In the past few years, B2B medical device OEMs have ramped up their digital-marketing capabilities to serve their buyers more effectively. They have built skills in designing and implementing marketing campaigns via email, social media, and other channels. They have developed expertise in search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), embraced digital-channel management, web platform and app management, and other new commercial disciplines.
But, with all these initiatives are they achieving their desired results?
Today marketing is all about content, and if a solid strategy does not back it, it crumbles. It is particularly true for B2B medical device OEM marketers because it is a niche, complex, and highly specialized industry. Medical devices play a critical role in healthcare, and decision-makers in hospitals, clinics, and laboratories are highly discerning and demanding when selecting products that meet their specific needs and requirements.
Another challenge is conveying the content’s technical nature through compelling and engaging narratives. Unlike B2C marketing, where emotional appeal and storytelling are winning tactics with consumers, B2B medical device marketing requires a fact-based and technical approach.
How do you make nuts-and-bolts content feel like a warm, engaging story? How can the information-led narrative push emotional buttons in buyers to make them say yes?
By achieving a balance between facts and aspirations. Marketers must find ways to shape content that motivates their audience beyond receiving the information and technical details.
This article is the first in a series in the following order:
- How to put an information backbone in B2B Medical Device OEMs’ content strategy?
- How B2B medical device OEM marketers can gain the domain of knowledge about buyers to create an effective content strategy?
- What are the content marketing best practices in B2B medical device manufacturing sector?
- How to create compelling and engaging narratives for B2B medical device marketing?
- How to create thought leadership content for B2B medical device OEMs?
- How to map content to a story for buyers of B2B medical devices?
- What kind of content helps sales enablement for B2B medical device OEMs?
- What are the intricacies involved in creating search engine optimized content for B2B medical device OEMs?
What factors help build an effective content strategy for B2B medical device OEMs?
As a B2B medical device marketer, you must know the following to build a content strategy for your buyers and customers:
- The people involved and their roles in the buying process.
- Complexities of the buying processes of B2B medical devices.
- Objective and subjective considerations of buyers of B2B medical devices.
- Fears of buyers of B2B medical devices.
Knowing the people involved and their roles in the buying process
The primary goal is to build relationships and establish trust with the right people in the target buyer organizations.
Trust and reputation are crucial priorities for decision-makers. Medical device companies must identify the buying committee and build relationships with it to increase their odds of success and gain a competitive edge. It also helps develop effective sales and marketing strategies in the highly competitive healthcare industry.
Job titles of buying committee members in the B2B medical device segment vary. Get familiar with the designations and product responsibilities for a compelling pitch. Identifying key decision-makers and influencers helps you tailor your marketing approach to their needs. For example, a purchase manager will expect you to focus on cost-effectiveness and ROI. In contrast, a medical professional would want emphasis on the product’s clinical efficacy and ease of use.
Typically, buyers and customers of B2B medical device OEMs are hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and medical equipment distributors. They purchase medical devices and equipment from OEMs for primary use or reselling to customers. Several roles are involved in the purchasing process: the decision-makers may involve procurement professionals responsible for sourcing and purchasing medical devices and equipment and clinicians who provide input on specific devices based on their clinical needs and preferences.
In organizations with 100-500 employees, the decision-maker’s sphere of influence involves at least seven to 10 people on average. We can refer to the team as a buying committee that undertakes research and evaluation before recommending a brand or a solution to the decision-maker, who is, in most cases, a C-Suite executive. However, the buying committee does not have the authority to take the final decision though it can reject possibilities based on its understanding of a company or solution.
There are several critical influencers in hospitals, clinics, and laboratories in the decision-making process for medical device purchases. These include:
Clinicians: Doctors and nurses are often the primary users of medical devices. They provide valuable input to decision-making by identifying patients’ clinical needs and recommending devices that meet them.
Procurement Professionals, Lab Directors, and Practice Managers: Procurement professionals source and purchase medical devices, evaluate vendors, and ensure the devices meet the healthcare facility’s quality and regulatory requirements.
Executives, Owners, and Stakeholders: Executives, such as CEOs and CFOs, may also be involved in the decision-making process for purchasing medical devices. They may provide input on the overall budget and financial impact of the purchase and the long-term strategic goals of the healthcare facility.
Industry experts: Industry experts, such as medical device consultants and researchers, provide valuable insights and recommendations for decision-making. They may provide data and analysis on trends and innovations in the industry and offer guidance on best practices for purchasing and implementing medical devices.
