Medical Device Marketing: Three Key Principles You Can’t Afford to Miss

You can’t market medical devices the same way you’d market a t-shirt or restaurant–by throwing up a couple of social media ads, or running social media ad campaigns. While medical device marketing shares plenty of fundamentals with marketing in other industries, there are important differences. Medical device companies have to find a way to get the attention of smart, technical buyers. Your sales team has to find a way to convince them that your device is a better fit than all the others – even if it’s expensive and complex. This takes more than just a great product. Doing effective marketing for medical devices means communicating that product’s potential in a compelling way. And to do that, you need a marketing strategy.

But First… What is a Healthcare Marketing Strategy?

Put simply, a healthcare marketing strategy is a roadmap that medical device companies can use to successfully promote healthcare-related products and services, including medical devices. The 5 P’s used for the marketing of healthcare devices are useful to keep in mind when navigating this complex terrain:

  1. Product: What are the unique features and benefits of the medical device you are selling?
  2. Price: How much should you sell the product for when you go to market? Review competitor pricing for comparison, and make sure you understand the value of your own product when setting your pricing.
  3. Promotion: Develop a comprehensive marketing plan to effectively communicate the device’s value to the right audience. When creating this plan, don’t forget to include a marketing budget!
  4. Place: Choose the distribution channels that make the device accessible to your target audience of healthcare professionals and other stakeholders. This could include your sales team, online marketing like search engine ads and social media platforms, or even just search engine optimization (SEO).
  5. People: Establish relationships and build trust with healthcare professionals who influence device decisions.

Who Is the Target Market for Medical Devices?

Understanding your company’s target audience is one of the most important aspects of medical device marketing. Spoiler alert: it’s not as simple as just targeting doctors and hospital administrators. There’s a diverse range of individuals who influence the decision-making process. Knowing who to engage with your marketing strategy is just as important as knowing what to say.

Decision-Makers / Gatekeepers

Are you offering a product that can help hospitals or healthcare facilities improve their outcomes? If your audience includes hospital administrators, board members, or C-level personnel, you’ve got a sizeable population of decision-makers to connect with. To succeed in this arena, you’ll need to do your research and build a network within these administrative circles. Identify the opinion leaders and show them how your product can help elevate performance, reduce patient complications, or minimize costs while enhancing patient care.

Support Personnel

Support personnel, such as administrative nurses, office assistants, and secretarial staff, often work closely with doctors and practitioners and wield substantial influence in the decision-making process. Craft messages tailored to their needs and pain points. If you can translate your product to their pain points, they are more likely to recommend your company when their healthcare facility needs new equipment or upgrades.

Distributors

Distributors are invaluable prospects, as they hold substantial influence over end customers. Convincing them to choose your product from a sea of alternatives is a significant but achievable task. To succeed, you’ll need to understand their challenges and demonstrate how your medical device can help them boost sales and grow their business. In segments where support personnel can shape decisions, create specialized content, use channels they frequent, and support them in selling more of your products.

How Do You Promote Medical Devices and Get the Attention of Your Target Customers

Every medical device is unique, so your marketing strategy should be tailored to highlight its distinct qualities and benefits. That being said, no matter which device you’re marketing, the following principles will help you get the right people’s attention and engage them on a deep level:

1. A Balance of Evidence-Based and Relationship Marketing

Since medical device buyers are usually hospitals, scientists, and other healthcare professionals, that means they tend to be intelligent, well-educated, and analytical. This makes them likely to respond well to quantifiable reasons to buy, like studies and data. Most medical device marketers recognize this. They understand that while the end-user of the device—the patient—might not care about an obscure case study, they still need to appease the healthcare professionals who make the ultimate buying decisions. Enter “evidence-based marketing.” You’re probably already using it.

Evidence-Based Marketing
What is it? It’s a type of marketing that relies on research, studies, and data. Using evidence makes sense because it’s likely to appeal to buyers and add credibility to your claims (and your company). That’s why you can’t get away with saying something is the “best surgical tool in the world.” In medical device marketing, there’s no room for exaggeration.

