In its 10th year, the Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference (HITMC) remains a strong community that takes a people-first approach, thanks to John Lynn and Colin Hung of the Healthcare Scene media outlet. HealthcareScene.com offers marketing and PR professionals opportunities to help health IT and healthcare organizations stand out in the industry through its health IT content, social channels, career resources, and the conference. Those marketing to hospital executives, doctors, practice managers, patients, or other healthcare professionals come to HITMC. Matt Raven, our VP of digital, joined me in spectacular Las Vegas to get acquainted, learn, connect, and be inspired.
When John opened the show to welcome the attendees and talked about HITMC’s community principles – really philosophies – he reminded me of how closely our work and life blend.
● Give before you get.
● Be remarkable.
● Be vulnerable. It's not a weakness.
● Focus on how to help people solve problems.
● Consider others' perspectives.
So it stands to reason that we should follow these philosophies in whatever we do. And it’s not hard to put these into action immediately. For example, when I attended a session, I sat down next to someone I had never met, introduced myself, and asked a question about where they lived and worked. I even found a fellow tennis player!
Here are four more takeaways from this year’s show:
Leave the Marketing Jargon at the Door
One day a switch can flip, and you can become a patient with a serious illness facing the complex world of healthcare from a different perspective. This was reinforced in a virtual visit by Burt Rosen, marketer, blogger, and patient advocate, who experienced healthcare from the patient side. When Burt was diagnosed with two forms of cancer, it fueled him to fight to change the system. Terms like “the patient experience” and pushing for “better data quality” suddenly became personal.
In his video presentation, Burt offered several lessons, one of which resonated in a few sessions – use everyday language, or as he said, “normalspeak.” For example, instead of saying “palliative care,” use “whole person care.” And the message to his fellow marketers was to always speak to what people need and care about. Even those in marketing, or perhaps especially those in marketing, can be the patient's voice through our work. There are no silver bullets in healthcare tech. But these days, people don’t want to work hard to learn what you do. Said another presenter: “Ditch the fluff.”
Up Close and Personal Networking
Matt and I remarked on how enjoyable a small show of 210 attendees was – a refreshing change from the conferences with miles of exhibits and tens of thousands of attendees. With that many people, you feel alone. Although some exhibitors were at HITMC, the event focused on discussions, presentations, and networking. With two or three breakouts per time slot, Matt and I could divide and conquer. And there was ample time to chat and introduce ourselves to others between sessions and during breaks and lunch. More than 30 sessions covered such topics as:
● B2C Marketing Tips for B2B Marketers
● Survey Says: Insights on Marketing to the Healthcare CIO
● Leveraging and Engaging Employees in Your Social Media Strategy
● Scaling Your PR Efforts to Prove the Value of Your Investment
● Getting the Most from Your Podcast
● Principles of Brand Management: Be a Brand of Choice
Each session brought creative approaches to some aspect of the healthcare tech marketing function – branding, email, social media, and traditional media – and some went into the benefits of using a specific technology or approach.
Boost in SEO Discussions
At HITMC22, Matt presented “Optimizing B2B Content for Peak Visibility,” and we noticed that the discussion about applying SEO was more of “we’re experimenting…” or “we’re behind.” We’d like to think that Matt sparked the fire as this year we found an uptick in the sessions referencing SEO and its importance in effective content marketing. Companies are tying lead gen to marketing, and in this recession, marketing dollars are scrutinized to impact the bottom line. As companies refurnish their websites, they want to become the source of truth for their brands. Marketers are testing the waters with pillar pages, blogs, and videos. They see the value of SEO and want to expand on that with consistent content creation from various voices that are valuable to their target audiences.
Which brings me to another point…
Relevance to Your Audiences Builds Relationships
Whether it’s about marketing a product directly or via a media channel, it’s essential to know your audience, communicate clearly, and offer a solution to a problem. How are you different? Why should someone care? Good stories gain a reporter’s attention, and educating customers and prospects through case studies helps paint a picture. From a content perspective, you can connect trends to marketing efforts by listening to your audience through a combination of Google trend data and SEO stats (search volume and keyword difficulty). This allows you to create a search-smart content plan, targeting the most valuable terms with the highest potential traffic. Then it becomes a continuous loop of fueling the content engine using topics relevant to your audiences to build relationships.
Once again, HITMC “hit” the mark as an event where the spirit is about people sharing ideas, offering tangible takeaways, and helping each other stand out. As marketing and PR professionals, we advocate for authentic, human connection. And not only is it OK to be vulnerable but it’s also encouraged.