Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

Getting to Know You March 15, 2012

Filed under: Customer research,Lisa,Physicians — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 2:00 pm
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Getting to Know You, The King and IIn my previous post I emphasized the need to know your customer before initiating promotional efforts.  Let’s assume you have a foundation of customer insights in the business plan.  Or, at the very least, tidbits that are collected in the early stages of the product development.

Now you need to develop a full-length picture of your customer. There are a number of ways to uncover key aspects about your customer.  The most useful information comes directly from them.

I’m a big proponent of primary research.  There are some very good research agencies available, budget pending.  I’ll share some of my preferred agencies later.  To make the best use of your resources, gather information about the basic profile of your customer first with lower cost tools and in-house elbow grease.

Start with simple surveys.

Two great resources are Zoomerang and Survey Monkey. Both sites have tutorials, samples and process instructions to help you.  Need a model to craft your questions, try @researchinfo.com for sample surveys with a focused audience. Now all you need is a list of names to send it to.  A quick internet search will provide a number of list brokers to choose from.  Keep in mind that this outbound approach may not yield high returns.

The Home Page.

A better approach is to post the survey on your product or company website or social media content page. Less intrusive as the customer comes to you, however, you may gather responses from customers that aren’t in your target audience.

Need more?

Need larger numbers of respondents and more questions answered? It is time to seek out services that have developed opt-in panels of clinicians who have agreed to participate in research. Three that come to mind are Sermo, Medometry and Epocrates. The benefits of using the research services of these types of businesses include large self-profiled highly targeted participants, trusted platform, easy implementation of the survey and quality reports from the collected data.

Windfall research.

Great resources with good insights can be found already published. Tap into Slideshare, Hubspot and wesrch.  Search the directories of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – AHRQ, American Medical Association – AMA, World Health Organization – WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC. Don’t forget the subspecialty association websites. Published findings are available at these sites for little, if any cost.

Shades of distinction.

Now that you have a good foundation of information that describes your customer, don’t let it languish. Update your knowledge base annually, yes, that often. As you acquire more customers and maintain customers longer, continue to learn about them. Don’t assume you know them because of an association with your company.  Challenge the thinking that defines your customer. With a strong understanding of the central core of your customer base, understanding nuances and distinctions may be needed to increase business among some segments. Consider exploring areas not well understood with experts who know how to mine for those subtleties. A couple of my preferred research agencies are Motivation Mechanics , the Kern Mueller Group and Kaplan Research.

Portrait or thumbnail?

Continued learning about the customer provides the best means by which to serve the customer.  You can never know enough about your customers. Working from a thumbnail image will limit your effectiveness in maintaining your relationship.  Go for the portrait, it is much more telling.

Have some other suggestions of gathering information or great research sources – tell us here!

(C) 2012 pH Consulting. All rights reserved.

 

Marketing Tool Kits: Exemplary Compliance October 10, 2011

Updated post

In Lisa’s post about legacy marketing, she extols the virtues of doing things well and I couldn’t agree more especially when considering the legal realities associated with industry codes–AdvaMed, PhRMA, CMSS, et. Al. If those acronyms are alphabet soup to you then please take the time to read up and come back, I’ll wait.

Bottom line (and one of my truth’s):

Health care providers must own their reputations and practice marketing.

What that means to companies is that they can supply to all QUALIFIED CUSTOMERS with a DIY Marketing Tool Kit.

The company determines exactly how a customer qualifies as long as those rules are applied consistently across the customer base. Here are some qualifications:

  • Complete product training program
  • Perform a minimum number of cases to demonstrate competency
  • Perform procedures in a specific site of service
  • Have admission privileges to at least one hospital facility
  • Have an active medical/DEA license
  • Agree to make specific dollar contributions to a turnkey marketing program with a third party vendor.

If your management team wants you to just dole out money for customer’s marketing activities without a formal program, push back. Regulators can see the brightly lit money trail a mile away. Here’s an example:

[Newly added 10/10/11]

Here’s a Press Release from Office of the Inspector General about a military cardiologist getting sentencing because of benefits received from a variety of activities including dinners with sales reps.

NPR Story:

Here’s a story from the AP on Massachusetts reporting of payments to physicians. “The report was the result of a 2008 state law that banned some types of gifts outright and required companies to report other types of payments.”

Note how the state has categorized the payments to physicians:

“That’s according to a new report from the state Department of Public Health, which said the payments included speaking and consulting fees, meals, and education and marketing programs.”

Doing it right is more than a compliance issue–it’s a mindset. People value what they pay for and they are more engaged in success when they have skin in the game. Everybody wins when customer marketing programs are both compelling and compliant.

(C) 2011 all rights reserved eGold Solutions.

  • Marketing Tool Kit post series:
 

Power of Combining Brands May 11, 2011

A colleague once told me that a health care provider is a value added reseller (VAR) of health care services enabled by great technology. This is no different then a VAR in the high technology computer industry. The best marketing programs for any VAR are cooperative–both parties contribute their brand and budget resources (money and time) to extend the marketing of a given product or service.

The main message is:

Obtain this [national brand] at [your local outlet]

Consumer examples:

Obtain a refreshing Coca-cola(R) beverage at your Main Street McDonalds(R)

Fry’s(R) electronics is an authorized reseller of HP(R) Printers

Health care examples:

Mountain View’s El Camino Hospital now offers the da Vinci(R) Si system for minimally invasive hysterectomy

Essure(R) permanent birth control is now performed in Dr. Mason’s Fresno office

Balloon Sinuplasty(TM) procedures are performed by Dr. Nathan at Southwest Texas Methodist Hospital

The value of the message is the exponential power of two brands joined together. Each has value on its own; however, when combined, the local health care provider legitimizes the availability of the advanced technology and the company provides advanced technology to the local health care provider.

