10 Ways to Botch a Medical Device Launch

Several years ago, we were asked to consult on the launch of a troubled medical device, one that had cost millions to develop. Our first step was to assess doctor demand for the product through qualitative and quantitative research. The results were stark and conclusive. Not one doctor in the study said they would purchase the device at any price. The launch and the product were scratched.

View work from our medical division at Ideopia Medical Marketing.

So why do launches of new medical devices fail? Are the products not innovative? Are they too expensive? Did you lift off too close to the holidays? Those are rarely the root cause, but our list below maps out some of the key troublemakers.

  1. Ignore the distributor, doctor and patient. Medical devices are rooted in science and engineering. But market acceptance is driven by consumer insight and education. Consult your distribution network, and doctors who you don’t pay as KOLs. Apply what you learn to products in development, and uncover the need for new devices.
  2. Let R&D propaganda drive the marketing. They’re undoubtedly jazzed about their new widget’s performance. But that doesn’t guarantee the market will feel the same way. Determining an effective strategy depends on finding out what the end user, or decision maker, values. Test the prototype with your target. Listen. Repeat.
  3. Starve the marketing. You only get to be new and shiny once. Make it count. Your new product needs sustained support not just for the launch period, but for months afterwards. And, you can’t do it with just journal advertising anymore. You must employ multiple tactics that work in sync in your sales funnel.
  4. Launch a bum product. Pushing a product out the door before it’s ready will cost you dearly. You’ll pay to make it right, the product will never reach its potential, and the damage to your brand will be exorbitant. You’ll pay all over again when your next product launch is greeted with skepticism.
  5. Underestimate the competitive response. If you’re lucky and your product is worthy, it should provoke jealousy, fear and hatred from your competitors. Assume that you have more leakers than the White House, and that your competition is preparing for your launch with the same intensity as you are. Prepare your sales force to counter the flak and misinformation. Otherwise, rumor becomes reality.
  6. Hype it ‘til you’re hoarse. New products rarely live up to their hype, which makes them ultimately disappointing. Again, think to the future, and consider the credibility of your next hype fest. If you want brand love, be authentic. Show it through the story of your product and the people who are passionate about it.
  7. Play games with the price. Introductory offers are a tell that every doctor, distributor and buyer recognizes as: A. You don’t have confidence in the value of the product. B. You consider the real price too expensive. Both of them will come back to bite you in the haunches when it’s time to deliver margin.
  8. Launch without adequate inventory. This seems obvious, but it happens. Especially when manufacturing, management or accounting don’t share your confidence in the product, and hesitate to invest in inventory. Your introduction may go flawlessly your reputation will never recover from the inability to deliver product. Instead, you’ll lose orders, and give competitors time to catch up.
  9. Ignore aesthetics and ergonomics. Too many new medical devices come out of the chute looking like science experiments. Your innovation might be brilliant, but leaving out details like smart design and ergonomics leave the end user with a “blah” instead of a “wow” experience.
  10. Don’t believe. Deep down, you know this new product is a goat. You don’t need to say a word. Your cynicism or fake enthusiasm will poison your sales force and customers. Maybe you do have a dud on your hands, but you, as the leader, should not cement its fate. Speak truth to power. Get another job. Bad products and bad launches reflect on you, too.

Learn more at our medical division website, Ideopia Medical Marketing.

People who read this post also read “Does your Healthcare Brand Have the Blues?”

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Put a Sock In It and Listen.

What you’re missing if you’re not listening.

My anchor for listening dates back to editing audio in radio. Alone in an edit bay, I not only listened to the content of what people said, but how they said it. Are they afraid, angry, sarcastic, overjoyed, or just flat lining it?  The emotions spoke more to me than the words. I felt empathy for these people, and I felt like I truly understood them.

That sounds nice, but in real life, I’m not a good listener.  But I’d like to think I’m a recovering terrible listener.  Self awareness is the first step, right?  Before you pat yourself on the back and move on to a much sexier blog post about analytics and marketing automation, see if you agree with any of these statements.

