Medical Device Marketing
Marketing medical devices is quite an involved process that requires extensive planning and careful attention to detail. It requires developing a medical device marketing strategy that gets the right information into the hands of the right people at the right times. Depending on your device and your goals, your target audience might be physicians, hospitals, distributors, patients or a combination of several groups. You need to be able to thoroughly explain to your audience what your device is, how it would benefit them and why they should purchase it.
That’s a tall order, especially when you consider the unique challenges of the health care industry as they relate to marketing medical devices. The decision-makers you may need to reach are extremely busy, and you need to find a way to get their attention and stand out from the competition, of which is there is often a significant amount. The purpose and function of medical devices are also often technical and complex, making it even more difficult to capture people’s attention.
Creating a Marketing Strategy for Medical Devices
So, how can medical device manufacturers surmount these challenges and get medical professionals or patients to use their products? The key is a well-planned and well-executed marketing strategy with top-notch marketing materials. The most successful companies typically use a combination of evidence-based and relationship-focused marketing. They rely on technical details and proof to make a case for why their product is the best, then deliver that information in a way that builds relationships with their audience.
These companies also typically have a well-defined value proposition for their product that describes how it will solve a problem for the customer, outlines the specific benefits of what they offer and explains why people should purchase their product, instead of those of their competitors.
What Marketing Materials Can Help Medical Device Manufacturers Succeed?
Even with all these elements in place, a marketing campaign won’t be successful if you can’t present your information in the right way. For your information to be well-received, your presentation of it needs to be accurate, engaging, efficient and easy to understand — which is where your marketing materials come in. The medical device industry often uses printed materials, and while these materials can be effective, you can also take advantage of technology to have an even more significant impact.
Some marketing material ideas for medical devices include:
- Demos — Demos allow physicians to see how your device works and try it out before purchasing it. This hands-on experience can be a powerful way to communicate the value of your product.
- Illustration — Explaining your device and its benefits visually through the use of medical device illustrations can improve your audience’s understanding of the information you’re trying to convey. Print these illustrations on physical documents or render them in 3D for digital viewing.
- Animation — Medical device animation enables you to show visually how your device works. It allows you to convey a large amount of information in a short time and an engaging format.
- Website content — Having a strong web presence is essential for modern companies. Whether you are targeting physicians, patients or hospital executives, you need to provide engaging web content such as blog posts, images and videos. Having an informative and engaging website enables potential customers to learn about your products at their convenience.
- Virtual reality — Virtual reality, or VR, is an advanced technology that immerses the viewer in a digital world with which they can interact. Medical device virtual reality is an impressive and highly engaging way to present information about the benefits of using a specific gadget.
- Augmented reality — Augmented reality, or AR, is a technology that’s similar to medical device VR, but displays digital elements over the background of the real world, rather than fully immersing the user in a digital world. Using medical device augmented reality helps customers see how they could use a product in their everyday life.
Why Marketing Medical Devices to Physicians and Hospitals Is Essential
As a medical device manufacturer, you likely need to market your product to doctors, hospitals or both. You must make a strong case to one or both of these groups as to why they should purchase and use your product instead of what your competitors sell. To do that, you need to understand the needs your product can fulfill for your target audience and the barriers that might keep them from learning about and ultimately purchasing your device.
If your medical device go-to-market strategy involves marketing the product to doctors, you need to understand and be able to communicate what problem your device will solve for doctors. In general, improvements in medical equipment are useful to doctors because they enable them to help patients more effectively and efficiently with less pain and a faster recovery. Hospitals generally want the same thing, but they’re focused on the broader perspective. They want to help their doctors perform better so their patients are happier. Figuring out how your device accomplishes these goals and how to communicate that is crucial to successful medical device marketing.
Even if you’re focusing on either doctors or hospitals over the other, it is vital to remember both play a critical role in any medical equipment purchase decision. While the hospital will ultimately make the final decision, the doctors have significant influence over which brand they choose, so it’s often best to appeal to both parties. Of course, patients are another crucial factor, which we will discuss more in the next section.
Challenges of Marketing to Doctors and Hospitals
The unique difficulties in targeting doctors and hospitals include:
- Medical professionals, especially those making purchase decisions, are extremely busy. It can be difficult for them to find time to talk to device manufacturers. Marketers and salespeople may struggle to reach them, which leads to long sales cycles. Marketing materials that stand out and present information in an engaging way that encourages relationship building can help overcome this challenge.
