Top 100 Agencies 2015: Infuse Medical
In some ways the devices and diagnostics industry mirrors pharma: tight regulation, fierce competition, heavy reliance on sales reps and the need to demonstrate value. In many other ways, it's an entirely different beast.
This is where Infuse Medical steps in. “Our roots have been working with medical device and diagnostic manufacturers and we know them very well,” says founding partner Jordan Erickson. “We speak their language and we understand their pain points.”
The year 2014 was a solid one for the Salt Lake City–based specialty shop, with revenues steady at around the $5-million mark and head count remaining at 40. “In 2014 it was really about just going deeper with existing clients,” says Erickson, adding that 2015 is shaping up to be similarly robust.
Infuse's client list is long (see Agency A to Z, page 208). Erickson gives special mentions to the “expanding” body of work the agency is doing with Roche, its relationship with Hologic in the mammogram diagnostic space (“they're a great client”) and new business with Fresenius in kidney dialysis. He adds that Olympus Medical Systems was a “huge, huge win.” “That's one we're especially proud of,” he says.
Infuse's core work revolves around training and mobilizing client sales forces and equipping them with mobile apps and tools featuring complex motion graphics and 3-D animations. The goal? To explain surgical techniques and product features.
“The sales rep continues to be a key source of information for these surgeons and for all clinicians,” Erickson says. “And although they have limited time and exposure to the physicians, they've got to have their message very concentrated—and accurate.” To date, Infuse has developed more than 300 such apps.
Erickson sees more clients returning to their roots of using animation and motion graphics within the environment of training. Infuse creates simulated activities and exercises that, he says, “create powerful mental models” for both the sales rep and the clinician.
The agency has also found success in the area of gamification. “Anytime you can add a competitive edge or something someone can boast about—whether it's a badge or something like that—it goes a long way,” Erickson explains. “But it's got to be tastefully done. The more gimmicky you make it, the less effective it becomes.”
A major difference between the pharma and devices markets is the life cycle of products. Whereas the life of a pill is measured in years, devices usually get just a few months. Consequently, there is a constant flurry of activity around products. “With devices you have to continue to reinvent almost on a quarterly or biannual basis in how they set themselves apart,” says Erickson. “So we have to be very nimble. We're not working the slow-moving world of pharma.” And there tend to be fewer marketing dollars with which to work.
Erickson sees the landscape continuing to change and hopes for some legislation to ease the burden of devices taxing: “It's really hurt many of the mid-level and small manufacturers.” He also sees a continuation of the vast consolidation in the sector, such as Medtronic's acquisition of Covidien at the start of 2015.
“As an agency, we have to be flexible enough to mirror the changes of our clients and make sure that we continue to be relevant to their needs today.”