Digital marketing is often one of three things for health tech organizations:
A pain in the proverbial you know where.
Something you do when all the other stuff is done.
Something you know is important but struggle to do.
And then there’s a fourth option I see from time to time: marketing is a challenge just like most other parts of a startup. However, they look for innovative ways to overcome limitations like no audience, small budgets, and time constraints to make inbound marketing work for them.
I shared the story of one of these digital health innovators on my podcast a couple weeks ago – I hope you give it a listen because it’s truly inspiring how Jani from imaware built an audience before he launched. It’s all about learning as you go, finding what works, and running with it.
That kind of can-do spirit that makes the perfect startup founder or early employee is just what you need to bring to your marketing. It is work and what works for every other company out there may not work for you; however when you try something and fail, you just keep trying and failing until you find a strategy that does work.
Here are six steps you can take to help you get started.
Determine your target audience
Your total addressable market is likely smaller than you may think, especially in healthcare. If you are a B2B organization with healthcare organizations as your target customer, it’s entirely possible to build a list of every single customer who would possibly buy from you as well as the people in those organizations who make the purchasing decisions.
Know your market segment
Just because you are selling to hospitals doesn’t mean you are selling to every hospital. Your product may work better for an integrated health system than a traditional hospital; or it may perfectly fit the needs of an ACO but not a PHO. To know that you need to understand the differences between different types of health systems, what their problems are, and what success looks like to them. Health plans are a similar scenario.
The healthcare industry is not one-size fits all. While this step takes some time and may happen in phases throughout your startup’s lifecycle, it is something to research and test even in the early stages of your company.
If you are B2C health tech company, this step is much simpler. You may only need one or two personas and you can easily find market research and do some primary research of your own.
It gets a little trickier in B2B however, especially in healthcare. Each health system, health plan, hospital, etc has multiple people who have a say in the purchasing decision.
First, there’s always the person in control of the final decision. You’ve got to get them on board.
Before you even reach them, however, you will likely encounter a person who could be a brand champion within the organization, another person who acts as the evaluator or gatekeeper for the final decision maker, and other people who will make their voices heard throughout the sales process.
It gets confusing. Your head is spinning with names and job titles. Here’s what I recommend: take your target market segment and build 3 broad personas, one for the top decision makers, one for evaluators, and one for brand champions (these are often the people who feel the pain of the problem you solve the most acutely).
Keep it simple, and you can flesh out more detail as you go. However, don’t get caught in the trap of persona building without actually marketing to those personas.
Create a core marketing message that goes back to your why
I wrote about this more extensively in last week’s blog post. However, it bears repeating here. Your core marketing message is the public-facing version of your why. It clearly articulates who you are, the underlying belief behind what you do, and who you help.
This core marketing message should be baked into every marketing campaign you build, every social media post you write, and all the great content you create. In many ways, it goes beyond being central to your marketing plan and helps you determine the products and services you sell.
Build a website that clearly communicates the hero’s journey
When I say hero, I’m referring to you and your startup. I’m referring to your customer. Key to converting, closing, and delighting the customers you sell to is making them the hero of your marketing story.
If you’ve ever read the book Building A Storybrand, you know exactly what I’m talking about – your entire marketing strategy should revolve around your customer. In this story, you take the role as a guide to the hero who helps them be successful.
Your website needs to include your core marketing message or some version of it above the fold. Next, you need to remind them just a little bit of what failure looks like. I’m not talking about fear-based marketing here; however you need to sprinkle a little bit of fear of what their life looks like without you in it.
The path to buy also needs to be very clear. No wishy washy calls to action that insinuate “oh maybe you don’t really need to buy from us; we just kinda sorta want you to.” Tell them exactly what they need to do to take the next step on the purchasing journey. Do they need to book a call, schedule a demo, get a quote? Then tell them so.
For website visitors that are interested but not yet ready to make a purchasing decision, include a lead magnet that offers them a lesser commitment (their email address, perhaps) in exchange for something valuable from you. This could be a checklist, a video training series, a webinar, or numerous other helpful pieces of content.
Remember, it’s all about relationships
If you take away nothing else from this post, I hope you remember this one thing: healthcare marketing is all about relationships. These relationships aren’t just for marketing purposes either – they can be how you gain a foothold in a new location, how you network with key players in health care, how you find investors, and how you build an audience for your content marketing endeavors.
While it could be easy to keep your focus entirely on your product, look up every once in a while and see people around you, both online and off. Engage on LinkedIn, attend networking events, go to a conference every so often, and look for people who are connectors – get to know them and they can introduce you to just the right people.
Is your digital health marketing working?
If not, I’d love to hear from you and help if possible. You can schedule a free, no-obligations call where I’ll help you diagnose your marketing woes and give you advice to fix them.
Are your marketing strategies failing?
Heal your health tech company’s marketing with this customer avatar and brand messaging guide.
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WHO IS WHITNEY?
Whitney is a consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help life-saving, life-changing technology break through the noise and achieve mass user adoption. Learn more about her here.
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