One Marketer’s Top Takeaway from #HIMSS19: Digital Health has a Messaging Problem on its Hands; and the Solution May Just be More Technology


One Marketer’s Top Takeaway from #HIMSS19: Digital Health has a Messaging Problem on its Hands; and the Solution May Just be More Technology

(Hint: Today, we’re adding voice and AI-driven communication training to our tool box with a new partnership with Say It Media and its app, LikeSo PRO)

By Jen Long - February 14, 2019

As someone who has worked in digital health for the last 12 years across public relations, investor relations and marketing, I have seen HIMSS go from relative obscurity in the business world to one of the hottest conferences on the planet. And there’s no secret why: it’s driven by the money that has flowed into digital health to the tune of 8 billion in 2018. Where the money goes, the buzz follows.

But, the challenge presented by all of this growth and awareness was clearly on display as I walked the halls of the Orange County Convention Center this week. After taking in countless demos and pitches, one thing became clear: digital health has a messaging crisis on its hands.

In one very large booth featuring the products and services of a very well-known company, I made an effort to speak with several people across a mix of functions. I asked each to explain, broadly, what the company does and how it helps providers and patients. And while all were polished and professional and clearly knew their subject matter, I was left wondering if they worked for the same company. All used the latest buzzwords, but yet, there was a noticeable lack of consistency in their descriptions of what the company’s value prop is to the market, and their impact on patient care.

In fact, their responses clearly revealed a series of messaging pitfalls to which so many companies fall victim:

  • Over-reliance on business jargon and digital health buzzwords (you’d think they were literally talking in hashtags)

  • Liberal references to “creating our own category” backed by terms and language that provider CXOs, clinicians or patients do not use in conversation (much less when deciding to buy)

  • Difficulty articulating messages clearly, cohesively, and without the excessive use of filler words (like, totally!)

  • And the persistent, age-old challenge: Little to no supporting proof points

This example repeated itself at least 10x over at similar-sized organizations.

When it came to the startups (mostly Series A-forward), there was far less exec-speak and the concentration of buzzwords and categories was dialed down in favor of more descriptive language. This makes sense, as these are companies in development that are still exploring which problems to solve, products to focus on, and audiences to address.

I get it. Message discipline is hard. But as marketers, it’s our job not only to develop really great, differentiated messaging, but to make sure that it’s being used consistently and resonating with your audiences. This is where the art of communications (understanding of subject matter, great writing) meets science and a little bit of math.

120/80 MKTG Combines Experience, Analytics, and a Software-Driven Approach to Communication Training
with Voice & AI-powered LikeSo PRO

At 120/80 MKTG, we already combine a deep grasp of the subject matter and journalist-quality writing skills with liberal use of analytics. On the front end of our process, we use best-in-class analytics tools to understand your target audience’s preference for topics and language. This quantitative, data-driven approach decreases the likelihood that your message falls on deaf ears. On the back-end, we again use data science techniques across owned media, earned media and social media to measure how effective the company is at staying on message.

And, today, we are announcing a new technology and data-driven communication feature to our messaging program.


Training. The word alone inspires fear in executives and sales teams.  And, not surprisingly, this is where a lot of companies fail at messaging. Training on company messaging is a critical element, but the way it has been done historically - with workshops and webinars -  often prevents a company from remaining “on message.”

It’s not hard to understand why: training employees on company messaging is neither scalable nor repeatable using traditional means. With today’s announcement, 120/80 MKTG overcomes the issues of scale and cost, and makes training more personalized, engaging, effective. And for the first time, it’s measurable, via our partnership with Say It Media, the creators of LikeSo: Your Personal Speech Coach, the leading speech fitness app. Say It Media’s enterprise solution, AI-powered LikeSo PRO, uses natural language processing and machine learning to help executives, salespeople and all employees practice their pitch, master tricky questions, and stay on pace and on message.

Using LikeSo PRO, chief marketing officers, sales managers, HR and corporate communications leaders can not only train their employees and measure speech proficiency, but they are able to get a personalized and precise read on how well executives and employees are performing when it comes to message training – including how often they train, their pacing, which keywords and phrases are most challenging, and verbal habits that may hinder message delivery.

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Our experience this year at #HIMSS, and every year prior, has taught us again and again that often companies not only lack a compelling, differentiated message and narrative, but that they don’t know how to scale it throughout their organization. Don’t wait til #HIMSS20 to fix this. It’s too important.

For more information about how 120/80 MKTG’s messaging program and our new partnership,  email me at Or, reach out to our new partner Audrey, founder/CEO of Say It Media and the creator of the LikeSo PRO app: