Six months ago, Highland Marketing formed an alliance with Experiential HealthTech. Chief executive Mark Venables and consultant Andrena Logue sat down to discuss how the alliance has developed and how it is supporting health tech companies that want to enter or expand in the UK.
Why the alliance was formed?
Mark: We summed it up in our press release in March, when we said we wanted to offer “end to end consultancy and marketing services” to companies looking to work with the NHS and the wider healthcare ecosystem.
From the Highland Marketing perspective, we wanted to shift the conversation that we have with clients.In the main, companies tend to take strategic decisions about market entry and strategy and then look for content, PR and marketing support to execute them.
We wanted to be able to move higher up that chain, so we could talk to boards about their strategies and put ourselves in a better position to deliver on them.
Andrena: Whereas, from my experience of dealing with companies at board level, and helping them to shape projects, I could see there was a need for a bridge to the follow-up services they need.
As Mark says, we set out to deliver an end to end consultancy and marketing service, and that is what we have been able to do. Also, we are moving into a position where clients are looking to retain us long-term. Instead of commissioning us for specific pieces of work, they are looking for a deeper level of engagement.
What kind of projects have you worked on so far?
Mark: The first piece of work that we did was for a European health tech services company looking to break into the UK market.
Andrena: Their portfolio was very broad and deep, so we ran some workshops to help them identify what they could offer to the NHS and what the NHS might be receptive to hearing about.
Mark: We are currently waiting to re-engage with them with a view to creating some appropriate market entry material. But while that has been happening, we have been undertaking a comprehensive and multi-faceted piece of work for a US owned software firm with a strong UK presence.
They are looking to consolidate their market leading position, identify new areas for growth, and consider new partnership opportunities to enhance their position. So the work has comprised market intelligence, competitor analysis, and a major piece of brand perception work.
Andrena: Importantly, that has been spread across the UK, because the market is different in the four home countries.
Mark: That’s true and that insight has led this particular firm to ask us for a communications campaign to support a bid for a national software contract. Which is a good example of how the alliance is enabling us to shape a requirement, instead of simply responding to one.
And are there more projects coming up?
Andrena: Indeed. We are just talking to a UK infrastructure provider which wants to explore the opportunity in health. That’s another project that will be heavily, although not exclusively, workshop based.
We will be working with strategic and product management executives to revise their value proposition and make it less technology focused and more oriented to the needs of the NHS and life sciences. We will also be doing some work on recruitment and partnerships, so they are geared towards furthering their offering.
What has the past six months, and these projects, shown about the UK health tech market?
Andrena: I think the state of the NHS IT market is more positive than it has been for some years. But what we continue to see is that there are pockets of innovation.
There are a few big trusts with ambition and the resources to progress their plans, and then there are a lot of mid-size organisations with ambition but few resources, and then there are some smaller trusts that don’t really know where to start.
So one of the things that we find ourselves saying to companies is that they cannot see the NHS as a single entity. Also, that they need to think about the legacy that a lot of trusts will be working with, and what it will take for them to adopt their technology.
Mark: They need to be clear about their value proposition.
Andrena: Absolutely. And what we are seeing is companies coming to us to validate whether they have an appropriate offer, and whether they need partnerships to come to market or extend their reach.
Another thing I would say is that as the market develops, we are seeing more NHS IT managers and staff willing to challenge vendors. So, it’s very important to hone-in on messages that will resonate with them.
Mark: Andrena is right, and that goes back to what we were saying at the start about why we formed the alliance. We want to become a strategic partner for companies, so we work with their boards, and with their internal teams, to support and enhance their capacity. So, strategy is aligned with collateral and content, and as the market evolves, and strategy evolves, we are primed to move with it.
About Highland Marketing
Highland Marketing is a full-service marketing and communications agency, specialising in healthcare technology, that has built an unrivalled reputation over 17 years. Its founders, Susan and Mark Venables, are well-known in the industry and support clients ranging from global organisations to well-funded start-ups.
Call us: 0203 651 6818
About Experiential HealthTech
Experiential HealthTech has been founded by Andrena Logue, who has 25 years’ experience of working with tech vendors globally. As an experienced B2B analyst, she brings a relentless focus to delivering a high-quality service that covers the issues most pertinent to established and new entrants to the healthcare and allied sectors, helping them to become a trusted advisor to customers looking to embed ‘clinical grade’ transformation.
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