We’ve all heard the quote “He who fails to plan, plans to fail”… then we promptly roll our eyes.
When you think about it, we plan almost every function of our lives. We plan what time the alarm clock is set in order to get up and make it to work on time. We plan what meals we will create in order to shop for ingredients at the store. Now some may say, “I never plan,” but what happens when you fail to plan? You’re late to work or go to the grocery store only to get home and realize you have nothing to eat. Sound familiar?
In my estimation, planning is a discipline, especially when it comes to medical marketing. I’ve been working in agencies for over 12 years and encountered some clients who have the planning discipline and sadly, some who don’t.
Companies that see the value and have the planning discipline are not only more successful but save money, better utilize resources and are able to track the effectiveness of these efforts.
In today’s health care market, people have too many choices and too little time to make those choices. In addition, some products and services have similar qualities and features. How do consumers choose a doctor, a specialist, a hospital, or a medical product or procedure? Brand value plays a large role. Consumers make choices based on their judgments about the brand, not what the brand says it is.
Can that perception be influenced or changed? Of course, but a strategic plan will be your guide to building relationships with consumers and also giving them a reasons to buy.
Here are a few tips on how to get started:
1. Research Your Audience
First and foremost make sure that all your marketing and advertising efforts are going to the right audience. Research is the key to making sure you reach the right people and key decision makers who will buy your product or service.
Since women make 90 percent of all consumer health care decisions, Armada is careful to select consumer media that skew heavily toward women, typically in age groups 25-70. We’ll tailor the age group further depending on the product or service, such as obstetric ultrasound versus mammography and bone density testing.
2. Add Value to Your Product or Service
Consumers are more likely to purchase products and services if they perceive they are essential to maintaining their values. Add value to your product or service by delivering value benefits to your customers.
People who have a family history of disease will look to their doctors for advice on how to manage their risk. By using a test more advanced than the routine offering — such as genetic testing or a comprehensive cholesterol profile — patients get a better picture of their likelihood of also suffering from the disease. They also are able to make proactive choices in their health and take control of their lifestyle, diet and exercise.
3. Develop a Tactical Advertising or Marketing Plan
Whether it’s B2B or B2C, advertising and marketing is essential to growing patient volume and demand for your services. This is how you communicate your products’ or services’ value to your established audience. Your audience and key messages will determine what tactics are most appropriate.
For example, if you’re marketing a medical device to a universe of prospects that are comprised of only a few thousand individuals, advertising — even in trade media — is probably going to be cost ineffective. Direct marketing would likely be a far more cost-effective tactic, along with a hands-on learning workshop during an upcoming conference.
4. Engage Your Customers
If a customer is happy with the service they receive, they are likely to use your company again. There are several ways to engage with your customers, including market research surveys and focus groups.
Social media is also great tool to engage customers, and it’s highly cost-effective. Social media (such as Facebook for consumers and LinkedIn for professionals) can be used to start a two-way conversation about your product or service. It’s the modern day “word-of-mouth.”
If you’ve seen one of Armada’s case studies, or read about a project here on our blog, you will notice elements of the strategic planning process in medical marketing:
- the establishment of realistic, achievable goals
- the development of strategies and tactics to reach those goals
- and a verifiable means of ROI measurement
Starting with this outline for success, the majority of your marketing initiatives will likely be successful.
Jessica is a Senior Account Manager at Armada.