Who wins? Everyone in the chain–the patient gets access to the medical company’s advanced technology from a local healthcare provider. I would propose that public and private payers win also and here’s why.

<Warning: Soapbox Moment>

Finally (thanks Shana Leonard) there is a conversation around devices becoming the new drugs driven off the analysis of the American College of Cardiology meeting by Reuters. Since diving into the medical device industry, I’ve come to believe if a health problem is mechanical then why not fix it with a mechanical solution instead of masking the symptoms with drugs? In many cases, this is a more cost-effective approach. Your thoughts?

(c) eGold Solutions, all rights reserved.

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Physician Google Thyself: Updates March ’11 March 30, 2011

Almost a year ago, I published the series Physician Google Thyself (with overview video) and as one might expect, many things have changed. The conclusion and reports out of SXSW provides an opportunity add some newly discovered resources that I think will help physicians leverage digital channels to manage their reputations and grow their practices.

By following Ed Bennett, I became aware of Dr. Kolmes–both were panelists at the recently concluded SXSW (South by Southwest). She exemplifies my truth about HCPs owning their their reputations. Two important discoveries that support Part IV:

  1. Dr. Kolmes is well regarded for her social media policies and other electronic recommendations for health care providers. I am excited to provide a link to these not-to-be-missed resources and they are FREE for HCP’s to use.
  2. Dr. Kolmes also uses a FREE secure email service called HushMail.com. For all the physicians that are (and should be) concerned about maintaining HIPAA privacy this is a brilliant option. Do not miss the section on email in the above mentioned social media policy that Dr. Kolmes provides to patients–it’s used for appointment logistics only and that’s OK! My philosophy is to tell everyone exactly how you will behave; if you set expectations you avoid offending someone or some other bad situation.

As an additional resource for Part IV, I’ve been investigating Reputation.com (formerly Reputation Defender). Their methods seem sound and the price seems reasonable. If you find yourself in a situation where negative information abounds, it might be a good first step to reigning in the chaos.

Reporting from that same SXSW panel session was Susan Spaight of Jigsaw who’s post titled Healthcare and Social Media: boundaries without barriers includes this suggestion:

Dana Lewis shared a great suggestion for approaching physicians to encourage them to participate in social media. Don’t just go to them and say “We want you to do social media.” Show them why first by having the physician Google himself or herself, and explain how social media can change search engine results. Of course, there are other reasons to participate in social media, but this may help the proverbial light bulb go on.”

It’s always nice to be in sync with others. I too have seen the light bulb go on and burn brightly when physicians Google themselves. Part II contains my recommendations for search engine terms to use beyond your name.

Contact me if you want a FREE copy of a spreadsheet to help you keep track of all your listings and profiles. I’ve complied over four dozen general sites that contain HCP listings to get you started.

It’s been fun revisiting this topic and especially great to provide even more resources. If you know any resources you’d like to share, please comment. The Three Wise Dames appreciate the sharing of wisdom.

(C) 2011 eGold Solutions; all rights reserved.

 

Vanilla doesn’t sell unless it’s Ice Cream October 28, 2010

Vanilla ice cream has a rich taste and appealing aroma, making it the best selling ice cream flavor around. The Wikipedia page devoted to vanilla notes that it is the second most expensive spice after saffron, because of the labor required to grow the vanilla seed pods.Vanilla is used in foods, perfumes, aromatherapy, and apparently even as a bug repellant and a home remedy for minor burns. Clearly, it is very versatile.

Getting it right

However, when promoting a product, a ‘vanilla’ description is anything but appealing or versatile. Product descriptions are critical in product positioning.  Descriptions provide the basis for establishing a brand identity, a communication platform, a competitive edge, the value proposition and so much more. In the medical device space product descriptions are considered labeling. Significant effort and expense goes into securing medical device labeling.  Because medical device labeling is absolute and creative license is forbidden, getting it right is critical.

Connect the dots

To have the best possible chance at successful product adoption customers should readily recognize the value of the product through the labeling. Product descriptions should resonate intrinsically with the customer. Understanding customer needs is the core responsibility of marketing. Therefore, involvement by marketing in the product description is essential. It is senseless to disconnect the customer and patient advocate – marketing, from the customer and patient guardian – regulatory/clinical. 

Engagement at a higher level

Proactive interaction by marketing with the regulatory/clinical department early on in the clinical plan development provides the best possible outcome for labeling that will resonate with the physician customer.This is not about making it easy for marketing to promote a productNor is it about securing labeling that is loose, boastful or inaccurate in any way

Rather, this assertion that marketing participate in the discussion about the clinical plan and the desired outcome is because marketing should be leading the efforts to ensure that the product or service truly meets and exceeds customer expectations and is reflected clearly in product descriptions. The regulatory/ clinical expertise is most impactful by establishing strong and undisputed product labeling, that doesn’t need interpretation or lyrical descriptions for the product to be appreciated.

Untangle the tangle

Many marketers complain that they are hamstrung by the regulatory department when product promotion and communication plans and tactics are proposed. Many regulatory departments cringe at the creative approach marketers present to convey a product purpose, benefits and applications. 

It seems that the simplest and cleanest approach is to use the product labeling granted by the FDA,

based on evidence provided by the regulatory and clinical experts

that distinguishes the product precisely as it is intended to be used by customers,

through the distillation of customer needs by marketing. 

And while that seems a mouthful and a tall order, early collaboration between marketing and regulatory/clinical is the most likely path to labeling that is descriptive and telling. The kind of labeling where ‘creative marketing’ is about the many ways to communicate product availability and not about the many words required for product description. Product labeling typically happens only once. Getting it right so the right customer connects their needs with the value of the product will make the best use of all efforts to promote and protect.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting; all rights reserved.

 

 
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