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Lay of the Brand Podcast

Marketing to healthcare CIOs – 2022 survey results
Lay of the Brand Episode 26 - marketing to healthcare CIOs

For healthcare technology marketers, knowing where to focus your efforts and your resources starts with understanding what CIOs really want from you — and what they don’t. What’s the best way to reach this elusive group, what are they reading and watching, and how can you avoid being the one who misses the mark?

To find out, we’re talking with Amanda Bury, Chief Commercial Officer at healthcare platform creator, Infermedica. She’ll give us her real-world insights, along with her take on Merritt Group’s survey of healthcare CIOs, that spells out how to connect with that valuable market.

For full survey results, visit Merritt Group’s Healthcare Technology Marketing Guide

I think what we’re going to start seeing is marketers are going to have to get a little bit more creative and crafty on how they take these longer white papers and create more shareable-size content that somebody can digest quickly, understand, move on, file away for another day, or leverage in a presentation.

— Amanda Bury, Chief Commercial Officer, Infermedica

About our guest:

A highly effective and self-motivated global sales and marketing leader with a passion for healthcare technology, Amanda Bury brings 20+ years successfully partnering with healthcare systems, resellers, and 3rd party integration applications to produce meaningful relationships and to improve the patience experience throughout their healthcare journey.

Episode transcript (edited for clarity):

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Welcome to Lay of the Brand, where we talk with the experts on tech marketing, creative and PR to learn what’s new, what’s working and what’s next. I’m Peter Jacobs with Merritt Group. 

For healthcare technology marketers, knowing where to focus your efforts and your resources starts with understanding what CIOs really want from you — and what they don’t. What’s the best way to reach this elusive group, what are they reading and watching, and how can you avoid being the one who misses the mark?

To answer those questions, and give marketers real metrics to work with, we’ve done two things. First, Merritt Group partnered with 72 Point to survey healthcare system CIOs and find out how they prefer to learn about new tech solutions. You can see the full results at the Merritt Group website. Second, to learn more about what the results really mean, I’m talking with Amanda Bury, Chief Commercial Officer at healthcare platform creator, Infermedica. Amanda thanks for joining us.

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: Thank you Peter for having me. I’m excited to be here today 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: I want to start with a general question: how easy is it to go wrong when you’re planning where to put your marketing efforts?

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: Taking the road less traveled — there’s sometimes we go down as marketers. But in all seriousness, I think with early stage companies or Healthcare I.T companies, you know, many times you’re trying to test the waters and I think there was a difference of how we saw how to plan marketing before the pandemic and post. And I gotta say in 2022, it has been so exciting to get back in person with people at conferences. And so when we’re looking and talking about marketing budget, we’re really starting to think right now about how do we refold-in in-person events back into our marketing efforts. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: So talking about reaching CIOs, what’s been working for you so far? And we’re going to talk about that in contrast to what we hear from the survey results in just a moment.

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: Well I think when you talk to CIOs and you look at the segment in which they represent this idea of technology and how technology plays in Health Systems today. Prior, marketers were very siloed from the IT portion of the business. Marketers would go, they would do their traditional buys, they would purchase their media. And once digital efforts starting to gain way, we started to see a shift where now marketing and IT had to come together. And at first it was a lot about infrastructure. There were hard costs, there were data centers, there was on-prem installs.

And now what you’re starting to see is more cloud-based solutions. You’re starting to see cloud data solutions, integrations with the EHR from like an online scheduling perspective, and now what’s happening is marketing and IT having to come together and really develop what is their strategy as it relates to the marketing efforts for their organization. And I’ve been part of companies where it has been really challenging because it was the early days and they still didn’t know how to dance with each other. But now it’s starting to become more fluid and a lot more digestible for us as technology companies because we’re better prepared, we have a better blueprint, we understand the needs of IT from an ease of use, integration standpoint — security privacy and data protection — but also then how do we relay that back to marketers so that they can generate the ROI and the metrics that they need to prove out the campaigns and programs that they are running for their patient population? So now you have this merriment of patient experience and marketing along with leveraging IT to make that entire patient life cycle more efficient. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Well as we know CIOs are notoriously hard to reach with marketing. In fact, our survey said that 80 percent of them said they got their tech news from the trade press, professional organizations and the national business press. 75 percent said they got vendor and product information at conferences and events which, as you’ve mentioned, we’re starting to have again. What that tells us is traditional channels are still essential. Does that surprise you? 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: It does. When I was reading the report, I kind of chuckled because I still think a lot of times, we fall back to what we know, and as marketers I think we’re still pushing out a lot of traditional content knowing that it’s producing, knowing it’s producing some numbers. But I really think that these in-person events, doing these smaller like 20-minute panel segments or people taking a white paper and dissecting it down into more snackable and shareable ideas is really what resonates more with the CIO who is leading those efforts. 

