Posted by Anne Piessens

Walk around the floor of a big orthopedic conference like AAOS and you could easily think you’ve wandered into the hardware aisle at Home Depot. Rows of metal screws, mallets, drills and electric saws are neatly arrayed on display stands. It’s a reminder of just how manual and physically demanding surgery can be.

A sales rep for an orthopedic medical device firm clued me in. “It takes a lot of strength to insert a replacement hip,” he said. “You really have to angle it just right and hammer it in. That’s why a lot of the hip surgeons are big guys. I see lots of former jocks in orthopedics.”

This was interesting. I never would have connected a doctor’s size to his clinical specialty.

We tend to think of professions like doctor, lawyer, teacher as monolithic. But each contains numerous jobs, which people gravitate to for a surprising variety of reasons.

For example, some physicians are motivated by detective work (diagnosis), others by action (procedures). My mother has strong problem-solving skills and visual acuity but didn’t really like spending time with patients. Like many other introverts, she became a pathologist.

One of the big mistakes medical marketers make is not going deep enough to understand their targets. Doctors are not all alike. Take orthopedics. As the sales rep explained to me, “hip guys” are different from “trauma jockeys.” Hip guys tend to like the predictability of their routines: clinic two days per week, O.R. the rest of the week. Three operations scheduled per surgery day. Home by 6 p.m.

Trauma surgeons, on the other hand, thrive on the challenge of figuring out how to patch up people who may be broken in startling ways. They’re the ones who take hospital calls at all hours. They look at shattered bones as intriguing puzzles, and are creative in how they knit those fragments back together. (Back when I worked with medical device client DePuy Trauma, a key marketing strategy was to tap into that sense of resourcefulness by pointing out the flexibility of DePuy’s products.)

This isn’t to say that hip replacement specialists don’t enjoy the adrenaline rush of patching someone up. Or that trauma specialists don’t welcome the routine case now and again. But knowing what motivates them in the first place goes a long way toward figuring out what your product means to them, and ultimately connecting them to your brand.


Topics: B2Me, Strategy, Copywriting