Say No to
Strategic Selling

If you’re like me, you believe deeply in the principles of SPIN Selling and Integrity Selling. You may even think it’s heresy to question them. But hear me out and answer me this:

  • Should we teach reps to be strategic medical device marketers?
  • Should we ask them to find customer pain points and create value propositions (or a needs-payoff in SPIN Selling) that solve them?
  • Isn’t that marketing’s job?


SPIN Selling and Integrity Selling caught on by necessity and are staples of medical device marketing organizations. Traditional product marketing models simply provided features, functions, and benefits. Reps had to create their own marketing strategies. The best reps were very good at it, but most reps weren’t. When I worked for Stryker, we were given a week of training and lots of product brochures, and then told to “go hunt.” By the time you figured out the right value proposition for each target and for each product, you were likely about to be fired because you’d missed your quota. Is this really how we want our sales reps to operate?

Stop medical device product marketing
It doesn’t work. Instead, adopt solution marketing, which is very, very strategic. Follow the checklist below to make sure that what you create adds maximum value in the field.

Strategic marketing checklist:

  • Conduct market research to find the unmet needs of each target audience
  • Craft a medical device value proposition contoured to each
  • Map the buying journey
  • Marry sales messages to each target at each stage of the journey
  • Create sales collateral appropriate for each stage

Sales reps are not strategic marketers

I can’t tell you how many frustrated medical device marketers ask us how they can stop reacting to their sales forces and start leading them. Begin by recognizing that sales reps are not marketers. You are. Their job is to execute the marketing strategy. Your job is to give it to them. Don’t abdicate your role as a strategic marketer. Stop training sales reps to be strategic marketers with SPIN and Integrity Selling.

Shifting your model from sales support marketing to strategic marketing can be done. And partnering with VIVO, a medical device marketing agency, can make it simpler. With VIVO helping power your next launch, your sales force will be engaging with more confidence than ever before.

Give VIVO a call and see the difference strategic marketing can make!

Tom Dudnyk
Written by: Tom Dudnyk
August 12, 2019

Doctors Have
Lost Their Power.
Now What?

Historically, medical device marketers have focused on clinical champions, banking on them to advocate for their products—a sound strategy when independent physicians were heavily courted by hospitals seeking patient referrals. But physician practices that are owned by health systems have lost this leverage and now must “play ball” with the administration.

In other words, decision-making dynamics have changed, and one result is that you need to shift your medical device marketing. Here are three crucial steps to take:


Step 1
raise the bar

You still have to win over clinical champions, but now, it’s harder than ever. Physicians have limited political capital and will use it only if they think they’ll succeed. And to succeed, they require an economic narrative that contains hard or soft cost savings, or both. If your economic incentive is thin, your potential clinical champion won’t go to bat for your product and it won’t be evaluated. Here’s how to modify your approach:

Disposables: Re-strategize your VAC Pack. Instead of a catch-all of information, your VAC Pack should be a sequential narrative that brings your product’s value to life and substantiates that value with clinical and economic evidence.

Capital equipment: Your technology, no matter how advanced, means nothing if it doesn’t correlate to cost avoidance and reduced cost of care. Be sure to emphasize the economic benefits of your technology and start addressing them earlier in your marketing.

IT/Software/Informatics: Focus on superior workflows that improve productivity and allow clinicians and staff to do more with less. And again, be sure to connect your product to a strong economic benefit up front.


Step 2
Engage the administrator

Departmental service-line administrators used to bend over backward to accommodate the requests of their physicians. Now, physicians have to bend over backward to accommodate them. That’s because these days, admins have their own departmental strategies they’re trying to drive—strategies that are in line with the organization’s overarching goals. Employed physicians have to be clinical partners with admins and support their strategies. Here’s how you can adjust accordingly:

Market research focus: Find their strategy
Your job is to identify their strategies and to make it clear how your product or service can support them. To do so, you need to collaborate with administrators up front and ask them. Fortunately, admins are remarkably open to market research and meeting with medical device representatives.

Marketing focus: Sell them on your strategy
At the end of the day, admins care about creating better outcomes. If they lack a coherent strategy, sell them on yours. But that won’t happen if your salespeople don’t engage, which they’ll only do if marketing has effectively armed them.


