Sep 21, 2018

Medical and Dental Manufacturing: A Digital Marketing Strategic Blueprint

by Digital Marketing Institute

As a digital marketing professional, forming appropriate and effective strategies for specific industries depends on your ability to identify particular challenges, conditions and consumer behavior, within the context of both the industry in question and the specific business or organization you are working with.

Digital marketing professionals who assist companies that produce medical and dental instruments (as well as other associated products) need to utilize innovative strategies as part of their lead generation and overall sales plans.

But what are the best ways to engage busy healthcare professionals in order to form revenue-generating relationships?  

Read on for great tips about how to approach content and social marketing in the medical and dental manufacturing business-to-business (B2B) sphere.    

Marketing in the Medical and Dental Manufacturing Sector

One of the things that makes marketing tricky in this sector is that it’s not only a professional sector that requires some level of industry knowledge, it’s also based on a B2B rather than a business-to-consumer (B2C) market.

Your focus as a marketer (and your company’s focus) will be on using inbound marketing activities to engage busy, highly intelligent medical professionals and administrative leaders. In this light, marketing efforts should be focused on creating and delivering engaging educational and factual material.

Herein lies one of the key difficulties for manufacturers and marketing/sales professionals in this sector: merely catching the attention of these medical professionals. The reason that this is challenging is that many medical professionals, specifically doctors and dentists, are overworked and stressed.

Thus, you need to work even harder to get their attention – but you also have to be conscious that persistent phone calls and lingering lunches are no longer the best ways to engage with these professionals.  

Some other challenges and specific conditions that digital marketing professionals should be aware of in this particular industry include:  

  • Getting professionals to try out products in a real-life context
  • A long sales cycle because most of the products/equipment used has a long life cycle
  • Understanding patient needs in a particular location or market
  • Choosing the right channels and times to connect with health professionals authentically
  • Ensuring compliance with critical regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the US
  • Ensuring compliance with privacy and patient confidentiality regulations

Forming Buyer Personas

While the development of a buyer persona can help in any industry or marketing strategy, in this field it can be particularly useful when marketing and selling to physicians and administrative personnel.

Getting an ‘up close and personal’ view of the kind of clients who are making the purchasing decisions in medical and dental establishments is crucial when it comes to catching their attention with new products.

Since you’re looking at a B2B marketplace, you’re going to be looking at this buyer persona rather than purchasing behavior in a consumer-based environment.  

Some of your many client segments may include:

  • Surgical specialists
  • Dentists and dental practice managers/administrators
  • Medical technicians  
  • General practitioners (e.g. family doctors)
  • Hospital administrators
  • Dental hygienists

As you assess the main target clients as well as the ideal client base, you’ll want to get a sense of not just the organization’s purchasing needs, but also the language they use, their patient base, and so on. It is your role as the marketer to develop a deeper understanding of purchasing patterns and needs, so that the company you represent (the manufacturer) can understand how to sell to them.

The primary thing to remember is that most medical professionals are really just people and they want a personal, warm relationship with their partners, clients, colleagues and patients as much as possible. The trick is to balance this with intelligent, fact-based information that would appeal to professionals looking for top-of-the-line, high-quality products.    

Email Marketing

Long gone are the days when physicians were sold expensive medical devices over lingering lunches, chatty phone calls or even quick coffee breaks. Now, new digital tactics are needed, and practical applications of products need to be demonstrated and proven as clearly as possible.

The need for more knowledge and demonstrations are part of the reason why email marketing remains an effective B2B strategy in many professional spheres. According to WordStream, email remains one of the top ways of communicating in B2B audiences, and it’s still a key return on investment (ROI) generator. One survey conducted by Health Link Dimensions shows that 68% of medical practitioners prefer email over any other form of contact.  

First, because clients will be diverse, it’s crucial that manufacturers understand how to market to specific types of clients and tailor their email marketing in a highly relevant and personal way.

Developing one email to send to a massive list of clients isn’t recommended in any field, but this is even more important in the case of busy healthcare professionals. Instead, marketers should use their clearly developed target personas, as well as client research, to create engaging and informative emails that:

  • Address specific concerns and needs based on sector and profession
  • Highlight a clear and relevant message and call to action
  • Are optimized for mobile, since these are busy professionals who are frequently on the move
  • Are organized into well-segmented, easily skimmable categories
  • Speak directly to the healthcare provider

The continuous monitoring and improvement of specific metrics, such as open rates on email campaigns, should be a top priority for digital marketers working in this field.

Social Media and Networking

It may not seem accurate to think about busy healthcare professionals hanging out on social media all day – and it’s true, they're not. Regardless, just like the rest of us, they are using various digital channels to learn and understand more about professional products.

Medical doctors, dentists and surgeons do interact with manufacturers and products online, and reportedly some 65% of them are using social channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube regularly for professional reasons. Medical manufacturers can leverage social media to support organic reach, to build brand awareness, and to drive leads. However, as with all content, there must be a focus placed on value-based and relevant information.

As far as visual content goes, video can also go a long way and can be an anchor point for product reviews, descriptions and demonstrations. Instructional and demo videos are not only effective educational tools, they can also be used to generate interest and awareness about the usage of a given product. Simply put, if a company can visually show exactly how they will make a client or patient’s life simpler, they’re going to capture their attention.

However, social media is definitely an area where marketers need to pay attention to privacy and patient confidentiality issues. They should be sure to review those rules with new clients at the outset. This practice is especially important if your marketing strategy incorporates user-generated content, testimonials or reviews.   

Lead-Generating Informational Content

More than anything else, healthcare professionals in almost any field want to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and make sound purchases, not so much based on actual price but on overall value. They are going to do in-depth research of products to ensure the safest and most effective patient care, and be certain that they are able to perform procedures efficiently.

Thus, one of the most effective forms of content to convince busy executives and others is a thoroughly-sourced, highly professional case study that details various levels of your products and brands.

Case studies are useful in this field because they are the ideal place to tie together and demonstrate both the qualitative and quantitative value of products. For instance, they can be used to share in-depth information about patient outcomes, as well as forecasts of long-term value regarding cost and durability.

Ebooks and white papers can also be very effective in certain cases. These, as well as articles, blogs and other content items, can easily be shared through professional networks with quick LinkedIn updates. In this regard, content marketers would be wise to develop a content strategy based on sharing in-depth, highly educational content.

Other innovative strategies that manufacturers may wish to take advantage of are chatbots and virtual reality or immersive-type experiences.  

Bringing It All Together

Healthcare and dental care are booming fields with great opportunities. However, marketing within this B2B space can be challenging for a variety of reasons. Thus, we recommend that digital marketers develop a plan that’s based on four key factors:

  • Carefully-researched client personas
  • Highly personalized, human-focused email and social campaigns
  • Using social media to engage and educate practitioners and patients where possible  
  • Highly factual, thorough and informative written content such as case studies

Medical professionals, including dentists, doctors, executives and others, are certainly busy, but the truth is that they are already engaging with digital content on a regular basis. So strategic marketers simply need to focus on a few industry-specific points to catch their attention.

The key here is to focus on marketing activities which inform, educate and demonstrate clear value, in the interest of building brand trust and attracting and retaining important clients.

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