At conferences, I think we all pull nuggets from a lot of those presentations and those kind of stick with us and then they are reinforced in traditional efforts. So you might see those on LinkedIn or on a trade publication. But I think overall most marketers are still marketing to CIOs in a traditional sense because much of the community is still digesting a lot of that content. But I do see it shifting a little bit and I think that there are going to be some new avenues and channels that healthcare marketers and technologies specifically use to start to elevate their message to some of those C-suite executives like the CIO. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Do you think it’s a chicken and egg kind of situation where if the new types of content or the new channels aren’t being used, then why would anybody be looking there? 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: Yeah and also maybe people just aren’t creating good enough content for those channels, right? So I think what is it we all have the attention span of a goldfish, like three seconds, and I think it’s even becoming less is what they’re saying these days. And so I really talked to my team and to the members that I am working with about snackable content. It is great to put out some long-form journal articles or clinical data trial information or validation that you’re working on. But then how do you break that down and make it snackable — whether you create a short YouTube video or maybe you’re creating a workflow or a use case demonstration where you want somebody to digest something quickly, or maybe it’s a short form blog or social media post. 

I think what we’re going to start seeing is marketers are going to have to get a little bit more creative and crafty on how do they take these longer white papers and create more shareable-size content that somebody can digest quickly, understand, move on, maybe file away for another day, or leverage it in a presentation that they’re looking to put forward for budget planning strategy sessions, etcetera. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Well, the survey told us that the top four content types that CIOs are paying attention to are: videos, followed by case studies, vendor websites, and webinars. So clearly there’s a mix of the traditional with a little bit of some newer formats. I was surprised to see that cios are paying attention to videos but maybe it’s an opportunity for them to see the technology in action and that could be a direction that we should be looking at. 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: Yeah, I mean, I love videos, I love short form videos. There are some creative tools and technologies you can use when targeting CIOs where you can insert a little small personalized video into the email message for them. So instead of them having to read the email it’s actually your face, your voice. It gives you more of a personal connection. So whether it’s myself talking over maybe a demonstration or something that you’ve created that’s configured to their business. 

I think that’s another part, too, Peter, that really stands out to CIOs is if you’re doing the video or you’re producing some sort of content or collateral, how do you personalize it for them, for their specific business? So if I was targeting — I’m based here in Chicago — let’s say I was targeting a Chicago-based healthcare system. How do I make my message specific to them? How do I talk about the geography, landscape of the area, and talk about how our technology can help them in that area? I think creating a personalization as well as a kind of a back and forth through a video with them takes it even a next step. And I I hope that we get there relatively soon, because I think it’s also going to allow us to create more content, more quality content, in a quicker fashion. 

And I think that being on top of the trends and activities is also very easy to do in video or those digital assets, because you can create them more quickly. You know, creating long-form white papers, journal articles, case histories — those take months and months of validation and getting the metrics and the data, where you can have quick little snippets via a video or social media or let’s say a webinar, where you’re getting that information delivered to you much more on a silver platter that you can take back and share with colleagues or share with leadership within your organization. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: I have to wonder about, and this is maybe an unusual way to put it, but the “content of your content.” If you’re using your outreach materials to deliver a selling message, how does that compare to an educational message where you’re just trying to inform and engage and as you say generate a two-way conversation? 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: So the old sales rep in me or,you know, a bag-carrying sales person, remembers the days of walking that fine line of being a thought leader and an educator, but also knowing that potentially you have a quota to hit, right? And so you know looking at both of those elements, I think as an industry, there has been so much progression in healthcare technology creating such fabulous thought leaders along the way. You think of people like Aaron Martin, who came from Amazon and Providence and now it’s back at Amazon, you think of people like David Feinberg at Mount Sinai who has been in the industry and a thought leader for a long time. When you leverage those as your customers or partners in the market and you talk to those key opinion leaders and you weave them into your story to talk about strategy and engagement — I always tell people sometimes I want to have a conversation with you and it’s not about our business. Let’s talk about the industry and what’s happening. And I think companies that can build partnerships with those KOLs or key opinion leaders and build measurable ROI and metrics… I think gone are the soft days of just delivering a workflow or a use case and say, like, “this works,” you know, “fingers crossed.” 

