How (Not) to Stand Out in Healthcare Marketing

How (Not) to Stand Out in Healthcare Marketing

Earlier this year, Mike and I attended our fourth HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition. For those not in the know, “HIMSS” is short for Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and is the industry’s largest health IT conference and tradeshow.

It may seem odd for a couple of marketing guys to attend a giant healthcare conference every year, but it actually makes a lot of sense. For starters, we do a lot of work in healthcare. Besides that, HIMSS is a living case study in standing out from your competitors.

HIMSS is a forum in which you and all competitors come to make an impact. It’s where everyone puts on their best performance, displaying colossal booths, updated branding, trendy new designs and carefully crafted positioning to capture the attention of a sea of prospects. You put on your best show and see what the companies you fight so hard to outsell are doing to keep you from winning.

But ask yourself, what do you remember about your competitors? What do you remember about any of the exhibitors? More (if not most) importantly, what do your prospects remember about you?

Based on my experience at HIMSS in recent years, I’d bet that they remember hearing about innovation, integration, data and analytics. Great! …. Right?

In reality, they likely remember these not because your message got through to them in a very special, meaningful and memorable way, but because every single exhibitor was pushing this exact same message.

In an industry focused on the need for and power of innovation in products, services and processes, and in which providers need all of the guidance in the world to help evolve their practices, marketers are failing to provide clear direction to why their answers are best.

When everyone says the same thing and sells the same thing, how can prospects possibly be expected to see you as the innovator you so desperately want them to?

When companies with similar products and services are talking to the same people, they are typically trying to out-detail one another in an attempt to stand out. Millions of marketing dollars are spent as bullet points are reworded and reordered. Instead of finding compelling, digestible information, prospects find themselves caught in the middle of a subtle battle of semantics.

When you have “the most authoritative system” and your competitor has “the most trusted system,” what’s the difference? What does that even mean?

Healthcare marketers need to find ways to educate prospects on what these claims really mean – how it impacts their products, how it impacts their company mission and culture, and most importantly, how all this impacts the prospect and their business. Without this clarity, prospects are likely to stay neutral because they don’t have a clear reason to choose you over the exhibitor next to you.

We’ll likely be at HIMSS again in 2016 (Vegas, baby!) and hope to see more healthcare exhibitors with marketing like this – unique messaging backed by education, not just bullet points and industry jargon. Marketing that will make a memorable impression that prospects understand well enough to side with.

Jesse McGowan

Jesse McGowan

Jesse McGowan is Partner and Account Director at Atomicdust and works with clients to develop smart marketing strategies.

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