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HIMSS19 is Over: Now the Strategic Fun Begins

February 21, 2019 | Dean Richardson

Like every annual HIMSS conference, HIMSS19 was large, lively and filled to the brim. We definitely met our step goals!

Walking the show floor in Orlando, the prominence of large consumer-oriented brands like Google, Microsoft and Amazon certainly grabbed everyone’s attention. Although “consumerism” and “patient engagement” have been discussed for years, it was interesting to hear deeper conversations last week about exactly what they should look like. It seems that most HIMSS vendors and attendees have bought into the concepts by now, so talk has turned to how to operationalize them from clinical and financial perspectives. Hence the looming presence of traditional consumer brands — as well as buzz about APIs, FHIR, blockchain, and other tactical responses to the practical hurdles.

In the midst of the show, it’s easy to get caught up in theoretical debates about different ways to solve enduring healthcare challenges. But now that we’re back on home turf, healthcare brands must return to some ground level questions: What did we learn? And, what do we do now?

Here are some of our HIMSS19 takeaways to help continue your post-show momentum:

1) We must think creatively. Gone are the days of the classic media briefing. With fewer and fewer journalists at HIMSS, garnering good exposure requires re-thinking your tradeshow objectives from the start. Whom do you really want to engage during the event? There are ample opportunities at HIMSS to build meaningful relationships, especially with key social and analyst influencers. For some of our clients, for instance, analyst briefings are now a vital part of tradeshow strategy.

After the show, we can nurture such relationships by following through on meeting action items and offering brief, periodic solution updates. We can also use targeted PR campaigns to bolster thought leadership presence in specific market segments.

2) We must dive deep into audience drivers — then address them. With so many talk tracks, tradeshows like HIMSS give us a terrific way to gauge what our audiences truly care about. While at HIMSS, we can look at trending educational sessions, listen to conversations (in person and on social media), and review or conduct research surveys. It’s equally insightful to see what’s hot, and what falls flat.

This year, for example, there was a big hum around two just-released government proposals designed to enhance interoperability and give consumers electronic access to health information. So, post-HIMSS follow-up could include sending insightful content about these proposed regulations to the leads captured at your booth. Or, you could host a webinar about the proposals that then folds into a trend-based lead nurturing campaign. The key is to deliver content designed to answer your audience’s challenges.

3) We must go to be seen, not to just sell. Seem counterintuitive? Aren’t sales the very reason we go to tradeshows? Well, yes … and no. It depends on how tradeshows fit into your overall marketing strategy. HIMSS may not be your sole lead-generation engine, but part of a total, integrated marketing approach.

Consider this: For many healthcare offerings, the purchase decision-making process is quite fragmented. By gathering together multiple influencers in one place, HIMSS lets you get in front of all of them at once. So, your goal while at HIMSS may have been simply to expand your visibility among internal and external influencers. Then, you can use post-show follow-up to capitalize on that visibility. You could launch an email campaign to deliver useful content to those influencers, for example. If you conduct a survey before and during the show, the results could become a strong, long-term engagement tool. You could also build a lead nurturing campaign, or post tradeshow talks on your website. Whatever your method, you want to maintain your relationships through regular, value-added touchpoints.

All of these takeaways point to is the importance of a fully integrated marketing strategy. HIMSS is a great show; a sleek, modern booth at HIMSS may be one good way to convey your story to the market. But remember that it’s just one lever you can pull to create better brand awareness, lead- and demand-generation. You may find equal or more value from smaller tradeshows, website support, or a more comprehensive digital marketing strategy. There is no single magic bullet. How you approach HIMSS — and the momentum you take away from it — must be driven by your unique, strategic marketing objectives.

Take a peek at what we were up to at HIMSS.

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