- There are many medical products on the market, making it harder for marketers to make theirs stand out. There may be some devices in direct competition with yours, which, of course, represents a challenge. Even devices that aren’t similar to yours are often vying for the same funding and time, making the competition even fiercer than it initially seems.
- Doctors will want to thoroughly understand your device before they purchase it or recommend it to the hospital board or patients. It can be a challenge to explain the value of your product concisely and engagingly, especially when the instruments’ function and medical effects are technically complex.
Why Having Good Materials Impacts Marketing Medical Devices to Consumers
In their new medical device planning and marketing, manufacturers also need to consider the patients who will ultimately benefit. That may be less important for devices for doctors and not patients, such as surgical tools and medical imaging equipment. If the patient will be taking the device home, as with a wheelchair or pacemaker, marketing to the consumer is crucial. Many patients will also want to understand the devices doctors will be using in their care, even if the patients themselves aren’t operating them.
The consumer is the final decision-maker for many types of medical devices. Even if a hospital board approves an apparatus and a doctor recommends it, they will eventually stop using it if their patients refuse to accept it. Because the patient is the end user, they should be a key consideration when creating a medical device marketing strategy.
How to Target Patients Effectively
For some devices and in some cases, the first time a patient learns about a medical device is when a doctor is explaining the apparatus to them. The device manufacturer cannot control this process directly, but they can influence to help it make a better impact on the customer. They can do so by providing high-quality marketing and informational materials to the doctor, who can then present them to the patient.
In these situations, visual content such as medical animation and medical device virtual reality can be especially useful. A visual representation can help the patient understand how the product works, and accompanying narration can further clarify the benefits. Providing these materials to doctors allows them to explain the device accurately and in a way that is easy for patients to understand.
Medical device companies may also want to market directly to consumers, especially since growing numbers of patients are going online to look up medical information before they visit a doctor. Because of this trend, it may be valuable for a device manufacturer to set up a website with information about their device directed toward consumers, which increases the likelihood of the patient getting accurate information when they search online.
Device manufacturers should aim to make their patient-facing websites engaging and user-friendly, in addition to uploading complete details about their product and how it works. Videos, animation and graphics are an excellent way to do this. It’s also essential that the web content can display well on any device, whether users view it on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Finally, you will need a search engine optimization, or SEO, strategy for your website to help it appear in search engine results pages.
It may also be beneficial to build an app patients can use to educate themselves about their devices and serve as an easy way to go back and look at information whenever they need a reminder.
Common Pitfalls of Medical Device Marketing
Medical device manufacturing is challenging, and there are various snags involved that are easy to fall prey to. Here are some of the most common:
Companies Tend to Do Marketing the Same Ways
Companies in the medical device industry all tend to follow the same general strategies. Most of them use methods that have been around for some time. Using brochures with a product picture or stock image on the front is a common tactic. These methods are not necessarily ineffective, but they don’t do anything to help brands stand out. Medical device companies may avoid changing their format for fear of looking unprofessional or because they are worried about regulatory non-compliance. While these are valid concerns, there are often ways to try new ideas while maintaining professionalism and compliance.
Not Keeping up With Technology
Many medical device companies also don’t give their online presence much thought and avoid using new technologies in their marketing efforts. That may be because they’re not comfortable using new technologies, or because they feel their audience won’t use online resources to learn about their medical devices. As mentioned earlier, however, more patients are now using the Internet to research health-related issues. Even if the manufacturer does not put information about their product online, someone else might. It’s vital for companies to manage their online presence proactively to help ensure their users get accurate information. Digital marketing can also be a highly effective way to reach customers, whether the target audience is doctors, patients or hospital executives.
Not Enough Focus on Value
Medical device marketing often focuses on the features of the product, rather than the value it provides. While it’s essential to thoroughly explain the elements of your device, demonstrating its value is crucial as well — especially if you’re marketing to consumers who might not understand the value intuitively after learning about the features. Content that focuses on the benefits a product provides to the user will be more engaging and compelling and be more likely to stick in the audience’s minds.
Minimal Focus on Corporate Brand
Many medical devices companies also spend too little time focusing on promoting their brand. While, of course, it’s essential to market specific products and features, having a strong brand can help you improve your medical device sales. Having an established brand makes marketing your products easier because people will already have an idea of what your company offers, based on the brand name behind it. If you create a brand that emphasizes ease of use, for example, people will associate all your products with being user-friendly.
