Black History Month, Advertising, & Ed Lewis

By Faith Cook –

As Black History Month comes to a close, I want to give flowers to one of the Black Trailblazers in Advertising: Ed Lewis. Ed Lewis was the co-founder of Essence Magazine, a publication that was a staple read during my hair salon visits or on the coffee table when I visited one of my aunties.

Essence Magazine is one of a few publications where black voices and faces are front and center, especially those of black women. On the rare occasion that I would purchase a print magazine, more often than not it’s an Essence. I see a reflection of myself and my culture on every page, from cover to cover. This wouldn’t exist without the vision of Ed Lewis.

In 1969, Lewis co-founded Essence, a magazine specifically targeted to black women, and went on to serve as CEO and publisher of Essence Communications, Inc. for three decades. In the 80s and 90s, he expanded Essence Communications to include a weekly television show, fashion line and mail order catalog, as well as an annual awards show and Essence Music Festival (of which my cousins make a regular girls’ trip to New Orleans to attend).

Essence has become one of the most influential magazines for black women, offering not only content that speaks directly to their experiences but also creating advertising campaigns that celebrate their beauty, strength, and intelligence. Ed Lewis has been recognized for his contributions to the industry with numerous awards and remains a champion of diversity and inclusion in advertising.

So, the next time you take a trip to the convenience store and see an Essence magazine, take a little time to peek into the pages. You’re holding a glimpse of the culture, a piece of black excellence, and a publication that’s uplifted generations of black women like me for decades.

Happy Black History Month.

Top 5 AR/VR Technologies on the Market

By Melissa Wildstein

We’ve talked about how Augmented and Virtual reality can help medical device professionals create a more engaging and immersive learning experience for their healthcare providers, that using AR/VR technology can lead to better understanding and retention of information and that it can help medical device and pharmaceutical companies reduce some of the costs associated with in-person training and education programs. But what about the platforms themselves?

There are several AR/VR platforms available but as with anything, each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Below are some of the most popular platforms that we’re seeing in the medical device space.

  1. Oculus: Oculus is a VR platform developed by Facebook that provides a fully immersive experience by creating a virtual world. It is primarily used for gaming, but is one of the more popular tools used for medical training and education. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland built the RCSI Medical Training Simulation in conjunction with Immersive VR Education.
  2. HoloLens: is a mixed reality platform developed by Microsoft that allows users to interact with virtual objects in the real world. It uses a combination of sensors, cameras and holographic displays to create an immersive experience.
  3. Unity: Unity is a versatile platform traditionally used for gaming that can be used to build AR/VR applications for iOS, Windows, Android and MacOS. They have a great case study showcasing some of the work done for Galderma’s training program on facial anatomy.
  4. Vuforia: Vuforia is an AR platform that allows developers to create interactive AR experiences for mobile devices. It uses computer vision technology to recognize images and objects in the real world and overlay digital content on top of them.
  5. Google Cardboard: Google Cardboard is a low-cost VR platform that uses your smartphone as the display. It consists of a cardboard headset that holds the smartphone and provides a basic VR experience. The nice thing about Google Cardboard is that there are so many branding opportunities with the headset itself. And because it is inexpensive and available in a flat (assemble it yourself) form, it can be leveraged in ways that traditional VR headset platforms can’t like direct mail and as a leave behind.

The platform that you choose will ultimately depend on your goals and objectives, but if this is an area that you’re interested in exploring and you’d like to talk further about how AR and VR can fit into your medical device marketing plans, schedule a meeting and let’s talk!

How to Leverage Digital Technology to Build a More Engaging Experience for Your Healthcare Providers

By Melissa Wildstein –

Remember pre-pandemic before QR codes were actually used? Did you know that QR codes were actually introduced in 1994? They have literally been around for decades, but it took the COVID-19 pandemic and desire to put information (like a menu) directly into consumers’ hands without them having to physically touch anything before they really took off. Now, QR codes are everywhere. And pharmaceutical, med tech and medical device companies are using them on podium presentations, on brochures and at conventions to ensure information and education distribution – and provide a way to more effectively engage with their healthcare providers. But QR codes aren’t the only way that medtech companies can leverage digital technology to build more engaging customer experiences:

