The most significant marketing challenge of our time is the scarcity of attention from potential customers. Bombarded relentlessly from all directions with too much information, a deluge of products and services, and too many unsubstantiated claims, potential customers have tuned out, dropped out, and become all but unreachable. Now resistant to communication, they can’t even process 5 percent of what is thrown at them daily, maybe even less.
Unfortunately, this barrier is crippling the efforts of medical device manufacturers to grow and expand.
“Scarcity of attention is the defining business challenge of our time,” says Jamie Mustard, a messaging, design, and communications expert for industrial firms. “Today, it is the attention of others that is the most valuable commodity in the digital age. In this environment, a company’s very survival depends on cutting through the sea of white noise.”
If there is one telling example of the symptoms of this scarcity of attention, it is the anxiety and frustration over not being seen or heard that can permeate throughout an organization from ownership, through the C-level execs, sales team, and even down to the average worker.
“Most manufacturers that design a great product continue to believe in the idea that ‘if you build it, they will come,’ says Mustard. “But like the movie it comes from, that is a ‘field of dreams’ from a marketing perspective. So, owners and top execs are often just left wondering why the product isn’t garnering the attention it deserves and the product is not selling.”
Fortunately, all is not lost in the fight to break through the noise and be heard.
The solution for standing out and being remembered is radically simple, even if it seems a bit counterintuitive. To thrive in business today it is imperative to grab the attention of the prospect in an instant with a message that addresses a direct and immediate need like a sledgehammer, explains Mustard in his book, The Iconist, the Art and Science of Standing Out.
The message must also be utterly and brutally simple, yet big and bold enough to hit the prospect between the eyes and lodge in their mind instantly.
“You have an instant to grab a prospect’s attention or you will likely lose them forever,” explains Mustard. “The message must affect them before they even have a chance to process it. If not, they are already moving on to the next website and another company.”
Unfortunately, medical device manufacturers often lose the battle because the message is overly complicated, unfocused, and delivered with little or no repetition.
“Medical device inventors are inclined to promote all 25 features of the product,” says Mustard. “It often goes against the grain to strip down the message to the one bold statement that should be the lead of every interaction with potential customers.”
To stand out, capture attention, and imprint it in the mind, the message must also include oversized, bold images, or phrases that can be instantly understood. Finally, the message must address an emotional concern or even an immediate pain point.
“I compare it to a road sign,” explains Mustard. “You have to have a road sign that explains the benefit to the customer, and if that road sign corresponds to the need of the customer, they will get off at your exit.”
The next step is to repeat the message relentlessly like a drum, a never-ending mantra, at every contact point with the customer. Only then, will the message cut through the scarcity of attention and become an identifiable, even defining message for the company.
The challenge, however, is defining success as it relates to repetition. Often medical device manufacturers get a message out a few times and then wonder why, with the ‘repetition,’ the phones are not ringing off the hook. That is because true repetition is a matter of volume. It is not 5 messages delivered, but rather 80, or better yet, 800. It’s relentless and repetitive over time.
As for media channels, tried-and-true medical design and manufacturing publications remain some of the best tools for reaching targeted industrial audiences. When objective third parties are quoted, this type of feature article coverage can be one of the most powerful, credible forms of marketing today. It is only this type of “real” content that causes a buying decision.
As trade magazines continue to greatly expand their online content, that influence is only increasing. For the generation that searches for much of its information online, these articles can get more “eyes” on them than ever before, often appearing at the top of organic search engine rankings.
Trade magazines are also considered an authority, and it is very powerful when they publish an article that in some way mentions a product or service or tells the story of an application that solved a serious problem.
Today, medical device manufacturers are experiencing even more success by integrating articles and testimonials into social media, e-mail and web site campaigns. Combined, these efforts further increase the repetition of the message.
“Without a chorus effect, no one trusts the message, and no one will believe it,” explains Mustard. “Unless the authorities in the industry are saying the exact same thing at the exact same time, it will not cut through in a world overloaded with too much messaging.”
“The only way that medical device manufacturers and innovators can survive given the scarcity of attention from potential customers is to craft a simple, bold message and repeat it at every point of customer interaction,” he adds. “If you are not doing that, you are going backwards and depriving yourself — and others — of success.”
The Iconist, the Art and Science of Standing Out is available at Amazon.com and other outlets.