Intuitive Surgical: Adding a Human Touch to Robotics with Marketing

In the fast-paced world of medical technology, Intuitive Surgical has become a household name. This Sunnyvale, California-based company has etched an impressive track record for innovation with its ever-expanding line of robot-assisted surgical systems and accessories.

Intuitive’s vision? Use technology to help providers standardize minimally invasive surgeries while improving clinical outcomes for their patients.

Robotic technologies are evolving at a dizzying pace. Take a look at all the features on one of Intuitive’s products (like their flagship da Vinci Surgical System line), and you might wonder if you accidentally stepped onto the set of a science fiction movie.

As impressive as all the technological innovations are, pressure remains on Intuitive to stay on top of this competitive med-tech space. How do they do it?

A lot of it comes down to marketing…

Unmatched Personalization in Messaging

Healthcare providers and patients are turning to digital resources in order to gain knowledge and compare options about the best path forward. While a healthcare brand might have a target demographic or market in mind, it’s highly unlikely that the audience is uniform. In fact, your target audience is likely a mishmash of different smaller audiences – each with its own quirks, concerns, and preferences.

We’ve discussed the power of personalization before. The more the messaging suits a specific individual, the more likely that individual will form a bond with the brand that delivers it.

This is where Intuitive’s marketing truly shines. Visit their website, and you’ll notice right away that the content is separated into two main sections: one for healthcare professionals and another for patients.

This recognition by Intuitive – that they are targeting multiple audiences and need to personalize their approach – is significant, but it’s just the first step. Intuitive takes the personalization even further by dividing each audience into subcategories. The healthcare professionals section is separated into content for surgeons, OR staff, hospitals, physicians, and even academics. Each subcategory offers information relevant to that specific group and is presented in language compelling to their unique needs.

Here’s a look at their page geared specifically toward hospitals:

Intuitive’s personalization is more granular than many other healthcare brands and is evidence of a deep understanding of their target audiences. A website visitor will see right away that the company acknowledges their specific needs. The result? They feel acknowledged and understood, and hopefully want to continue the relationship.

This granular targeting also continues in the patients’ section of the Intuitive website. Instead of treating “patients” as a single, faceless group, Intuitive separates them into different types – cardiac, gynecology, thoracic, and others – most likely to encounter their surgical products for interventions. Written in simple language, each of those pages displays content tailored to specific medical conditions, treatment options, and testimonials from former patients.

Content Positioned to Become a Thought Leader

We just touched on how Intuitive tailors messaging to specific subgroups within their broader audience. But how do they do it?


Many healthcare brands have jumped on the content marketing train, and with good reason. Invest the resources to create the content once, and it can reach as many eyeballs as you can attract indefinitely. Unfortunately, a lot of content targets the wrong people, and blends in with the pile of bland content out there, or both of those things.

Intuitive, on the other hand, puts a unique spin on its content. They cover the basics of course, like educating healthcare professionals on how to use their products or patients on the health benefits, but they don’t stop there.

Intuitive also publishes content that discusses industry trends in robotic-assisted surgery, as well as commentary on the field at large. In a steady stream of videos, interviews, and articles, the company boldly goes where many other brands avoid. They aren’t afraid to make predictions or take a stand.

Here’s a snippet of their “The Future of Surgical Robots” commentary:

This content might not directly benefit healthcare professionals or patients, but it cements Intuitive’s authority as a thought leader.  They embrace their role as a global influence in this space. When a website visitor notices this type of content being created – even if they don’t interact with it – it helps add credibility to the Intuitive brand. Even if your brand isn’t as well-known as Intuitive yet, a willingness to be a bit bolder and lean on your expertise will help you build authority and stand out from all the other unremarkable content.

Showcasing a Grand Vision for the Future

Intuitive is known for their robotics, but just a brief visit to their website reveals where their true focus lies. It isn’t about the technology or the expensive machines; those are simply the means to an end.

The most prominent feature of Intuitive’s homepage links to a video showcasing their grand vision for the future. Within a few seconds, even someone who has never heard of the company before can see why Intuitive is so excited about these robotic products. Everything orbits around this central focus: a future of care that is less invasive and profoundly better.

How much more compelling is this video than a corporate “mission statement” tucked away in some obscure place on a company’s website? The video and its positioning on Intuitive’s homepage indicate a few things essential to healthcare providers and patients alike. They are in this for more than the money. Every decision they make is filtered through the lens of making care better and less invasive. And, perhaps most importantly, Intuitive stands for making the future a better place.

This vision adds warmth and humanity to the potentially cold, sterile world of robotics. When you’re trying to connect with people who might entrust you with something as priceless as their health, it makes all the difference.

Championing Causes Beyond Profits

As we just saw, Intuitive Surgical positions their grand vision as the star of their website, product development, and marketing philosophy. They carry this concept even further by featuring other causes that are important to them.

Cause-related marketing is becoming increasingly important to customers in a wide range of industries. Getting great value from products and services is important as always, but for many, this extends beyond the financial. People are interested in doing business with brands that embody their values and use their influence to make the world a better place. In healthcare, understanding that a brand is committed to worthy causes signals that they also have your best interests in mind as an individual. That speaks volumes about something as vital as your health.

Intuitive champions their causes by publishing an annual sustainability report. Here’s a peek at that page on their website:

The report focuses on various causes including:

  • Inclusion and diversity for employees
  • Expanding training for healthcare pros and patients
  • Community programs and outreach
  • Supply chain sustainability
  • Environmental stewardship

It’s important for Intuitive’s audience to see these values in action, and an annual report (complete with metrics to track progress) adds a layer of accountability to confirm that it isn’t just talk. Many healthcare brands are engaging in similar initiatives, but that work gets lost in the shuffle of their other content and messaging. With a willingness to draw your audience’s attention to causes that matter the most, you can appeal to them on a deeper level.

Over to You

Relentless innovation. Unfailing focus on improving patients’ health outcomes. Responsive marketing. These are just a few ingredients that explain how Intuitive Surgical has become a global leader in robotic-assisted surgical systems – and stayed there for decades.

We might not be able to build robots like they do. But, with a little creativity, we can adapt their marketing strategies for our healthcare brands and connect with our audiences in exciting new ways.

What do you like the most about Intuitive’s marketing? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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