Maximizing Medtech Marketing with Key Opinion Leaders

Positive exposure from key opinion leaders is an important part of medical device marketing. How can device companies make the most of their KOL relationships?

July 20, 2015

6 Min Read
Maximizing Medtech Marketing with Key Opinion Leaders

Positive exposure from key opinion leaders is an important part of medical device marketing. How can device companies make the most of their KOL relationships?

Julie Wegman

Medical device companies invest heavily in training subject-matter experts (SMEs) and building relationships with key opinion leaders (KOLs) in order to establish themselves as thought leaders and provide peer-to-peer perspective on key topics pertaining to their specialties, therapeutic areas, and/or products. They are contracted to give talks, create content, assist with trials, get involved with grant funding, sit on advisory boards, and more. And they can be paid handsomely to do so.

Companies that manage KOLs are not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. They’re likely doing it to drive demand and preference for their products. However, these companies often start with the patient in mind and believe that the right way to get the message out about their products, the right way to target the right patients, and the right way to work with the right clinicians is through KOL engagement.

By creating collaborative relationships with these highly respected physicians or key influencers that drive opinion as speakers, authors, and researchers, you can build credibility and increase market share. Often these experts are speaking on behalf of a company or brand at industry events and to the press. Unfortunately, after spending thousands of dollars to get them to the podium and participate in a symposium, many times the talk or panel discussion is captured only in transcript form. Or even worse, a poorly recorded video with too much ambient noise and distractions. Is this how companies want their brands represented?

So how can medical device companies get more out of their subject-matter experts and key opinion leaders for marketing purposes?

Effective thought leadership is half subject-matter expertise and half promotion expertise. Assuming you have the best KOL for your topic, this valuable content can be captured and repurposed for content marketing purposes, sales meetings, and for use in advertising, digital and social media. So, after regulatory approval, mapping out a plan to exploit your KOL’s opinion or educational content in a timely manner is key.

There are three simple elements to consider for success in this process:

1. Ensure your message reaches your target audience.

This may seem basic, but it’s important to find ways to deliver the information in various formats, across a variety of platforms to ensure you’re meeting the informational needs and consumption patterns of your targeted clinicians or patients. Not everyone bothers to download a podcast or white paper. The new generation of physicians and consumers is all about rich media. They want the ability to interact, collaborate, or easily share. This is all good for your engagement and return on investment (ROI) metrics, of course.

2. Sight, sound, and motion are by far the most effective ways to engage.

In today’s multimedia world, people lose interest easily . . . even with well-written marketing material. That’s where video content comes in. It’s just more easily consumed. And, frankly, some KOLs aren’t willing to spend time writing or may not be very good at it, so speaking may be their preferred form of communicating. Speaking is a great way to share their expertise and opinions.

If produced well, a video is a great way to carry a complex message and promote your KOL’s subject and, ultimately, your company. Heavy text on a zillion presentation slides can be deadly, even to a scientific audience. Videos should be well-produced and edited to avoid the same issue. Research has shown that if the content is relevant to the audience, clinicians will watch for 7–10, even 20 minutes. Patient videos should consist of more sound bites that can be easily consumed in shorter periods.

Motion graphics and photos should be used to help demonstrate or visualize the point or argument and complement the audio discussion.

If your video content can demonstrate how adept the KOL is at explaining complex issues, or that he or she has a unique perspective on how your medical device helps patients AND saves time and/or money, there is a greater chance that prospective customers will consider your company.

3.Promoting or building awareness that the content exists is essential, as the old adage of “build it and they will come” is still NOT true.

Whether you’re shooting a video of your KOL or he or she is coauthoring a paper, promoting that content and letting your audiences know where it resides or how to view it is key to further leveraging your KOL investment.

What better message can your banner ad carry than to see an expert’s opinion by clicking here, now? In fact, imbedding a clip of the video into a banner ad can increase click-through rates by up to 25% or more. Increasingly, more and more medical or clinical sites are able to handle rich media formats rather than just static banner ads.

Featuring text ads that are contextually pushed when clinicians or patients are researching your topics, or the KOL’s name in a paid search campaign will efficiently drive traffic to your website or landing page to view the content.

Of course, the beauty of a digital campaign is that it is easily optimized for better ROI and you can see the results of those efforts almost immediately.

  • Adding a video to a landing page can increase conversion by as much as 80% versus those with just static content.  

  • Adding video to LinkedIn or YouTube can deliver thousands or even hundreds of thousands of impressions.

The KOL is held in high esteem by those who follow or accept his or her opinions. In fact, KOLs are seen to have more influence than the media or sales people because they are seen as trustworthy and nonpurposive. The feeling of thought manipulation does not arise in the case of KOLs as they pride themselves on being unbiased with no commercial motives. For this reason, KOLs stand out in their reach and in their respective domains.

So most will agree that KOLs and SMEs are vital for a product's success factor throughout its life cycle. But when the cost for a KOL to lead an advisory panel can be upwards of $2,500 or to deliver a scientific speech at $3,000+ in T&E expenses, it only makes sense to capture and leverage that content in a marketing campaign that can live beyond that one day event and drive broader influence and, ultimately, ROI for your brand.

Julie Wegman is director of the Healthcare practice at Martino Flynn.


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