Relationship Marketing
Some marketers use evidence-based marketing exclusively… without using any other strategy designed to appeal to prospects’ emotions. This limits their marketing potential. The scientists, doctors, and other professionals you’re marketing to are people too. That means they respond to the same emotional drivers as the rest of us, especially when buying a product or a service. That’s where relationship marketing comes in. Where evidence-based marketing is more analytical, this type of marketing is designed to bond with the audience on a human level. How? It piques their curiosity. It relates with them by telling stories, and sharing stories and feedback from customers who have already used the product. Your buyers don’t just want to know your device has a success rate of 95%. They to feel just how different someone’s life could be if your device solved their health problem. A balanced approach of evidence-based and relationship marketing appeals to buyers on two key levels: rationally and emotionally. It’ll make your message stand out from all the other medical device marketers who just stick to facts and figures.

2. A Compelling Value Proposition (Communicated Right Away)

Sometimes, even a smart mix of evidence-based and relationship marketing can fizzle. Why? Because the target audience is just too busy and overwhelmed to ever see it. You’re competing for the attention of some of the busiest people around. They have a lot on their plates. There’s healthcare to provide. Costs and policies to weigh. New studies and continuing education to think about… Not to mention all the other medical device marketers vying for their time!

A Value Proposition Earns Precious Attention

Unfortunately, a lot of great medical devices don’t get the attention they deserve because they aren’t marketed in a way that immediately distinguishes them from their competitors. Having evidence and emotional impact is great, but not if it’s hidden five pages deep in your brochure. You need to capture attention right away—within seconds—and separate your device from all the others they’ll filter out. A value proposition can help. It’s a concise statement that:

  1. explains how your medical device solves customers’ problems
  2. outlines specific benefits
  3. tells customers why they should buy from you instead of anyone else

The earlier you convey your value proposition, the easier it is to earn audience attention and separate your device from the rest. Even if a prospect thinks you have a good device, they might not be motivated enough to act. After all, that might mean more physician education, changes in hospital procedure, etc. A solid value proposition gives them the kick in the pants they need to escape their comfort zones. Get clear on yours. Express it early and consistently. And don’t be afraid to test different variations until you find a winner. If you’re interested, this video from Harvard Innovation Labs will take you on a deep dive in identifying and building your value proposition from scratch.

Crafting a Value Proposition That Solves Pain Points

When it comes to medical devices and healthcare products, every purchase is motivated by the customer’s need to solve a problem or meet a specific need. Your marketing must appeal to your target audience, and the best way to do this is to clearly show that you understand their problems and that the product you are selling can solve them.

If your value proposition fails to convey this understanding or doesn’t show how your device can address those challenges, your efforts will fall short. To make your value proposition even stronger, consider these additional insights:

Tailored Problem-Solving: Different healthcare settings and specialties encounter unique challenges. Tailor your medical device marketing efforts to address these specific pain points. Be as specific as possible when highlighting how your device caters to the distinct needs of your target audience. For example, instead of trying to appeal to hospitals in general, focus on low budget hospitals struggling for resources, or research hospitals competing for top rankings, etc. A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) can help you figure out your positioning here in relation to your competitors.

Real-World Scenarios: Incorporate real-world scenarios into your value proposition and marketing materials. Paint a vivid picture of how your medical device can transform patient outcomes, streamline workflows, or enhance the accuracy of medical procedures. The more relatable and tangible your examples, the more powerful your message.

Feedback and Success Stories: Showcase feedback from healthcare professionals who have used your device successfully. Real testimonials and case studies serve as powerful endorsements, providing evidence of your device’s ability to address challenges effectively. The best stories clearly illustrate what happened before and after your device was implemented.

Educational Content: Offer educational content that empowers your audience to better understand the larger context your device fits into, and the specifics of how it works and what it does. Webinars, whitepapers, and articles can position you as a trusted source of information.

3. A Willingness to Try Digital Marketing Tools

Marketing medical devices is more complicated than marketing inexpensive consumer products that everyone can understand… But it doesn’t need to be a nightmare. No matter how complicated, expensive, or specialized the device, keep these core marketing principles in mind. Grab their attention right away with a clear, compelling value proposition. Keep them interested—and receptive to buy—with a balance of evidence-based and relationship marketing. And engage them across a variety of in-person and digital channels.

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