Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry (MDDI) recently published an article which stated that medical device makers should consider patients as consumers. The article was advocating a change in manufacturing mindset from designing not just to meet patients’ medical needs, but to also consider their nonmedical needs as consumers. While this article focuses more on manufacturing considerations, it can also be used as a springboard to think of how the marketing end of the company needs to take a new approach as well. With the rapid changes in the healthcare industry and patients’ ever-expanding need to feel more in control of their medical choices, medical device makers may find that it is no longer sufficient to market solely to physicians.
Today’s medical device consumers are accustomed to first researching information needed for any type of electronic gadget on the internet. They will simply go to a search engine such as Google or Bing, enter in their search parameters, and then start exploring for the information they need. Companies that fail to utilize search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to propel their devices to the top of these results may lose out on valuable customer leads.
Consumers will need to be motivated beyond medical necessity to understand the complete user experience they can anticipate with each type of medical device. For these purposes, online marketing will prove to be a much more efficient way of generating leads than other traditional marketing channels such as television, radio and print. These methods are often referred to as more of a “shotgun” approach to advertising, where the marketer sprays a lot of information through the media world and hopes to hit a potential target.
Online marketing can be seen as more of a “rifle” effect where pay-per-click (PPC), SEO, and digital marketing can be aimed directly at a potential consumer. More emphasis will need to be placed on the health and wellness benefits of a medical device, as opposed to merely explaining the technical advantages for a physician’s consumption. The consumer will need to not only “buy into” the concept of using a medical device, but must also be sold on the benefits of using one particular device over another.
Since consumers may not know exactly when in their lives they may need a particular device, medical device marketers must maintain “top of mind” brand awareness at all times. If a need should arise for a particular device, the consumer must already have a mental image and understanding of the company and its product. An increasing amount of physicians and clinicians are making the change to thinking of their patients as consumers and are taking to online marketing to make connections and build loyalty; medical device marketers need to do the same.
It’s a whole new world for medical device makers. Those that are able to change their manufacturing and marketing strategies will be the ones which are able to achieve success in the new era of consumer medicine.