  • I usually start meetings with a monologue about my ideas.
  • When people ask me what somebody said in a meeting, I have no idea what they’re talking about.
  • While other people talk, I see my favorite video game in my head.
  • What other people have to say is boring.
  • And, of course, I’m just plain smarter than everyone else.

Yeah, I thought so. You need help, pal. Start by remembering a moment in your life that you absolutely  know you were listening. A doctor giving you news about a loved one. What the cop muttered when he handed you a ticket for doing 75 m.p.h. in a school zone.

Imagine if you could have that experience in a meeting, or a quick chat in your office. If you truly listen,  the chances that the other person will listen to you and cooperate zoom up exponentially. I’m sure you’re already stuffed with articles about active listening, neurolinguistic programming, body language, and facial tics that give away liars. I would guess that people who are naturally good listeners don’t need those tools.

This brings me to my pet peeve. Fake listening. The people who’ve taken one too many seminars, but have never actually done it. They’re easy to spot, too, by their bobbling encouraging heads, and active listening murmurs,  uhmms, and making just a little too much eye contact.  “Yes, we’re listening to you,  but please finish babbling so we can fire up our PowerPoint deck, so we can finally tell you how special we are.”

To be honest, I can be a faker, too. And some situations demand it, e.g. when you’re on the dias with a keynote speaker who is droning on oblivious to the glazed eyes of his audience.

Information is cheap. We don’t need to talk about your LinkedIn profile. I read it. Tell me something meaningful, and I’ll do my best to listen.

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Websites and Eco Promotion Win Awards

Print isn’t a flashy buzzword like marketing automation or native advertising, but in the hands of a great agency, it’s still an ROI monster. A trio of readership awards Ideopia just won for Haag-Streit USA confirms this.

Our new campaigns for Octopus and Tonosafe medical devices were named the top attention-getting ads in three healthcare publications: Review of Optometry, Review of Ophthalmology and Ophthalmic Professional Magazines.

“Excellent ad. I actually did not know these were available and in less than 15 seconds I wanted to order them,” said one doctor about Tonosafe, which helps protect patients from disease.

“Eye catching,” said another, reaffirming the value of bold, fresh work that stands out – especially in medical where EVERYTHING is blue, or draped in white coats.

Show Me the ROI

Curious about how readership studies work? Publishers email readers and ask them to describe and rate ads based on criteria like stopping power, information and believability.

Sure, they aren’t purely objective (what is?), but they’re one of the best ways to measure the effectiveness of print work, hear direct feedback from customers, and see how it stacks up against the competition.

Ideopia’s hybrid marketing can stretch your budget even further and boost ROI by pairing print campaigns with digital and social media.

Learn more at our medical division website, Ideopia Medical Marketing.

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Ideopia Wins Medical Marketing Awards

Ideopia competed with more than 3,000 entrants to win two Gold and two Bronze Medals at the 2014 Aster Awards, which recognize creative accomplishments in medical marketing. And the winners are:

Reliance Medical Products (Mason, OH) — Gold for magazine “Legendary Campaign” for examination chairs

Eyefficient, Inc. (Cleveland Ohio) — Bronze for Eyefficient.com web and mobile sites.

Reichert Technologies (Buffalo, NY) — Gold for “Blink Blog” and email newsletter.

Reichert Technologies — Bronze for magazine “Animal Campaign”

We thank the Asters, the Academy, the Jamaican Bobsled team, and the great clients who work with us as true partners: Steve Juenger, vp of marketing and sales, Haag-Streit USA; and Mark Newkirk in his roles as Director of Global Marketing for Reichert Technologies; and more recently as CEO of Eyefficient, Inc.

See our Aster award winning entries on our WavyBrainy blog.

Learn more at our medical division website, Ideopia Medical Marketing.