I think you need hard metrics, hard ROI of value and how that value relates back to the outcomes that they’re looking to achieve. And then having those opinion leaders or those thought leaders at a referenceable site for that. Because we’re all learning from each other. The early days of healthcare technology — when I started in this industry, there weren’t many key opinion leaders or key thought leaders. We were all kind of learning from each other and gaining insights. And now the sea of such smart, talented people out there is everywhere from provider networks to the payers to technology companies like telemedicine and online scheduling. We’re really just a vast sea of people that we can kind of lean on and learn from. 

And I think going back to these conferences and these events is helping us now kind of regain some of that steam of how we want information delivered to us, when we want it and where we want it,  right? So kind of the Uber effect: I’m looking for convenience, I’m looking for affordability and I’m looking for transparency, and how am I going to gain that through the partners or the vendors that I work with within my network or within my health system? 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Ninety percent of the CIOs we surveyed said they are influenced by key opinion leaders, so clearly that means the things you’re talking about need to become much more important in your go-to-market strategy. Some of the things you discussed about how to get them engaged also goes back to what we need to be doing in marketing in general: making it about them, not us. So how should a marketer trying to target that audience of opinion leaders adjust their story? What are the kinds of things they can do to make themselves more palatable to KOLs? What are the things that they can do to tell a story that is more inclusive and engaging? 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: I think it comes back to personalization. So many sales pitches or presentations or conferences presentations you see only start with the company information up front and like a NASCAR slide of all their logos and all their stats and who we are. And at the end of the day, that’s not creating personalization or making it about them. I’ve always been under the mindset that you start a presentation or you start a conversation with a potential customer prospect or a partner you’re looking to work with about them: what are their challenges, what are they struggling with? And then creating personalized presentations and maybe demos or use cases about them: “Hey, we went to your website and saw that you don’t have a symptom checker but you’re directing people to go schedule care. What we thought would be interesting is if you were to insert x y z” and giving them some concrete examples or giving them use cases. “We see that you have a lot of similarities to a customer we have in the Northeast region of the United States, what they did.” And you kind of, again, sharing — I feel like this whole industry is about sharing: sharing what’s been successful, sharing what hasn’t been successful. Because clearly we’ve all gone down the wrong path of marketing activities or presentations or slides that haven’t worked or resonated. 

So I feel like a lot of it is about sharing of what you know. And for our business, that seems to resonate really well — kicking off and starting almost with, like a backwards, like demoing first, even before they know who you are. It’s like this is a demo of the art of the possibility of what we can do for your health system for your, member network, for your, you know, telemedicine members, and really kind of get them thinking and saying, “Is this a challenge for us or is this an opportunity for us to accelerate our engagement, to accelerate the way in which we interact with patients?” 

And so I think if we flip the script and put their needs first and show them what the art of the possible is, I think it changes the conversation. It also changes the fact that you’re in it with them as a partner and you’re not just there as a vendor that they’re signing a contract and cutting an invoice for, right?” We always want to make sure that from a customer success standpoint that our customers are at the center of what we’re doing as well as their patient member network, whatever it might be, and really that is at the nexus of what our mission is. And we we take that very seriously and and we also know that our customers understand that we’re more interested in ensuring that their populations are taken care of first and foremost. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: It sounds like there’s a lot of opportunity to try some new things and as you mentioned earlier there’s other channels or some emphasis in certain channels that maybe isn’t happening right now. But in your experience, how willing are marketers to take a chance on something, to try to fail fast but learn from that and apply it to what does work? 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: I think organizations, when you’re talking about technology startups or maybe mid-stage technology startups, I think we’re all learning that you need to fail fast, right? You have to try things and see what works. It was interesting to me that webinars was also on that list because I feel like we’re all getting a little bit of webinar burnout. I think podcasts are a great addition — I’m surprised, Peter, that podcasts aren’t on the list, but maybe they will be next time. But I’m really enjoying a lot of the healthcare podcasts that are coming out — there are a couple out there that I listen to and have engaged with and I think again, that snackable content, right? So if you do create — I’m not telling everybody to go out and create a podcast because with a lot of companies that’s not sustainable — but maybe one of your strategies is to be parts of other podcasts or team up and be part of a podcast. And I think that kind of also dovetails into the webinar aspect of it, which is just basically a visual podcast, right? But making webinars shorter, making them more like fireside chats or panels where you’re engaging multiple people and it’s not somebody just clicking through slides for 45 minutes. 