Technicians and scientists: Technicians and scientists are often the primary users of medical devices in a laboratory setting. They provide valuable input to the decision-making process by identifying the lab’s technical needs and recommending devices meeting them.
So, who are the buying committee members in your target organizations? What are their roles in the buying process? How do they evaluate a product or a brand? This is where you start to put an information backbone in B2B Medical Device OEMs’ content strategy
Knowing the complexities of the B2B medical devices buying process
B2B organizations are feeling the heat of the complex buying processes. According to the Pavilion Pulse Benchmarking Survey in August 2022, 68% of B2B businesses reported missing their sales target in July 2022, and medical device OEMs are no exception.
B2B medical device OEMs must know the complexity of the buying processes to identify roadblocks and challenges to a sale. This intelligence helps them address buyers at every step of their decision-making journey. By providing targeted messaging and resources at each stage of the buying process, marketers can guide the decision-making process and ultimately increase the chances of a successful sale.
To make a purchase, buyers complete a set of tasks termed buying jobs. On average, every buyer undertakes six buying jobs to decide on an investment, and they approach these jobs simultaneously, revisiting each buying job at least once.
The buying jobs are:
- Identifying a Problem: This is the initial stage when they spot a problem and feel they need to do something about it.
- Exploring Solutions: After buyers identify a problem, they look for the possibilities that solve the problem. Their research begins here.
- Requirements Building: This stage is about figuring out what they need the purchase to do. When they develop a comprehensive list of their requirements, they shortlist suppliers.
- Supplier Selection: After researching solutions and collecting information from various suppliers’ websites, forums, reviews, and other sources, they try to figure out whether a solution does what they want it to do. At this stage, they revisit previous buying jobs.
- Validation: They make a final evaluation after the second review of previous buying jobs. Have they picked the right supplier who will answer their problem satisfactorily? It is the stage of being doubly sure. Finally, after ticking all the boxes, the buyer is happy about their decision.
- Consensus: This is the final stage where they need to get the buying committee on board.
Suppose eight members in a buying committee influence decision-making for a medical device purchase. Almost all will undertake the above six buying jobs. Therefore, there will be around 48 touchpoints for your offer to stand out or fall flat. The medical device OEM that stands out the maximum number of times and scores the highest will win.
Your content strategy must work its magic here. To build such a strategy, you must know the complexity of your buyers’ decision-making process.
The complexity of buying process varies from one organization to another and from product to product. Are you up to speed on this? Be armed with facts, and do not second guess.
Objective and subjective considerations of B2B medical devices buyers
B2B offerings are becoming increasingly commoditized, and buyers’ subjective, even quite personal, considerations are becoming increasingly crucial in medical device purchases. The elements range from the strictly objective — for example, price and specifications — to the more subjective, such as alleviating buyers’ anxiety and enhancing their reputation. B2B marketers must know buyers’ range of rational and emotional considerations and build a content strategy that thoughtfully addresses them.
The objective and subjective considerations of B2B buyers can vary from one buyer to another and one medical device to another.
Some devices may be purchased primarily based on technical specifications, such as accuracy, speed, or compatibility with existing systems. Other devices may be chosen based on more subjective factors, such as ease of use, ergonomic design, or brand reputation.
In some cases, B2B buyers may prioritize a medical device’s cost-effectiveness, while in others, they may prioritize features that enhance patient outcomes or improve staff efficiency.
Ultimately, the specific objective and subjective considerations B2B buyers prioritize will depend on their organization’s unique needs and priorities and the application and context of the device’s use.
In an ideal B2B medical device purchase, there are almost 40 kinds of considerations that fall into five categories, as listed below:
- Table stakes.
- Ease of doing business.
Determining which elements from these categories matter most to your buyers and customers is essential. To help B2B medical device OEMs better understand customer priorities, we examined scores of qualitative and quantitative customer studies for our clients, analyzing what buyers value most. Here are some examples for a better understanding:
The most common objective and subjective buyer considerations are as follows:
- Image quality: The clarity and resolution of images produced by the endoscope can affect the accuracy of diagnoses and treatment decisions.
- Scope diameter and length: The size and shape of the endoscope can impact its suitability for different procedures and anatomical locations.
- Compatibility with other equipment: The endoscope’s compatibility with other equipment and accessories, such as cameras or light sources, may be necessary for seamless integration into existing systems.
- Maintenance and repair requirements: The ease of maintenance and availability of repair services for the endoscope can impact its reliability and lifespan.
- Cost: The endoscope’s overall cost, including the upfront purchase price and ongoing maintenance expenses.
