Why Marketing Health IT Is So Damn Hard
Sam Stern

Sam is the Founder and Chief Marketing Technologist at Modallic. Modallic specializes in brand development and marketing for Mobile Healthcare Technology (mHealth) firms. As a life-long entrepreneur, Sam directs the mHealth storytelling and mHealth agile marketing process unique to the Modallic approach.

After bootstrapping operations and product/service development for three long, trying years, you finally attract the first round of substantial investor seed money. At last, now you have the capital to really take off, get your health IT services planted in the market, and begin driving sales. 

You’re filled with hope.

And yet a sense of everything isn’t quite right grinds in your gut. 

When the first round of funding hits your bank account, the pressure is on. Your marketing and sales is under the gun. Results must happen. Sometimes, depending upon the investors, results must happen FAST.

Yet, many health IT entrepreneurs make business-killing mistakes about marketing. 

Many health IT entrepreneurs are unaware of these three issues because they come from a technical or medical background. They simply lack marketing and sales experience and instincts. Or, they may have marketing and sales sense, but they’re so busy and focused on product/service development, and/or attracting more money. As a result, marketing doesn’t grab enough attention.

In addition, consider these three factors that make marketing health IT a challenge:

1. Most of the time, potential clients don’t know what they don’t know. Hospital or physician practice leaders and decision-makers are busy and time crunched.  In many cases, they’ve already invested 6 or 7 figures on IT solutions. They’re terrified of making a mistake in adding a new vendor that could cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars. AS a result, they lean towards maintaining the status quo. They hide within a committee decision-making heirarchy.

Health IT is an extremely complex sale. Few clients understand how it works and the overall impact on the organization. It requires massive amounts of data and in-depth, time-consuming communication. Delicate communications requiring compliance with laws, regulations, patient privacy, and patient sensitivity all impact IT.

Health IT firms must have strong and effective marketing and sales strategies to break through this inherent challenge.

2. Unable to test the BIG Idea - Traditional Marketing Approach. Most health IT entrepreneurs have a compelling vision, a BIG Idea about a product or service. Unfortunately, under the pressure to deliver results with the addition of seed money, the great majority of these entrepreneurs lack a smart, strategic way to test their vision with real, live customers.

With testing not an option, the first group chooses the traditional marketing path. Develop a detailed business plan. Conduct market research. Rely upon paid marketing messages- Public Relations, ads in trade journals. Attend trade shows. Rely upon print ads and mailings. Gear up the sales staff. 

While this approach can perhaps work, it is slow and inflexible. It’s also expensive. Seed money will be burned fast.

3. Frenzy of activity to test the BIG Idea. This is the just do it approach.  It involves a focus on tactics and activity. A flurry of phone calls to prospects. posting tons of website content and then bombarding Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin with posts of links back to the site. Producing videos. Conducting interviews and webinars. Attending all the trade shows.

Again, this can work…

But is time intensive. It can potentially burn out staff.

It’s sneaky expensive. Throwing a bunch of tactics against the way can potentially destroy your branding and positioning. Your business appears desperate and weak because what you’re DOING doesn’t sync up with what you stand for.

So what’s the answer.

Invest in getting your branding and positioning right up-front. Adopt a flexible, agile process to “test” all your marketing activities against your brand and positioning strategy.

Developing a health IT brand and positioning strategy requires hundreds of small decisions that add up to an effective marketing plan. The smart health IT entrepreneur realizes he’s too busy, or lacks the expertise to do this alone. An outside marketing professional guides the firm in this critical thinking.

If, in the pit of your stomach, you know your marketing isn’t working and you’re lighting seed money on fire every day, get help.

Schedule a Health IT Brand and Positioning Exam Today.

Invest 45 minutes of your time on the phone. We’ll help you pinpoint what ails your branding and positioning.  You’ll discover how the value of a strong, integrated brand and positioning stops sales pain. You’ll come away with simple prescription Action Steps for immediate sales pain relief.

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photo credit: Neil via photopin cc

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