REPS GETTING LABELED “NON-ESSENTIAL?” HERE’S THE FIX

MedTech sales forces have been losing customer access for a while, but COVID has intensified the trend. And some see it continuing even after a vaccine becomes available.

Naturally, sales reps are spooked. Many are being labeled “non-essential.” They’re working harder and longer just for limited access. And some are being locked out across entire health systems, not just at isolated offices.

It’s a big problem for MedTech companies. In addition to having trouble driving demand and filling the funnel, their sales-force-centric strategy has been blunted. They still have access to current customers, but without in-person access to new customers, they can’t generate new business. Period.

Now, more than ever, MedTech marketers need to reevaluate the overall value of the sales force. Read on.

PROBLEM: CUSTOMERS VIEW REPS AS COMMODITIES
In a large majority of cases, customers see reps as commodities. If this weren’t the case, all reps would be considered essential. But if you perform win/loss customer interviews, this is what you’ll hear:

“They (products) were all basically the same. Some have strengths here. Others have strengths there. It came down to what company wanted our business and gave us the best deal.”

Until reps provide customers with greater value, they’ll be seen as non-essential and they’ll be locked out. Here are some ways to provide value and begin to unlock access:

#1: CREATE BULLETPROOF VALUE PROPOSITIONS
Great MedTech marketers see the world through the eyes of their customers. Imagine you’re a busy clinician and you meet with a rep who messages X, Y, and Z. Then, the next day, you see a competitive rep who messages exactly the same thing. A few weeks later you attend a tradeshow, meet with 3 or 4 companies – and their messages are also all exactly the same.

Sameness = Commodity = Non-essential

Customers don’t see value when every company walks and talks in interchangeable ways. Banish sameness with a differentiated value prop that empowers customers to transform care. If you represent a unique value to customers, you’ll get noticed and respected.

#2: STOP PRODUCT MARKETING. START SOLUTION MARKETING
Many MedTech companies end up being labeled non-essential because they practice product marketing. They get no traction because they have a product-first or technology-first approach that messages a laundry list of undifferentiated features and benefits.

Product-centric marketing does not work. Marketing solutions to customer problems works.

To relate to customers and hold their attention, begin by acknowledging their challenges. Customers are motivated by pain reduction and avoidance. MedTech marketers should exploit this by promoting their pain, and by promising to solve it with their unique solutions. Reps that execute a solution-marketing strategy are more like consultants. They’re engaging, they’re seen as essential problem solvers, and they succeed.

#3: USE ELEVATOR MESSAGES
In light of how diabolically difficult it’s become to get time with new customers, reps who do get it have to make it matter. Start arming your reps with short, easily recitable, targeted messaging.

Replace your shotguns with sniper rifles

The kitchen sink messaging approach doesn’t work. Instead, perform market research with customers and find (and test) the short, specific narrative that can extend a 30-second call into a 30-minute call. Don’t know where to start? The message should be a concise, easily delivered version of your value prop.

#4: CHANGE YOUR REP ENGAGEMENT MODEL
Many reps have made themselves essential by becoming valuable members of care teams. They consult on cases, follow up with patients, lighten the care team’s load, educate with best practices, and help enable better patient outcomes. Many have innovated new customer engagement models that bring greater value to the customer. One surgeon we interviewed had this to say about a rep who architected an entirely outside-the-box approach and who’d come to be seen as essential:

“We don’t see Jack as a sales rep. He is part of our patient follow-up process. Post-discharge, he sees my patients in their homes, making sure their wounds are healing. He sends me a Facetime or pictures of the wound. Now, I don’t have to see the patient at the two-week follow-up period, freeing up my practice to see more patients.”

#5: GET SERIOUS ABOUT CRM & NON-PERSONAL MARKETING
COVID is exposing the limitations of marketing organizations. Those who’ve taken a more strategic, systematic approach are well positioned to exploit digital and non-personal channels.

Who are they? They’re the organizations that robustly use marketing automation systems. They create engaging content. Their sales forces use CRM. And they measure and optimize their work. Their organizations are led by marketing, not by sales. They have a deep understanding of customer behavior throughout all stages of the buying journey. And they make sure their reps have the tools and content they need to engage and nurture leads online.

DOES YOUR MEDTECH MARKETING NEED TO SHIFT?
Getting removed from the non-essential vendor list doesn’t happen overnight, but it needs to happen quickly. It requires fundamental, customer-centric MedTech marketing that produces brand experiences that outperform your competition. It also requires that marketing leads sales, not vice versa

If you aren’t sure where to start, VIVO can help. As a MedTech marketing agency, we have the experience and the expertise to rapidly improve the value and effectiveness of your sales force. Our multidisciplinary team can guide you every step of the way. Reach out and let’s make shift happen together!

