In the past, medical device marketers have had a difficult time conveying the measurable return on their efforts. But now, thanks to digital direct-to-patient (DTP) strategies and improved lead tracking technologies, they’re starting to get a taste of the glory that has historically been reserved for the sales team. Historically speaking, marketing has been thought of as something of a “supporting role” within medical device organizations. While this notion is of course a misguided one, generating hard evidence of marketing’s tangible value has never been easy. In the past, medical device marketing campaigns were typically directed at physicians and hospitals. Once marketing generated a new lead — at a conference, off of the corporate website, from a print ad, for example — it would be turned over to the sales team, who would then swoop in and close the deal. While marketers struggled to demonstrate the measurable return on their efforts, sales reps could point their fingers at a concrete number and say, “I generated $1.5 million in new revenue for the company this year!” This isn’t to say that executives felt marketing was unimportant — rather, the often indirect correlation between input and outcome made it incredibly difficult to assign a concrete ROI to the role or specific marketing initiatives. This has been a major pain point for marketing teams, especially when it comes to the fight for budget: where sales teams can easily produce “impactful” business data that justifies their spend (and salaries, for that matter), marketers must fight an uphill battle for the resources they need to support their clients and generate a steady stream of new revenue. Capital equipment sales, disposable revenue, and long-term contracts generally trump awareness and education. However, recent advancements and changes in consumer behavior have enabled medical device marketers to shift their strategies and generate better results, allowing them to stake a larger, demonstrable claim on the company’s residual revenue stream.
The New Normal
Thanks to the massive proliferation of the internet and mobile devices, today’s healthcare consumer is more empowered and proactive than ever before. In fact, according to recent Google data, 43% of consumers now cite the internet as their go-to resource for health-related information — by contrast, 14% say physicians are still their primary source for medical advice. As patients take control of their healthcare decisions, digital direct-to-patient (DTP) marketing is quickly establishing itself as a new industry best practice. Optimized patient portal websites and co-branded microsites capitalize on this trend, offering patients seamless access to information so they can educate themselves and seek out local treatment options and providers — in turn, directly generating new leads for the medical device company’s sub-clients. Moreover, new technologies enable marketers to identify and track the leads they produce throughout the entire patient funnel — in other words, when a new lead is generated, they can determine whether it resulted in a new appointment for their client and whether that new appointment ultimately led to a procedure that utilized their company’s medical device.
Be the Hero
Not only does this approach enable marketers to attach a tangible value to their role within the organization — it can actually increase that value substantially in the process. Because of the joint benefit to both involved parties, these programs often get partially or even fully funded by clients, which obviously increases the overall return by a significant margin. Moreover, sales teams are often uncomfortable selling a “marketing service” (as opposed to a physical product), which means that marketing teams may actually get pulled into sales roles when showcasing these services for prospective clients. With this mindset, marketing teams could soon see a major shift in the role they play within medical device companies. Digital DTP campaigns allow marketers to expand on their traditional role of education and positioning to make a significant, direct, and measurable impact on the company’s residual revenue stream. In other words, now marketers can finally point their fingers at a concrete number as well, enabling them to grab their share of the glory traditionally reserved for the sales team.