#11: How To Build Your Megaphone Before You Launch with Jani Tuomi

Many health tech startups I work with scrunch up their noses at influencer marketing. I get it. I really do. We’ve all seen celebrities endorse a product they’d NEVER use, and sometimes it’s hard to remember examples of really great influencer marketing.

Today, however, I want to give you an example of how one healthcare startup co-founder used influencer marketing to build his audience before launching their first product.

Meet Jani Tuomi. As the cofounder of imaware, an at-home health testing company, he developed relationships with key influencers to build a megaphone, create trust, and reach more people.

But first, Jani’s backstory

Jani spent several years building products for startups and other companies. His vision for imaware started where many startups start - frustration.

When one of his family members was dealing with illness, he began to wonder why there wasn’t way to catch disease far earlier. Not long after, he co-founded imaware.

His role is to validate imaware’s products and create a digital customer-facing experience. The goal? Put patients in charge of their own health journey

Jani Tuomi Influencer Marketing

At-home health testing for patients

imaware is the first at home testing platform for chronic illness. Patients take a blood sample to send in for testing. Labs then test for gene markers that lead to celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the near future they are expanding to include several more tests that look for these illnesses:

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Prostate cancer

  • Liver disease

  • Stroke

Every test they offer has been medically and scientifically validated.

They’ve enlisted a medical advisory board of some of the best doctors across the world to verify their test results.

The problem facing imaware

When Jani and his business partners realized they had a problem as they prepared for the launch of their first test: they didn’t have an audience.

In many cases, potential patients had no idea that at-home health testing existed. Jani set out to discover who these patients are and where they educated themselves on their condition. As he learned, he found people who made it their lives’ purpose to help other patients with celiac disease or Rheumatoid Arthritis. He reached out to these people simply to learn from them, and they were so excited about imaware that they started talking about it to their audiences.

Working with people who understood and represented the patient changed the way he presented imaware. These patients taught him how to articulate imaware’s products in normal language. For instance, they explained what patients with celiac disease need and want.

What makes influencer marketing work in healthcare

Jani didn’t initially realize that what he was doing is influencer marketing. He simply wanted to engage patients directly with a product that could improve their lives.

With some basic research, he soon learned that there are Facebook groups and meetups dedicated to helping fight celiac disease. There were also Instagrammers who had large followings of people fighting the disease.

These people already had the best interests of their community at heart. Their mission - empowering patients - aligned with imaware’s mission.

This is important in influencer marketing. To the right kind of influencer, it’s not about the money. It’s about helping their community. The result of working with an aligned influencer is authentic influencer marketing.

Why he started influencer marketing

It started with a question from a friend - “Who is going to be your megaphone to the community?” He realized he needed to partner with people who aligned with imaware’s mission and who had a bigger megaphone.

He spent five months working with these influencers before imaware released their product. And from them he learned how to hone imaware’s message.

For instance, he learned that celiac disease is never called just “celiac.” To gain credibility with the celiac disease community, imaware needed to speak in a way patients could relate to.

What his social experiment means for health communities

The result of influencer marketing was that patients haven’t had trust issues with imaware. imaware isn’t fielding questions about the value of their product. Instead they’ve received enormous amounts of positive feedback and reviews from the celiac disease community.

Jani said imaware really needed patient support. imaware’s product isn’t just a new product. It’s flying in the face of how traditional medicine has operated for generations.

Influencers did more than just sell a product. They helped imaware’s ideas gain immediate acceptance from their target audience.

How to start using influencers in healthcare

To start, you need to reset your definition of influencer marketing. It’s not people promoting a product they don’t believe in. It’s surrounding your company with people who are already on the same team as you.

You’re helping the influencer succeed because your product is helping their community, and they’re helping you succeed. They should WANT to work with you because they’re inspired by what you as a company do.

The practical outworkings look like this. Jani did a simple Google search looking for people of influence for celiac disease. Then he narrowed down to a list of 100 people who he then contacted.

Out of that list, one person responded that they were willing to take a leap of faith and try the test. After that, he said, influencer support snowballed into success.

Where does influencer marketing have the most sway?

Jani has used influencer marketing in B2B and B2C businesses. In imaware their initial outreach was to hospitals, networks, and insurance companies. Then they transitioned to patient outreach.

Influencer marketing is valuable in both spheres.

In a previous job, he noted that his company used B2B influencer marketing very effectively as well. They found someone who had great credibility in their field who also aligned with their mission. Then this influencer became a spokesperson to the target audience.

How do people go wrong with influencer marketing

Influencer marketing should not be a stand-alone strategy. Like all marketing channels, influencer marketing needs to be used in the right amount. Too much and your marketing will flop.

For instance, if every influencer in the celiac disease community is promoting imaware, it loses its authenticity.

How do you gauge this? Watch as you add more influencers. If your conversions or likes don’t increase, you’re probably using too many influencers.

Sometimes you may need to swap out your influencers. Not all influencers are the best at messaging. Find the ones who can deliver the best.

Must-read book

Jani recommends a memoir entitled Tuesdays with Morrie. It’s an easy read but also an eye-opener. When he read it in his 20s, it made him rethink what he was doing in life. It made him want to do something that gives back.

Want to connect with Jani? Find him here:

LinkedIn - Jani Tuomi

imaware Channels:




For any direct questions, contact Jani via email at jani@imaware.health.

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