Further Hazards Crossing the River of MDM Marketing Challenges

Kendall Matthews
Feb 28, 2019 7:00:00 AM

By Kendall Mathews

The tale of the fox and the gingerbread man can teach us a lot about medical device manufacturer (MDM) and health product company marketing challenges through its allegory of trust and ownership. Many companies start with the best intentions, but things can easily get off course when they aren’t fully guided by owning the responsibility of fulfilling consumer trust. While the fox starts with bad intentions, company marketing challenges are rooted in unconscious missteps that often involve the following mentalities:

  • One-size-fits-all marketing approach
  • Company silos that inhibit the holistic use of customer viewpoints
  • Inconsistent multi-channel communication
  • Insufficient agent training and tools in customer support
  • A pursuit of sales at all costs

In this article, we’ll look at how this manifests in three broad areas:

  1. Poor product efficacy research fulfillment
  2. Undefined customer ethics
  3. Segmentation as it relates to customer data management

Examining each one shows how these areas lead to marketing challenges that can negatively affect compliance, branding, and the bottom line.

Research, Ethics and Transparent Marketing Honesty

It’s common for research backed by scientific studies to support product information, website content, and other multi channel marketing efforts. The challenges arise in how companies gather, present, and use researched content.

The FDA recently issued its final regulatory guidance documents on Medical Product Communications designed to provide marketing guidance for labeling, research efficacy, and marketing. In addition to this non-binding guidance on research efficacy, truthfulness, and applicability, the following approaches can avoid a host of ethical and compliance marketing challenges:

  • Making research content easily accessible and understandable on the website via back links
  • Incorporating it into customer support and other communication channels where appropriate

 True product marketing success requires going beyond the basics of ethical marketing practices. Companies can inadvertently fall short of accepted ethical standards while meeting regulatory compliance guidelines and policies. For example, research studies about outcomes and product abilities have to be very specific so as not to make a broad claim that may meet general standards of truth but are misleading to the broader audience.

Proper Segmentation: Marketing Challenges of Testimonial and User Data

There are two main issues with marketing that relies on gathered information from end users such as testimonials or user questions and challenge communications: securing incoming data and anonymization for proper segmentation.

To use customer data as a marketing tool, companies must have a way to strip all personal information from the data through anonymization to protect customer privacy per regulations like HIPAA and others. The goal of data segmentation is to ensure only the necessary and legal portions of user data are distributed to marketing for campaign use.

Healthcare product and MDM companies routinely utilize testimonials from customers, which can be another major marketing challenge. This brings us to the exchange of data from the customer to the company with direct communication.

This may be through a call center, forms, an online portal, social media, email, the device itself, or other means. You want to create better content for your users by asking them questions, but this can create an incoming data challenge around privacy and usability. Users may include specific disease state info, other PHI and PII info when responding across channel interactions.

Companies need to have systems in place to protect data as it comes in via the different channels and strip out PHI and PCI to ensure regulatory compliance for HIPAA, PCI-DSS and SOX among others. This requires the following approaches as a minimum:

  • The use of data privacy tools such as next gen firewalls and access restrictions for stored data
  • Advanced encryption tools for incoming data to the company network
  • Marketing opt in measures to give customers control
  • Defined data access controls and technology

 One challenge healthcare product and MDM companies face are integrating a process to strip out private data so the rest can be utilized by the content/marketing/sales team. Anonymization of data is done in various ways including deletion, encryption, generalization, and a host of others. Once completed the data can be segmented into different forms such as a word cloud that can be provided to the content team.

Safe Passage through marketing currents

True customer care requires integration of regulations and ad policies into the business culture. This approach avoids many marketing challenges by creating an atmosphere where regulatory guidelines are understood rather than feared.  

A holistic approach of compliance, authenticity, research, ethics, and segmentation positions the company as the thought leader and “source of the source” for educational research. By creating a marketing approach based on these areas to shape the customer journey, healthcare product and MDM companies can ensure that everyone makes it to the other side of the marketing river safely with the outcomes they need.

About the Author

Kendall E. Matthews is a Technology Strategy Advisor for growing businesses. He brings more than a decade of experience in helping companies grow through strategic marketing initiatives. Today, he lends his expertise to help businesses and franchises secure the right scalable and secure technology. A graduate of Purdue University, he has won three American Marketing Association Spectrum awards, won a district-wide competition in Toastmasters for public speaking, writes creative fiction and enjoys hiking. He offers owners and executives free checklists and easy-to-follow resource guides at