Lisa Bichsel, Founder, and CEO; Ellie Martinez, Digital Marketing and Operations Leader; Becca Kiel, Marketing Communications Leader, Bichsel Medical Marketing Group
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented thinking, especially when most traditional strategies have been upended, restricted, or eliminated. If we want to stay ahead of the curve, it's time to reinvent medical marketing. As Lisa Bichsel says, it's time to move from the "new normal" to the "next normal."
Bichsel is founder and CEO of Bichsel Medical Marketing Group (BMMG), a boutique healthcare-specific marketing firm that specializes in supporting medical device, biotech, and pharma start-ups with effective commercialization strategies and tactics. "We are at the forefront of helping MedTech companies develop and execute cogent plans to reach their target audiences," says Lisa.
BMMG has a long history of understanding and supporting targeted outreach, including successful execution of Voice of Customer research, product management, sales tool development, event management, digital marketing, and communication strategy for medical technology startups to build and strengthen their market presence.
"We remain flexible and adaptive to assess what's working and what's not, so we can course-correct as needed," said Bichsel. At this time of social distancing and virtual meetings, BMMG focuses on creating unique, strategic physician engagement programs for commercial teams to reach their audiences effectively.
Paving the Way toward Effective Medical Marketing for Today and Tomorrow
Perhaps one of the most innovative solutions that has come from BMMG -- one that's built on their industry knowledge and expertise -- is its recent white paper on "Reinventing Medical Marketing" in 2020 and beyond.
According to Lisa, companies need to get accustomed to the "next normal" and adopt more relevant marketing methods. "We had discussions with our various clients, spoke to HCPs from diverse specialties, devoured everything we could read, listen to, or watch regarding industry trends, and then did a lot of internal brainstorming to answer the lingering question: What does medical marketing for the future look like?" says Lisa.
"We looked at it from the perspective of our customers' customers," she says. "For BMMG, this is usually physicians, hospital administrators, and patients. So our focus was: How can medical device and biotech companies sell their products and make a big impact in their field?"
As it's difficult to know where to start, BMMG's team compiled five strategies in the white paper to help clients wade through the deep waters and proactively adapt to current circumstances.
First: In the absence of face-to-face trade shows, advisory board meetings, and hands-on workshops, how do physicians connect and network? How can they encourage and educate each other on new technology? BMMG's solution involves creating a virtual "Knowledge Exchange" program for peer-driven education and discussion about the innovations they're developing.
The second strategy involves staying relevant with empathetic content marketing and digital approaches to communicate directly with targeted customers and to support the sales team, since their hospital access has been restricted or removed.
To engage customers remotely and ultimately cultivate good clinical outcomes, BMMG's experts came up with a third strategy: Create innovative methods and tools to facilitate virtual product engagement that goes beyond traditional in-person conferences or meetings with sales reps.
BMMG's fourth strategy focuses on supporting a customer's interactions with patients. Effective patient communication is necessary to achieve patient satisfaction, clinical outcomes, and desired experiences. It involves providing physicians with functional outcomes data, as well as supporting and empowering patients and caregivers with educational resources to make informed decisions.
Finally, since medical device companies need to stand out from their peers -- particularly when hospital administrators are closely scrutinizing every budget item as they recover from loss of elective procedure revenue -- the last strategy from BMMG's white paper consists of elevating the significance of the company's product and positioning it as having high value to the health system. This includes talking to the C-suite and understanding what type of product/service would resonate most with their overall objectives and clinical needs. Following this, BMMG helps medical device companies demonstrate their overarching value and cost-effectiveness.
"We aim to provide immense value and actionable insights to medical marketers," states Becca Kiel, Marketing Communications Leader at BMMG.
Industry Veteran Marketers with Unparalleled Commercialization and Management Experience
We aren't a PR or ad agency. We are a team of experts with healthcare marketing backgrounds who have held the position of sales and marketing leadership and therefore are qualified to think like and understand the situation of our customers and effectively serve as a part of their internal team. We were them!
BMMG's story began in 2014 when Lisa found herself in a state of an ideological dilemma, after leading a very successful career as a healthcare marketer for commercialization activities in the medical device and biotech industries. Having witnessed or helped drive multiple small medical device startups' mergers and acquisitions first-hand as an employee, Lisa decided to halt this rinse-and-repeat cycle of working at start-ups through acquisition. She hung her own shingle in 2014 in an effort to remain focused on companies that in that start-up phase, laying the foundation of BMMG. She was soon joined by her husband Jerry Bichsel, the CFO and CTO of BMMG. Jerry credits Lisa for BMMG's immense success. "She was working as a healthcare marketer thirty-six years ago when we got married. Her long history of medical marketing background has helped BMMG become a renowned name today, known for supporting the startups aiming to take their innovations to market by assisting them with overall commercialization, market positioning, and HCP relations," says Jerry.