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Beer Floats for Better Beer Ads

Beer Float

Beer floats are the watering hole where dessertniks and hipster beer drinkers can find common ground. Here’s the concept, scoop out 4 ounces of ice cream (who’s counting?) into a glass and pour beer over it. Drink. If you need to write a few beer ads, now’s the time to let it flow

While sipping a Heinefee Coffeeken, a concoction of Heineken and HäagenDazs® coffee-flavored ice cream, a pleasant buzz will give way to a brighter world, and tolerance of the other side of the aisle. Or, you might want to guzzle the whole thing in a single gulp.

The blog, Beer Floats, has researched some of the best pairings for us, like “Martina’s Blue Moon Orange Crush,” and one of my favorites, “Hope Floats,” made with Boddington’s and vanilla ice cream.

See all of our drink recipes here.

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The Sparkler Cocktail: Celebrate Your Brand


Were you Made in America? Then it’s time to celebrate your brand. Make every day the Fourth of July and rock your taste buds with the patriotic boom of vodka, Pop Rocks candy and fresh fruit. For youngsters, hold the liquor and serve a Virgin Sparkler.

  • 4 oz. lemon lime soda
  • 2 oz. blueberry-flavored vodka
  • Handful fresh strawberries and blueberries (see the theme here?)
  • 1 tbsp. grenadine
  • Garnish rim with 1 package crushed Pop Rocks (red or blue, of course)
  • Serve over ice
  • Tweet Ideopia, or post all drunken selfies on our Facebook

Get the full recipe here. It sure beats the chintzy local fireworks show.

See all of our drink recipes here.

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The Easy Squeezy Branding Beerita


  • 1 (12 fluid once) can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 12 fluid ounces tequila
  • 12 fluid ounces of water
  • 12 fluid ounces of beer
  • Ice
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Use beer and join the fight to eradicate frilly fluorescent green margaritas. And for once, we recommend


using craft beer, because it has flavor, and that could mess up the tequila. Use the limeade can to measure the ingredients. Adjust with extra water if the mixture seems too sweet. Or add more tequila. Strain the pulp, unless, you’re really into pulp.

See all of our drink recipes here. Meanwhile, have you noticed how your marketing sings through these Beerita Goggles?

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Ideopia Wins 2014 Aster Awards for Creative Medical Marketing

Ideopia, the Hybrid Agency, was awarded multiple Asters for advertising created for its clients in the medical industry. Ideopia won four awards for three separate clients, including print campaigns, blog and email marketing, and web development.

Ideopia received awards in the following categories:

  • Gold in the Magazine Category for its “Legendary Campaign” for Reliance Medical Products in Mason, Ohio.
  • Gold in the E-Newsletter Category for “Blink Blog” for Reichert Technologies in Buffalo, New York.
  • Bronze  in the Magazine Category for Reichert Technologies for its “Animal” campaign.
  • Bronze in the Website Category for Eyefficient, Inc. in Aurora, Ohio, for its website.

Click images to enlarge

“By working together, our creative team and our clients are able to craft exciting and innovative advertising,” said Bill Abramovitz, CEO and Creative Director of Ideopia. “It’s rewarding to see our work recognized by our peers in the industry.”

The Aster Awards is one of the largest national competitions of its kind and recognizes the most talented healthcare marketing professionals for outstanding excellence in advertising. The 2014 Aster Awards received over 3,000 entries from around the world.

Entries for each category are judged by a panel of design and healthcare marketing professionals on Creativity, Layout/Design, Typography, Production, Quality, and Overall Effectiveness. First, second and third-place winners receive Gold, Silver and Bronze awards.

About Ideopia

Founded in 1990 Ideopia, the Hybrid Agency, is an integrated marketing agency that partners with clients to achieve long-term goals through interactive marketing, web development, social media, public relations and advertising. Ideopia is headquartered in Cincinnati but lives in the cloud at ideopia.com.

Learn more at our medical division website, Ideopia Medical Marketing.

