Out of The Box Thinking...Yeah Right.

I occasionally read the Rx/Dx magazine Medical Marketing and Media mostly to see which Rx marketer has been able to successfully position themselves to snag a cover spot for some "breakthrough" campaign.

I came across this recent online article dated May 14, 2010 and that is in the June print edition. The article heavily references a campaign for Zimmer dating back to 2007. It piqued my curiosity. Mostly, because I've blogged in the past about how I think the Orthopaedic market from a device perspective (excluding biologics) is living in 1985. With the exception of a few flashes of brilliance, which have been few and far between, the marketing in the ortho industry is really rudimentary. Literally, these companies are metal foundries that do trade ads and training. So I'm tempted to go through the article point by point to debunk the 'Out of the Box' context it was put in. However, I'll stick with some topline analysis.

I'm not here to knock Zimmer or any ortho company, but the truth is that their marketing is not advanced--at all. The notion that developing an ad that targets a specific audience, in this case women, is unique or sophisticated marketing is laughable.

“In the device space, I think the biggest challenge we have is differentiation of product technologies and how we tell that story,” says Zimmer's Malik. “In orthopedics, you see a lot of what I call metal type ads, with metal products and a scientific claim. You see 10 of those in a row and how will you stand out?”

By talking about product benefits and a reason to believe. By innovating and opening up new channels to communicate where your customers are.

“A lot of the device industry has used what I would call tribal knowledge, or institutional knowledge,” says Malik. “Over 25 years, we've formed beliefs and opinions about what we think the surgeon wants to hear from us. We actually went out and reviewed our concepts and ideas with surgeons and did informal research with reps to understand what's compelling, what's credible, what's memorable, and that really borrows from the pharma model. We're not inventing anything. We're just applying classic principles of advertising and marketing that frankly our industry didn't have to do in the past, but communications challenges are changing rapidly.”
Notice the reference is over the past 25 years. That is the time reference for marketing. In an industry that has been mostly B2B, going direct-to-consumer with an ad placed in the Hilton Head Island TV market is considered unique and novel.

In my eyes, the Ortho industry is begging for interactive marketing. Getting a knee, hip or shoulder replaced touches on multiple PATIENT INSIGHTS that SCREAMS interactive marketing. And more than interactive it screams social media.

The core audience is online in droves, i.e. aging boomers, older than 55 seeking health information, seeking community and connections with others and seeking solution. Doesn't this beg a strategic approach to educate, inform and help people make decisions about a condition that takes time to evaluate? Isn't there a void to fill by being a leader and helping the patient understand the potential solutions? As a Health 2.0 advocate and marketer, I think a tremendous opportunity is being missed.

Patient empowerment and social technologies will continue to grow and the the need for transparency and eduction will also continue to grow. The faster device manufacturers realize that the opportunity is more than simply increasing volumes, and more about opening up channels to reach potential patients, develop opportunities to 'fish where the fish are' and reach potential patients with valuable information while they are in active learning and sharing mode; the better off they will be.

In the end, change only occurs unless there is a forcing factor and/or incentive. A DTC print and TV campaign that occurred in 2007 is not 'Out of the Box.'  Interactive will eventually take hold in the Ortho market and it will be interesting to see how they handle the shift. I just hope that I'll be blogging when it happens, it may be awhile.

Other coverage here. By the way, I checked the Zimmer Web site again, it hasn't been updated in some cases since 2004! 6 years. Stunning.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know....

| www.jlefevere.com | www.thedigitalstrategist.com | If you liked this post consider adding a comment or subscribing to the feed for frequent updates.
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