Category: Web/Tech
May 30th, 2018

Four ways Medical Device Marketers can win in 2018.

For the last 15 years device marketing has been big business at the Mortar. As an agency on the forefront of technology and healthcare marketing, we took a step back and asked ourselves what we would do if we were the VP Marketing or Chief Marketing Officer. Here’s four things we believe most medical device–hell, healthcare–marketers miss:

A big market attracts Big Tech. So maybe you should get into bed with Amazon.

Healthcare spending is huge. Massive. After weapons, we spend more on our health than any other item. The biggest market is here in the USA. But the rest of the world is following along fast. And why? Because we all want to live longer and eat more cheeseburgers. Call it the pursuit of the fountain of youth or simply just a desire to keep sinning, healthcare is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs seeking to make their mark on the planet.

For evidence, look no further than Jeff Bezos’ Amazon. Amazon is already well down the medical device path. It has sold supplies and equipment to clinics and hospitals for years, and is now looking to build out that business by bringing its Alexa artificial intelligence (AI) business into the operating room.  It is one thing to compete with an Abbott or a Baxter. It is quite another entirely to feel Big Tech giants like Amazon breathing down your neck.

But are most medical marketing chiefs running in fear of intrusion by Amazon? The more contrarian move would be to understand Amazon’s deep-seated desire to be a healthcare leader–and play into that strategy.

Your patients are learning to ask more questions. But are you thinking of them as connected customers?

We are increasingly customers first and patients second. Healthcare marketing is pushing us to ask doctors to do what we want, and many consumers are refusing to settle for what their doctor thinks is best. Large numbers of smart consumers are on the verge of not trusting what their doctor tells them.

Rising expectations in the face of inefficiency and an unwillingness to change are the perfect conditions for innovation to thrive (look no further than Uber and the Taxi industry).

And yet, in their conversations with us, most large medical device makers discount the impact of innovation from new players, secure in their ability to buy and integrate promising technologies into existing product channels. That is a dangerous position to occupy for too long. And it can certainly prove expensive in the long-term as behemoths come to realize the full impact of nimble rivals.

Traditionally, the big buy the small. And Big Medical is no stranger to snapping-up promising innovators. But big device marketers do not need to wait for the M&A guys to encourage their product managers to adopt new innovations like machine learning and AI. Where are the integrations with the genetics players? What about using consumer applications to give healthcare professionals and families access to better care by smoothing communication and networking? Customers want more ways to connect with their doctor, on their own schedule, and when it suits them.

Designers need to think hard about how consumers differ from patients–and build those features into their business models.

In a connected community, dumb devices are well, dumb.

The network is available to more and it can do far more. Partners, providers, internal teams, insurers, patients, prospects: we are all connected and our community is linked together in new and surprising ways. Still, most devices are dumb and were designed for single use and not to talk to one another or to us.

That’s changing fast. Our work for Vital Connect, a mobile, super-accurate, FDA approved biosensor, has now become the backbone of a solution connecting physicians to their patients everywhere and all-the-time. Increasingly our community demands that our devices talk to one another, to our physician and to us.

However, many modern device makers are much more comfortable selling business-to-business style to physicians, and far less adept at marketing (like say Apple or Google) to connected professionals and consumers. Could someone like Vital add a voice assistant, a healthcare database and modern AI to treat common ailments and keep patients out of clinics and hospitals—you know they can.

Hardware companies are becoming software companies. And that means you are in the App business.

Driven by those seeking to exploit the cloud, machine learning, genetics; technology is fast changing healthcare. Which means we need to think very differently about the devices we create and how we tell the market about them.

Another Mortar client, Varian, is known as a global healthcare hardware innovator. Yet the giant of Radiation Oncology markets multiple software solutions that connect Varian machines to the clinical team, to the braintrust (the Tumor Board) and other institutions, so caregivers can share the best treatment plans; in that sense Varian is taking the first steps to becoming a kind of network for cancer care professionals.

Elsewhere in our portfolio, Cisco’s “Network. Intuitive.” (another Mortar project) demonstrated the power of converting millions of dumb devices into a digital fabric of organic, learning machines that can continually adapt to changing conditions. Very soon that same machine lace will carry more of the burden for diagnostics and healthcare delivery. As start-ups like Doctors On Demand demonstrate, that same network has already replaced one million face-to-face consultations with virtual patient assessments conduced on a laptop or tablet.

Every device player is a software company whether they like it or not. And of course every software company should have a place on the iPhone. Med device marketers have long passed the point of needing smart and robust apps. The harder part is what comes with app development: learning to think and act like a software company–which requires reengineering how teams approach innovation. And the now dawning realization that the app may actually be the product. (More on that in later posts).

The belief that healthcare and device innovation lags popular technology like Apple, Google and Facebook by at least 10 years is widely held in Silicon Valley. But as healthcare spending continues to bloom, and successive administrations attempt to reign in public spending, the winners will be those pushing hardest to integrate new tech with their products, actively courting innovation to narrow the gap between today’s technology and tomorrow’s bedside.

February 6th, 2015

Qumulo’s Getting Loads of Attention Over…Nothing?

Nah. It’s definitely something. Something HUGE. We just can’t tell you what it is. What we can tell you is that we’ve been working with startup Qumulo over the past year to brand their upcoming software product. And very soon, they’ll be introducing a revolutionary new approach to enterprise storage. And this is the delightfully cryptic teaser site we created for them. Now we’re gonna have to kill you. Sorry.