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Medical Marketing is Drowning in a Sea of Blue

In college, a friend gave me William Gass’s novel, “On Being Blue.” He made the color sparkle in ways you can only imagine. But it’s safe to say Gass didn’t work in healthcare marketing.

View our medical and healthcare work at Ideopia Medical Marketing.

Now when I see blue, I see red. It’s the color cocaine of our healthcare and medical device industries. Blue is cool and calming, but – please pay attention here – it’s not a brand. Some CMOs claim that their blue is better, because it’s a few shades away from a competitor.

In healthcare marketing, blue is camouflage for brands that don’t want to stick out, or get noticed by consumers. Of course, it makes perfect sense for institutions plagued with tepid claims like “We care more,” “Be Well,” or my favorite, “We’re the Gold Standard.”

Consumers want reasons to like your hospital or institution. And they’re desperate to understand your brand in pragmatic terms: “We have more board certified orthopedic surgeons,” “ We’re the hospital for kids,” or “Our device is the most sensitive on the market.” We care more? I don’t think so.

Unfortunately blue is a symptom of the brand blahs. It’s a safe place for designers and marketers to play, because the nuts and bolts of a competitive position just aren’t there.

Breaking out of blue isn’t easy. Chances are the decision was made decades ago when you were still scrawling with crayons. Can we please address this by adding new colors to your palette to balance big blue?

Try a pinch of pink with blue, electric blue and blue, or blue with a dab of yellow. It’s a small gesture that could yield big results. Look at the sea of blue booths at trade shows, and consumer facing websites, print, TV, email, logos. Use it, and blue hoo, you’ll give your customers a reason to pay attention to your marketing and they’ll remember when the time comes,  “Take my baby to the hospital with the streak of pink!”

Related: 8 Risky Healthcare Marketing Procedures

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Ideopia Earns Healthcare Marketing Awards

Cincinnati, OH (May 3, 2012) — For the second year in a row, the Cincinnati-based creative branding agency Ideopia won honors for its healthcare advertising. The agency earned Gold Aster Awards in two categories: magazine advertising and mobile applications. The Gold Awards place Ideopia among the top 5% nationwide for advertising excellence, according to the Aster Award’s organization.

The winning magazine campaign on behalf of Reliance Medical Products leverages the company’s history of hand crafting its products in America. It calls on doctors to consider the U.S. economy when they make their purchasing decisions. Reliance has manufactured ophthalmic exam chairs and instrument stands in Ohio since 1898, sourcing most of the materials from vendors within 50-miles of its Mason, OH factory. Below the interactive portion of the campaign is also shown.

“Great advertising moves the meter,” said Ideopia’s Creative Director Bill Abramovitz. “Our marketing strategies for Reliance Medical have helped to fuel 21 consecutive years of double-digit growth for that organization.”

For New Jersey-based Topcon Medical Systems, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi, Ideopia created a mobile app that qualifies prospects by guiding them through five simple questions. It was designed for use during sales calls and at medical conferences, where the cost of staffing a booth has made it imperative for sales teams to use their time effectively. The Qualifier App works on iPads and is also available through Topcon’s website.

“The app works because it’s good for doctors and for Topcon,” explained Abramovitz. “It lets doctors determine for themselves whether Topcon’s Synergy software is the right next step for their practice. It avoids the relationship misstep of pushing a product to a practice that does not have the infrastructure to get the most benefit from it.”

A panel of judges chose Ideopia’s work from approximately 3,000 entries. Ads were evaluated based on creativity, layout and design, functionality, message effectiveness, production quality and overall appeal. Ideopia and its ads will be featured in the magazine Marketing Healthcare Today.

About Ideopia
Founded in 1992 Ideopia Advertising and Interactive is an advertising, public relations, web design and social media agency that believes in branding without boundaries. With headquarters in Cincinnati, Ideopia lives in the cloud at www.ideopia.com.

Learn more at our medical division website, Ideopia Medical Marketing.

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