MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF MARKETING MEDICAL DEVICES
According to a 2016 survey by HiMSS Media, an overwhelming 74% of healthcare marketers plan to develop a lot more content:
Keeping up with changing needs and solutions
In the process of creating more content, marketers in B2B healthcare industries also confront the challenges of constant change. Healthcare providers are focused on finding technology solutions and medical devices that help them improve outcomes for patient-centered care and increase operational efficiency. It is critical for technology-purchasers and decision-makers to invest in solutions that provide a clear value offering to the specific needs of their organizations. However, changes in the healthcare industry have created new challenges for identifying the decision makers who make up the target audience of a marketing campaign. In this articles, I discuss these challenges and provide solutions that have proved useful in our experience with partners operating in healthcare industries.
Identifying Target Decision Makers becomes a key challenge:
- The move from “fee-for-service” to outcomes-driven care (measured, for instance, in metrics of patient satisfaction and HCAHPS) has more institutions collaborating for value-based reimbursement, making it more difficult to identify who’s making purchasing decisions in the collaboration.
- Health systems mergers and acquisitions are growing, making it challenge to know both who’s running the procurement process and when decisions will be made.
- Care coordination and patient engagement quality metrics have purchasers scrambling for more connected devices and integrated sales offerings.
- Changing business, technology and regulatory landscape is redefining the roles of end user, influencer, the beneficiary and the buyer personas in the healthcare ecosystem
Given these challenges, how to marketer insure their message reaches the right audience?
To communicate to professionals in the medical industry, you need to speak their language. Even this goal gets complicated: Hospitals are complicated places, composed of diverse constituencies, from administrators to medical staff, from finance on through facilities management. Medical devices must often answer a range of needs. And marketing the value of medical devices must speak to all of these needs. Here are some key strategies:
Communicate Evidenced-Based Value Propositions
To communicate effectively across a number of decision-makers and shareholders, make sure your marketing strategy employs evidenced-based marketing. Evidenced-based-marketing 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.
Medical device buyers are usually hospitals, scientists, and other healthcare professionals. That means they tend to be intelligent, well-educated, and analytical. This makes they are 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 convince the healthcare professionals who make the ultimate buying decisions.
Don't Forget Emotion
While evidence-based strategies provide a powerful means to communicating the value proposition of medical technologies, many marketers make the mistake of excluding other forms of content. As in any market, a diverse content strategy is key to a successful campaign. Beware the tendency to establish an exlusive over-dependence on quantifiable, evidence-based studies.
Content strategy must balance evidence-based content with forms designed to appeal to prospects’ emotions. Without content that appeals to emotion, marketers limit the potential reach, impact, and meaning of the necessary message. 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. More importantly, they have dedicated their professional lives to the service of caring for others.
The Importance of Building Connections and Relationships
Life is about relationships. And relationships are essential dimension of effective marketing in healthcare fields. Where evidence-based marketing is more analytical, relationship-based marketing is designed to bond with the audience on a human level.
Create connections 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.
Social Media (Especially LinkedIn) in Healtchare Markets
If not distributed through the right channels, even the best content will go to waste. eMarketer reported that according to the CMI study,94% of B2B marketerssaid they used LinkedInto distribute content, noting it was the most effective channel for reaching their audience. A study from HealthLink Dimensions underscores this fact, suggesting LinkedIn as a top social media choice for physicians.
Healthcare marketers should leverage this insight when developing their content marketing strategies. Consider using LinkedIn as a primary social media channel for distributing content such as blog posts, e-books and individual posts.
Lead Generation Through Website Enhancement:
58% of healthcare marketers designate lead generation as the top priority of their marketing strategy (source). A key aspect of that strategy will require website optimization coupled with monitoring and analysis of visitor data.
No longer can a website just sit there and occupy space in the digital universe. It must earn its keep and be worthy of the investment made in it. Redistribution of content through social media with drive search-engine traffic and introduces target audience to your site. Graphics, copy and page layout must take the visitor on a well-coordinated tour of learning and understanding. There must be a way for visitors to interact, ask questions, and receive answers.
Website analytics will need to be in place to track visitors and determine which site elements are working and which need to be revamped. For lead generation, I also recommend effective analytics dashboard that provides data visualization of key metrics, including sources of web traffic, and hotmaps that enable you to track user interaction with your site.
An analytics dashboard (above) collates key metrics in a user-friendly interface.
The Importance of Mobile in Healthcare Markets
More consumers worldwide browse the internet on mobile devices instead of desktop and laptop computers, according to data from October 2016. While about 42 percent of U.S. consumers primarily use mobile, the effect on healthcare marketing is evident. We have heard it time and again – we are living in an increasingly mobile world. But what does that mean in the context of healthcare, and more specifically how to market a medical device?
Earlier this year, Prizm Media, CEO Zeeshan Hayat wrote an article for the Huffington Post titled “Prescribing Mobile Apps”. In it, he discusses how doctors understand and interact with mobile health technologies like apps and wearable devices. Ultimately, he predicts that we will continue to see an integration of health apps and medical practices and will see a shift in how health information is communicated to patients.
- 86% of healthcare providers use a smartphone for work and 53% use a tablet
- 90% of executives using smartphones every day while 70% look up professional information on smartphones and tablets
The Power of (Mobile) Video:
Physicians are eager to obtain clinical knowledge and case studies but they don’t have the time to meet without comprehending the value you can bring to their practice. This is especially true considering the time they do get for themselves is stretched out to research and involvement in associations/organizations, among a multitude of other facets (what social life?). If they can access your information on their own time then they will willingly listen and engage. This is where your medical device video marketing comes into play. And, given the mobile viewing practices of healthcare professionals (discussed above), you also want to make sure your video is optimized for mobile use. Consider the numbers:
- 33% of tablet owners watch at least one hour of video a day
- 75% of executives watch work-related videos every week
- Physicians spend at least 3 hours a week watching videos for professional purposes
- Video email marketing can increase open rates by 20% and click-through rates 2-3 times
- Just using the word “video” in an email subject line can increase open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%
To get the most from your marketing doing to make sure that your marketing
- Educates and enhances the value of your service or device;
- Relays your depth of healthcare expertise;
- Employs the latest and most effective inbound marketing methods, like mobile optimization, as well as live-capture and animated-video, to target the right audience in the right specialization;
- Employs a strategy informed by up-to-date knowledge of the latest policy changes in the healthcare field, like HCAHPS requirements, that shape the needs of caregivers and hospitals;
- Employs website analytics for tracking and lead generation;
- Speaks the language of the profession through a balanced mix of long-form, evidence-based content (quantitative studies), storytelling (emotional appeals), video, and social media.
Questions? Get in touch!
If you’d like learn more about MarketScale’s extensive marketing experience in B2B medical technology, visit our website. For more about our services in healthcare markets, including our work in data analytics, video, social selling, technical and creative writing--or if you'd like to see samples of our work, feel free to contact us!
For more tips on developing an inbound marketing campaign, you can also download our marketing playbook.