3 REASONS, POST-COVID, TO FINALLY GET SERIOUS ABOUT CRM

Fourteen years ago, I made the shift from MedTech sales to marketing. I did it for one reason: CRM. I didn’t just see the CRM handwriting on the wall. I experienced it. My last employer, Cerner, had rolled out enterprise-wide CRM and had required 100% sales force compliance. Overnight, our jobs became largely administrative. We spent more time inputting data than we spent with customers.

Now, every MedTech sales organization has a CRM system, but unlike what I experienced, nearly all sit idle. Why? Because they don’t provide enough value for sales forces to use, let alone champion, them. Post-COVID, this must change. To succeed, MedTech companies have to embrace CRM. For three reasons.

REASON #1: CRM ENABLES SALES FORCE TRANSFORMATION
Many MedTech senior leaders are in denial. They think COVID will blow over, trade shows will rebound, and reps will regain face-to-face access to customers.

Our interviews with sales reps tell a different story:

  • “Our sales leadership has their heads in the sand”
  • “Stress levels are at their boiling point for us as we try to hit quota without access to customers”
  • “We won’t ever regain the access we once had”
  • “Trade shows won’t bounce back”
  • “I can’t see us having a destination national sales meeting for a while”

But even before COVID, customer behavior was changing. Rep access was being curtailed and trade show attendance was down. Both were increasingly seen as inefficient — or even wasteful — uses of time and money. Customers were moving online instead — bad news for MedTech commercial models built on personal selling and trade shows.

To adapt, sales reps need to engage customers digitally. They need to manage sales activities by becoming territory marketing managers or digital sales reps. They have to generate leads virtually and nurture them in ways that bring added value to customers:

  • Value props that reflect post-COVID customer needs
  • Best practices and protocols that drive better outcomes
  • Case studies that demonstrate clinical transformation
  • Product examples that reduce the total cost of care
  • Promoting pain points that motivate customers to change

CRM systems make the digital sales rep model possible. Connecting to a marketing automation system like Pardot, Eloqua, Hubspot, or Marketo gives reps a 360-degree view of all online and in-person customer engagements. CRM lets them personalize and send marketing-provided content to the right target at the right stage of the sales process. Finally, CRM allows reps to coordinate digital sales activities to a broader geography of customers than they could without it.

REASON #2: CRM ENABLES MARKETING TO LEAD SALES
MedTech companies are predominantly led by their sales forces, with marketing deployed downstream in a tactical, sales-support role. With customers switching to digital channels and reps using CRM to engage them, the roles should flip. Marketing should lead the sales force — and the company as a whole — forward. It can and should:

  • Create customer personas
  • Develop value props that reflect post-COVID customer needs
  • Map the customer buying journey
  • Create engaging content and messaging for each target at each stage of the journey
  • Map the sales process for reps to execute
  • Generate leads with campaigns (SEO/SEM, programmatic advertising, email, content marketing)
  • Create digital experiences that bring your value prop to life
  • Measure and optimize customer engagement
  • Enable marketing attribution

When MedTech marketing moves upstream and powers digital engagement, its impact on sales can be quantified (marketing attribution). And when it significantly improves sales, it can warrant increased funding and take on even greater responsibility.

REASON #3: CRM ENABLES COMPANIES TO SELL MORE PRODUCTS
As noted, customers were already moving online. COVID just accelerated the move. By adopting CRM and integrating it with marketing automation, companies can create market-leading digital experiences that generate curiosity, engage customers, drive demand, shape the narrative, and grow sales. Reps told us:

  • “Our managers don’t get it. This is how our customers want to engage with us (virtually and online).”
  • “Because the calls are short and virtual, we have to gain traction by bringing immediate value”
  • “Customers who would not normally see me now will virtually”
  • “I can engage more customers per day remotely than I could in person”
  • “I think we can actually sell more this way than before.”

DOES YOUR MEDICAL DEVICE MARKETING NEED TO SHIFT?
Marketing organizations that suddenly lead sales don’t happen overnight. It takes strategy, planning, and execution. Sales must see the value in using CRM and no longer equate it with burdensome bureaucracy. Marketing must see and seize its opportunity to lead organizations. This isn’t rocket science. It’s good strategic omnichannel marketing.

If you aren’t sure where to start, VIVO can help. As a MedTech marketing agency, we have the experience and the expertise to help build a digital marketing strategy and redefine the role of your reps. Our multidisciplinary team can guide you every step of the way. Reach out and let’s make shift happen together!

POST-COVID, MEDTECH PORTFOLIOS AND PLATFORMS ARE KING

The COVID pandemic has exposed the limitations of our healthcare delivery model. Hospital revenues and physician practices have been eviscerated by the elective surgery slowdown. And care models are being forced to shift even more rapidly than they were before. It’s a challenging new world for healthcare providers and those who market to them.

