There are “fluke” outbreaks that fade out of our historical consciousness soon after they pass, and then there are globally disruptive events like the COVID-19 pandemic, which is sure to produce a loud and clear paradigm shift that changes the world permanently. Expert projections as to what a post-COVID-19 landscape will look like vary slightly, but most agree that we will see “more contactless interfaces and interactions” across all industries, as Bernard Marr of Forbes wrote in his list of predictions (Link to the article).
In terms of the medical device industry (and many other industries), this shift will pull focus from the long-reigning sales call. In order to seamlessly pivot away from this focus to a world with less face-to-face interaction, you need to strengthen your “socially distanced” sales and marketing channels.
This means beefing up your digital outreach campaigns far beyond a static site here and an occasional social media post or newsletter. Instead, you need to encompass the entire buying experience in all of its phases.
In the relative absence of face-to-face interaction following the outbreak, buyers will have to take more onus in the buying process. If the supplier doesn’t provide the framework for that higher level of engagement to occur, then it simply won’t occur.
How to Ramp Up Your Digital Outreach Effectively
As mentioned, most agree that businesses will need to emphasize digital interfaces more from now on, but the real question is how? The answer involves a multi-faceted approach that includes strengthened email communications, web properties, and marketing campaigns that actively respond to each user’s engagements to optimize their experience. Let’s start with email.
Purpose-Driven Email Campaigns
For demonstration purposes, let’s use a tiered ranking system to show the differences between low-quality email campaigns and more engaging and comprehensive campaigns.
Tier 1—You send your list messages on an inconsistent basis that pitch products directly to them and announce promos, sales, etc.
Tier 2—You send your list messages on a semi-regular basis that pitch products/sales and provide some pre-launch product info and helpful guides.
Tier 3—You send your list messages that provide useful information on their own (guides, evidence-based support for your products, etc.) while directing them to content-rich microsites designed around their specific interests and needs.
Up until now, teams with tier-1 or tier-2 quality could at least survive, even though they were missing out on profits. As the rug is being violently pulled out from underneath us, however, we all need to strive for tier-3-quality email communications.
This means using this channel as a way to generate interest, strengthen relationships with prospects, inform them of relevant developments, and send them to highly optimized content instead of trying to force sales prematurely.
So, if email won’t be a sales vehicle first and foremost, then where on earth will we send these people?
Introducing the Content-Rich Microsite
Anyone on the web can access your homepage, so it stands to reason that your main website banks on broad appeal.
Nothing compels conversions, however, more than a content-rich microsite that speaks directly to the prospect, which is why we target email users based on their specific interests and affiliations.
Let’s say our avatar is a director of orthopedics who wants to find a specific hip implant that will improve surgical outcomes at her hospital. Could she find it on your homepage? Hopefully, yes, but the supporting content will not likely be enough to encompass the entire sales process.
If she were driven to a site focused on this exact product,however, lush with evidence-based justifications, video guides, and a way to contact a sales representative about this exact product she’s just learned about, she is much more likely to convert.
Even a highly effective microsite can still be rendered ineffective by the deadly “wait-and-see” pitfall, however. Your prospects need to be guided through the process in a way that speaks to their exact preferences, which the mindful marketer will be able to identify based on how they engage with the content.
So, instead of just churning prospects through an email list and microsite and hoping money comes out on the other end, jump in and become an active part of the process.
What does this look like? First, it requires that you structure your funnel so that it brings the prospect right to you. The microsite’s job is to prime the prospect for the sale with compelling content, and your sales team’s job in a post-coronavirus world will be to close a sale that has been in the works long before the prospect meets with you. This will de-emphasize interaction while still allowing your team to get those touchpoints and important messages across for steady sales.
Keeping Awareness at the Forefront
Finally, it’s vital that marketing and sales teams working to fit into this quickly shifting landscape remember to utilize all marketing efforts for brand awareness purposes. Regardless of what you’re trying to do in any particular communication, whether it’s providing pre-launch product specs, posting important updates on social media, etc., there’s always an opportunity to increase brand awareness by structuring the content to emphasize your company’s presence in all niche-related happenings. When we layer this over our active, sales-driven approach to physician marketing, the result is a steady rise in revenue.