Lisa then hired their daughter, Lauren Dustman, who took a detour at another medical device company but again joined the company as a consultant and leader of their events service line. Dwelling upon her love for working in small medical device startup environments, Lisa has since then been tirelessly working towards pushing the envelope beyond provisioning conventional content marketing wisdom.
Under Lisa's leadership, BMMG's focus has always been on helping medical technology startups with scalable marketing, advertising, PR, and other critical aspects of commercialization, while they ultimately work towards their potential acquisition, merger, IPO, or other exit strategies. "We aren't just another company to consult or focus on PR, advertising, and communications, we are a fully staffed medical marketing department for hire—at your service," states Jerry.
According to Lisa, BMMG is a consortium of experienced healthcare marketing professionals, catering to varying needs of medical marketing or executive leadership. "We try to offer all the services that we would have had (or wanted) in our previous lives as heads of marketing," she says. BMMG takes great pride in assembling a group of talented individuals whom a commercial leader at a client company can lean on for interim product management, reimbursement insights, strategic planning, clinical study support, and scientific writing.
"We aren't a PR or ad agency. We are a team of experts with healthcare marketing backgrounds who have held the position of sales and marketing leadership and therefore are qualified to think like and understand the situation of our customers and effectively serve as a part of their internal team. We were them!" comments Lisa. With this experience, BMMG brings all the essential resource needs for marketers under one roof. "Nine times out of 10, (or arguably 10 times out of 10), we understand the client's situation and can share insights and best practices having been in their shoes," she adds.
In several instances, BMMG has assumed clients' marketing responsibilities by serving as their interim VP or a full-fledged marketing department, helping them maintain low a low FTE (full-time equivalent) count and making them attractive for future acquisition.
Jerry Bichsel, CFO and CTO; Lauren Dustman, Events Leader, Bichsel Medical Marketing Group
As a full-spectrum service provider, the company offers all services required by marketing heads, including research, surveys, social media and digital marketing, web design, broadcasts, graphic design, photography, and application development.
Out-of-the-Box Marketers: Making Marketing Worries 'a Thing of the Past'
Recognized as out-of-the-box marketers, BMMG has successfully assisted several clients in enhancing their go-to-market strategies. Recently, the company collaborated with a client—who was earlier relying on face-to-face interaction to discuss their diagnostic test—to design an alternate solution.
BMMG developed a website that allowed physicians to experience the technology by assessing a fictitious – yet realistic – patient situation, determining the need for therapeutic intervention, and deciding on a surveillance interval before they received the benefit of results from the company's new diagnostic test. The website also allowed physicians to repeat the assessment with results in hand to demonstrate how their treatment plan could be altered with additional intelligence offered by the client's AI solution. With this, the client was able to resume their operations in a more streamlined manner, and the success was attributed to BMMG's capability to understand clients' specific needs.
"We are at the forefront of helping MedTech companies develop (and execute) cogent plans for reaching their target audiences in this ‘new normal’ through several innovative tools, programs, and demand-generation activities," says Lisa Bichsel, Founder and CEO of BMMG"
"We work with a variety of clients on several different projects, from digital marketing, reimbursement, compliance, clinical trials, to sales tools. As a team, we collaborate internally on clients, procedures, disruptive technologies, and disease states. We are constantly learning and evolving – perhaps at an accelerated pace compared to working within a single medical company’s marketing department," says Becca.
This statement echoes the outcome of another core focus at BMMG - nurturing talent. "Our leadership encourages us to engage in interest-specific operations beyond our expertise, which helps us grow and advance. This cultivates a learning environment, and the broad background of our entire team enables us to have a 360-degree kind of approach to medical marketing perspective and strategies," explains Ellie Martinez, Digital Marketing and Operations Leader at BMMG.
On these remarks, Lauren offers, “One of the key elements in working with start-up organizations is that familial vibe. At BMMG, we work hard to carry that feeling over from our clients into our own work culture. From having contests, hosting virtual parties, sharing family pictures, to encouraging each other to get wellness checks (after all – we know a lot about many health maladies), the company has created a family-like work environment focused on individual growth.”
Tuned to Market Demands
Currently, cruising along the trajectory of rapid growth, BMMG has several expansion plans in its pipeline. With the zeal to add more value to clients' marketing operations, the company plans to enhance its operations and expand its in-house capabilities. BMMG recently added clinical staff (a doctor of public health and a practicing physician assistant), a reimbursement consultant, a Six Sigma Master Black Belt for research analytics, and a CRM administrator to its team, a rare and enviable collection of talent for a traditional marketing department.
"There is no magic pill or silver bullet for end-all marketing. We consider marketing as a symphony, where several factors come to play together. It is a lot more than a press release and a brochure for us. Therefore, we continue to remain adaptive and receptive to our customers' needs, bringing together all necessary elements to lead them toward success," concludes Lisa.