There’s a particular challenge associated with being an industry pioneer; you have to create awareness of a problem as well as its remedy. In some cases you’re filling in a well-known gap with an easily understood solution. In others, your product or service is more subtle, and perhaps, at best, discussed by a few confused pundits.
Let’s say you’re facing the latter situation, or have not reached the point where the media is even beginning to discuss your company. As the founder and president of an innovative healthtech business, I know this challenge all too well. Here are a few tried and tested strategies I have employed to boost brand awareness for an innovative new enterprise.
Know Your Industry, and Be Known for Knowing It
There are two areas of focus that every business owner should be eyeing: their knowledge and reputation in the industry. If executed well, the two easily complement each other.
I’ve been in the healthcare sector my entire life. I’ve spoken at public FDA meetings and spent time with C-suite executives as well as nurses on the ground. I engage with peers online, and have worked to develop partnerships with government agencies as well as with other healthcare companies.
This is all part of an effort to boost my knowledge, as well as build a reputation as a proactive member of the healthcare industry. Building a personal brand and associated relationships helps position both you and your company as leaders. You can then use that earned status to generate referrals and strategic partnerships among other companies. And if you already have such partnerships in place, then set about making that publicly clear — the real-life equivalent of an “As Seen In” section on a website.
Create 4 Elevator Pitches
All companies should be able to sum up their product or service in a 30-second pitch. I recommend having a number of them on hand, though, as there are four main groups you’ll need to engage: potential customers, potential investors, the media and fellow industry professionals. The pitch for each needs to be informative and relatable.
Let me demonstrate.
“Healthtech company Xcelrate UDI harnesses the power of the UDI and barcode scanning to improve patient safety at the point of care.”
This might make sense to healthcare professionals who are aware of what a UDI is, and potentially customers facing issues related to this. But the media? Investors? Unlikely.
At the same time, “dumbing it down” for the media or even the general public may not give customers or colleagues the information they need, either. For example:
“Our technology protects patients from dangerous medical products.” Okay, but how? The key is finding the balance between informative and succinct.
If there are any unique selling points, insert them succinctly. For example, our company is GSA-approved, which means customers looking to work with the government can use our technology. So, for certain customers, the elevator pitch would become, “GSA-approved healthtech Xcelrate UDI harnesses the power of the UDI and barcode scanning to improve patient safety at the point of care.”
If you’re the “first” or “only” one with a certain type of solution or technology, be sure to use that language in your pitch. Investors are a prime target for this variety. For example, “We are the only barcode scanning solution certified by The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.”
Educate with Great Content
A niche business faces the challenge of selling and educating simultaneously. Thanks to the multitude of channels out there, you’ve certainly got the advantage of variety. A good tip at the outset is to avoid being mysterious (how many times have you asked yourself, “What was that ad even for?”) — a tactic typically employed only by well-established companies, and even then is not a terrific way of boosting brand awareness.
In the vast realms of social media, web content, media, podcasts and the like, you’ve got all the opportunities you need to share information. Some like to read, some use visuals, and others prefer listening to a discussion.
So where should you be educating your audience? Keep in mind the tried and true five “W”s and an “H” when creating and sharing educational content:
• Who are you speaking to, and how will that change your language or approach? For example, most consumers will know Apple’s website and messaging, but fewer know that they also have a business focused section? Targeted resources help prospective customers, partners and investors find what they need without having to decode messy content.
• What action do you want people to take after reading the content? On product pages, we include content forms or buttons to help customers take a next step. On our “Press” page, we have links to view an archive of content, or links to related content. Decide the path you want customers to take, then guide them down it.
• Where are you publishing content?
• Why are you using this specific channel or sharing this piece of information?
• When will you share content, and…
• How often?
Many of these answers can be determined by whatever communications support you have on hand, but they need to be tied into a big-picture strategy.