One result is that two massive secular waves are about to overtake the industry. Here’s how medical device marketers can surf them to growth.

WAVE #1: PRODUCT STANDARDIZATION
Health system purchasing departments have always wielded the ultimate leverage over medical device companies: standardization. But until now, it’s been more bark than bite. That’s because, historically, it’s been difficult to get physicians to standardize on more products from fewer companies. That pendulum will now swing. Post-COVID, the benefits of standardizing surgical devices and capital equipment are too significant to ignore:

  • Mega discounts
  • Care model redesign services
  • Utilization management
  • Additional educational opportunities
  • Fewer SKUs to manage
  • Service level/performance-based agreements

PORTFOLIOS ARE KING
Medical device marketers who offer the broadest portfolios will be best positioned to ride the standardization wave. Think Medtronic in the cath lab and OR; Ethicon in the OR; Stryker for knees, hips, and arthroscopy; 3M for wound care; Philips for imaging; and Abbott for lab testing.

Companies who win in this environment will win big. They’ll lock out their competitors for extended periods, facilitating strong customer relationships that improve care delivery. And not just with individual hospitals. They’ll lock up entire health systems – many of which comprise a dozen or more hospitals. The recent Siemens purchase of Varian is likely to be a perfect illustration. Siemens is now much better positioned than its competitors to win health-system-wide standardization deals.

Medical device marketers will have to shift to portfolio marketing that targets the strategic buyer – usually the department leader and the C-suite. They’ll have to show how their products:

  • Enable better outcomes
  • Unlock synergies
  • Create efficiencies
  • Reduce the total cost of care

Remember: Market research proves that non-clinical decision makers overwhelmingly do not want technology stories. Don’t tell one. Instead, create a story that demonstrates how your solution uniquely supports the institution’s strategic objectives.

WAVE #2: VIRTUAL CARE DELIVERY
One of the major limitations COVID has exposed is the centralization of the bulk of care in high-acuity, hospital-based environments. The brick-and-mortar model isn’t built to deliver care to large populations, especially ones seeking refuge from an infection. There aren’t enough:

  • ICU beds
  • Supplies
  • Healthcare workers

Delivering care to more people with fewer workers – while also keeping everyone safe – requires a virtual-care delivery model that lets workers monitor patients and focus on those who are most acute. But virtual care models can be vulnerable to gaps. If hospitals, patients and physicians don’t fully exchange and capture information, patients can fall off the radar, only to reemerge in the ED.

PLATFORMS ARE KING
To tap into this red-hot market, be sure to create medical device marketing that positions your products as a fully integrated system. Demonstrate how they share information, close gaps, and ultimately work together to provide better outcomes. If your portfolio is incomplete, close gaps with acquisitions, or market the support your products can provide in an end-to-end virtual care platform.

Companies that market virtual care with integrated platforms are being handsomely rewarded. Teladoc’s purchase of Livongo for $18.5 billion dollars proves it. This sum is astronomical, considering both companies are relatively new to the healthcare space.

DOES YOUR MEDICAL DEVICE MARKETING NEED TO SHIFT?
Medical device marketers are most comfortable marketing individual products. They often struggle laddering products up to a platform or system with an overarching value proposition.

But don’t worry. If you aren’t sure where to start, or if you think your current marketing is falling short, VIVO can help. As a medical device marketing agency, we have both the experience and the expertise. And our multidisciplinary team can guide you every step of the way. Reach out and let’s make shift happen together!

POST COVID, MAKE YOUR WEBSITE YOUR BEST SALES REP

Post COVID-19, medical device marketers have to face the music: Reps are losing in-person access, and trade shows are kaput. Today, the best way to drive interest, engage, and sell is through digital, non-personal channels. And chances are, the biggest digital channel of them all – your company website – is nowhere near ready for this task. Here’s how to fix it and make it your best sales rep.

STEP 1: DEFINE WHAT GOOD LOOKS LIKE
The large majority of medical device company websites are nothing more than product descriptions. Beyond that, they provide customers and companies with little practical value. For example, many company websites don’t:

  • Support paid or organic search
  • Bring focus to the problem(s) their solution solves
  • Reflect their value prop
  • Establish the selection criteria for a prospect
  • Nurture leads across the buying journey
  • Provide a memorable, differentiated brand experience
  • Have any “sticky” return factor
  • Optimize as a result of KPIs

To make sure your website doesn’t fall similarly flat, start by asking yourself how you want it to perform. Do you want it to accomplish each of the above goals? With in-person rep engagements cut off and trade shows shut down, the answer should be an emphatic and unequivocal “yes!” The most viable way to access customers in the post-COVID world is through virtual engagement – and your website is key.