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Qumulo recently received $40 million in funding, and the press is all atwitter about it—Forbes, Fortune, WSJ, GigaOm, TechCrunch, and more. Pretty impressive, considering the product hasn’t even launched yet. Keep up the mystery, guys. You make the CIA look like Perez Hilton.

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November 6th, 2014

Did We Just Anthropomorphize a Log? Yes, Yes We Did.

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If you’re the kind of person who ever buys stuff, you’ll want to check out ShopAtHome.com. At any given time, the site features thousands of coupons, discounts and cash back offers, with deals at more than 50,000 stores. So not only can you save money on clothes, shoes, plane tickets, toys, computers, and more—you also get cash back on top of that.

Despite having a lot to offer, ShopAtHome.com had little brand awareness. They needed an original, distinctive brand personality that would put them on the map. So they asked Mortar to concept their holiday campaign.

The cash back aspect was what made their story interesting. Sure, giving gifts at the holidays is great. But let’s be honest: Everyone also likes getting a little something back for themselves. We had an opportunity to speak to mall-worn shoppers who were constantly getting burned during the holidays, paying full price for gifts and feeling like a dolt about it. And the idea of being selfish was real and honest—a sharp contrast from the usual ad clutter of picture-perfect moms and saccharine Christmas cheer.

But how could we promote the idea of being selfish without coming off as totally greedy? We mulled. We brainstormed. We wassailed. And then, in a quiet manger underneath the Bay Bridge, Yulie the Yuletide Log was born.

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Meet Yulie. He’s excitable, a little bit nervous, and too shy to talk. And ever since Yulie discovered ShopAtHome.com, he’s become an online shopping nut. This holiday he’s been buying insane amounts of gifts for his friends—they have no idea why, but they’re not complaining. Little do they know for every gift Yulie buys, he saves huge and gets cash back. Thanks to ShopAtHome.com, Yulie won’t get burned every holiday: Instead, he’ll make bank.

To bring Yulie’s story to life, we polished our vocal chords and crafted a good old-fashioned jingle.

Our creative intent was to evoke the cozy, nostalgic feel of the Rankin/Bass stop-motion holiday classics, then contrast that with our modern, offbeat character. Since we were targeting a younger audience, we made Yulie’s character a bit absurd with a penchant for frantic, gif-like movements. Wrap it all up in a frighteningly catchy song, and you’ve got a Christmas nondenominational holiday miracle. By making Yulie the selfish, clever, slightly manipulative one, we can all live out those unbecoming-but-oh-so-human qualities through him.

Pre-roll video and banners are live on EllenTV.com, NBC.com, Hulu, People.com, RealSimple.com, and more. We’re halfway through the campaign, and results have been phenomenal. Click-through rate is 21% higher than the industry average. Cost-per-response is 10 times lower than the campaign goal. And brand awareness has grown dramatically, based on year-over-year Google searches for ShopAtHome.com branded terms. Which reminds us that the best part of making goals is meeting them. And exceeding them is icing on the fruitcake.

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June 30th, 2014

Pop It Like It’s Hot.

We love surprises. And a pop-up store for a cloud computing platform qualifies as a surprise in our book. Amazon Web Services has set up shop at 925 Market Street, offering educational workshops, laidback coding lounges, and an “Ask an Architect” counter where you can do exactly what it sounds like. Apparently the bouncer is choosy, so we snuck some pics for those of you who aren’t suave enough to make it past the door.

Turning a virtual product into something you can see, hear, and touch? That’s a smart move. And it never hurts to provide mountains of junk food and beer to win those coders’ hearts.

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June 4th, 2014

Exploratorium the for Work Our Out Check.

Over the past few months, we’ve journeyed with the Exploratorium from the strategy phase to creative execution, and man-oh-man what a sweet ride it’s been. The people who work there are so flippin’ smart, we get butterflies when they speak. For those not privy, the Exploratorium is a museum unlike any other museum. Part science, part art, and centered around interactive exhibits, it’s a full-blown cognitive and sensory experience – no matter what age you are.

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The museum recently relocated to Pier 15. Stunning architecture and avant-garde outdoor exhibits draw you before you even step inside. 

As you might predict, the Exploratorium is a haven for families with kids. But on Thursday nights, the museum is open exclusively to adults 18 and over for $10-15, a discount off the regular $25. Basically, you pay less, you’re allowed to drink alcohol while touching everything in sight, and you don’t need to take down a mob of five-year-olds just to see the concave mirror exhibit. It’s clearly a win-win-win.

We knew the Exploratorium wanted to promote their Thursday night events. We also knew that their exhibits play with perception, presenting the world in ways you’ve never seen it before. So we created ads that do just the same. It was almost too easy. (Just kidding. Nothing we do is easy. Except Spoonrocket. That ish off the hook.)

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The posters are currently up at Muni stops, BART stations, as well as thousands of local store and restaurant windows. Also running are the following radio spots on Pandora. We hear Yoda is a huge fan.

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Exploratorium, “Perception Flipped #1”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Exploratorium, “Perception Flipped #2”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

For the optimal viewing experience, continuously rotate your computer screen 180 degrees.

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The next time your Thursday night plan involves Blokus and a 72-ounce Gatorade, haul your rear to Pier 15 instead and experience the transcendent wonder that is the Exploratorium. You really have to see it to understand it. And even then, mystery a still is it.