For healthcare marketers, reaching and engaging today’s busy physicians and C-suite executives is more challenging than ever – especially during and post COVID-19. According to the a recent Survey of America’s Physicians, they, are so busy they have no time to see even additional patients, let alone engage with device product sales representatives. Furthermore, 80% of physicians report that they are either overextended or at capacity. Given this shift, how can medical device marketing professionals capitalize on the limited available time to engage physicians, and who are the best available channels to engage them from a product marketing standpoint?

Historically, healthcare marketers primarily engaged physicians via utilization of sales reps directly at the practice, or invite them for a lunch to discuss products further. In today’s market, sales and marketing tactics that were effective a decade ago no longer work.

Healthcare Industry Marketing Rapidly Following other B2B Industries

The following physician engagement strategies have proven fruitful for a number of the leading healthcare manufacturers:

1. Utilization of Personalized Email
Email continues to provide a mainstay of digital marketing. In fact, it consistently generates the best marketing results of any other marketing medium. For example, 89% of marketers continue to rely on email is their primary channel for lead generation. According to the HealthLink Dimensions survey, over 68 percent of respondents prefer to be contacted through email, while only 11 percent want information via direct mail or in-person visits. However, mass impersonal email with a generic sales message sent to an entire database won’t work today. Effective emails capitalize on segmented lists and personalized messages. According to HubSpot, marketers who segment their lists experience 38% increased open rates, 34% greater email relevance and 28% lower unsubscribe rates. Additionally, personalized, relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. Make sure your emails speak directly to physicians/HCPs, from the salutation to the content to the images to drive your digital engagement and marketing results.

2. Develop Physician Buyer Personas
As mentioned, personalizing marketing campaigns is critical. But how can pharma and biotech manufacturers create more personalized marketing? Create buyer personas, including one for each profession can achieve this. Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. Personas help “internalize the ideal customer we’re trying to attract, and relate to our customers as real humans,” stated HubSpot. A number of leading healthcare companies are experiencing positive marketing results via persona creation for a number of specialties including surgeons, private practice physicians and hospital chief information officers, to name a few. Buyer persona data provides you precise insight into each target market’s exact motivations, concerns, frustrations, key activities, key issues and opportunities. As a result, while you likely sell the same products to each target audience, your approach, images, messaging and language to each would be personalized differently.

3. Get Social with Physician Prospects
Historically, social media may not seem like the ideal way to engage medical professionals. In 2011, Manhattan Research conducted the Digital MedTech Physician study, the Annual Healthcare Professional Communication Report 2016, to find out how surgeons and other physician specialties learn about healthcare products and devices via digital channels. The study found that physicians using medtech products are digitally savvy and seeking ways to interact with healthcare manufacturers online. In fact, 50% of physicians are interested in participating in online promotional programs from medical device companies for which they do not see sales reps in person. QuantiaMD found 65% percent of physicians use social media sites for professional reasons and the Journal of Medical Research found that 60% of physicians believe that social media “improves the care they deliver” and 24% of physicians use social media daily to learn new medical information. Many medtech companies are capitalizing on the growth of physicians’ use of social media, including Medtronic. They have successfully created a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. From the top, the CEO tweets, sending a powerful signal about the company’s commitment to social media.

4. Engage with People, Not Titles
Today, personalization is producing the highly successful results. Authors Chris Malone and Susan Fiske state, “We judge brands by their warmth and competence. Those perceived to have both attributes are more likely to develop deep, enduring relationships with their customers.” Like other professionals, physicians and medical professionals prefer this approach, instead of a remote relationship defined by traditional buyer and seller roles. Developing this connection includes personalization, relationships, and storytelling. As mentioned earlier, personalization involves tailoring messages to the specific concerns of a target audience versus sending generic messages to everyone. This requires understanding the needs, motivations and challenges of today’s doctors and executives. Physician relationship harnessing requires marketers to pay close attention to what their target audience likes and doesn’t like. According to a HealthLink Dimensions survey, physicians prefer receiving information they can review on their own schedules. Finally, device marketers are also focused on storytelling as a way to gain prospects’ attention and hold it. A number of leading device manufacturers are weaving stories about their devices around real-world facts, such as the number of lives their devices are saving, whilst distributing them in a social setting.

5. Develop and Share Compelling Case Study Content
According to the Digital MedTech survey, healthcare professionals overwhelmingly prefer to receive educational materials from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. The top three responses were forms of education that either support the healthcare provider or inform their patient. Case studies being one of the preferred choices of educational content. Case studies share positive patient outcomes, reduce operational costs, increase productivity, lower readmission rates, increased quality of care, and staff and administrative efficiencies. Successful examples of effective case study marketing include Stryker who encourage people to “learn about the positive impact Stryker products can have on your facility, caregivers and patients.” Outcomes are highlighted in the case study through the presentation of specific statistics about the benefits of the given device. Stats outlined throughout their case study page promote Stryker’s attention to the health of the patient and the positive outcomes for caregivers. Another example is Siemens who developed a case study for its Immunoassay Workcell solution. This displays how the Siemens solution enhances productivity and reduces operational costs. Specific numbers show how the solution reduces operator time, increases operator efficiency and decreases total work time.

Physicians and medical executives may be busy professionals, but this doesn’t mean they are out of reach for medical device companies. If you want to market to busy physicians today, it requires modern tactics—including forging relationships, personalizing email, creating buyer personas, getting more social and creating compelling case studies.

Want to learn more digital physician engagement strategies from experts in medical device digital marketing?

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February’s unique event includes an interactive and dialogue-driven environment filled with panel discussions, engaging case-studies, roundtables, “TED-style” talks, keynotes, hands-on sessions and more providing unbridled access to best practices, valuable insights, tools and techniques for making the most of your marketing and sales campaigns. February’s interactive Summit connects an audience of over 200 senior-level pharmaceutical and  biotech marketing participants and 40+ leading expert speakers.

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