But again I think it’s about engagement, I think it’s about interaction. I would love to see LinkedIn get a little bit more Innovative in terms of how they interact with people real time. Kind of like how Clubhouse stuck around for a little bit, you know, it  kind of faded out very quickly but I think there’s a lot of opportunities from a social standpoint. We know cios are on LinkedIn, we know that they’re reading the trades on there. I think that there’s opportunity for them to innovate on that platform. But I also think if you create a video, it’s pretty easy to know, once you create it, if you’re going to use it or not, right? So maybe it took you 45 minutes but if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t look great, you could move on. And so I think that that’s a really low barrier than the days where you’re creating these long white papers or articles or digital content that takes a designer, it takes a copywriter — now you’re leveraging a lot of financial resources. I think you sitting in front of a camera, either telling the story or interviewing somebody, you could easily can that or scrap that and say that wasn’t really for us at a very low cost. So with all of the technologies like TikTok and Snapchat and Instagram, it’s all short form video, it’s all videos that we’re consuming. And so I think that as Healthcare marketers, we really need to embrace the visual, the video snackable size content more to get in front of the C-suite executive that we need to chat with. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Well, let’s talk about some of those things that aren’t connecting as well with healthcare CIOs. 30 percent in the survey said they found white papers useful, 40 percent get their tech information from social media. So not horrible but certainly not as impressive as some of the other channels that we talked about. But that said, digital marketing, which is closely tied to social media, is more important than ever. So how do you reconcile all of that and how should that impact your strategy, especially if you want to have a multi-channel approach? 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: So I think you have to really think about what are the pillars that you’re looking for. Let’s say you’re planning on a quarterly basis or you’re thinking half annual or quarterly. What are the pillars that you’re standing up for your strategy that quarter, the pillars around, let’s say, in-network appointments or leveraging a symptom checker like we have at Infermedica. And if that’s one of your pillars, you then need to make sure that your entire strategy around that pillar has that multi-channel approach. But you need to know where to really spend your time. Are you going to put out some paid LinkedIn advertising and how are you going to target there, and then is your LinkedIn advertising going to arc back to that white paper? Or maybe it’s a video message based on that white paper and they have to get through a couple more channels to get to the white paper, right? Or are you going to spend some time more on video and social selling? Like I said, there are some great tools that you can use where your sales team or your customer success team could create quick, short little videos just on their MacBook, embed them in an email you know, “Paid customer, like we saw 40 increase, everything’s going great, would love to set up your next meeting, happy holidays.” I mean it is so much more pleasant to receive that than an email that you have to read, file away, respond to. It’s just a little bit, again, more about that personalization. 

So I think when you talk about just leveraging the different aspects of your strategy, you do have to make sure that, even though some of those numbers might be a little bit lower, there are still valuable KOLs and valuable customers in those segments and you shouldn’t leave them out. Because we do know that CIOs are still using those channels. But you need the reinforcement of the brand message around it as well. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: I want to ask you about something that’s not part of the survey, but I’m just curious about your take on this. AR, VR, maybe even the metaverse — I know that’s reaching way into the future at this point, but augmented reality and virtual reality have a place in marketing and I’m wondering if, with healthcare technology trying to reach CIOs, if you see that as a possibility to include in a strategy. 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: I think it also is business dependent. So the one thing we didn’t talk about is: not all strategies fit all businesses. And I think many times marketers hear about TikTok or Snapchat or something new and they’re like, “We have to try it.” And I think you have to step back and say, “Does this fit our business model? Are we somebody that benefits from this?” 

