What if marketing were run like a clinical study


Published on

Published in: Health & Medicine, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

What if marketing were run like a clinical study

  1. 1. TODAY’S PRACTICEWhat if Marketing WereRun Like a Clinical Study? BY SHAREEF MAHDAVI Surgeons’ frustration with marketing is sumers when and where they are most likely to be watch- understandable. They spend more than ing, listening, or reading. This strategy does not always $100 million annually on paid advertising work, however, especially when consumers are pressed to draw new patients into their refractive for time and attention. surgery centers, yet the market’s growth is stagnant. Despite these efforts, the vol- A LE SS VI SIBLE CONSUMER ume of refractive procedures has re- Television has changed a lot since the production ofmained stable at 1.3 to 1.4 million eyes per year. the first commercials, something refractive surgeons As I was examining this problem, I wondered how dif- should keep in mind when they prepare their marketingferent the situation might be if surgeons treated market- materials. Whereas three major networks once dominat-ing more like a clinical trial. Could a well-designed and ed the medium, the advent of cable and satellite televi-tightly controlled protocol that enrolled patients accord- sion has fragmented the audience into increasingly small-ing to valid inclusion criteria and the utilized systems that er segments that attract a narrow band of viewers. Con-ensured accountability minimize the number of patients sumers are harder to reach, particularly for a product likelost to follow-up? This article touches on some of the LASIK, which appeals to and crosses many demographicweaknesses of traditional marketing methods and offers boundaries. The problem is compounded by the avail-alternatives that could help refractive surgeons design ability of digital video recorders (DVR) such as TiVomore effective advertising strategies. (Alviso, CA), which transform the once intrusive advertis- ing medium of the television commercial into optionalPARD ON THI S INTERRUPTION viewing. Many of the advertisements I encounter for refractive Surveys of DVR users are showing ominous signs forsurgery suffer from poor design and emphasize the television advertisers, as more than half of users are prac-wrong message. Instead of focusing on the surgeon’s ticing “ad avoidance” by skipping the advertisements.1 Aexpertise, they should highlight how much patients can similar problem plagues radio advertising, where sub-benefit from refractive surgery. I have alsonoticed that most marketing materials lacka singular point of differentiation (ie, a rea-son to believe) and an effective call toaction. Furthermore, advertisements thatappear on television, radio, and in print havea limited shelf life. If a marketing message inthese media does not elicit an immediate re-sponse, it is soon lost and forgotten amongthe several thousand advertisements a typi-cal consumer encounters each day. Advertising in broadcast media such astelevision, radio, and print attempts tobreak through to a target audience at the Figure 1. Consumers are increasingly becoming unavailable to advertisers, inright time and location—catching con- part because newer forms of media allow them to skip or avoid commercials. APRIL 2008 I CATARACT & REFRACTIVE SURGERY TODAY I 81
  2. 2. TODAY’S PRACTICE scription satellite services such as Sirius (New York, NY) and XM (New York, NY) and the increasing popularity of A B the iPod (Apple Computer, Inc., Cupertino, CA) and other MP3 players reduces the predictability of con- sumers’ exposure to commercials. Even newspapers are less popular: readership continues to decline in favor of on-demand news reports available 24 hours a day via the Internet (Figure 1). TRE ATING M ARKETING LIKE A STUDY Physicians naturally understand the value of careful clinical trials for refining medical devices and drugs. Tracking, documentation, and predetermined parame- ters play an important role in the process, because they provide clinical endpoints against which investigators can assess a product’s safety and efficacy. Clinical trials also provide a statistical foundation for a device’s or drug’s expected performance. Refractive surgery’s marketing strategies can now fol- Figure 2. Direct mailers advertising LASIK are customized to low a similar protocol. Modern Solution, a company in appeal to single people in their 20s (A) and parents with Carlsbad, California, has developed an innovative ap- young children (B).These brochures represent two of the life proach to acquiring patients that helps refractive surgery stages underlying the seven key cluster groups for refractive centers successfully communicate the benefits of LASIK surgery that can be reached through consumer segmentation. to qualified candidates. The company’s strategy also magnifies the effectiveness of the marketing message by majority of people having LASIK. It turns out that the targeting consumers in specific stages of life and empha- consumers