  1. Custom mobile applications: Everyone walks around with a phone in their pocket and clinicians search their phones for information and content constantly through the day. Before a surgeon goes in to a procedure where they are going to utilize your device for the first time, wouldn’t it be nice for them to be able to access a quick how to use video on their phone? Or remind themselves of a couple of tips and tricks? Check out this app that we built for Teleflex Medical which is now available in more than 56 countries.
  2. Social media: I know. Social media is tough in our very regulated industry. We understand that – and it’s scary putting something ‘out there’ for people to react to. And social media does need to be monitored for potential adverse event reporting. But it’s also a great way to engage with healthcare providers – providing that you know which platforms to use for which audience and for what purpose. For example, Twitter is a great tool for disseminating clinical trial data and encouraging a dialogue around study results and implications. #CardioTwitter is a fantastic feed to monitor – and tag to use if you’re in the cardiology space. We have seen webinar promotions and registration really take off on LinkedIn. And Facebook has been a great place for us to engage with physical therapists.
  3. Education-based websites: Creating a website that is solely dedicated to online courses, webinars and podcasts provide healthcare providers with the most up-to-date information on a product and provide a virtual repository for ongoing training (CME or otherwise). Some of those websites, like PatAcademy, focus primarily on ongoing live trainings in the United States and worldwide. Others, like Teleflex Academy are more comprehensive, providing a variety of on demand e-learning courses as well as webinars and live events.
  4. Augmented and Virtual reality (AR/VR): AR/VR can be used as an immersive tool for educating healthcare providers about products and surgical techniques. AR/VR can be used to create:
    • Training and simulations that allow providers to practice and improve their skills without the risks associated with live patients – or the costs associated with cadaver labs.
    • Product demonstrations that allow the sales team the ability to showcase their product without having to lug around bulky and/or expensive capital equipment. We did a program for Biosense Webster designed to help clinicians understand how to use a new catheter but there was no way to bring in the requisite generator and GUI to every sales call. An immersive AR/VR experience can help address that challenge
    • Conference and event experiences – and booth traffic. Nothing drives traffic to a booth quite like a bunch of people standing around with an Oculus on. But more than that, AR/VR can help the healthcare provider step back into their world even when they aren’t actually in the office. Seeing themselves pick up and utilize a new tool or perform a new procedure ‘in the office’ helps reduce uncertainty and makes them more comfortable and more likely to try a new product right out of the gate.
    • Patient education that can help them better understand their disease, or a particular procedure or approach.

There are a number of ways that medical device companies can use digital technology to build more engaging experiences with healthcare providers and this list is just scratching the surface! If you’re interested in talking more about how you can engage your customers in a more engaging way schedule a meeting and let’s talk!

I need a hero (image). There’s more to medical device branding than that…

By Melissa Wildstein –

Last week when speaking with a potential customer about their medical device marketing strategy. The team was looking for a medical device marketing agency to help them elevate their brand and generate demand for their product. They had a small sales force along with an inside sales team and they were selling through a distributor network.

So, I took a look at their website (which hadn’t been updated since 2019) to understand the company’s product line and how they were currently promoting them. Every image on the screen was small, on a white background and looked exactly the same. The description might have changed slightly, but the images didn’t.  Clicking on the product directed you to a PDF page.

Then I asked the VP of Marketing if they were selling commodity or differentiated products and how they were priced compared to the competition. I was surprised to learn that the company felt like their products were well differentiated in the space, that they had unique selling features and that they came with a premium price tag. Their branding didn’t reflect that – at all!

And when the VP asked how I would go about recommending that they build out a lead generation campaign, I told him to save his budget. That advertising and doing lead gen in the space with his current website and product presentation wouldn’t give him a big lift.

When it comes to medical device marketing, you have to start with how you’re positioning your brand in the minds of your customer. How do you want for them to think about you and your products? Do you want for them to think about you as a differentiated product coming from an innovative company – or just a commodity that they can get from any other company or distributor. If you’re the later, show up like that.

