More than ever before, your sales force needs a strategic plan that can be executed. The medical device market is becoming a crowded place. Innovation is incremental. Furthermore, prices are going down despite profits increasing by the private health providers. To that end, below you will see the 10 steps to creating a successful marketing strategy for your medical device business. The first two steps in a medical device marketing plan are external analysis. You need this to create objectives, strategy, and tactical approach to market.

Analysis

1. The Environment in Which you Operate

When you start, it is important that you have a clear picture of the external environment and how it will affect future success of your products. First, map out how demographic changes are affecting your growth potential. Then, outline the challenges and opportunities from economic and regulatory perspectives. Finally summarize the market sizes that your products operate in. If you can, include market growth. Now this will give you a picture of some of the barriers to and prospects of success.

2. Competitive Landscape

It is best to outline the competition in table format. This will enable to create a quick overview of how many competitors there are. Also, you can outline where they are placed in the market. Because you want to understand what segment of the market they operate in. i.e. budget, mid-range, premium. And primarily what their share is of each of the segments.

Have a clear picture of the external environment and how it will affect future success.

3. S.W.O.T.

Using the information in step one and above, start outlining what your strengths and weaknesses against your competitors are. Then, when you do the following, look at it from a growth perspective. Thus, make a list of the available opportunities. And finally, list the threats you perceive could be faced with soon.

Your marketing strategy is resting on the foundation created in the first three steps, so do not take it lightly or skip any of these steps.

GOALS – OBJECTIVES – STRATEGY – TACTICS

4. Goal setting for the Strategic Marketing Plan

The strategic marketing plan is born out of this step. Your short-term objectives will be defined by the goal. Then the strategy will be formulated from the goals. Finally, you can outline what needs to be done to achieve your strategy. Goals should be longer term, preferably 3-5 years. They do not need to be financial. As an example, a goal can be to become market leader. Another goal could be gain 100 customers. In short, goals need to be meaningful. You can use the SMART system – Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Timely as a framework for goal setting.

5. Financial Objectives

You probably want to set objectives on an annual basis. In your medical device marketing plan make them financial, i.e. what do you want to achieve in terms of turnover. Your financial objectives should speak to your goals. Meaning, they should be a proportional step in the direction of achieving your goals. The sales team will have their annual targets unpacked from this. In other words, it is vital to get this right. In the end, your objectives will help you decide what you will want to achieve. This brings us to the next step – the STRATEGY.

Your objectives will help you decide your strategy.

6. Create Strategic Positions

We have now arrived at the most crucial step in the medical device marketing plan. The strategic positioning. To simplify this, a product strategy can fit in one of four categories. Often your portfolio will be spread out among the four, depending on their stage in the product life cycle.

  1. Grow market users – If your product has high market share or even exclusivity, growing the customer base will automatically grow your sales. New technologies usually fit into this category. A great example is the smart watches. There is one clear leader on the market, Apple. With 50% of the global smart watch market, half of new customers to the market would be expected to buy an Apple.
  2. Grab market share – Take share off your competitors by attracting them to your brand or brands. You will often see multiple ads for competing supermarkets. Their goal is to grow market share.
  3. Grow market usage – This is different to point one. Here we are looking at growing sales among existing users of your type of products.
  4. Grow share of wallet – This final category is about getting more of a customer’s total spend. Like category 2, it is about taking sales from competitors, but from customers that spread their spending across multiple suppliers. Again, using supermarkets as an example; in the last couple of decades, they have gone from selling groceries to phone plans, car insurance and other consumer goods.

Your strategic focus should be in one of these four categories. That is, the category that will bring you closer to your financial objectives.

Your tactics are what you will do to achieve one of the four strategic categories.

7. Tactical Approach to Market

Your tactics are what you will do to achieve one of the four strategic categories. How you will gain new customers, grow the market, or increase your share. This is also going to be partly a guide to the sales team. Specifically, outlining what it is they need to do to be in line with the strategic marketing plan.

8. Communication Plan

When creating your communication plan, you have to decide where your messages should be seen in order to be in line with one of the four strategic categories. For example, growing the market is more about solving a problem. Subsequently taking customers from your competition is often about branding and benefit comparisons. So, decide what you want to achieve, and which medium would help get you there.

9. Budgeting for your strategic marketing plan

A key part in the marketing plan is how much money is available to spend. It is advisable to do top line budgeting in each tactical area. So, don’t get too granular. And be flexible, as things change throughout the year.

10. Monitor and Evaluate

Finally, keep tabs on how you are performing to your financial goals, your strategy, and your tactics. Regular analysis is recommended.

Endnote

As I said in point 9, be flexible. You might find that you need to tweak the tactics throughout the year. Alternatively, you could find yourself in need of more advertising spend. It is important to make the strategic marketing plan a living document. Medical devices is an industry that can change in a day. Marketers need to be mindful of that and plan accordingly. A plan that guides you on a weekly basis. Personally, I have it open on my desktop on most days.