The “Yays” and “Nays” of Medical Device Marketing
Pontus Rehn, a former medical device marketer from Sweden and now a senior marketing strategist for a global cloud-based agency, shared his Top 10 List of what he learned from his many years of promoting pacemakers, defibrillators, dialysis machines, urinary catheters, and more. In a paraphrased recap of his extensive findings, here are points to consider for your own marketing strategy:
MOST COMPANIES DO MARKETING THE SAME WAY – Medical device marketing is ho-hum at best. Rehn discovered a reluctance to move away from the comfort zone of what has supposedly worked in the past. What if Steve Jobs approached his new product launches like everyone else? Apple would never have received the press and the public recognition that it did and still does. Get your customers excited about your products that can help them help their patients. Stand out.
ONLINE MARKETING NEEDS TO KEEP GAINING MOMENTUM – If you blog, they will come. Interesting and well-written blogs can be beneficial to your marketing strategy. However, do not use blogs to sell your products. Choose topics existing and potential customers want to learn more about. Make them rely on you for such input at least twice a week. Keep in touch.
IT’S STILL TOO MUCH ABOUT FEATURE SELLING – Focus on one aspect of your medical device that your customers decide is important enough to set you apart. There is a point when adding yet another feature to your already impressive device is overkill. Stay focused.
DISTRIBUTORS ARE TREATED AS A NECESSARY EVIL – Distributors are often viewed as adding no value to your efforts and are judged guilty of taking a part of the margin. They are for certain, not loyal. Bad attitude! You must treat distributors like you do your most valued customers. Why should they care about you if you don’t care about them? Be nice.
CORPORATE BRANDING NEEDS TO BE A PRIORITY – One, without a top-notch corporate brand, how can you attract the best qualified job candidates? Two, when you launch a new product, half of the story will already be told – by your strong corporate image. And three, a strong corporate brand opens doors to local key opinion leaders as well as favorable deals with wholesalers and distributors. Look strong.
A WELL-STRUCTURED SERVICE PORTFOLIO CAN HELP DIFFERENTIATE YOUR COMPANY – If you have different levels of brands, (e.g., basic on up to premium), design a brand-specific service portfolio. When you buy basic, we also give you these basic services. When you buy premium, we give you every service we can possibly provide. Offer value.
SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT IS FAR FROM OPTIMAL – Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system must be used to coordinate sales and marketing efforts. Also, if sales works in cycles, then marketing needs to develop campaigns and initiatives accordingly. And, marketers should actually go out and meet with customers so that your sales force will be confident the right products will be marketed to meet their customers’ needs. Work as one.
MARKETING DOESN’T MARKET MARKETING – Marketing is usually prone to budget cuts because, too often, its importance within an organization is devalued. So, the more decision-makers know what you are up to, the more important marketing becomes. Set up internal newsletters and blogs. Let everyone, especially the C-suite, know the latest marketing moves. Sell yourself.
CUSTOMER SERVICE PEOPLE ARE POTENTIALLY YOUR BEST SALES REPS – Fact: The time spent by your customer service people with your clients is significantly longer than the time your sales reps do. Service people just might be the best sales reps you have on staff. With training, allow them to upsell and cross-sell and get a sales bonus when the deal closes. Use all your resources.
MARKETING NEEDS TO WORK WITH A P&L – As stated before, marketing budget cuts happen before most other departments feel the knife. By tracking generated leads all the way to sales, you can attribute those revenues to your marketing efforts. If not for marketing, those revenues would not be on your company’s bottom line. Value quantifiable returns.