Medical Device and Diagnostics Companies ask, “Should there be an app for that?”
05.22.2012 - Posted By: Todd Yerman - Director of Business Development
I recently sat down with the marketing department of a good-sized, and successful, medical device and diagnostics company. They had a fairly straightforward question: “Is it time we build an app, and what could it do?” After all, each member of their sales force has an iPad. Would building an iPad app make them more successful?
It’s certainly a question on the minds of many marketers these days. In a global study of chief marketing officers recently conducted by IBM, channel/device proliferation and keeping up with the technology curve were identified as two of the top four concerns CMOs had about leading their organizations’ future marketing efforts. When asked more specifically about their digital concerns, mobile/app design experience ranked number two on the list. And most said they felt ill equipped to deal with these challenges.
For a medical device company like this one, there are certainly compelling reasons to build an app. Content could be continuously updated and pushed to salespeople’s devices, eliminating the worry of old materials floating around out there. Leads could be captured and cataloged. Products demonstrated via video. Trade shows brought to life right in a surgeon’s office. And that’s just the obvious list of possibilities.
But ultimately, for them and any other marketer, the question isn’t, “Is it time we build an app, and what kind of cool stuff can we stick in it?” The discussion needs to start as a research and insights question. Start with, “Is an app the best way to achieve our business goals at this time?” An app might be the right solution, but before making a substantial investment, we as marketers need to do our due diligence.
So, consider these steps as you begin to deliberate moving your marketing onto a new digital platform:
- Talk with your salespeople. Understand what a day in their life is like. What works well for them? What causes them problems?
- Talk one-on-one with the people they’re selling to – doctors, nursing staff, hospital procurement. You want to better understand these stakeholders’ perceptions of your product. Understand how they like to receive information. What’s the best way to communicate with them given their busy schedules? What aren’t they getting from your company’s communication efforts now that they wish they were?
- Assemble focus groups or panels comprised of your target consumers. Brainstorm your digital concepts. See what they have to say.
- Test your preliminary ideas and assumptions through further qualitative and quantitative research. Make sure your concept will resonate before you make a significant investment.
- Tap into secondary research. Some of these questions may have already been answered for you. No need to re-research the wheel.
What you’re looking for are the insights to make a much better business case for, or against, an app. Will it increase productivity? Help move more product? Generate a return on investment? Once you know these answers, then you’re at the point to discuss whether you need an app – or a mobile site, or maybe even new print collateral. Once you’ve answered these questions, then you can ask yourself, “Is it time we build an app, and what could it do?”
How about you? Have you been through this process with your marketing department? What did you learn?