Healthcare IT Companies: Big or Small, Inbound is for Everyone
It's easy to come to the conclusion that companies have different tactics for how they do business, manage their teams, and develop strategy based on their size and their revenue. Some companies, like Epic, openly acknowledge that they spend less time on their marketing strategy than others because they achieved "brandeur" and success early on.
Regardless of how successful or big or small your software company is, having a healthcare marketing strategy will take you much farther than having none at all.
Fortunately, if you've already been working a little inbound methodology into your marketing strategy, you can rest assured that there's not a huge difference in approach for inbound marketers working at companies large and small.
Jake Behnke, Sr. Marketing Communications Specialist at Surgical Information Systems said so himself. Check out an excerpt from the conversation I had with him for our latest Perpetual Growth Podcast to see what he said about industry leaders and smaller healthcare IT companies that are competing for attention in the same space. You can listen to the entire podcast by clicking the link at the end of this post.
Shari: When I look at how the industry heavyweights like Epic, Cerner and Cognizant and even Philips do their marketing. Cognizant, they have a two-pronged approach to their strategy, which is to communicate with distinction and to be unique with their content and also make sure that they’re solving customer problems first. That’s a very inbound way to approach it.
And Cerner also has a two-pronged approach with their content. There’s the one side where they do thought leadership and marketing directed at their peers and their competition, and then they’re also doing podcasts about population health and clinical practice aimed at their customers.
Then on the other end you have Philips who devotes a lot of energy to giving the patients whose lives are impacted by the software directly, giving them a platform to talk about how the software has made them happier or their patient outcome better. Like you said, word of mouth. If the patients are happy then it’s going to make their potential customers more interested in using their software.
That all being said, what are some ways that smaller healthcare IT companies can learn from what these big industry heavyweights are doing? And what are some ways that those practices could be applicable to them?
Jake: From a marketing perspective, I think the general inbound methodology can be applied to any size business. I think the trick is and especially with what we do at SIS is, one: we understand why we do things, how we do them, and who we do them for. We understand that we aren’t those industry heavyweights and we are filling a much different niche and a much different market.
For example, earlier you mentioned Epic. Epic is primarily a client server-based enterprise solution. And Phillips does a lot of what you said, like personal health programs and personal health devices. We are specifically, at least with our surgery center division, we’re going to places that have maybe on average five to six operating rooms. Many of them focus on single specialty procedures, like GI or orthopedics. There are many that do multi-specialty as well but just to consider the scope of what they’re doing we really focus on trying to speak specifically to our niche. It’s the same inbound tactics that a big heavyweight would use.
One of the ways we differentiate from companies like that, is actually a metaphor that one of our sales guys likes to use. When a surgery center is considering going with an Epic or a Cerner, he would always say using a hospital-based EHR for your surgery center would be like picking up your kids from school in a mack truck. You know it’ll get the job done but it’s not really the right tool for that job.
You have to think about how many different departments there are in a hospital and how many different employees. You’re dealing with organizations that are just monsters and the price tag on something like Epic is monster. You’re spending tens of millions or 100 million dollars on a system like Epic. But I do appreciate what they do from a marketing perspective and Epic in particular really focusses on culture, from what I’ve read and what I see. They’re really focussed on, "this is why we do things." Everything that we do for our customers and that they do for their patients is rooted in a core value of why they go to work in the morning. So I think it’s a very smart strategy when you’re trying to build a positive brand.
So no matter how big or small your healthcare IT company is, it always pays to stay the course with a well thought out inbound strategy. If you know inbound, you don't have to deviate from your healthcare marketing strategy to play like a heavyweight.