Step 3
Get to the C-suite

When it comes to big capital and IT purchases, a C-suite member will sit on the selection committee and will have final say. But 99% of the time, those C-suite stakeholders aren’t being engaged at all. The reason is that 99% of medical device marketing doesn’t understand this stakeholder and hasn’t developed the strategy or messaging to effectively engage them. Follow step 2 but pay attention to the following:

DO: Speak ROI
The C-suite decides what gets funded. They routinely weigh the most strategic places to invest. They do not have a problem spending more money for a premium offering as long as it produces a premium return on investment.

DON’T: Engage in a technical discussion
Market research shows that when salespeople try to use their standard product pitches on the C-suite, the meeting ends quickly. The C-suite relies on their departmental selection committee members for technical engagement.

Times have changed, and what used to work for HealthTech marketers doesn’t work as well today. The selection process is more complex than ever and it’s crucial to rebalance your marketing strategy accordingly. Follow these three steps to stop ignoring change and start harnessing it.

Times have changed, and what used to work for medical device marketers doesn’t work as well today. The selection process is more complex than ever and it’s crucial to rebalance your marketing strategy accordingly.

VIVO can help. As a full-service medical device marketing agency with fourteen years of industry expertise, we can help take advantage of these changing dynamics and put them to work for you.

Give us a call for a free consultation today!

3 Reasons HealthTech
is the Most Difficult
Marketing Space

Medical device marketing is devilishly complex. It’s actually an overarching category containing three subcategories, each radically different from the others:


Capital equipment


I’ve sold and marketed each of these sub-categories during my 25-year career, and to say that they’re radically different is putting it mildly. Medical device marketing organizations struggle to master the complexities of each subcategory, and this leads to inwardly focused, product-centric marketing that falls far short of driving favorable buying decisions. To make matters worse, external market factors conspire to make the marketing of each subcategory even harder.

SUBCATEGORY #1: Disposables

Provider burnout is real, and it’s changing how products are evaluated. The bar for providers to consider your medical device is higher than ever before:

  • Providers have less and less time to evaluate and implement disposable products.
  • Reps have less and less access to providers.
  • Selection committees are bigger, making the sales process longer and more complicated.
  • Value propositions must demonstrate how products reduce the cost of care.

Getting your disposable product marketed and sold is only half the battle. The effort to keep your product in use once it’s sold (i.e., “playing defense”) is equally challenging, as cheaper alternatives lie just around the corner. The solution is to keep on marketing your product post-sale by continuing to invest in clinical and economic evidence, as well as transformation case studies.

SUBCATEGORY #2: Capital equipment

The beauty with selling capital equipment is that you can easily gain access to providers and message them directly. Unfortunately, the easy aspects of capital selling end there:

  • The sales process is much longer, costlier, and more complex – typically taking 18-24 months or longer.
  • When health systems buy as a single entity, it’s winner-take-all:
    • Even if you win, you can still lose by over-discounting and crushing your margins.
    • If you lose, you can be locked out of a health system for 5-10 years, or longer.

Our win/loss surveys show that the lowest price wins roughly 70% of the time. If you lose out
to a lower-priced competitor, or if you’re forced to cut your price to secure a deal, chances are your value proposition isn’t creating enough perceived value to command a premium.

SUBCATEGORY #3: IT​/​Software​/​Informatics

This is easily the hardest of all the HealthTech subcategories to market, and the quality of today’s marketing reflects the difficulty (have you ever been to HIMSS?):

  • Unlike disposables and capital, with IT you don’t really have anything tangible or physical to show, or for providers to trial.
  • The sales process can last 24 months or more. You must establish your value and sustain it over the course of that entire time.
  • The sheer number of competitors is daunting. The radiology PACS space, for example, includes close to 15 companies.
  • Marketing IT is 100% messaging. If it is undifferentiated from your competition (I ask again: Have you ever been to HIMSS?), your goose is cooked.

It’s no wonder this subcategory is getting its margins crushed more than the others. We’ve seen discounting so precipitous that the software is given away for free (the customer pays only for service).

