Many marketers now realize that white papers, trade shows and KOLs are the hallmarks of days gone by. Patients now have many resources available to educate themselves and have informed conversations with their physician or other healthcare professionals.
Therefore, patients play an increasingly important role in the selection of their treatment or diagnostic testing options.
To win in today’s market, you will need to communicate with empowered consumers directly. You must provide easy to understand information that informs and appeals to both their rational and emotional thoughts—connecting with the minds and hearts of your audience!
Gone are the days of marketing consisting of a few industry trade shows, white papers and KOL engagement. These are still important activities, but they are largely directed at HCPs. They lack the ability to create marketplace demand at the patient level.
Don’t worry, your HCP customers won’t be offended that you are going direct to their patients.
An educated patient makes their job easier and enables more productive doctor-to-patient discussions. It also indirectly forces them to be up to date on your product and other new technologies.
So how do you get started? Like most great marketing, it begins with insights. In this case you must gather insights about the patient/consumer. It’s important to understand their journey with their illness or condition.
Who did they speak with, where did they go to learn more, what about sources of treatment and monitoring, what are their fears and concerns and more?
Fully understanding the patient will help you create important buyer personas as well as brand positioning. In addition, it will tell you where to reach them and when. Now informed, you can intersect their journey with relevant and useful information about the device and its benefits.
Reaching the consumer/patient is different than communicating with HCPs in many ways. They have different needs and different levels of knowledge about the illness and treatments. And they acquire their knowledge differently than an HCP would.
Patients also have a ton of emotion invested in the situation—they are the one that is sick (perhaps life threatening).
Patients may experience a bundle of feelings, such as surprise/disbelief, fear, anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty over what to do.
This is where great products and marketers come in. Efficient digital strategies, knowing where and when to reach them, and with proper segmentation of messaging, are critical. The messaging must educate and inform. But it also must reflect and appeal to those emotions with authentic information and reassurance.
Once you’ve successfully researched and developed the core elements described above, don’t forget about the old tools. Continue to leverage KOLs for awareness and expert opinion/influence with patients/consumers. And white papers still have an important role in educating HCPs and also showing patients that there is deep research behind the device. Even if they don’t read it fully, it increases confidence.
Those employing this classic push/pull strategy, targeting both HCPs and Consumers will be the winners. You’ve seen this play out in the Pharma world and it is here now in the Device world.