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:
- Commitment and Consistency
- Social Proof
- 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!