Do this to advance your medical device marketing game

Map the medical device buyer journey and the sales process. Know the pain and aspirations of each target and how you uniquely satisfy them. Stop reacting to target audience behaviors and do the research to anticipate them. Recognize that yesterday’s successful marketing approach probably won’t work tomorrow. It’s time to adapt. Here are some ideas:

Disposables: Stop leading by marketing the solution. Start leading by marketing the problem. To get your product even considered by today’s overworked providers, it must solve a very big pain point. If one doesn’t exist, do the market research, create one, and dimensionalize it.

Capital equipment: Stop “kitchen sink messaging” in hopes that something will resonate. You diminish your value by reducing the time you should be spending on the message that really matters.

IT/Software/Informatics: Stop marketing features. Start marketing workflows. Message to what the target’s future state will look like when its current workarounds are erased (i.e., vision marketing). Get them to visualize this future state so they can’t live without it.


The only thing harder than mastering the marketing of individual subcategories is to master them when they are integrated together. Yet integrated solutions are here to stay, and growing in prominence!


Need help shifting from a product-first to a solution-first approach? Or do you need help marketing multi-product integrated solutions? We can help. VIVO is a medical device marketing agency with a crack team of industry insiders who know the nuances of each subcategory and how to play them to your advantage.

Give us a call to find out more! Together we can bring specialized marketing to a very complex, specialized marketing category.

Commit to Becoming
a Marketing-led

The medtech market is swimming in undifferentiated products, bloated value propositions, interchangeable messages, and unprecedented numbers of medical device competitors in all categories.

Try attending the RSNA or HIMSS annual trade shows. You’ll be assaulted by sameness on a colossal scale. The sales process is longer and costlier than ever, and margins are dropping. Start-ups are getting crushed with a near 100% failure rate. Never has there been a more urgent need for medtech CEOs to invest in marketing and begin reversing this trend.

The medtech device marketing discipline has become devalued

  • Many CEOs see marketing as overhead. As a cost center. As a waypoint you rotate in and out of as you climb the company ladder to bigger and better things
  • They don’t see it as a strategic differentiator, a business driver, or a competitive advantage
  • Many CEOs come from sales. They see sales as a strategic leader, and they expect marketing to play a supporting role, instead of the other way around

Medtech Marketing revaluation action plan
Pilot a new approach—one in which your marketing department and CEO elevate their commitment to each other—and to your organization. Document your progress. Establish momentum. Go horizontally across your organization. Hone your process along the way. Follow this model to revalue your marketing department. Over time, after consistent success, a CMO role might emerge. Even better, your next CEO might emerge from it.

step 1

Sell the CEO on the difference-making potential of marketing. Commit to performance that:

  • Nullifies your medical device competitors’ agendas
  • Drives demand for what you uniquely offer
  • Shortens the sales cycle
  • Improves close rates and margins
  • Attracts top talent
  • Nurtures customer and sales rep loyalty
  • Creates a quantifiable ROI
  • Becomes a competitive advantage that competitors recognize as a threat

step 2

In order to get the performance outlined in Step 1, the CEO must commit the following to marketing:

  • Expectations of a multi-year strategic plan
  • Culture change (e.g., more planning, less reacting)
  • Up-leveled staffing (e.g., more strategic marketers, fewer tactical marketers)
  • Appropriate marketing budgets
  • Investment in digital
  • Accountability to both the top and bottom lines


It all starts with building a marketing plan – presented to the CEO – for your organization’s future performance with strategic marketing leadership. It’s a big undertaking that you need to get right, but you don’t have to go it alone. As a specialized medtech marketing agency with fourteen years of industry experience, VIVO is here to help,

Reach out today – and start making your shift to being a marketing-led organization.

Does your medical device marketing shape the narrative? If not, here’s how.

What exactly is the “narrative”?

It is a concise story that frames your unique strengths.

Why is it so important?

  • If the medtech purchasing committee’s selection criteria match your strengths, you win
  • If they match your competitors’ strengths, you lose

selection committee criteria are fluid. Your marketing must shape their selection criteria before your competitors do.

How do you create a winning narrative?

Step 1
ID your most important product strengths—those that best address your customers’ biggest needs

Step 2
Promote the problems that your strengths uniquely solve, thus creating attention and urgency

Step 3
Weave your product strengths together into a very short, easily recitable solution narrative

How do you promote it?

