Post-COVID-19, customer journey maps need to be rewritten

COVID-19 has thrown a monkey wrench into medical device company commercial strategies:

  • Trade shows have been cancelled
  • Reps are losing access to hospitals and customers
  • Elective surgeries are slow to rebound
  • Customer needs have changed

With funnels running dry, marketing needs to pick up the slack with non-personal, digital strategies. Customers are online, waiting to be engaged. They need to be brought into your funnel and propelled through the buying journey with white papers, advertising, product animations, clinical education, transformation case studies, etc. Marketing automation systems should be the backbone for these efforts to flight content, score leads, optimize campaigns, and attribute marketing’s contribution to each sale. The foundation of these efforts is the customer journey map. Read on for recommendations on how to make them sing.

What is a journey map?
The medical device product selection process is as complex and tortuous as it gets. Journey maps are the living, breathing representation of how your marketing plan is going to navigate it. They represent not only each step of the buying process, but also the key content for each stakeholder and the specific channels to carry that content.

Customer engagement is king
Healthcare providers are overwhelmed with mounting pressures to transform their clinical practices. They have precious little time to research emerging technologies. Your content must be so strong that it not only gets their attention, it also creates urgency and momentum to learn more. This requires the right content for the right target at the right stage of the buying journey. Any weak link in the content breadcrumb trail will bring your lead-nurturing efforts to a halt as your target(s) disengage.

Qualitative market research

Nearly all medical device buying decisions are made by multidisciplinary teams comprised of stakeholders with individualized needs. To customize your journey map, perform research to identify:

  • Each step of the organization’s buying process
  • The decision-making team
  • Pain points and strategic objectives of each individual on the team
  • Opening questions that will engage each target
  • The channels each stakeholder uses to consume information

HOW CAN A MEDICAL DEVICE MARKETER GAIN VALUABLE INSIGHT? INTERVIEW YOUR BEST REPS. THEY HAVE INSIDE EXPERIENCE WITH THE CUSTOMER BUYING JOURNEY.

PHASE 1: AWARENESS

Many medical device marketers underestimate the amount of time their salespeople spend generating demand. At this stage of the buying journey, the best reps do it not by marketing products, but by marketing problems. Problems create pain for caregivers, patients, and administrators, spurring them to act and relieve their discomfort. Content should dimensionalize the problems, showing how they impact each stakeholder and the institution as a whole. Content that creates urgency motivates them to break with the status quo and marshal the necessary action to relieve their pain.

PHASE 2: CONSIDERATION

Once a problem is top of mind to your audience, they’ll want to create a short list of medical device companies to help solve it. If you’ve executed properly at the awareness phase, you should make the 
cut and be considered. However, many medical device marketers overlook the number of viable buying decisions from which they’ve been excluded. Our research shows that companies, even market leaders, miss out on 30-50% of them. Why? Because customers are online researching solutions well before they contact a rep. If your brand does not engage them online during this phase, they’ll move on to a brand that does.

PERSONA IDENTIFICATION

For several reasons, you need to know who’s engaging with your content. You’ll be able to do a better job of customizing content, and you’ll gain insight into what hospitals—and who exactly in those hospitals—may be in the market for your solutions. The consideration phase is the perfect time to identify these individuals, and, at a minimum, identify their roles.

  • They can supply email addresses to download content
  • They can select their role on-site to get customized content
  • Their role may be strongly suggested by the customized content they read

MARKET SHAPING MUST BE BAKED IN

Content must be both engaging and persuasive, because many customers in the consideration phase have yet to sort out their selection criteria. Your content must shape their selection criteria in your favor. To do that, you need to know where you win relative to your competition, and you must have a value proposition that reflects it. With the selection criteria solidified in your favor, it’s time to trial the product and bring your value proposition to life.

PHASE 3: EVALUATION

Most clinicians want to transform their clinical practices in ways that produce better outcomes. But better outcomes aren’t enough if the product adds time, frustration, and complexity to their practices. Make sure the product evaluation experience is uncomplicated. Keep your messaging and instruction short and succinct, like your value proposition.

The medical device evaluation stage requires you to speak the language of value analysis committees. VACS want to know how your product can reduce the total cost of care. Speak directly to that. Don’t treat it as a footnote. The companies that are winning today address cost efficiencies early and often by taking the focus off product-unit cost comparisons and placing it on the bigger picture: financial outcomes. Finally, mirror your rep-delivered messaging online so the selection committee, when researching your solution during this phase, has your value proposition reinforced.

PHASE 4: IMPLEMENTATION

Some companies stop their non-personal marketing efforts during this stage of the buying journey. After all, the “buy” has already happened. Mission accomplished. Right? This is shortsighted for two reasons:

  • Customers resist using products when implementation and training are done poorly
  • Customers rarely become advocates if implementation is subpar

Reps and clinical specialists cannot train everyone across three shifts, particularly now that COVID-19 is reducing access to caregivers. Create user-centric how-to guides that make implementation intuitive and frustration-free, and make them accessible online. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Could your target audience implement your product without a trainer?
  • Is your digital and print content formatted such that they can implement the new product on their own?

PHASE 5: ADVOCACY

Customer advocacy is a lethally powerful marketing tool that’s rarely actualized. If many journey maps lack vigor in the implementation phase, they have even less heart in the advocacy phase. This is a big missed opportunity. Make sure you create vehicles that let customers network with each other and share their stories with broader audiences via digital and social channels. Customers often have game-changing potential to advocate positively on companies’ behalf. They just aren’t given the proper venue and marketing promotion to do it.

MAKE SHIFT HAPPEN
In the age of COVID-19, customer needs have changed. Commercial strategies that overutilized personal marketing channels have been neutralized. Act now. Rewrite your customer journey map. Identify any new stakeholders. Map their needs. Satisfy them with content that engages and persuades, at the right time and in the right format. Invest in best-in-class digital marketing and watch your funnels and close rates grow.

Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. Working with a specialized medical device marketing agency like VIVO can not only make your life easier, it can grow your revenues faster.

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