Every innovation begins with an initial spark—an innovative idea that sets a ball in motion. But the road to bringing a new medical device to market is a long and arduous one, with challenges—everything from funding to FDA approvals.
While many innovators believe that marketing should be placed on hold until the product is ready to market, marketing actually keeps momentum going and expedites the process.
The first step is to research the market landscape. Who are your competitors, and how established are they? With a firm understanding of the competitive landscape, you can readily identify your product's differentiators and strategically position your product.
Before you talk to others about your product, it's important to get your story straight. A solid message is the catalyst to grab the attention of your key decision makers. An easy way to get started is with the elevator pitch, two to three sentences that define your product, short enough to be delivered in an elevator ride to the top floor. The key is to avoid using confusing industry jargon; instead, deliver as if you were explaining to your mother or next-door neighbor.
After you've done your research and crafted a solid message, it's time for your product's first test—networking, for example at local trade associations. These events provide an opportunity to connect with the movers and shakers in your industry. Other opportunities include tradeshows, economic development summits and industry forums. You can even seek out speaking opportunities at these events.
While there's no replacement for face time, online networking is an efficient way to build new relationships without travel expenses. Even a basic start will make an impact.
If you're not sure how to allocate your time, the top three social networking platforms for business are: LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging. And if you're new to social media entirely, start with LinkedIn by creating a profile—it is the least time-consuming of the three, and is an easy way to connect with others in the industry. Also, join relevant industry groups and enter discussions.
Many well thought-out medical devices never make it to market. To increase chances of success, incorporate strategic marketing every step of the way—from initial research of the market to networking with the industry influencers. It's a smart way to get a leg-up on the competition, who may wait until farther down the process to begin marketing.
Irene Adler is CEO of Vantage Communications