I’ve experienced first hand that it is very difficult to do marketing in healthcare, especially for an innovative or disruptive product of a startup.
And why is that the case? There are two sides to be analyzed for this case: first the product being in healthcare, then it being a creation of a startup.
Healthcare marketing is not at all like marketing an FMCG product, for instance a lipstick. Generally what they do is just mass market it to almost all women by choosing a brand ambassador (someone very famous and beautiful of course), and share the ads everywhere, from magazines to Instagram.
Now I imagine us doing that, for instance working with Candice Swanepoel, shooting a video with her while she uses our state-of-the-art platform to visualize 3D brains and checking the regions of interest around a tumor: a) I’m not sure if she would actually accept it, b) I’m sure our current customers would be very upset, c) It would be impossible for us to reach our targets with this kind of mass marketing.
Healthcare Marketing: Traditional? Maybe not.
So what do we do in healthcare? We follow trends and customers. The two leading trends are: aging population and rise of medical data - and all issues related to that.
The demographics of different countries, especially in the EU, demand solutions for the aging population and the most recurrent diseases they suffer from. One of the most critical areas here is neuroscience as millions of elderly suffer from burdensome diseases like Alzheimer’s and the bottom line is billions of euros for the healthcare systems.
On the other side, we have a rapidly rising amount of medical data. Customers demand more insight from this data, thus turn to “big data”. The analysis of medical data is critical to, for example, see which treatments are the most effective for specific conditions, and of course, to reduce costs.
A critical issue related to this is of course the security of this data - protected health information. There is still not a widely-used, simple, and secure way to share data among parties. Rigorous regulations have to be followed, which comes with a high cost of compliance. Investigators know that it is vital to have all the data in one place to efficiently run big data analytics as big data is potentially very powerful to resolve the problems of diagnosis and prognosis thus crave for solutions.
Another vital issue in healthcare is that what you do has an actual impact on patients’ and prospective patients’ life. You are contributing to making their lives healthier and better. But what is involved is their health! So you cannot just - in our case - say: “Use our platform, it’s 3 in 1.”, it’s not a shampoo.
It’s a medical device. Thus, the product at hand is extremely technical and complex. Nevertheless, as the marketer, you have to be as concise as possible while communicating all the necessary information so your targets can easily grasp its value.
To wrap-up, healthcare marketing is not traditional.
It’s more personal thus requires you to share informative and educating content on the problem itself.
Providing accurate and transparent information on the product and its benefits via scientific content like white papers, articles, and video tutorials is key.
You engage and build relationships with different stakeholders to understand them and better respond to their needs. You build a network, a community.
It is dire to present substantial value and clearly communicate how this value is critical in overcoming your customer’s problem.
Easy, right? No, not at all.
Nevertheless, up for the challenge, all the healthcare problems above and more have pushed our co-founders to transform their expert knowledge into a marketable product. They have created a secure and privacy-regulations-compliant cloud platform to aggregate and analyze imaging and related data in the field of neuroscience.
Startup Marketing: Why so difficult?
So now, we run into the issue that we have a startup at hand. How do we overcome the barriers and successfully market an innovative solution?
To be honest, it has been and still is a trial and error process for us, as is for most startups.
On one hand there is the economic aspect as funds are limited. It is expected that the impact is higher with less investment - a higher ROI. As a tech company, you incorporate as much digital practices as you can to be efficient while not drifting away from your focus and reaching your niche targets.
In our case, the targets are forward-thinking researchers and doctors in the field of neuroscience and pharmaceutical investigators. You cannot just run into these guys, they are very busy - either saving lives or conducting research to save more lives - and they don’t trust new technologies.
Thus, what you do first is to build a consistent and strong brand image.
You raise awareness to the problem and your existence while clearly communicating your value proposition to help and support them; in our case, how big data analytics and image processing offers invaluable insight to them.
A very engaging content-based marketing strategy helps.
Listening to your customers, hearing about their issues is vital to understand them and their decision-making, and also to adapt yourself.
You then try to figure out what are the best channels to reach them and share different & targeted content for each segment.
Nope, not easy at all…
So why do we do it?
Why go through all this trouble?
The reward is that your solution reaches those that need it the most.
For us - indirectly, we will help save millions of lives if our customers find a cure to devastating diseases with the help of our product.
It’s worth it.
You can support our efforts by canalizing your projects to our platform.