STEP 2: KNOW WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT
Prospects visit your site for a very functional purpose. They’re looking for information. They want to be educated. They expect to receive value. To engage them and pump up your SEO/SEM performance, you have to give them what they’re looking for.

Start by performing market research. Know your customers — their different roles, challenges, and aspirations. Map their buying journey, so you know what they’re looking for at each stage. Then, overlay your value proposition and key messaging. For example, during early stages of the buying journey, it’s critical that your customers co-opt your value prop. Your differentiators must become their selection criteria. And don’t forget to bring your value prop to life in a meaningful, memorable way.

Ultimately, customers come to your site with real-world problems they’re looking to solve. Prove that you know their problems and have devised innovative ways to solve them (i.e., solution marketing). Refrain from “product first” marketing; think “customer first” instead.

STEP 3: REMEMBER, FOR ENGAGEMENT & SEO, CONTENT IS STILL KING
Every customer visit to your site is an opportunity to shift their thinking. Once you know what your customers need and want at each stage of the buying cycle, you can create solution-oriented content that supports your value prop, engages customers and persuades them. The content should also include popular search terms.

Solution marketing requires that you market the problems, dimensionalize their impact on patients, payers, and providers, and then demonstrate how your product uniquely solves those problems. And remember, nearly every clinician wants to transform clinical practice and produce better patient outcomes. Website content that acknowledges and embraces those goals will resonate with your target audience and motivate them to act.

STEP 4: ENABLE YOUR CUSTOMERS TO MARKET FOR YOU
Medical device marketers rarely give customers the opportunity to advocate on their behalf. This is a huge miss. Customer advocacy is one of the most powerful forms of marketing. Customers are actually better than you at:

  • Creating awareness of problems
  • Demonstrating their own clinical transformations

Showcase your customers. Empower them to tell their stories. Perform virtual roundtables with Zoom. Promote them. Build email lists. Populate a content-marketing campaign. Using white space content found nowhere else, you’ll provide value found nowhere else. And you’ll help generate repeat visitors who represent additional opportunities to engage and persuade.

STEP 5: SHIFT SPEND FROM TRADE SHOWS TO YOUR WEBSITE
Building a website that becomes your best sales rep takes significant, ongoing investment. Website strategy, design, content creation, SEO/SEM, execution, measurement, and optimization require a team of specialized marketers working tightly together. Invest in them. Give them the tools they need to create best-in-class online customer engagement. Empower them to build a site that’s both optimized for search and extensively indexed for measurement.

COVID has exposed the inability of many company websites to virtually drive demand, nurture leads, and shape perceptions. Many companies still have a ton of work to do to get there. Don’t wait for revenue to rebound. Digital, non-personal engagement is a minimum requirement, and it’s here to stay.

Shift your spend from budget-busting trade shows with terrible ROI, to your website. Rather than creating temporary virtual trade show experiences, build a website that provides an amazing customer experience year-round. Unlike trade shows, website experiences have global reach that can easily be measured and optimized.

DO YOU NEED HELP MAKING THE SHIFT?
Turning your website into your best salesperson isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a heavy dose of up-front strategic marketing and deep knowledge of your customer.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. VIVO can help. We have the deepest medical device marketing expertise in the industry, and our multidisciplinary team can guide you every step of the way. Reach out today and let’s make shift happen together!

4 WAYS TO FUTURE PROOF YOUR IVD MARKETING

Before COVID-19, the future looked bleak for the hospital clinical lab. The combination of outsourcing to commercial labs, underinvestment, PAMA cuts, worker shortages, and diminishing stature, had turned it into a non-strategic cost center.

But what we’ve learned from COVID-19 will change everything. The hospital lab will expand from supporting acute-care patients to supporting community-wide public health. And in vitro diagnostics (IVD) MedTech marketing will have to shift in response to shifting customer behavior. Read on to find out how!

TESTING STRATEGY WILL CHANGE
COVID-19 laid bare the simple fact that hospital labs are not prepared to ensure public health during a pandemic. Their strategy of outsourcing testing to higher-capacity commercial labs was derailed by backlogs, wasting critical time. They’ll need to become self-sufficient to ensure they’re better prepared for the next outbreak.

