Getting a medical device to market can be tough. It has to go through several hoops at the FDA, including the 5-step premarket requirements that include: classifying the device; choosing the correct premarket submission; preparing appropriate information for premarket FDA submission; sending a premarket submission to the FDA and communicating with FDA staff during review; and completing the device establishment listing and registration.Once approval or clearance is reached, medical device companies can begin to market their products to their target audience. Angela Hill, CEO of Incitrio Marketing (Solana Beach, Calif.), has offered some advice for marketing medical devices by using agile marketing.
MDO: What is agile marketing?
Angela Hill: Agile marketing takes the principles of agile software development and applies them to the marketing mindset. Instead of employing a waterfall approach, like a Gantt chart, the agile marketing approach employs a sprints and scrums approach. Marketing choices are made in an iterative and adaptive manner so that failures and wins happen faster thereby reducing cost and improving the quality of marketing qualified leads.
MDO: How do medical device companies benefit from agile marketing?
Hill: Medical device companies can benefit by launching marketing campaigns faster and refining messaging in real-time as the campaign progresses. Rather than waiting for what the executive team or product manager believes to be the perfect creative design, marketing teams can move as fast as product developers to leverage marketing vehicles that announce product improvements and rollouts in real time.
MDO: What are the key components for a successful agile marketing campaign for medical device companies?
Hill: The most important component for a successful agile marketing campaign is a strong branding foundation. If the medical device company is not clear regarding key differentiators, customer archetypes, and internal brand values, then there will be a misalignment between the internal and external brand.
When there is a misalignment, there is a lack of authenticity, transparency and integrity — all resulting in decreased revenue. Before any marketing choices are made, the brand foundation must be built with all key execs in alignment.
Once the brand foundation is set, then the customer archetype profiles can set the direction for which marketing tactics to choose. Planned multivariate A/B testing and weekly monitoring of KPIs will determine when and how to vary marketing strategy, tactics, and creative.
MDO: What are the pitfalls in agile marketing?
Hill: The greatest pitfall in agile marketing is measuring and tracking the wrong metric. Too many companies become obsessed with number of website visitors and clickthrus aka interactions.
At the end of the day, whether or not those clickthrus turned into a goal funnel conversion and matriculated into your CRM as an MQL is way more important. Make sure your marketing automation system and sales CRM are integrated so the prospect attribution is properly tracked and sales can give quality feedback to marketing regarding which leads were better.
MDO: What limitations are there?
Hill: Before embarking on an agile marketing campaign, make sure your internal team and agency team are prepared for the challenge. Older, experienced marketers may feel very uncomfortable embracing the iterative process because the feedback mechanism from your analytics might feel like drinking out of a firehouse. Younger, millenial marketers may feel perfectly comfortable embracing the adaptive process yet not have the experience or wisdom to know when they are headed in the wrong direction. A balance of both mindsets combined with a healthy communication and feedback mechanism is key.
MDO: Which companies have you helped?
Hill: Incitrio has worked with many companies in the medical device space: Acutus Medical, Biolase, DexCom and Visualase (acquired by Medtronic).
MDO: What kind of success have you seen from medical companies using agile marketing?
Hill: Agile marketing can be an invaluable tool for smaller to mid-size medical device companies competing with larger, behemoth brands for market share. Because these larger corporations are unable to move quickly, a smaller to mid-size medical company can pivot messaging and product to react to the changing consumer demands as well as evolving policy and regulations. The ability to react faster gives the impression that the product is also more innovative and cutting edge thereby enabling the brand values to elevate the subconscious value that the consumer places on the medical device.
Medical device companies looking to be innovation disruptors can gain market share faster and more easily employ an agile marketing methodology. This process can also be used to make enough noise to attract potential acquirers faster and more easily. Regardless of the company’s strategic objectives, agile marketing is sure to generate profitable revenue faster and more reliably than a waterfall marketing methodology.