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Interview Highlights: Finding Courage in Healthcare Marketing

Messaging in healthcare is all about humanity, but many companies miss the mark by not appealing to consumers’ emotions, which limits engagement and stunts campaign performance. In this interview, we’re joined by Theo Romeo, Creative Director at Intelligent Demand, to unpack the state of content marketing in the healthcare industry. Read the highlights from the interview below, or listen to the full conversation

Uberflip: Theo, what can you tell us about the state of content marketing in healthcare right now?

Theo Romeo: I think content marketing in the healthcare industry is extremely oversaturated. There’s way too much content. Even six or seven years ago, we knew systematizing content development and content production was important, but there wasn’t really a standard checklist that could be applied to every piece of content in every campaign. You had different frameworks that could be applied, like the customer journey, but I think we took that too literally when it was really just meant to guide us, similar to a thought exercise.

Then there was some misunderstanding with how many touchpoints a customer needs during their buyer journey. Companies seem to be creating as much content, as quickly as possible, bombarding prospects with it without thinking strategically about how each asset fits into the buyer journey. This kind of content ends up being of lower quality, which doesn’t encourage engagement, and chances are your competitors are all creating the same types of things. It causes too much noise for buyers to wade through.

Uberflip: In an environment with all this indistinguishable content, how do you connect with buyers on a personal level? 

TR: In my opinion, marketing is trying too hard to cover the entire spectrum of the conversation. It's trying to engage, it's trying to indoctrinate, it's trying to warm up a lead, and it’s trying to close that lead. But at the end of the day, it’s sales, not marketing, who are going to close a deal. Where marketing really succeeds is helping to get a lead to that point. Creating content specific to buyers’ needs, rather than blasting content from all angles, relevant or not, is far more beneficial. It might feel safe to create all sorts of different content to cover all your bases, but by prioritizing what will be most helpful for your leads and focusing your energy there, you’ll see bigger wins. 

Uberflip: What are your thoughts on some of the key differences from a marketing messaging perspective when it comes to B2B versus B2C?

TR: B2B purchases often involve more decision makers than B2C. Where B2C purchases can be impulsive, B2B are considered. B2C tend to be a little more emotional in nature because the consumer doesn’t necessarily need to rationalize every purchase. This means B2C messaging really needs to focus on those emotional triggers to connect with consumers. In my opinion, that makes B2C messaging more effective than B2B messaging. 

Uberflip: When you think about personalizing content, what do you think is working right now in the industry, and what do you think are some misconceptions, or things that aren’t working? 

TR: I think the premise of personalization means something should be very relevant. Whether you’re making a first impression, or you’ve spoken to this person previously, or they’ve even been in campaigns before, the messaging always needs to be personalized. 

You need to know who the contact is. Who are they in relation to your organization? What is the relationship you have with them? And how do you respond based on the quality of your relationship? There are so many things to consider; so many opportunities for personalization.

Where we sometimes fall short is that we tend to compromise on what personalization looks like. We do things like fill in the {{First Name}} {{Last Name}} {{Company Name}} blanks. I think that's meaningless. It may have been impressive seven years ago, but buyers today already have the expectation that you know these things about them, so the generic greeting means nothing. 

Personalization in the form of verticalization is especially important for the healthcare industry. Healthcare seems to be one of those industries where if, for instance, you’re talking about employee collaboration software, if you don't put that into the context of healthcare for someone in the industry, they're going to assume it won’t work for them. You need to be well-versed with the industry you’re working in with so you can be trusted as an authority.

Uberflip: What do you think is working from a personalization perspective?

TR: I think a tiered account-based program works well, especially if you’re going after named accounts, or 1:1 for an individual at a named account. Granted, 1:1 can get expensive, so you have to find a way to scale this. This is where an ABM tool comes in handy. 

Uberflip: Let's talk for a second about regulation. In Canada and the U.S., healthcare is traditionally a very regulated industry. How do you innovate from a messaging perspective in this environment?

TR: First, I think it’s important not to conflate, say, patient privacy and health reform regulations with messaging. A lot of the time, you're not actually talking about how service is delivered to the extent that a regulation applies.

You’re still trying to get people’s attention and capture your audience; you’re still playing on those emotional triggers. Healthcare is a highly regulated industry, so there’s this culture of right and wrong—there’s no gray area. That type of culture ends up spilling into other areas, but I don’t think it’s fully applicable to marketing. Sure, there are some regulations you have to follow, like when it comes to data protections and remaining HIPAA-compliant, but that doesn't need to inhibit your marketing messaging. We need to protect our patients’ confidentiality, but we don’t want to stifle innovation.

Uberflip: How do you think a healthcare marketer could overcome this barrier? How can someone who's looking to innovate in the industry actually make it happen?

TR: Messaging can't be boring anymore. No one's going to pay attention. We need to be effective in the landscape today. We need to get out of our comfort zones and try new things. 

It’s hard if you’re part of a risk-averse organization. If you’re given budget for a campaign, you may not be able to put the entirety toward a wild idea. Instead, you can try something short in scope and time frame, like launching three different ad campaigns—one wild, one middle ground, and one status quo—and push that traffic to three different landing pages. See what resonates with your audience. Don’t be afraid to go back and iterate. 

Uberflip: What are your thoughts on how content should be personalized for different types of audiences? 

TR: You need to decide what's important from a segmentation perspective. Segmentation might be the way that you're choosing to segment your audience, or the way the audience has segmented themselves—company size, region, country, vertical, buying center. 

Once you’ve created your segments, you need a way to connect with them. You need some sort of repository where content lives that you're pushing your leads to, because then you don't have to contest with all the different variables of basically setting up a drip campaign.

The ideal state is to capitalize off the moment of engagement and send your audience somewhere they can digest basically as much of the story as they're willing to digest. You need to feed them that personalized experience.

Listen to the full video interview here.

About Theo Romeo:

Theo oversees Intelligent Demand’s Creative Department and works with other practice areas to architect integrated campaign messaging and content strategies. Theo is routinely demanding to know more about prospects’ pain points, your unique value proposition, and the best way to address both in your campaign’s messaging architecture. He has created the messaging strategy and executed copy on more than a handful of award-winning integrated demand generation programs. 

When Theo’s not drawing funnels on whiteboards or rolling his eyes at the myriad ineffective marketing emails he receives daily, he’s making classy moonshine and singing songs about his dogs to his dogs. 

About Intelligent Demand:

Intelligent Demand (ID) is a full service revenue agency that helps our clients find, keep and grow relationships with their ideal customers. We give our clients the capabilities they need to expertly connect marketing budgets to measurable business impact, and permanently transform how they grow revenue. Learn more at


About the Author

Working in Account-Based Marketing, Heidi develops marketing strategies to drive interest, engagement, and revenue acceleration from top tier accounts at Uberflip. She lives and works in downtown Toronto, and helps run a local ABM Meetup Group.

Profile Photo of Heidi Vandermeer