Is healthcare marketing really that different to B2B tech marketing?
Before working in healthcare, I (Jasmin) marketed B2B technology companies, and before that, cars and academic books. Now whilst there are a lot of fundamentals to marketing that are consistent no matter what you are working on, over the years I’ve seen just how different healthcare marketing is.
First, the constants across marketing.
Whether you’re trying to sell used Fords to a local teen who’s just passed their driving test, or an enterprise-level software to the CxOs of one of the biggest retailers in the U.K., there are some things in marketing that are always applicable:
- You’ve got to truly understand your buyer, what problems they have, who influences their decisions, and where they get information.
- You need to be an expert on the product you’re marketing. You’ve got to know exactly how it fits into your customer's day, why they’ll choose it, what problem it actually solves and how it fits into the competitive landscape.
Now, some elements are more specific to B2B marketing, specifically in the tech space, which is a little more nuanced.
- The buying cycle is long, with many review meetings and assessments of requirements and whether your solution will integrate with existing systems.
- You have multiple stakeholders, and budget holders are more than likely not those who will be using your product.
Finally, how is it actually different in healthcare marketing, specifically within HealthTech and MedTech? Isn’t it just like any other B2B target?
YOU NEED A LOT OF EVIDENCE.
You need to convince the medical community that it meets an unmet need and that it’s been well validated in clinical studies, and that (depending on your region) insurance will cover it. This clinical evidence needs to be disseminated and communicated to your audience.
You need to show how it fits into the patient pathway, and that it’s part of recommended guidelines for the specific disease indication you work in. Finally, you’ll have Health Economics and Outcomes Research to communicate. As a marketer here you’ll be working closely with market access teams.
Does this solve an unmet need? How will it fit into my workflow? Does it integrate with my EMR? How do I get the final information? This is the type of information you’ll need to distil in your marketing communications.
Can you talk to the informatics folks, switch to the medics and then chat to patients?
It’s a highly technical sale; especially if you’re marketing software or technology, you not only need to have a deep understanding (and be able to convince experts that this is useful) of how you’ll integrate with their systems which must be compliant with data protection regulations (more on this shortly). To market software or tech to healthcare providers, you need to understand the tech, the medicine and the health system. You’ve got to understand the software side, the medical pathways and your clinical evidence to win here.
HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS ARE TIME-LIMITED.
Sure, everyone’s busy. But those providing healthcare services are busy with life and death situations, they can’t just drop what they’re doing to listen to your 30-minute pitch.
IT’S HIGHLY REGULATED.
As mentioned briefly above, the medical industry is one of the most regulated industries in the world, and rightly so. At the risk of teaching my grandmother to suck eggs here: you’ll almost certainly need regulatory clearance in all markets you want to market your product. For marketers, this means there will be a set of rules around how you’re allowed to market, what words you can use, and sometimes even who you can target.
Over and above the regulatory aspects specific to your product, medical marketing has a lot more rules. There are limitations to how you can engage with and market to healthcare providers. If you need to do any direct to patient/consumer marketing, there are more rules around advertising in this space. There are patient data regulations, information security concerns, and so many more. Each piece of marketing created for a healthcare product will have to go through a thorough medical, legal and regulatory approval process before it sees the light of day.
Health is inherently an emotive subject.
Sure, some other B2B experiences can be on the emotional side; banking and dealing with people’s money could arguably be stressful. But nothing trumps real life and death situations.
Even in the B2B aspect of marketing healthcare products, you’re inherently talking about “how this is going to make your patient's life better”. You need an acute awareness of the fact that what you’re marketing is going to impact someone’s health.
You need to choose your words wisely.
IT’S OFTEN RELIANT ON FUNDING.
As with many startups, healthcare tech companies are often spin-outs from universities that rely heavily on investment and grants to grow to the point where they begin to be revenue-generating. This poses a unique problem for marketers, who usually focus on revenue-generating activities like lead generation. In this space, the marketers’ role can become more focused on corporate activities like investor pitches and grant submissions.
With all these nuances and extra areas for consideration, I personally believe it’s one of the most rewarding marketing activities you can do.
This article originally appeared on the Evolene blog, to read this visit: https://evolene.co.uk/healthcare-marketing-differences/