MITIGATING THE KNOWN
Labs will pursue strategies that mitigate known structural limits:

  • Workers will remain in short supply
  • Space will be limited and will lack configurability
  • Funding won’t allow for significantly more vendor relationships

MITIGATING THE UNKNOWN
Labs will also pursue strategies that mitigate exposure to the unknown:

  • They can’t run tests for the next pandemic if the tests don’t exist
  • And when tests do exist, they won’t be able to run them if they can’t take delivery of needed analyzers

STEP 1: MARKET YOUR R&D CHOPS
Labs want to mitigate the risk that their current vendor(s) won’t develop the next pandemic test in time. They’ll partner with vendors who demonstrate productive R&D. IVD MedTech marketers should immediately address these fears with a robust test innovation story. Remember:

  • The size of your R&D spend doesn’t matter
  • What matters is the historical productivity of your R&D

If you tout market-leading spend, but your productivity is matched by the company with the 20th largest spend, you’ve inadvertently marketed your competitor’s superior R&D productivity. Don’t make that mistake.

STEP 2: MARKET YOUR RAPID MANUFACTURING CAPABILITY
What good is being early to market with the next pandemic test if you can’t scale the manufacturing and/or systems quickly enough? COVID-19 exposed vendors whose manufacturing couldn’t meet customer demand. IVD MedTech marketers should mitigate this fear with a comprehensive, sophisticated, rapid manufacturing story.

STEP 3: MARKET YOUR ABILITY TO MANAGE THE SURGE
All labs had trouble managing the test backlog — a result of the testing surge. They just didn’t have the capacity. Future pandemics will exhibit similar surges. IVD MedTech marketers should have a surge story that answers these questions:

  • How well does your system support a flexible testing model?
  • Can it support a centralized testing model (high throughput, automation, etc.)?
  • Can it reduce backlogs and improve turnaround time with a decentralized model?
  • How well does it optimize workflow, as opposed to bottlenecking it?

STEP 4: MARKET YOUR INFORMATICS ROADMAP
The lab’s unique differentiator isn’t its clinical data. It’s the actionable insights that come from that data. Unfortunately, nearly all lab informatics systems focus inwardly on workflow. To create value, labs need tools that help them support population health. They need predictive informatics solutions that focus outwardly on the community.

Solutions like these would have helped identify early outbreaks at nursing homes and in underserved communities, and could have been used to slow the progression of COVID-19 via contact tracing and quarantining. Moving forward, IVD MedTech marketers should include this population health capability in their informatics R&D roadmap stories.

DO YOU NEED HELP MAKING THE SHIFT?
Shifting beyond product-centric marketing isn’t easy. It requires a deep understanding of what matters to your customers, and how your brand can uniquely enable it. As a MedTech marketing specialist, VIVO Agency can help. Our team can guide you every step of the way with the deepest clinical lab expertise in the agency industry. Reach out to VIVO, and let’s shift your IVD MedTech marketing forward!

IT’S TIME FOR DIGITAL-FIRST MED DEVICE LAUNCHES. HERE’S HOW.

Medical device marketers are grappling with the cold hard truth that COVID-19 has made their jobs more difficult. Trade shows are being canceled, reps are losing access to hospitals, and personal channels in general are being neutralized.

If you’ve always focused the overwhelming majority of your spend and expertise on personal channels, how do you launch a product in this “new normal”?

SHIFT TO DIGITAL
A digital-first launch strategy can drive revenue quickly, because its reach is far broader than personal channels. However, most medical device marketing teams struggle with digital. They don’t fund or staff these activities in a manner that can truly move the needle:

  • Mapping customer buying journeys
  • Creating content with strong engagement
  • Nurturing leads
  • Building email lists
  • Scoring leads
  • Generating demand
  • Leveraging key opinion leaders (KOLs)
  • Measuring and optimizing

To be effective in the age of COVID, medical device marketing teams need to prioritize digital-first launch strategies. But where do they begin?

STEP 1: RECALCULATE THE CUSTOMER BUYING JOURNEY
COVID-19 has changed customer behavior in nuanced, yet meaningful, ways. A medical device marketing agency like VIVO can help you understand what specifically motivates those changes. Ask yourself:

  • Who are the customer stakeholders and what are their pain points?
  • How are customers getting information and education online?
  • What role can reps play, now that they have less physical contact with customers?

STEP 2: MAP YOUR CONTENT TO EACH STAGE OF THE JOURNEY
It’s impossible to lead a customer down a “breadcrumb trail” through the five stages of the buying journey (Awareness/Consideration/Evaluation/Implementation/Advocacy) unless you have content that engages and persuades. Create content that addresses customer needs (i.e., solution marketing) in a way only your product can satisfy, and make sure it’s mapped to the right:

  • Stakeholder
  • Media channel, and
  • Stage of the buying journey

STEP 3: DIGITALLY ENABLE YOUR REPS
When you remap the customer buying journey, you’ll see that reps need to virtually engage with customers. Arm your reps with the right materials. Once they have a meaningful array of tools at their disposal, they can use their skills and expertise to connect the:

  • Right content to the
  • Right customer at the
  • Right stage of the buying process

STEP 4: DRIVE DEMAND WITH PRELAUNCH DIGITAL CAMPAIGNS
With personal customer engagement curtailed, medical device marketers have to pick up the slack on lead-generation efforts. The best way is to start before the launch, by driving awareness of the problems that your solution will uniquely solve. By arousing customer needs, you’ll create pent-up demand for your solution.