- User-friendliness: The endoscope’s ease of use and ergonomic design affect the operator’s comfort and efficiency during procedures.
- Brand reputation: The manufacturer’s reputation and the endoscope’s perceived quality and reliability.
- Training and support: The availability and quality of training and support services provided by the manufacturer can impact the user’s ability to use and maintain the endoscope effectively.
- Special features: The presence of unique features, such as the ability to capture and record images or the use of innovative technology, may be valued by some buyers.
Ultimately, the objective and subjective considerations buyers of endoscopes prioritize depend on their unique needs and priorities and the applications and contexts in which the endoscope will be used. The range of considerations differs from buyer to buyer.
The most common objective and subjective buyer considerations are as follows:
- Technical specifications: The defibrillator’s technical specifications, energy levels, shock waveform, and charging time can impact its efficacy.
- Compatibility with other equipment: The defibrillator’s compatibility with other equipment and accessories, such as patient monitoring systems or data management software, may be necessary for seamless integration into existing systems.
- Ease of use: The defibrillator’s ease of use, user interface, battery life, and portability can impact its usability in emergencies.
- Maintenance and repair requirements: The ease of maintenance and availability of repair services for the defibrillator can impact its reliability and lifespan.
- Cost: The defibrillator’s overall, including the upfront purchase price and ongoing maintenance expenses.
- Brand reputation: The manufacturer’s reputation and the defibrillator’s perceived quality and reliability.
- Training and support: The availability and quality of training and support services provided by the manufacturer can impact the user’s ability to use and maintain the defibrillator effectively.
- Special features: The presence of unique features, such as the ability to deliver different types of shocks or the use of innovative technology, may be valued by some buyers.
- Aesthetics and design: The defibrillator’s aesthetics and design, including its size, shape, and color, may be considered by some buyers for portability and ease of storage.
Ultimately, the objective and subjective considerations that buyers of defibrillators prioritize depend on their unique needs and priorities, specific applications, and contexts of their use. The range differs from buyer to buyer.
Do you know the objective and subjective considerations of your buyers? Don’t invest time, effort, and money in creating content around a guess; your content will fall on its face. Instead, get to know your buyers’ subjective and objective considerations to craft content that will hit the bull’s eye.
Find a list of these 40 different kinds of consideration in my article, How to avoid the commodity trap in B2B Marketing content?
Knowing the fears of B2B medical device buyers
There is a clear desire for personal and organizational success among buyers. However, their lack of buying confidence often results from fear of failure or making a wrong decision, frequently resulting in the status quo as the safest option.
B2B buying is a decision process driven by the emotions of the people involved. Given medical devices’ high stakes and complexity, fear is the principal emotion, and B2B buyers want to avoid mistakes to keep their jobs or stature in the company. Additionally, the fear factor of risking their company’s well-being often leads to indecision.
There are two categories of decision-making errors: a) omission errors of not taking decisions that should have been taken (deciding to do nothing falls in this category) and b) commission errors, which are the consequences of making and implementing a bad decision.
It is rare for errors of omission to be attributed to individuals. Keeping the status quo might seem the least risky option from the standpoint of personal reputation since failure to decide is often seen as a collective failure rather than an individual one. What’s the point of sticking their neck out if their decision could backfire?
However, errors of commission are attributable to individuals or groups who acted on a decision. They can damage their reputation and lose opportunities if the decision fails outright or partially. Without the certainty of success, decision-makers may defer purchases.
Risk aversion is more powerful than we imagine in B2B medical device purchasing decision journeys. To sell, we must ensure our prospective customers understand the costs and consequences of hanging on to the status quo without making them feel small.
Buyers’ fears are double-edged. You need to heighten their fear of missing out on your brand and reduce or eliminate their fear of messing up if they implement your change proposal.
A B2B medical device OEM must know the fear factors driving buyers. Are they worried about product safety or negative consequences for patients leading to loss of trust or reputation? Do they fear the device may not meet their future needs, or they miss out on better options that will become available after the purchase? Perhaps they don’t have enough knowledge or expertise to make an informed decision about which medical device to purchase. Or do they worry the purchase does not align with the organization’s long-term goals or strategy?
There is no hard and fast rule on the type of buyers’ fears; they come in different shapes and sizes, but it is imperative to be aware of them.
Are you aware of your potential buyers’ fears that stop them from purchasing your product?
Not knowing the fears leads you to guess them and invest time, effort, and money into building content that, unfortunately, misses the mark.