will be preferred, especially given how much time we’re spending in front of our screens.

Brittany Quemby: What’s your take on how events will unfold in 2021? Any thoughts on how hybrid or streamed events will fair?

John Lynn: The first half of 2021 is still going to be very light on events.  There may be some smaller, more intimate events that happen and some virtual, but don’t expect any large events in the first half of 2021.  The jury is still out on the 2nd half of 2021.  I expect that large events with established communities will continue forward with the hope of a live in person event in the 2nd half of 2021 because if they can’t meet in person they’re still going to want to meet virtually.  However, don’t expect any new communities to prop up unless they’re very COVID specific.

All of these events will do some sort of hybrid approach from both a speaker and an attendee perspective.  However, don’t be surprised if the virtual attendee is treated as a second class citizen outside of watching education sessions.  Also, if you’re trying to connect with the speaker at the event, be aware that many of them might be virtual which will make them hard to meet at the event.

Colin Hung: I don’t think large conferences in healthcare will be returning in 2021. I think there is a strong desire from the vendor community to see a return of in-person conferences, but I don’t see healthcare providers having that same desire. Their financial situations are still very uncertain and let’s be honest, conferences are a luxury item. If a large conference is held, there will be a lot of vendors, but will there be any customers? I don’t think so. Having said that, I do think that smaller, regional conferences that attract audiences within driving distance may be back in Q4.

I believe that 2020 has forever changed conferences. Hybrid conferences will now be the norm. Organizers will have to offer both in-person AND online options. Sessions will have to be streamed and/or recorded. There will also be accommodation for people who are remote who want to “walk” the in-person exhibit hall. It’s going to be fun to see this evolution.

Lastly, I think we will see fewer sponsors for virtual events in 2021. I think the experience, in general, hasn’t been great. In 2020 sponsors didn’t really have a choice, they already paid their fees for in-person events that had to be moved online. In 2021, I think many companies will be taking a hard look at their conference spending, especially for those that are virtual. If you’re a conference organizer, you’ll have to get creative!

Brittany Quemby: Given that a good portion of events in 2021 will still be virtual, what else can healthcare marketers do this year to get noticed and generate leads?

Colin Hung: Virtual events don’t generate the same number or quality leads that in-person events do. In 2021 marketers will have to continue to put more effort into digital LeadGen activities. One of the best ways to generate leads in healthcare is high-quality, high-value content. Think e-books, whitepapers and in-depth reports. These are fantastic because not only will people give you their contact details for these types of materials, you can also portion out the information into smaller sales assets like infographics, short videos, social posts, etc.

Another way to generate leads in 2021 is to ask for referrals from existing customers. It’s such a simple thing, but it often gets overlooked in the rush to go digital. Sit down with your existing customer and see who they might be able to introduce you to.

John Lynn: One of the areas that every healthcare organization could benefit in 2021 is to build out their content.  While many healthcare organizations are overwhelmed right now with COVID-19, those people are still consuming a lot of content and educating themselves on what’s happening.  Creating the right mix of useful content and distributing it to the right channels can be a great way to get noticed amidst all the noise and generate leads.  Plus, built the right way, that content can be something that pays long term dividends as well.

Brittany Quemby: You both operate a bi-weekly podcast, any predictions for audio content in 2021? 

John Lynn: Watch for audio to continue to explode.  I actually thought that audio would have fallen off with fewer people commuting to work, but it hasn’t.  As people head back to the office, even more audio will be consumed.  However, I think that along with more people listening, we’re going to have more people creating audio.  Making sure that you are taking a unique and valued approach to audio content is going to be key to differentiating yourself from the competition.  People think that content (audio, text, or video) just needs to be created and it will be seen, heard, or read.  The reality is that you have to spend as much time marketing your content as you do creating the content if you want to build an audience.

Colin Hung: I predict that I will make John cry on one of our podcast episodes this year 🙂 But seriously, I think we will continue to see more and Health IT companies and healthcare providers launch podcasts in 2021. It’s now so easy to record podcasts and people love listening to them. Podcasts are a great way for leaders at healthcare organizations to keep staff informed and help them feel connected. With so many podcasts, marketers will have to find a “hook” to help theirs stand out. Who can create the Hot Ones equivalent in healthcare podcasts?

Brittany Quemby: Did 2020 change things when it comes to social media? How can healthcare marketers capitalize on social media in 2021? 

John Lynn: I don’t think 2020 changed social media dramatically.  Although, it did highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly.  However, those of us who have done social media have known this all along.  However, I’ll say that the majority of healthcare IT social media focuses on the best parts of social media.

Any organization that wants to make the most of social media in 2021 needs to focus on human interactions.  Social media has always been about connecting people.  If you focus on using social media to connect to people vs using social media to broadcast your message, you’ll find a strategy that’s effective.  In 2021, we’re all looking for higher quality connections and less noise.  Those who are high quality connections will be extremely valued.

Colin Hung: I don’t think the way people used social media changed, but I do think the amount of time we spend on social media skyrocketed. Social media was always a great medium for staying on top of the latest healthcare news and to stay connected with your network. But when we were all stuck at home we relied on social media even more.

In 2021 Marketers should put effort into connecting more via social media. Share useful articles, respond to interesting social media posts, and above all, be an active part of the community. Social media isn’t a broadcast medium, it’s a place to engage. Savvy marketers that take the time and put in the effort to truly connect with people via social media will see awareness of and trust in their brand increase.

Brittany Quemby: Any other predictions you see coming for 2021?

John Lynn: ABM seems to really be coming into its own.  More and more organizations are focusing their marketing efforts on ABM and with great success.  I expect in 2021 we’ll see some of the most innovative ABM campaigns we’ve ever seen.  That includes innovation in messaging and targeting.

Colin Hung: I believe marketing agencies will see an uptick in business in 2021. Many companies and healthcare organizations had to shrink their marketing teams to weather the pandemic in 2020. That means there are fewer resources to do the work. As the economy picks back up in the latter part of 2021, marketing leaders will need help. Rather than hire staff I think many will explore working with agencies instead.

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Photo by Mathilda Khoo on Unsplash

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Brittany Quemby

Brittany Quemby

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  • Great article and predictions! And yes, I was keeping track of the elements our firm is doing to see how we are performing against the predictions!

    I do hope in-person conferences make a comeback, though. Nothing beats face to face, though I understand the health concerns and organizations watching their resources closely.

    One prediction I’ll offer is that B2B marketing will continue to leave the tie off and be a bit more “business casual.” For example, email outreach, how webinars are hosted, and overall, an injection of personality to the efforts. Sure, we need to be polished and trustworthy. But I think we’re all recognizing that B2B marketing has been a bit too staid. Business is still done person to person. We buy from people we connect and resonate with.

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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!