  • Ensure that your differentiated product line has GREAT product photography
  • Provide high-quality video and animation to showcase your product’s distinguishing characteristics
  • Build a website that is easy to navigate, has a fantastic user experience, provides value and opportunities for customers to engage with you. Make that site serve a purpose – not just be an online brochure
  • Utilize pops of color, logos and iconography to create a visual brand identity that is unique, recognizable and ownable and then use that across all of your marketing channels from your website to your email marketing to your selling materials
  • Don’t just write about the technical specifications of your product, use exciting language in your messaging to more effectively tell your story
  • Leverage customer testimonials as social proof to reduce uncertainty and build trust in your product line

We think it’s important to remember that despite your audiences’ profession, years of education, and daily responsibilities at the hospital or their practice, they are still just people – people who are influenced and motivated by great photography, well-designed and easy-to-navigate websites, and apps. They can be persuaded just like anyone else to pay attention to, and do business with, you.

So think about it – does your medical device branding need a face lift? Do you need more than just a hero (image)? If you’re interested in talking more about how to elevate your medical device brand, schedule a meeting with us and let’s talk about it!

The Most Important Principle of Persuasion that Medical Device Marketing Teams Should Consider

By Melissa Wildstein –

I’ve been listening to the Hidden Brain podcast recently – and if you haven’t listened, I highly recommend it. Two episodes in particular really struck me because of their relevance to what we do here every day at The Matchstick Group – solve challenges for medical device marketing teams. The episodes are a Part I and Part II on Persuasion – the science behind why we do what we do – and how to get others to do what we want them to. Host Shankar Vedantam interviews psychologist Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence, the psychology of persuasion” who talks about the his seven principles of persuasion:

  • Reciprocation
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Social Proof 
  • Liking 
  • Authority
  • Scarcity
  • Unity, the newest principle for this edition

I think that social proof is the most overlooked, but most important principle of persuasion for medical device marketing teams to consider. What is social proof you ask? It’s a psychological phenomenon that refers to our tendency to do what other people in a group are doing. If everyone around me is doing something, it’s probably the right thing to do. As consumers, we’re constantly on the look-out for something to reinforce our decisions whether that’s testimonials, ratings and/or reviews. We take social proof into consideration all of the time – we book a table at a restaurant that a friend recommended. Or we abandon our carts on Amazon after seeing that there were only 1 or 2 positive reviews for a particular product.

Social proof shows up in the healthcare space too, but it manifests differently than it does in the consumer arena. We rarely see a review or a rating for a medical device product next to a ‘buy now’ button. But what about what happens at a conference? If a booth looks busy and well attended, more and more people are going to stop by just to see what the buzz is about. There’s that fear of missing out on something that might be really important. Or when we think about who we want as a speaker for our brands, or a lead investigator for a clinical trial, we look for a key opinion leader who’s well regarded in the space because their ‘endorsement’ will serve as a purveyor of social proof.  A brand or company’s reputation can also impact social proof. If a medical device or pharmaceutical company is known for producing high-quality products or they have a reputation for expertise in a particular therapeutic area, this can serve as social proof for potential customers even before they have any direct experience with the company’s product.

Social proof can play an important role in both shaping physician opinion and in driving the trial and adoption of medical device products. Looking for ways to build social proof into your medical device marketing strategy? While this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are some tactics to consider:

  • Leverage your speakers and key opinion leaders across multiple channels whether that’s creating in-person dinner programs, live stream dinner programs or live or recorded webinars. Then promote those programs on your website and through your social media channels. Where possible, include your speaker’s name, bio, institution and anything else that may be relevant. Whenever you’re doing a live event, record it, transcribe it and repurpose it for the masses.
  • Disseminate your clinical literature. I know that reprints cost money and that no one wants to print mass amounts of paper to clutter the planet, but your clinical literature and your data help to serve as social proof so use them. Highlight your data on your website and build out an electronic ‘reprint carrier’ for your reps’ iPads. Create medical information letters so that your medical science liaisons and medical affairs team can ‘speak’ to the relevant and salient points giving your healthcare providers an opportunity to dig deeper into the aspects of the data that are most meaningful to them.
  • Video and written testimonials. Testimonials speak volumes and allow your customers to provide their own perspective on your product, technology, or service. We have done hundreds of video testimonials for our medical device clients – patient testimonials, clinician testimonials, office staff testimonials – and I know that it can be daunting getting those through medical/legal/regulatory – but they are so worth it. They not only serve as social proof for your customers, but as an added bonus – your sales team gets motivated knowing that they’re serving a greater good.

And of course, the list goes on. If you’re interested in talking more about how you can bring more social proof to your medical device marketing, schedule a meeting and let’s talk!