I did an interesting marketing campaign years ago when Snapchat just came out here in Chicago for the Chicago marathon. And we actually created lenses for the marathon and we created a meeting point based on Snapchat coordinates at the finish line and we leveraged like this whole Health Hub station where you could come and get a massage after and all of that The strategy made sense for that moment, right, but it didn’t make sense potentially for that Health Care system to use that strategy for other areas of marketing. And so when you think about things like virtual reality or augmented reality in healthcare, they definitely have a space because a lot of what we do in healthcare and see is visual and is an experience. And so if you’re taking a CIO through what a data center looks like and you can get a real creative way of looking at the data center in a cloud and how it navigates and how the tenants go back and forth and where things are stored, that is a great strategy. That is, you’re taking them on a journey and they are almost feeling and touching what that’s going to look like. But I think if you’re somebody — maybe a company that is more based on, let’s say, your image, you’re taking images like diagnostic images, and putting them on a disk and storing them, maybe not the best strategy for you. 

So I don’t think all strategies are one size fits all. You have to think about what’s the purpose and what are the outcomes you’re looking to achieve. But I think if you’re in an experiential part of healthcare, I can see one, like for our symptom checker — taking you over a body and saying my shoulder hurts, and what does that look like, and how do we drill down into the inner workings of the shoulder, and are you a male or female? There are ways to get creative with it, but also knowing your audience and how they want to consume that. That might be a great thing to do at a conference where you’re trying to drive people over to a booth or stuff like that. So I think really digesting the strategy and making sure it fits within your organization is really critical.

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Brand authenticity gets discussed quite a bit to the point where it’s getting a bit diluted but it does have a serious meaning. Tell me in your thinking how a brand impacts somebody’s willingness to hear your message. 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: You know, I think the authenticity piece you mentioned, it does, it gets diluted. Because we say transparency, authenticity. But I think if you’re living it day to day within the culture of your business… I’ve been on calls with my sales team where we’ve said, “This has been a great call. We love learning about you but I don’t know that you’re a right fit for our business. We would actually be doing you a disservice to partner because you’re asking for maybe a lot of customization or configurability that just doesn’t align with our product.” And so I think stepping back and sharing that authentic voice and making sure that the way in which you promote your brand is really being clear in your delivery and your approach. 

So being authentic to your brand means also being authentic to the customer as well and stepping back and saying, “I think what you’re trying to achieve — is it going to be a good outcome with our product? We wish you the best of luck. Maybe we can make a recommendation.” I think that’s another really powerful thing is sharing your network and opening your network to other companies or businesses or partners that might be a good fit for them. You know, “Hey, I just saw somebody at a conference and what you’re talking about is what they’re working on. I can connect you with this person that I just met. It might be a good contact.” I think being able to be a connector, a power connector and saying to a key opinion leader, to a customer, “We might not be a good partner fit today but let me introduce you to somebody that might be.” I think that is a very powerful statement and shows authenticity of the relationship and how this industry is also run. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Amanda any last thoughts for us on how to engage Healthcare CIOs? 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: I think being authentic making sure that your brand is authentic to the market, making sure that your mission and vision is aligned to what they’re looking for and really making sure that you’re listening to what their challenges are, understanding the opportunities that they’re looking to promote and also achieve within their organization. We all in healthcare want to put patients at the center of the experience and we need to remember that, whether you’re a C-suite executive a daily marketer, a copywriter, we’re all patients at the end of the day. And the CIOs that we’re dealing with are also working through their own health care system challenges as patients. And so I always try to remember that at the end of the day no matter what the decision is, it’s always great to have the chance to meet CIOs and understand what they’re working on and how we’re all trying to progress the industry together. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: I’ve been talking with Amanda Bury, Chief commercial officer of Infermedica. Amanda, thank you so much for being with us. 

Amanda Bury, Infermedica: Thanks Peter. Nice speaking with you. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: And thank you all for joining us. If you’d like to see more results from our healthcare CIO survey, visit the resources section of the Merritt Group website at m-e-r-r-i-t-t  g-r-p dot com. Lay of the Brand is brought to you by Merritt Group, an integrated strategic communications firm that blends the best of PR, marketing and creative to help our clients tell their stories and build business. Got a topic suggestion or want to share feedback? Subscribe to Lay of the Brand on your preferred listening platform and leave us a review. And please spread the word and tell your friends and colleagues to tune in as well. To learn more about Merritt Group and the show, check out


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The Award-Winning Lay of the Brand Team

Host: Peter Jacobs

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Peter Jacobs

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dotcomm site bug gold award
bulldog pr awards
27-th annual