When asked, “What are you currently doing for marketing?” in a 2017 survey administered to 67 medical device marketing professionals, 44.76% responded, “Word-of-mouth marketing.” It was the number one answer among 20 response options.
What does 21st Century word-of-mouth marketing look like for the medical device industry?
- Shareable content marketing. The operative word here is shareable. Plenty of medical device companies publish plenty of content, most of it pretty dry to be honest. In The Psychology of Shareable Content, Forbes writer Jayson DeMers points to a study done in 2015 by Moz and BuzzSomo in which 1 million content articles were analyzed to identify common factors that get more shares. DeMers reports, “Videos, quizzes, and list-based articles tend to get more shares than other types of content, possibly because they’re relatively quick and easy to digest. However, they earn fewer links, presumably for the same reasons. On the other end of the spectrum, even though 85 percent of content contains 1,000 words or fewer, the 15 percent of content that contains more than 1,000 words gets far more shares and links.” That said, a post outlining 4 Types of 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing would outperform one on simply 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing.
- Viral social media marketing. Like with content, certain types of posts are more apt to go viral than others. Humor, babies and puppies are highly liked and shared. Human faces and heartfelt stories are more likely to go viral than clinical studies. Think of social media as an open house featuring a medical device. What conversation would spread quickly through the crowd?
- Seeding the referral network. Sure, the referral network will sing the device’s praises, but even more so if regularly prompted and rewarded for doing so. How to Build a High-Performing Physician Referral Network from Scratch suggests the use of mastermind groups. “The members in these groups work together to brainstorm new ideas, help each others’ businesses grow, and hold each other accountable to reaching their professional goals,” the article explains. With videoconferencing and web broadcast technologies it’s easier now that ever to coordinate mastermind groups and roundtable discussions, which in turn build brand equity and buzz.
- Sampling. While sampling isn’t for all medical devices, it can work for some. Hone a small group of physicians, healthcare professionals or patients to try the device. Employ them to participate in focus groups, be interviewed for case studies, publish thought leadership about the device and share testimonials on their experience. In short, make them brand ambassadors, ensuring that they fully understand all of the features and benefits of the device, and that they are willing and able to share their thoughts with their peers in meaningful ways. The members of the group should be extroverts, extremely well connected in the industry and frequenters of industry events. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in The Tipping Point, these “connectors” are passionate about referring others to the right solutions to solve their problems, are energized by connecting with people and know a lot of people. When armed with the right knowledge and buy-in for a particular medical device, these connectors pack the power to truly ratchet up word-of-mouth marketing. Digital media makes it easy to inspire them on a regular basis.