Medical device marketers
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
9 May 2019
Wake up, medical device marketers
A few weeks back I wrote a post on pharmaceutical advertising, remember? That there’s so much of it? Traditionally, medical devices have not followed suit. But suddenly the world of marketing medical devices has changed. Will medical device marketers recognize the sea change?
Stealing Share has rebranded and honed marketing messages for too many medical device brands to list here. We completely rebranded St. Jude Medical (recently acquired by Abbott). We’ve also conducted research and branding projects for Medtronic (many international divisions), Wright Medical, Cryolife, OrthogenRX, Atricure, Integra, and others.
Medical device marketers are conservative by nature. Monies spent on marketing go to web design, apps, brochures, and trade shows. Often, marketing for medical device companies means SALES reps. These are sales driven companies.
Advertising? Maybe an ad in a trade show program or a trade journal. But BROADCAST? “You must be out of your mind,” would be the response.
If you have not read the blog I mentioned earlier— read it now. (That way, I won’t over explain.)
An earthquake in medical device marketing
I notice medical device marketing when I run across it. Keeping up with many industries is a strategist’s responsibility.
So, two weeks ago, a TV ad jumped out at me. A medical device manufacturer followed the pharma lead and took to the airways. A highly polished commercial. One that hit the highest emotional intensity in the category.
Boston Scientific has decided who it is going to be when it grows up. It is going to become a force in its category. Others might copy it. But my bet is they will all be late to the game.
Here’s the Watchman commercial.
“Medical device marketers will resist at first. They have slim marketing budgets. But the whole game just became competitive.”
Medical device marketers must change
Yes, medical device marketers must change immediately, just to keep up. Quite suddenly, all the reasons not to go directly to patients are out the window. The Boston Scientific ad for Watchman will work. It will influence patients and it will affect clinicians. You watch. Sales will grow. And quickly.
The Medtronics of the world must find advertising budgets. And fast. Preference and the margins associated with it just became more expensive.
Medical device marketers will resist at first. They have slim marketing budgets. But the whole game just became competitive.
Boston’s Scientific’s Watchman
Someone at Boston sees the future. As a result, it positions itself to recognize the facts fast. The pharmaceutical model works. Even highly segmented categories grow exponentially when TV advertising plays out. Those that scoff or wait it out will be waiting in line to catch up.
Nothing conveys emotional triggers as well as TV commercials. And emotional context is key.
Most medical device manufacturers spend their budgets on clinical data. Engineers run these companies. They believe purchase decisions are rational decisions. They aren’t.
The rational support for medical devices are table stakes. No clinician will use a device that has no rational support (a few early adopters might). They all believe their current practices are efficacious. Emotional connection breaks all ties.
Will medical device manufacturers market the parent brand?
Medical device manufacturers should market their parent brands. Boston Scientific will. And will outshine the competition once it realizes the power of emotional connections. It simply makes commercial sense and cash sense to invest in the parent brand.
Create an emotional preference for the parent brand and the rising tide lifts all boats. Medical device marketers need to transform their company from a house of brands to a branded house.
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