Healthcare IT start-ups usually have a great idea – what they lack is clarity on how to achieve it.

When a start-up founder approaches me, I start listening for clues to where they are strategically. Do they know who their market is? Do they know what sets them apart? Do they know what influences their target market’s buying decisions?

These are all pretty foundational questions, yet many start-ups are able to launch – and even find clients – without knowing the answers. This might work for the short-term but, to grow and succeed over the long haul, a company is going to need to be able to answer these questions.

From the founder’s perspective, it can sometimes seem like those questions have been properly addressed, even when they haven’t been. Here are three sentences I frequently hear from company founders, which indicate trouble brewing. If you hear yourself or a member of your team talking like this, it’s time to step back and dive into your marketing strategy.

1) This can help everyone.

This is the most common red flag I hear when talking to a founder. They are always full of passion and enthusiasm – sometimes for a problem they want to resolve, and sometimes just for love of their app. With such a high level of enthusiasm, it’s no surprise that they frequently talk about how all kinds of groups can benefit from their solution. Hospitals and nursing homes and private practices – their solution will help them all.

The thing is, from a strategic standpoint, helping everyone is a death sentence. Where is “everyone”? What does “everyone” do for a living? What does “everyone” read? The answers are so broad they are useless. To grow successfully, healthcare start-ups need to know exactly who they help. Is it nurses or doctors? Even better, is it surgical nurses or ER nurses? Is it pediatricians or radiologists?

Of course, that’s just the beginning. Health system purchases are not decided by a single person – you are going to have to convince a whole team of people. And your strategy is going to have to specify what message to present to each of them.

If this sounds like you or your team, make a point of reining in your company focus.

2) We are only collecting data from demo requests right now.

This is such a doozy. The odds of someone landing on your site and being ready to contact you are incredibly slim. You’re a start-up – how are they even hearing about you? So collecting data only at that moment is ineffective.

What you need is to think big picture. Where are you finding your prospects? At trade shows? Cold calling specific departments? Via Twitter chats? Wherever you find them, think of what data would be useful to you. Do you need to know if they use a value-analysis committee? Or if another department uses the type of solution you offer? Or when they review large IT purchases?

Wherever you meet prospects, you should have a set of clear data points you want to collect. Sometimes, you can get that from a conversation or online research. Other times, you will need to offer something of interest to them – a problem-solving webinar or a video showing a ground-breaking approach – and collect their data in exchange.

This goes beyond basic online forms; you will need to incorporate data collection through webinar polls, surveys, re-targeting or progressive profiling to flesh out your data.

3) Right now, we are just trying to build awareness – we’ll think about lead gen later.

Ooh, this one kills me because it shows a real lost opportunity.

Basically, you’re saying that you’ve just wasted your PR investment. Good awareness-raising campaigns are always supported by lead generation campaigns. The awareness-raiser gets you to the website or the landing page or the event, and the lead gen campaign gives you a reason to share your contact information.

Even if you collect contact information, if your lead gen strategy is not developed, these leads can grow cold. You need to have a plan in place to keep these people interested in you and aware of what you offer.

Healthcare IT start-up strategy has to include lead generation.

Traditional marketing talks about product, price, promotion and place. Break down the promotion component and you better have a lead gen strategy. Without it, you risk doing a ton of work and not getting the data you need to build your business.

Do you want to bolster lead generation at your healthcare IT start-up? I can help you create a strategy that understands the unique solution you present and gets you in front of the right people. Get in touch.