  • Virtually convene KOLs to discuss the problem and its impact on individual multidisciplinary stakeholders.
  • Use what the KOLs say to create educational digital content (articles, infographics, short interviews, etc.) that reps can share.
  • Implement a prelaunch ad campaign promoting the problem, with a landing page experience and the ability to connect with a rep through Zoom.

STEP 5: WIN INCLUSION AT THE CONSIDERATION PHASE
VIVO’s win/loss market research demonstrates the high percentage of companies – even market leaders – who miss out on sales opportunities. The reason? Poor digital presence during the Consideration phase of the buying journey. The fix is centered largely on your value proposition, promoted in two ways:

  • PAID SEARCH: If your value prop is outwardly facing and customer-need oriented, it will do well. If it’s inwardly facing and essentially just a product description, you run a high risk of being unmemorable and bypassed. Your value must be conveyed to multidisciplinary selection committees in terms of solving problems and transforming outcomes. Don’t be satisfied with winning inclusion at the Consideration phase. Take the opportunity to set the bias against your competition by helping to shape customer buying criteria in your own favor.
  • PROMOTIONAL ADVERTISING: Creative campaigns must catch the customer’s attention and pull them into deeper engagement with your value prop. This means that advertising has to motivate customers to act. The biggest mistake at this stage is creative that fails to motivate.

STEP 6: LET CUSTOMERS TELL THEIR TRANSFORMATION STORIES
In this age of value-based medicine, every clinician is on the hook to transform their clinical practice. A subset of those clinicians wants to tell their stories and empower others. Focus on creating these assets to be repurposed across digital/social channels:

  • Zoom KOL roundtables
  • Organizational video case studies
  • Transformation case study articles

MAKE SHIFT HAPPEN
Shifting to a digital-first medical device product launch isn’t easy. You must follow the right sequence — from strategy, to execution, to optimization. VIVO’s medical device marketing experts can help by guiding you every step of the way. Reach out to VIVO for your next launch, today!

IT’S TIME TO RETHINK THE MEDTECH SALES MODEL.

The sales force has been the centerpiece of MedTech commercial models for eons. Sales spending outpaces marketing spending by a margin of 10 to one. After all, the mantra, “if you want to grow revenue, hire more reps” has always been the norm.

But what do MedTech marketers do when reps have less physical access to healthcare providers? How do they grow business when they can’t get in front of targets? What do MedTech agencies do next when sales funnels run dry? Now is the time for MedTech companies, and medtech marketing agencies to rethink the role of the sales rep and better position them for today’s post-COVID-19 reality.

THE MEDTECH LANDSCAPE IS RAPIDLY CHANGING
Customer behavior is changing in myriad ways:

  • Care models are moving from high-touch to touchless, whether through telemedicine, or eliminating office waiting rooms, or requiring strict PPE usage for in-person patient visits.
  • Elective surgeries are migrating from hospitals to ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) because patients feel ASCs are safer.
  • In an effort to reduce infections, surgeons are moving from reusable instruments to single-use, disposable equivalents.

But for MedTech sales reps trying to sell those single-use devices – or any other MedTech product, for that matter – gaining access to hospitals and physician offices will be more challenging than ever. The increased risk of infection transmission from a face-to-face meeting is simply too high. And the difficulty of making sales is compounded by the fact that trade shows are being cancelled or held virtually instead.

THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP NEEDS TO BE REWRITTEN
With customer behavior changing so radically, sales reps losing in-person access, and trade show attendance plummeting, MedTech marketing is evolving rapidly. The customer buying journey must be remapped across each of the five stages:

  • Awareness
  • Evaluation
  • Consideration
  • Implementation
  • Advocacy

Everyone who’s built a customer journey map, even medtech marketing agencies, are amazed at the number of targets and the amount of content spread across each of the five stages. Many of these targets are physically engaged by sales reps. But now, with these physical engagements significantly curtailed, the role of reps has come under scrutiny.

MEDTECH SALES REPS SHOULD BECOME TERRITORY MARKETING MANAGERS
What makes the sales rep role so powerful is its ability to match and deliver the right content to the right target at the right stage of the sales cycle. To be blunt, no MedTech marketing departments, or traditional MedTech marketing agencies, are even remotely close to being able to nurture leads this way on their own.

Enter the Territory Marketing Manager (TMM).

