A New Way to Market Your Medical Device

Did you ever consider marketing your medical device through social media?  I recently discovered a new social media site called Pinterest that may be the perfect site for such a venture.

The picture-driven Pinterest made Internet history recently by rocketing to 10 million subscribers in just under two years, and has already surpassed all of the original four except for Twitter for referral traffic. The majority of users are early adopters of social media, women in their 20s and 30s who are sharing pictures in categories ranging from beauty and fitness to science and nature.

Users can upload images directly to a particular “board” or use a toolbar widget to “pin” an image from a blog post or web page. The software automatically imbeds a link in the image, making it easy to find that recipe, pair of shoes, or information again. Although there is a considerable retail component to Pinterest through links, there could be room for much more than that. Users can follow a board, repin images to their own collections and like individual pins.

Stephanie Baum suggests that the following Pinterest categories might be useful to medical device manufacturers: Boosting morale, The art of medicine, Lay a foundation for the future, Health education, Referrals, Motivate and inspire, The quantified self, Disease state categories.  Medical device companies can use photos to show their history and how far they have come, or they could show their devices and how they can be used in therapies to improve your health. Several hospitals already post on Pintrest and show motivational pictures of their success stories or images of their medical teams so that patients can become more familiar with them.

Even if you don’t decide to use it as a marketing tool, Pintrest is definitely worth checking out.  I was on there today and learned that vinegar can be used instead of Roundup as an eco-friendly alternative to killing weeds.  If the pictures are any indication, from now on my garden will be smelling like pickles instead of nasty hazardous chemicals.

How do You Market Medical Devices?

So, you’ve developed a great medical device that’s going to revolutionize the industry and save thousands of lives.  How do you market it?  Sure, you can show up at your potential client’s workplace with your briefcase and product sample, but then what?

I came across an interesting article by Gavin Finn that looks at the options for presenting and demonstrating medical device products to prospects. He covers everything from who might be present at the meeting and how to market to them, to creating a compelling experience through audience involvement and demonstrations, to using virtual and interactive technologies.

Finn states, “Fortunately, today’s sales and marketing toolkit includes a number of options for presenting and demonstrating products to prospects—even in the absence of a physical product. In a traditional selling process, buyers often play a passive role—listening to sales presentations, watching case study videos, etc. They have no interaction with the product whatsoever. These traditional selling methods don’t provide the information necessary to make a truly informed buying decision, and that can lessen or kill chances for a sale, or make for a far longer sales cycle.”

“When it comes to sales, who you’re talking to is as important as what you’re talking about. It’s not unusual to have five or more departments involved in the buying process, and each may have different requirements and decision-making influences. For this reason, sales and marketing professionals need to customize their messages with an experiential focus that addresses each decision-maker’s requirements. The customer experience should concisely articulate those benefits in an engaging and memorable way.”

When I was a kid in the 70’s, a neighbor of ours was a Rainbow vacuum cleaner salesman. One day my parents, out of the goodness of their hearts, let him come over to demonstrate his merchandise. I remember as a child that I was quite impressed with the cool demonstrations that he did to highlight his product- dumping dirt on the carpet and vacuuming it up to show the suction ability of his machine and adding scented oil to the water inside the apparatus, thus infusing the house with a pleasant odor.  It seems, even with today’s technology, salespeople haven’t come that far from their roots.  You still have to market to the right audience, get and maintain their attention, and impress them with the abilities of your product (even if that only entails the power to suck up dirt and make your house smell nice).  If it makes any difference, my parents ended up buying a Rainbow that day, even though we weren’t in the market for a vacuum.  So, it must work…

Improving Your Chances for Success

I found an interesting article about medical device product development that talks about the lack of success that many companies seem to have in taking their product from start to finish.

Although introducing a successful new medical device has never been easy, it seems like it’s been especially difficult in the last few years. According to a 2010 survey from McKinsey Global, only 39% of 2240 executives feel confident in their companies’ ability to do so. And the cost of failure isn’t exactly cheap—a launch delay or failure can cost millions of dollars. It’s no surprise then that many firms would like to improve in this regard.

Mr. Buntz suggests that while companies spend a lot of time developing product prototypes, perhaps they should also spend time developing sales model prototypes.

To deal with this problem, companies can adopt a custom, highly focused, modular sales model prototype prior to full-scale launch that is designed to rapidly validate the market and business opportunity. Similar to product prototyping, this technique enables a company to identify the viability of a product at minimal cost. A sales prototype enables a company to answer three fundamental questions: Will the product quickly fail after it is introduced? Will the profit margins be sufficient to justify placing the product into a core sales channel? And is the product worth taking to full scale?