in seven of these groups exhibit a much sizing patient-to-patient referrals. higher propensity for having LASIK. This highly refined Modern Solution’s program combines a sophisticated approach to segmentation allows refractive surgeons to printing technology with a process-driven tracking sys- narrow the search for likely LASIK candidates in their tem. This approach is designed to provide fully visible community by directly targeting and reaching these and accountable results of a practice’s marketing ef- “more likely” consumers—who are most similar to forts, a component that is lacking in most marketing patients they have already seen in their practices. plans. Second, Modern Solution prepares direct mail for dis- tribution to the seven groups identified as likely LASIK E X PA N D I N G BY N A R ROW I N G candidates. Every piece of mail is customized to speak The term life-stage marketing refers to targeting con- to consumers by appealing to their unique life stage sumers who are more likely to respond to a message (Figure 2). because their behavior matches that of individuals who Because this approach targets the seven key cluster are also interested in the same service or product. groups who are likely to have LASIK, it is expected to Modern Solution’s approach to life-stage marketing has generate a better rate of response than traditional two steps. First, the company obtains data about con- methods that depend on broadcast advertising. As a sumers’ purchases, which has been analyzed and seg- result, more effort is spent aiming at the appropriate mented into 70 “profiles” or clusters. These clusters are target, and less effort is wasted with marketing dollars based on more than the traditional demographic seg- that reach consumers we know are much less interested ments of age, income, and zip code; they also incorpo- based on their life stage and consumer behavior. rate 32 different variables of demographic, psycho- graphic, and consumer behavior. These clusters and EQUIPPING THE ENTHUSIAST associated groups are highly granular views that fully Given that most refractive surgery centers’ depend on represent buying patterns among all consumers. word-of-mouth referrals to find new LASIK patients, it is By comparing thousands of previously treated LASIK surprising that most practices do not take a clinical patients to these cluster groups, Modern Solution has study-like approach to engaging newly treated patients. determined which life-stage profiles represent the vast Many practices thank their patients with a small gift82 I CATARACT & REFRACTIVE SURGERY TODAY I APRIL 2008
  3. 3. and a handful of business cards, but they lack the timeor the technology to establish long-term communica-tion designed to stimulate further referrals. ModernSolution’s program addresses this shortcoming by pro-viding practices with professional kits that contain well-designed brochures. Surgeons distribute these kits to The Latestpatients and encourage them to pass the materials onto friends and family members who express interest inrefractive surgery. Because each kit has a unique serial number (as does Informationeach piece of targeted direct mail described earlier),individual practices can track and monitor the referralprocess. This scientific approach has been missing fromthe refractive equation and will help practices truly har- on Glaucoma Managementness the enthusiasm of LASIK patients.M E A SU R I N G R E SU LT S Modern Solution provides refractive surgeons withthe answer to the question, “How well does my adver-tising really work?” By tracking results over time, sur-geons can clearly and objectively calculate the returnon the marketing dollars they spend instead of relyingon quasi-subjective answers to the question, “How didyou learn about our practice?”S U M M A RY Modern Solution’s program attempts to quantify theprocess by which refractive practices acquire patientsby applying strategies similar to a clinical trial’s to bothends of consumers’ decision-making process (awarenessand recommendation). The ability to measure and monitor what happens atthe beginning and end of the consumers’ decision-mak-ing process is critical for designing effective marketingand to restoring growth in the refractive surgery cate-gory. Although preliminary, the data so far from thefirst group of customers are encouraging, with resultsshowing a definitive return on investment. I will bereviewing and analyzing these data over the comingmonths—serving as marketing monitor (much like themedical monitor of a clinical study). I anticipate pub-lishing results later this year. ■ Shareef Mahdavi draws on more than 20 years of med-ical device marketing experience to help companies andproviders create demand for new procedures and technolo-gies. He is a consultant to Modern Solution. Mr. Mahdavimay be reached at (925) 425-9900;shareef@sm2strategic.com. Visit1. Adweek. Just asking. Available at: http://www.adweek.com/aw/esearch/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003634195. Accessed March 19, 2008. www.glaucomatoday.com to subscribe