The TMM continues their role as a sales rep, but with significantly more of the role being digitally enabled. They can still connect the right message to the right target at the right time, and they can do it in ways that better capture these activities and that integrate them into market automation systems like Marketo, Eloqua, etc.

MARKETING ASSETS NEED TO BE RETHOUGHT AND REDONE
To succeed, TMMs will need marketing assets they can deliver virtually, tailored for each target and stage of the new customer buying journey. As basic as this sounds, and as widespread as this strategy is outside of healthcare, traditional MedTech marketers don’t always follow it.

When rethinking content, consider these questions to make it engaging and strategic:

  • Whom is the content for?
  • What are their needs at each stage of the buying cycle?
  • How does your solution uniquely solve these needs?
  • What does clinical practice look like with these customer needs solved?
  • How can the story be visually supported for maximum impact?

USE HIGH-VALUE DIGITAL CONTENT AS A TROJAN HORSE
Traditional sales reps are having a brutal time getting their foot in the door with new hospitals and new clinical targets. And without access, their jobs are nearly impossible to carry out. But digital content is much easier for prospects to access and engage with. It’s simpler and safer than meeting a rep in the office or operating room.

Consider creating and deploying digital marketing assets with high-value content as a Trojan Horse, not just with one or two accounts, but simultaneously across large geographies. Once targets engage with this content, interest can be sparked, and the TMM can propel prospects across the buying journey by delivering additional content and messaging along the way. Smart medical marketing agencies think of it as a breadcrumb trail of content, starting with the Trojan Horse you use to get your foot in the door, and ending, eventually, with a sale.

DIGITAL TOOLS NEED TO BE EMPLOYED
TMMs require the tools outlined above. They need to be able to easily send and personalize content, and to be notified of end-user consumption. These activities need to be automatically fed into CRM systems that can then marry this information with non-personal marketing activities captured in marketing automation systems. Together, they can provide a comprehensive picture of customer touch points across each stage of the buying journey.

DO YOU NEED HELP MAKING THE SHIFT?
As the industry shifts to comply with post-COVID protocols, you must shift your sales and marketing strategies, too. Not sure how to start or where to begin? VIVO’s MedTech marketing consultants can help kick start your shift into action with a baseline study and gap analysis.

Get a FREE consultation with VIVO, your MedTech marketing agency, today.

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.

POST-COVID-19, INFECTION CONTROL IS KING.

Hospitals and health systems are in a bind. Elective surgeries generate a huge majority of their revenues. To survive, they need patients to have surgery. And soon. The predicament is so acute that the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic recently pleaded in a CNBC interview for patients to return, rationalizing that hospitals represent a reduced risk of infection. Medical device marketers can help.

THERE’S THE PROBLEM.
Pretty much everyone is aware that if you don’t want to get sick, you don’t go to a hospital. Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a recurring nemesis and a target of CMS penalties – and with all the COVID attention, hospitals are the last place patients want to be.

IT GETS WORSE

New projections show the COVID curve is flattening in many states, but new cases aren’t significantly declining. And scientists think the pandemic timeline is elongating, with many believing it will persist into the fall, and perhaps through 2021. Initially, it was thought that once the economy reopens, and elective surgeries are permitted, hospitals and medical device companies would go back to business as usual. However, if COVID-19 infections persist through 2021, patients will be extremely reluctant to have elective surgeries, further eroding health system finances and wreaking havoc on medical device company revenues and sales funnels.

HOSPITALS HAVE A PR NIGHTMARE ON THEIR HANDS
Hospitals have to convince their communities that it’s safe to have surgery. But without a story of “improved infection control,” they’ll fail to do so. They must embark on aggressive infection-control initiatives that provide the evidence they’ll need to convince their communities that elective surgeries are safe.

Medical device marketers have a potential nightmare on their hands as well. Will the sales of their elective surgery products:

  • Decline due to new customer needs?
  • Grow because they already market heavily to these new needs?
  • Go back to pre COVID-19 sales levels?

CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR WILL CHANGE

  • Infection-control leaders will gain new responsibilities and be under increased pressure to drive down infection rates
  • Surgeons will also face increased pressure to measurably reduce their infection rates
  • More cases will move to outpatient settings, where infection risk is perceived to be lower
  • Sepsis prevention and SSIs will gain renewed focus
  • The lab will take a more proactive role with infection testing and diagnosis
  • Worker protections will be elevated to higher standards
  • Disposable instruments will gain additional favor over reusables
  • Pricing pressure will intensify as hospitals try to offset lost revenue

MAKE SHIFT HAPPEN
If your medical device marketing has an infection-control angle, prioritize it by making sure infection control is reflected in your value prop. Then, start promoting it to the right people as soon as possible. Remember, hospitals will be looking to show their communities they’ve dramatically reduced their infection rates. Now, your value prop has to enable this more than ever.