Another recommendation to improve the chances of success when launching a new product is to employ outsourcing, when it is useful. Schimelfenig advises companies to look for a partner with a business model that shares risk and shared reward. This ensures that interests are aligned. An experienced sales partner can help deploy customized strategies to accelerate revenue by developing a sales channel for the specific needs of company and product. Things to look for when sourcing a business partner include solid sales support, tight operational infrastructure, and a successful track record building custom sales models.

I believe that if you combine these suggestions, along with our ideas from Building The Business Case and Creo Quality’s medical device product development expertise, you will greatly increase your chances of success in launching a new product.

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Ideas vs. Execution

I came across this blog by Seth Levine in which he encourages usage of some of the same principles that we try to persuade you to instill with our Building The Business Case document.

Mr. Levine states, “Ideas are great. But they’re not as valuable as most people make them out to be, and by correlation, execution is almost universally underrated and in hindsight taken for granted as a given once a company has become successful (and rarely given the credit it deserves).”

I was especially interested when, in referring to what we consider market leaders, he states “Many weren’t the first or only ones to come up with the idea that made their company. What separated them from their competitors was their ability to out execute everyone else in a way that took a good idea and made it a great company. Often, in fact, another company was the early market leader only to have their leading position overtaken by an upstart who was hungrier, more nimble, and more focused on the basics of executing a great business.”

He ends with, “My point isn’t that ideas aren’t important. It’s just that execution of those ideas is far more critical. And it’s worth thinking about that as you consider the operations of your own business.”

This is where Building the Business Case can really make a difference.  Keeping the principles we discuss in mind will “keep you focused on the basics of executing a great business” and therefore help to ensure that your business becomes and remains successful.

I remember when I was in elementary school one of the girls had a Cricket doll instead of a Barbie doll.  Mr. Levine’s musings got me to wondering, “Whatever happened to Cricket?” I’m sure Cricket was basically the same unrealistically perfectly proportioned, flawlessly coiffed doll as Barbie.  Perhaps poor Cricket didn’t have the advantage of having people behind her who were focused on executing a great business. Otherwise she too might still be popular and successful after over fifty years.

Other blogs on Building the Business Case:

Building a Business- The First Step- Know Your Product

The Second Step to Building the Business Case- Know Your Market

Part Three of Building the Business Case – Location, Requirements, and Market Size

The Final Steps- Know Your Competitors

Big Ideas Winner Starts Her Own Company

As Big Ideas rolls around again this year, we thought we would update you on some of the winners from last year.  Jennifer Blankenship, our second place winner, was inspired to start her own company.  Here is an excerpt from her marketing flyer:

“In the competitive market of rural nonprofit social services and nonprofits engaging in effective development, grant writing, and program delivering can be exhausting.  MAE is here to help!  We can deliver the FAMILY EFFECTIVENESS TRAINING program, GED tutoring, and Self-sufficiency skills building (including employability skills building) that your clients need.  For help with time consuming development projects we are able to offer proven and experienced contracting to get the job done and bring in the dollars to keep your great programs on track.”

When asked about her experiences with Big Ideas and her impressions of the contest, Jennifer stated, “The contest gives people the support from the community that makes a big difference in taking a risk in business.  Knowing that people are hoping that there will be businesses started up and supporting that with dollars is a big incentive to overcome the fear of the mountain of work that can come with making an idea a reality.”

Way to go Jennifer!  What a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit that Big Ideas is attempting to encourage.

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Location, Requirements, and Market Size- Part Three of Building a Business Case

This is the third installment in our series about Building a Business Case, which covers points that provide guidance and direction to entrepreneurs.

See the complete Building The Business Case document.

Where in the world do you plan to sell your product / technology / service?:

Sure, you can envision people using your product at their business or facility, that’s easy.  But really, where are you going to sell it?  It’s not like you can set up a table in front of the local WalMart and try to convince the passers-by to purchase your product with the loose change in their pockets.  Take the time to consider the possibilities and do research to find out the best route for you to market your product.

Are there regulatory and/or certification requirements pertaining to your product / technology / service?:

It is important to find this out as early as possible and design your products based on the requirements.  It is really pointless to do or plan anything until you know what these are.  “Well, how am I supposed to know what the requirements are?” you may wonder.  Check out the FDA website, FDA.gov if your product is a medical device, pharmacutical, or food.  For other types of products, try the websites of the regulatory organizations in that market, such as the FCC, or HIPAA.  If all else fails, ask people in the industry for guidance.