Your brand also helps differentiate your products. A unique feature might help sell a product at first, but if a competitor creates a device with a similar function, you can’t rely on adding more features to regain your edge. A strong brand identity, however, can give your device an advantage over similar products.
Medical device marketing often takes a formal approach. While it’s essential to always be professional, this type of marketing can sometimes feel impersonal. Adding a bit of personal touch can help your materials connect with your audience and stand out from the competition. Marketing with a more personalized feel encourages your customers to form relationships with your brand, which makes them more likely to use the product. You can add a human element by emphasizing how your device will impact the user’s daily life, telling relatable stories or creating content that expresses the personality of your brand. Striking the right balance between professionalism and personality can make your marketing materials much more effective.
Opportunities for Medical Device Marketing
If you can avoid the above hurdles, there are lots of exciting opportunities in marketing for medical device manufacturers. Because many of these companies stick to the same, traditional strategies, stepping outside this routine can give your product an edge over the competition. Here are some of those opportunities.
Standing out From the Crowd
Using marketing materials and strategies to help differentiate your product from competitors is a significant opportunity in the medical device field. It may be easier to do this in medical device marketing than in many other sectors because so many companies stick to common strategies. Setting your product apart from the competition helps people remember it and may make them more likely to choose it among competitors that don’t make as much of an impression on them.
Say, for example, that you’re at a medical devices conference, and you use animation at your booth to explain your device, while most of your competitors put out flyers and booklets. Using technology will help make your device memorable for conference participants.
Establishing a Cutting-Edge Reputation
Most medical device companies don’t use much technology when marketing their products. That’s why using even a small amount of tech can help make your product more memorable. Since the medical device sector is a technical market, using advanced tech can help your brand appear innovative, professional and technologically capable. Consider new ways to market medical devices, including medical device AR and VR. Technologies such as these may be the future of medical device marketing, so by using them now, you can be a leader in your field. If you don’t have experience with this kind of marketing tech, working with a company like Ghost Productions can help.
Establishing Stronger Relationships With Customers
Creating marketing that focuses more on the customer, rather than just the features of your device, can help you build stronger relationships with doctors, patients and health care organizations. These relationships are key to building trust and a loyal customer base. Focusing on the value you provide customers and making your materials engaging and easy to understand can help. Including more personality in your marketing can be another differentiator. Animation, virtual reality and other technologies even enable you to talk directly to the customer through technology.
Building a Strong Brand
Your marketing materials can help you develop and promote your brand identity. You can include branding in your collateral, cover topics that touch on your company values and use a similar style across all your marketing. Unique materials will also help you stick out in the minds of customers, further strengthening your brand. Creating a strong brand will help improve your company’s reputation, making it easier to market individual products and creating a more memorable company.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
Another significant challenge — and opportunity — in medical device marketing has to do with the alignment of sales and marketing. At many companies, sales and marketing work separately and don’t coordinate their efforts. While each department will have tasks that are specific to them, they need to work together to achieve optimal results. The sales and marketing teams should always be on the same page and ensure their actions and strategies are in alignment.
A straightforward way to help with this is to have face-to-face meetings. Sales and marketing people should meet regularly to discuss their recent challenges, successes and plans. At these meetings, the two departments can ensure their efforts are complementing each other, rather than getting in each other’s ways.
It can even be beneficial for them to co-create and co-schedule marketing initiatives. Coordinating their efforts helps ensure marketing campaigns align with any existing sales cycles, which will help make the efforts of both sales and marketing more successful.
What Is a Customer Relationship Management System?
Another tactic for increasing sales and marketing alignment is using a customer relationship management, or CRM, system. CRM refers to technologies and practices that enable a company to keep track of all their interactions with leads, customers and other parties. Often, companies use software that tracks all conversations and enables employees across departments to get information about them.
Without a CRM, the sales team may make contact with customers that the marketing team doesn’t know about, and vice versa. Sales might ask a customer a question, only to learn they’ve already discussed the topic with someone from marketing, which can be frustrating for the customer. If a customer indicates what product they’re looking for in a conversation with marketing, sales should know about that so they can offer them the appropriate information.
Marketing team members can also help improve their alignment with sales by going out and visiting customers in person, which helps them learn more about the customers so they can create more relevant marketing materials. Marketing can meet with customers by attending conferences, visiting specific doctors or other health care workers or organizing events and focus groups.