Need some guidance on making the shift? VIVO is a medical device marketing agency with experts that can help. Reach out for a free strategy session today – and see how to refine your approach to address new customer needs.

COVID-19 Stalled Your Marketing. Make This Shift.

How do you market and sell when your two biggest marketing spends. – trade shows and sales forces – have been neutralized by COVID-19? Let’s face it. The willingness to physically connect – in planes; at trade shows, concerts, and restaurants; or even in in-person visits – will be reduced. Maybe, as many believe, permanently.

IF THIS IS THE NEW NORMAL, HOW CAN YOU ADAPT YOUR MEDTECH MARKETING AND COME OUT SWINGING?

START BY FORECASTING THE NEW NORMAL

The COVID-19 pandemic is a seminal moment in history. It will forever change how we interact with each other and how conduct business. Its physical and economic carnage will make providers more pandemic-sensitive. One result will be a reduced reliance on industry in some areas, and a greater reliance in others. To respond appropriately, medtech marketing leaders must:

  • Forecast what the new normal will be, and
  • Build their marketing models around it

NEW NORMAL: SALES FORCES WILL LOSE EVEN MORE PHYSICAL ACCESS
Medical device reps have already been struggling with restricted access to hospitals and practices. And post-COVID-19, it’s going to get a whole lot more restrictive. Providers will be scrutinizing the personal sales force and clinical specialist model with renewed fervor. More-stringent infection-control efforts will mandate that in-personsupported company selling and servicing be curtailed. Providers will bring more of these services in-house, such as managing implants, and access other services online or virtually. Ultimately, the opportunity to engage and persuade in-person will be greatly reduced.

IT WILL BE A SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD IF
PHARMACEUTICAL REVENUES REMAIN UNIMPACTED BY COVID-19. THE TAKEAWAY WILL BE CLEAR: PHARMA SALES FORCES PROVIDE LIMITED VALUE AND THEIR HEADCOUNT WILL BE REDUCED.

NEW NORMAL COMPANY TRADE SHOW SPEND WILL PLUMMET
Any medtech company CFO can tell you that trade show ROI has been very poor for a very long time. Yet, despite these poor returns, company investment in the medium hasn’t waned. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that will change, for several reasons:

  • Trade shows are a pandemic risk (thousands of people, global audience, close proximity, plane travel) that can easily be mitigated by not attending
  • Attendance, regardless of what organizers say, was steadily falling well before the COVID-19 outbreak and will continue to do so
  • Pre-COVID-19 attendee booth traffic was paltry (with some exceptions)
  • A number of trade shows will go bankrupt because they did not have pandemic insurance

NEW NORMAL PROVIDERS WILL ENGAGE WITH INDUSTRY MORE VIRTUALLY

Providers will not only want to convert more of their previously in-person relationships to digital or virtual relationships, they’ll also want their current digital brand experiences optimized. Medtech marketers must realize that their customers are digitally active, and this is where brands must fully engage them. Imagine a world in which:

  • OR reps support cases virtually, via Zoom
  • In-services move online and on-demand
  • Sales presentations are done remotely, requiring stories that are visually dynamic and engaging
  • Product demonstrations become virtual, particularly for bigger capital equipment

NEW NORMAL MARKETING WILL HAVE TO STEP UP DEMAND-GENERATION EFFORTS

The ability of sales reps to drive demand will be limited now that their access to customers will be limited. With reps handcuffed, funnels will run dry. Medtech marketers will have to redouble their efforts at creating better online engagement with customers.

IT’S TIME TO SHIFT YOUR STRATEGY

STOP blowing your budget on trade shows

START creating personalized digital experiences

STOP spending millions on NSM

START making it a virtual event

STOP thinking of what reps do as only selling

START arming them to be territory marketing managers

STOP anemic marketing demand gen and lead gen efforts

START acting as if the sales funnel had your name on it

STOP scratching the surface on marketing automation systems

START driving lead-nurturing campaigns with it

STOP siloing sales away from marketing

START connecting marketing automation systems to CRM systems

STOP reacting to someone else’s narrative

START making competitors respond to yours

STOP marketing products

START marketing solutions

STOP guessing if your marketing works

START marketing only that which is measurable

STOP producing skin-deep, undifferentiated content

START messaging with a focus on what makes you different

MAKE SHIFT HAPPEN
In the post-COVID-19 world, medtech marketers will have to take greater responsibility for an end-to-end customer experience that relies much less on personal channels and much more on non-personal ones. Experiences will have to be engaging and sticky, propelling prospects through the buying journey to a favorable outcome.

Want help, or a second opinion? VIVO is a medtech marketing agency whose experts can bring a new perspective and a new path forward. Reach out for a free consult, today!