What is the size of the market(s) for your product / technology / service?:

This could determine how much you are willing to put into your project and if it is even worth the effort to pursue your idea.  For example, manufacturing snow shoes specifically fashioned for The Abominable Snowman might sound like a brilliant idea, but the market is so small, not to mention hard to locate, that you’d be hard pressed to sell any, let alone make a profit.

In the next post on this topic, I will cover the last three points in Building a Business Case which involve considering competitive products and patents.  For the previous blog posts in this series see:

Building a Business- The First Step

How Well Do You Really Know Your Market? The Next Step to Building the Business Case

How Well Do You Really Know Your Market? The Next Step to Building the Business Case

This is my second post in a series based on our Building The Business Case.  Building the Business Case is a high-level snapshot/checklist/workbook to provide a little guidance and direction for entrepreneurs.

Last week, I covered the first thee points. The next three items are:

Describe the market(s) for your product / technology / service (e.g. medical device, consumer, industrial):

Make sure you understand the type of market your product will be useful to.  In the long run, this will save you a lot of time and effort.  For instance, you wouldn’t want to waste your time trying to sell a circus elephant to a Wall Street stock broker. That just doesn’t make any sense.

Who will use your product / technology / service?:

This would be your end user, not necessarily the person purchasing your product/technology/service.  Although you may not be selling your product directly to this person, you certainly have to consider their needs.

Who will purchase your product / technology / service?:

This is the actual person purchasing your product/technology/service, who may very well be buying the product for a customer’s use and may not actually be the one using the product.  This is the person you have to appeal to.

I am reminded of the above two items every time I go to the grocery store with my children.  Any box that has Lightning McQueen, Mario, or Buzz Lightyear on it attracts their attention and leads to pleas of “Please Mommy, can we get this? We’ll eat it, we promise!” Ever the diligent mother, I carefully read the label and assure myself that the product does, in fact, have some sound nutritional value before I deem if it is worthy of my purchase. In this scenario, I am the “purchaser” and my children are the “users”.

Next week I will be covering the next three points in Building The Business Case.

Has Twitter Lost The Allure?

Or am I just not paying attention to it any more? I suspect either scenario is possible.

I’m interested in hearing about your Twitter experiences and whether it’s a guilty pleasure or actually a good business tool.

I Can’t Do This Without A Tomatofish

I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past few days. It happens. Getting out of the funk is always the hardest. Will it take 1 day or 5?

After about 3 days, I’m emerging. This time, though, required a bit of a catalyst. Thank you Brooke DeRam!

I’ve probably blogged about Brooke and her company Tomato Fish Marketing in the past. I know I haven’t publicly given TFM enough credit.

Let me go back to the first meeting I had with Brooke. It was over 2 years ago. Our first meeting was more networking than anything else. Creo Quality needed marketing help and Tomato Fish Marketing provided marketing solutions. Business needs were compatible. But the relationship evolved. Brooke’s approach and style is part coach, part mentor, part sales, part business owner, part partner, and part friend. And her approach is always exactly what we need exactly when we need it.

Without a Tomato Fish Marketing and a Brooke DeRam, I couldn’t do this. I would have hung it up long ago. I like to think that Brooke and I have established a special, unique relationship because of our business interactions. I’m sure we have. But I can tell you that Brooke and TFM pour their heart and soul and passion into every one of their clients. And when you have someone fighting for you and your cause with such passion and fervor, it’s damned encouraging and powerful.

Brooke – Thank you for all the things you do–especially the little things that I fail to acknowledge. Without your marketing wisdom and guidance, Creo Quality would not be any where close to the current situation.

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March 31, 2010 – Tribeswell Seminar

Tribeswell Seminar

The seminar will focus on some new and exciting tactics for using social media to grow your business.

When? March 31 – 10am – 12pm
Where? Bloomington Country Club, Bloomington, IN (map)
What? A marketing seminar that teaches you to use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogs to dramatically grow your business.
Cost? $20 per person, but you may bring a guest for free!

About the Instructor
Colin Clark is the owner of Tribeswell, an interactive design and marketing company based out of Bloomington, IN.  He has been obsessed with the marketing implications of social media for the past few years and loves sharing his expertise with people like you!

Click here to register NOW!