Prior to contacting reps, buyers use search engines to gather information


How do you know it is working?
When committee members co-opt your narrative as their own selection criteria, you’ve won!

Make Shift Happen
Stop reacting to someone else’s narrative and start making them react to yours. Reach out and see how VIVO, your specialized medical device marketing agency, can put your narrative out in front.

Making ″patient centric″ the center of your device marketing

“Patient centric” is the most overused phrase in the history of healthcare marketing. Yet today’s marketplace demands that you give it meaning, and position your solution as uniquely activating it. That’s because readmission penalties, quality scores, and chronic disease management are placing greater emphasis than ever on patients.

Providers have always considered care that puts the patient at the center (i.e., patient centricity) to be the highest ideal. Unfortunately, they were just too siloed to deliver it. Today, the silos are coming down. Data is being shared. Multidisciplinary care teams are collaborating, and they’re even bringing care to the center of the patient’s universe: their home. As chronic disease management and prevention gain momentum, patient centricity becomes a logical strategy to individualize care.

providers realize that patient centric care is more than an ideal. Connected technologies now exist to put it into practice!
take advantage of this opportunity and give “patient centric” new relevance.


  • Give lip service to patient centric care
  • Make marketing all about your medical devices


  • Market the problems that patient centric care solves
  • Show how your medical device uniquely enables patient centric care
  • Market a vision of patient centric care in practice, with problems solved and benefits realized

Moving from product-centric to patient-centric marketing is not easy. But you can make the shift with VIVO. As a specialized medical device marketing agency, we’ve been driving breakthrough marketing for the last fourteen years.

Contact us and see how our experience can make the difference for you.

Fix Siloed Marketing with a Med Device Agency of Record

Integrated solutions are red hot right now. There are two reasons medtech marketing silos make integrated solution marketing impossible:

Marketing silos obscure the big picture
Marketers work in different product areas. They may even work in different business units. Naturally, when they come together to market an integrated solution, they struggle to see above their own silos. They focus on their own products, lose sight of their customers, and can’t provide the full-solution value story. Siloed marketers make a consistent, integrated solution story nearly impossible to create.

Their agencies are siloed
Agencies that are stuck in silos also fail to see above them. If they aren’t accounting for marketing activities beyond their own, they struggle mightily to integrate and align their marketing. They can’t see the horizontal patient journey and multidisciplinary provider workflows.


The answer is simple, but it takes leadership from the CEO: Standardize with a single agency—an Agency of Record (AOR). An AOR is often defined as “an agency responsible for all the services a particular business might require.” This doesn’t mean they necessarily do 100% of the work, but they direct it and are acutely aware of all of it.

They see the big picture because they understand all the individual pieces. They understand your customers at both macro and micro levels. And, as a result, they align marketing activities, ensure consistency, and establish a communication hierarchy from top to bottom. It’s an approach that brings three immediate benefits:

Strategic development improves
An agency that understands your company’s complexities and customers can do amazing things. It can go deep into any silo and horizontally integrate all silos as one. That ability is crucial when it comes to marketing the company and the integrated solutions the company offers.

Strategy will stop dying in execution
Market-winning medtech marketing strategies often get completely lost in execution, and it’s easy to see why: The agency that created the integrated solution strategy isn’t given the opportunity to execute it. Instead, in a misguided effort to save money, companies farm the work out to production agencies that don’t fully understand the strategy or the content. The result? The process ends up taking longer, because the agency needs many more rounds to get the work done. This adds additional cost. But the biggest cost of all is that the strategy is so diminished in execution that it becomes ineffective.

Waste, overlap, and redundancies are eliminated
The waste that’s brought about by redundant, competing efforts is identified and eliminated overnight. There’s no more costly confusion, rework, or misdirection. There are only purposeful activities that bring your strategy to life in the most compelling—and efficient—ways possible.

Many medical device marketing departments are reorganizing to break down silos. But they’re finding that it’s taking longer than they expected, and it’s jeopardizing their ability to effectively market. Don’t wait for your reorganization to bear fruit. Commit to partnering with an AOR – and give serious thought to a specialized medical device marketing agency like VIVO.

Reach out and see how our specialization can help shift your marketing – and your business performance.