The way companies market has changed fundamentally in the last decade
There are a new set of rules to be a successful marketer and firms who get to grips with these can really thrive. One of the reasons I started Healthlaunchpad was to help healthtech companies grow their business by applying these new rules of marketing.
I speak from personal experience. My early career was spent in the “traditional” mass marketing. This TV advertising-lead model was thrown on its head by the emergence of digital marketing. I made the move into digital very early on and rode this wave for twenty-five years.
In 2013, I started my own technology business. This was not long after I read David Meerman Scott’s seminal, New Rules of Marketing and PR. The new rules made perfect sense to me and I applied these new marketing techniques in building a successful healthcare technology business that is used by over 75,000 clinicians. We sold this business in 2019.
The Consumer is In Control
Digital has shifted control of the message and how products and services are bought into the hands of the consumer. In the “traditional” model, marketers interrupted what you were watching to demand that you buy their product. In most cases, whoever spent most, won. The advent of the web, search engines, mobile apps, streaming TV, social media, etc. have changed that by giving the consumer more power to control what they buy, how they buy it and how they are marketed to. I recently read that these days,
“70% of the buying decision is made before a prospect has engaged with a sales person”
This doesn’t mean that consumers and business customers don’t want to hear from you. On the contrary, they have many questions that need answering as they make a decision. As a marketer your responsibility is to answer their questions. This philosophy is encapsulated brilliantly by Marcus Sheridan in his book, “They Ask You Answer”.
In his book, Marcus tells how he turned around his failing swimming pool business after it was devastated by the 2008 recession. He realized that while people weren’t actively buying they were still researching.
He added a blog to his pool company’s web site. Every evening, he would return home from long days on the road talking with customers. He would then write blog posts based on the questions he heard that day.
Questions covered everything – what type of pool to buy, who were the best pool suppliers in the area, how to maintain your pool, etc. There were hundreds of questions and he wrote hundreds of blog posts.
They asked. He answered.
Every evening, he would write long into the wee hours, creating simple posts that answered these questions.
Within a few months he saw an increase in inbound inquiries for supplies, maintenance and even a few new pools. As the economy came back, his business started to grow again rapidly. The single biggest reason was that when someone searched for anything pool related in his area, his blog posts came up high in the search results.
More importantly, this positioned his firm as the local experts. If you were buying a new pool you had to take a look at them.
Marcus started sharing what he learned with other businesses. He is a charismatic speaker and within a short while he was in demand as a keynote speaker.
He created a consulting business off the back of this. This firm has gone on to become part of one of the top Inbound Marketing Agencies, Impact.
Putting This Into Practice Is Hard
While the premise is simple, executing “They Ask You Answer” is a very hard work. Creating new content every day is a grind. Creating high quality content is a full-time job.
It’s also very frustrating. Getting results with content takes time and there is a lot more to it than writing good blog posts. You have to become an expert in using social media to extend the reach of your content. You have to optimize each post so that Google will favor it. You have to get backlinks from other web sites. And you have to be consistent.
Most companies do it half-heartedly and I can understand why. If you are a marketing manager, you can generate more leads faster with a webinar or an email campaign.
Eating My Own Dog Food
I am committed to what I have learned from both David Meerman-Scott and Marcus Sheridan. In my new business, Healthlaunchpad, my mission is to help tech companies navigate healthcare better, specifically by improving the way they sell and market.
My aspiration is to be viewed as an authority on this subject. What this means is that if someone is searching about this topic, Healthlaunchpad will come up. It also means that others will refer and recommend me to their network.
To that end I have created a resource center for anyone in healthcare sales and marketing. It includes blog posts, my podcast, webinar recordings, downloadable documents and resources from others like the awesome guys at Gravity Digital.
It’s early days but it seems to be working.
If you are in the healthcare field, check it out or email me and let me know what questions you have and what I should be writing about.
You Ask. I’ll Answer
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash