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Posts Tagged ‘medtech

We Landed a Medtech Account—Now What? 3 Understandings

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Bollixed and castrated and then we begin

Advertising agencies and marketing firms are eager to land medical device accounts. These prestigious accounts are much desired and would seem to enlarge the status of an agency because of the exacting, rigorous work that helps the human condition. It doesn’t hurt that they seem to pay on time. But having worked with a number of ad agencies once they land such an account, there are a few common threads that surprise principals and employees:


  • You’ll need experts: people who know how to work within a regulatory framework (“Claim this.” “Never claim that.”). People who know the words that soothe lawyers while still making sense to humans. And especially people who know their sinus node rhythm from their rhythm method. You will stay on message and every claim must be neatly tied to an article from a respected (first or second-tier) journal.
  • Your creatives are (already) wringing their hands. That’s because creative solutions lie on the other side of a legal/regulatory/corporate culture grinder.
    • Yes: the company has come to you for creative solutions.
    • No: they cannot/will not back-off their own internal legal/regulatory controls. Their own internal machinery will bind and castrate many of those solutions you have used in the past. What a great beginning point!
  • There will be rounds of changes. Many rounds. Way more than you are used to. Far more than you can reasonably put in your bid. They will seem…unmanageable. Taming revisions will take your best customer service manners and may take you deep into the internal relationship structure of the firm. But that is exactly the kind of partnering that is needed

If your agency can come to grips with these three understandings without imploding or driving sane people mad, you’ll begin to build a reservoir of expertise.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

How to Pitch a Medical Device Company #3: Don’t Pretend

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Language is telling.

In Quebec City not so long ago I tried my lame bits of French when ordering or to strike up a conversation. Naturally, there was no hiding that I am an American. And this: if some Francophile took pity on me and answered in French, I was immediately on a slippery slope of wordlessness. Maybe one word in French? Oui. Two words? No.

Language says a lot about what we know the moment we open our mouths. And the game played by medtech firms involves a very firm grip on the language used to explain how their therapy works and the medical problems it solves. These language skills are honed through long discussions with physicians, clinicians and researchers. One doesn’t just pick up such a vocabulary. In some ways, it’s a kind of birthright of people who’ve grown up in the industry.

But just like the Canadian French speakers, they melted (well, a little) to hear my butchering of their language. It meant I was trying. In the same way, medtech firms want to know you are ready to learn. But mostly they don’t expect you to be ready. You’ve come with something else: a track record of ideas and executions that someone imagines refreshing their brand.

So don’t pretend to know the details of their business. Better to be a learner with a solid track record.


Image Credit: via Frank Perry

Written by kirkistan

June 15, 2012 at 5:00 am

Medtech Using Social Media #4: The Power of the Question

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Yes--what is your question?

Yes--what is your question?

A question changes everything. A question mark sets a thought on a pedestal in the street and invites comment. It says, “I don’t know the answer—do you?” When I teach, a question is one of my most powerful tools. With a question I ask for input while simultaneously implying “You’ve got something valuable to say and I want to hear it.” The best, most fruitful discussions happen when I present what I know and then invite students to contribute from their experience and thinking. Something alive often happens, something I could not plan for or even predict. Something that moves us all forward.

For marketers, the question is equally powerful. If we’re lucky, we’re in a team where we can ask questions openly rather than pretending to own all the answers. Our usual path to outward communication is to ask our questions in the (relatively) protected environs of conference rooms and among colleagues. Then we polish and hone the messages into one-way barbs to shoot out through our media channels. But what if the questions themselves were our communication points? What if we started with questions to our growing community of similarly-interested people, long before we ever started polishing messages for public consumption?

Once upon a time my team worked on promoting a new heart failure device. We identified a single main message that incorporated three strong benefits (based on market research) which became the core of our campaign. We tested our messages informally, received anecdotal feedback and pushed forward. Today, with the help of social media, that scenario might look like this: take the received market research, our questions and immediately begin dialogue. Proceed with message polishing and honing  even as the community dialogue continues. At some point the internal and external dialogues blend and the end result is something beyond what we could conceive on our own. Best of all, this new something already his mind-share in a community of interested people. And if you have a sales force, you know that mindshare is a key gear for turning sales.


Next Up: What would dialogue success look like?



Photo credit: Colt Elementary PTO &

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