An HIT Moment With … is a quick interview with someone we find interesting. Ajay Kapare, MBA is chief strategy and marketing officer of Ellkay of Elmwood Park, NJ.
How was the HIMSS21 experience for Ellkay and what are your plans for HIMSS22?
The team at Ellkay had a very successful HIMSS21 and our overall experience was just fantastic. And of course we would also like to thank you for the special shout out during HIMSS. This year’s HIMSS was smaller than in years past, for obvious reasons. However our team found a way to make the most of the opportunity and finally meet with industry colleagues in person again. Although we have accomplished a lot through virtual experiences over the past 18 months, nothing beats making personal connections face to face. It was really great and exciting to see how all of our hard work and planning had such a big impact and result.
As for HIMSS22, our planning is very much underway as it just around the corner. At HIMSS21, we had the chance to start new relationships, rekindle old ones, and revisit other facets of previous partnerships. We want to build on this momentum. Our goal now is to ensure we keep our HIMSS presence strong and establish the most effective methods of engagement from our HIMSS21 experience.
How do you go about setting goals for a conference like HIMSS and then developing a plan to achieve them?
Like with any marketing initiative, the first step was to evaluate Ellkay’s purpose of presence at HIMSS. We researched whether our own attendance would increase the chances of achieving strategic objectives, based on who we anticipated attending. Once our executive team determined the HIMSS audience would be an asset, we knew we wanted to make valuable use of our time there.
We take on an integrated and holistic approach with our marketing. Team Ellkay does not take on a project unless we can do it well. It’s like “Moneyball “in healthcare. We believe that many small things, done well, add up to make a big difference. All of those small items from our efforts, whether it’s training or graphics or social media posts, add up to make the event the best that it can be.
To pull this off requires collaboration between all of our contributing teams. The marketing team was essential in planning a dynamite, functional booth and scheduling innovative activities for sales to invite attendees to enjoy. The sales team then collaborated with strategies that attracted customers, colleagues, and of course prospects to our booth. We couldn’t do it without our product and operations teams, which have given us the foundation for compelling conversations and solutions we can be proud to demonstrate.
What advice would you give to to a small health IT company about developing or expanding its marketing efforts?
Ellkay’s event strategy is proactive marketing and sales collaboration. We did not just set up a great booth, then sit and wait for people to show up and ask about our products and services. Instead, we had already taken valuable time to build relationships and a reputation. Our colleagues at HIMSS intentionally sought us out, knowing we were there. The sales team was also in full partnership with our marketing efforts.
Each team member from Ellkay that attended HIMSS knew the type of HIMSS attendees and who they should connect with at the conference. This involves extensive research and pre-work for our sales team to set meetings in advance.
Ellkay is known for its conference giveaway of honey from its own bees. How did that come about?
Our co-founder and president, Lior Hod, had a long-held dream of raising honeybees. In 2015, there was a lot going on in the news about the declining honeybee population, so Lior decided to act. He called his beekeeper friend, who set up the first 36,000 bees on Ellkay’s rooftop. Our honey is harvested right at headquarters for our friends, colleagues, and conference attendees. Today, we have more than 1 million bees on Ellkay’s rooftop from 22 active hives. Every event we attend, we find the honey to be both a great conversation starter that really reflects our culture, as well as a memorable takeaway. Year after year, we have people returning for our honey, and of course good conversation.
How should a marketing team work effectively with the company’s executive team and its salespeople?
Events represent a significant investment of time and resources for every company. Before committing to an event, the executive team needs to evaluate whether it is a good fit for their strategic objectives. Once they determine if the event’s audience and message are advantageous to the business goals, the marketing team steps in. Marketing develops a strategy to provide the sales team members with the tools they need in order to achieve substantial relationships through the event.
All teams involved should be aware of the purpose in attending the event, the audience, the company messaging which best appeals to the specific audience, and the strategic targets all parties must try to achieve. We spend significant time internally strategizing and communicating to ensure everyone is on the same page and recognizes the significance of the event.
Additionally, no team should enter an event without a plan for evaluation afterwards. All teams must have metrics in order to assess how they performed at the event, and how event attendance helped the company achieve its overall objectives. The evaluation plan should be shared before attending so all teams know how their performance is to be graded.
After attending an event, our team always asks for feedback from all members of participating teams. This allows our colleagues to share their personal perspectives on areas they found that could use improvement, or methods that were particularly successful, for consideration on future event participation.