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Health IT Marketing & PR Conference: Takeaways From a Veteran

2018 HITMC is in the books! Ava Haekler and I had a great time in New Orleans. She posted her takeaways from a rookie in an earlier post. It was the fifth HITMC I attended, and the fourth event of which Clarity Quest Marketing was a sponsor. It never gets old or mundane. We were excited by the organization’s new branding, new folks, and ever-present energy.

We had tons of booth traffic that kept us hopping; however, I still had time to learn some useful health IT marketing facts, tips, and tricks! Here’s my Top 6.

1. Survey Says:  Marketing Spend Averages 5% of Revenue

John LynnJohn Lynn, the fearless founder of HITMC, showed the results of a 2017 survey of HITMC members. Survey participants slanted towards the SMB (small-to-midsize) side of the spectrum, with an average marketing team size of eight. However, we find whether it’s SMB or enterprise, companies in health IT spend on average 3%-8% of revenue on marketing post-launch. In the launch year, most companies fund marketing spend with investment dollars.

Average Marketing Spend

Courtesy: John Lynn, HITMC

Marketing Budgets

Courtesy: John Lynn, HITMC

2. People Don’t Care You Are Launching a New Brand

Ryan Lilly of Matter Communications and Tara Auclair of Modernizing Medicine reminded us that audiences don’t care if you have a new logo, new name or fresh website. They want to know what it means to the healthcare industry, clinicians, health systems, and patients. Remember to tout how changes are going to impact your customers’ bottom lines.

3. Podcasts Are Alive and Well

Listening to podcasts is now the first thing I do when flying. While a time investment to create, I feel they are second only to an in-person meeting in establishing rapport and a relationship. During a Press Panel with Colin Hung, Janet Kennedy, Patty Penetar, and Gabriel Perna, the panel reminded us to know your listener personas inside and out, and keep content absurdly relevant.

4. The Twitter Bot Crackdown Requires New Processes, Rules

There was lots of discussion in an Unconference Session around the pain caused by Twitter’s February 2018 decision to ban bulk tweeting and duplicate content posts. While originally intended to thwart malicious politically-focused bots, the new rules are having negative impacts on businesses who use automated Twitter posting apps or that have a large number of employees that tweet. If a user does not comply, their Twitter account may be shut down.

5. Software Review Sites Dominate the HIT Software Search Landscape

Also covered in an Unconference Session was the fact that review sites, such as Capterra and G2Crowd, rule page one of search rankings. To date, Google has given these sites preferential search rankings.  Love them or hate them, your prospects read the reviews and read these sites. The HITMC crowd felt mixed as to whether or not you should pay to get higher rankings, award badges, etc.

We did a paid trial on UpCity as a marketing agency and got 1-2 qualified leads over six months. Most of the leads we did receive were tire kickers and foreign companies with very limited budgets. I realize ours is an entirely different service versus product sale; however, natural search results pointing to our own URL outperform review site listings every time.

6. Make Your Business Interactions Relational, not Transactional

Perhaps the most important lesson I learn at HITMC each year is not from a session, but from interactions with this uniquely-bonded community. Relationships drive long-term partnership satisfaction and successful business results. Look around at your next HITMC or view the photos online. You’ll jaw drop at the number of hugs going around. Hugs and genuine smiles can be spotted between clients and agencies, between competitors, amongst media and PR folks. Five years ago, I knew I stumbled upon an event like no other. The privilege has been all mine to be a part of it.

HITMC Women
HITMC Women

About the Author:

Chris Slocumb
Chris is the founder and president of Clarity Quest Marketing, where she leads a talented group of marketers and designers helping healthcare and technology companies achieve marketing and business goals. To learn more about Chris' experiences and qualifications, visit our Meet Our Executive Team page.

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