June 17, 2016
You can’t market medical devices the same way you’d market a t-shirt or restaurant.
While medical device marketing shares plenty of fundamentals with marketing in other industries, there are important differences.
You have to find a way to get the attention of smart, technical buyers. You have 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. It takes communicating that product’s potential in a compelling way.
Every medical device is unique. But 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:
Photo Credit: sea turtle
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.
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. That’s why you can’t get away with saying something is the “best surgical tool in the world.” There’s no room for exaggeration.
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.
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.
It piques their curiosity. It relates with them by telling stories, and sharing stories 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 want you to paint of picture of 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 multiple levels: rationally and emotionally. It’ll make your message stand out from all the other marketers who just stick to facts and figures.
Photo Credit: jonny goldstein
Sometimes, even a smart mix of evidence-based and relationship marketing can fizzle.
Because the target audience is just too busy and overwhelmed to ever see them.
You’re competing for attention from 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 competing for their attention!
Unfortunately, a lot of great devices don’t get the attention they deserve because they aren’t marketed in a way that immediately distinguishes them from the rest.
Having evidence and emotional impact is great, but not if they’re five pages deep in your brochure. You need to get precious 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:
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:
Photo Credit: Maialisa
Medical device marketers have been slow to adopt digital marketing strategies, relying heavily on in-person meetings with sales reps and trade shows to drum up interest.
There’s no reason why those in-person strategies can’t continue to work…but you can combine them with online approaches to reach more prospects cheaply and effectively.
Scale is digital marketing’s biggest advantage. From a single website, you can reach potential buyers all over the world. You can build relationships with them simultaneously through tools like blogging and email marketing. Instead of incurring the expense of constant travel and in-person demos, you can offer virtual tours online to anyone with internet access.
Technology also makes it easy to track marketing performance. With analytics tools, you can find out more about your audience, see which webpages get the most attention, and pinpoint the ROI on your latest ad campaign. You can test different approaches and systematically make your marketing more persuasive.
The smartest strategy isn’t to totally ignore digital marketing or in-person meetings and trade shows. It’s a hybrid approach that connects you with people across multiple channels.
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.