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April 21-22, 2010 – BIOMEDevice – An MD&M Event

BIOMEDevice – An MD&M Event

Find Unparalleled Resources at New England’s Industry Event for Medical Device and Biopharma Development and Manufacturing

Regardless of your particular product design, development, or manufacturing needs, BIOMEDevice offers the widest array of products and services for every medical specialty and application.

Fresh Ideas, Innovative Solutions, and a Wealth of Resources—All in One Place

A visit to BIOMEDevice is the most efficient way to explore the latest advances in medical-grade materials, assembly components, electronics, design and engineering support, production equipment including automation and controls, information systems, medical device software, clinical connectivity and device interoperability, regulatory compliance, packaging materials and machinery, sterilization systems, and a full complement of contract services for every aspect of the medical product development process…from initial start-up and R&D through end-product marketing.

The Nation’s Leading Suppliers and Industry Experts
BIOMEDevice exhibitors are ready to assist you in designing products that improve quality and reliability, shorten time-to-market, and are easier and more affordable to produce, reduce end-user costs, and enhance patient safety—all key advantages in positioning your products in today’s competitive marketplace.

NEW IN 2010! — Take advantage of FREE presentations right in the expo hall!
The new Innovation Briefs Theater features 30-40 minute presentations from leading OEM suppliers on the latest developments and technologies important to your industry. Uncover better processes, intelligence, and technology and return to your work place with the tools you need to make your business stronger! Admission is complimentary with your show badge.

Co-located with the Nation’s Premier Executive-Level Conference
The BIOMEDevice Forum focuses on convergence and cross-sector collaborations among companies in the biotechnology, medical device, IVD, and pharmaceutical industries. This two-day event brings together key players involved in investing, partnering, licensing, and developing business opportunities in the rapidly growing market for innovative healthcare products.

Make Your Plans Today to Be a Part of BIOMEDevice Boston 2010.

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March 5, 2010 – Embracing Social Media: Part III

New Economy New Rules

March 5, 2010 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. (EST)
Barnes & Thornburg LLP

Embracing Social Media:
What, How, Why Not.
Part III – Legalities of Web 3.0

8:00 a.m. (EST) / 7:00 a.m. (CST) Registration and continental breakfast
8:30-9:30 a.m. (EST) / 7:30-8:30 a.m. (CST) Presentation – Adjournment will be on time
Navigating the legal waters of advertising and marketing can be difficult task alone when utilizing traditional options, but how does this change when marketing within the digital world? In our third session of this series, we look at the many legal issues surrounding social media and online marketing.

Speakers will be presenting from the Barnes & Thornburg LLP office in Chicago.

Click HERE to register.

There is no charge to attend, but please register!!!!!

If you have any questions, contact Jodie Daugherty at jodie.daugherty@btlaw.com or 317-261-7922.

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Social Media Is A Marketing Tactic–Not A Strategy

I’m tired of reading articles, blog posts, tweets, etc. suggesting that businesses need a social media expert and a social media strategy. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree.

Businesses need a marketing strategy. And yes, the marketing strategy should consider use of social media. But isn’t social media one of MANY marketing tactics?

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Make Your Ideas Stick Or Kill Them Fast

Made to Stick
Image via Wikipedia

For my birthday a couple months ago, my mom bought me the book Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. I’m proud of my mom for buying a book that I actually read.

Made To Stick is worth the read, especially if you are an entrepreneur or small business with a tight and minimal marketing budget. All businesses want people to know about their products and services. We all want to make it big in the marketplace. But usually, we fall into traps when conveying our messages.

I highlighted a paragraph that I’d like to share:

“A movie pitch, on the other hand, is destined to change. When a screenwriter is hired, the story will change. When a director is hired, the artistic feel of the movie will change. when stars are hired to play the parts, their personalities will change how we perceive the characters in the story. When produceers are hired, the storytelling will become subject to financial and logistical constraints. And when the move completed, months or years later, the marketing team will need to find a way to explain the plot to the public in about thirty seconds–without giving away too much.

Imagine investing millions on an idea that will change as it is filtered through the consciousness of a succession of individuals with giant egos: directors, stars, producers, marketers. That idea had better be good.”

To me, this passage describes entrepreneurship, innovation, start-ups, and product development. If you are an entrepreneur with a new product idea and are seeking funding, the idea better be good. And you better figure out how to convince others.

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November 13, 2009 – Whiteboard Strategy Session

What is the TOMI Triangle? I’ll give you a hint: it pertains to your marketing strategy.

Join me at Tomato Fish Marketing from 10:00 – 11:30 on November 13, 2009 for this FREE Whiteboard Strategy Session.

Click here for more details