In late 2020, investors’ deal-making with biotech and med device Startups had gone up to 60% of what they invested in 2020, as found in a McKinsey global report. Despite the COVID-19 economic hardships, the biotech and med device industries were surging with innovation, particularly in the United States, Europe, and China, followed by other regions.
But in the midst of accelerating growth, how likely is it for these healthcare start-ups – to create value in the future? Responding to the question, investors suggest, “They may have to improve their marketing execution, to maintain strong growth.”
For healthcare start-ups to raise their tide of growth in biotech and med device markets and elevate their marketing execution, engaging with a commercial partner who specializes in the unique circumstances of early-stage companies is a solid strategy. One such firm, Bichsel Medical Marketing Group (BMMG), is translating scientific promises into business performance for MedTech startups.
As BMMG CEO, Lisa Bichsel, would tell you, “There are subtleties that make commercial planning and execution for an early-stage medical innovator very different than even an established small- to mid-sized MedTech company.” Understanding those distinctive needs and challenges is the purpose of BMMG. The company has become able to provide timely, affordable service –making healthcare startups attractive to future acquisition and investor funding.
Let’s dive further into who BMMG is and how they are helping improve healthcare startup marketing execution.
Lisa, kindly brief us about Bichsel Medical Marketing Group and the inspiring story behind its inception.
After spending over three decades working in MedTech companies, from early stage to Fortune 100 level and everything in between, I realized that the most rewarding years of my career were with startups. So, I decided to launch my own company providing outsourced marketing support for these fascinating companies that have a breakthrough innovation but need to keep their headcount low during their early stages of operation.
Initially started in 2014 with only one person, Bichsel, Medical Marketing Group now has a team of 30-plus marketers and specialists (graphic designers, illustrators, programmers, planners, writers, social media gurus, and more).
Please tell us about yourself and your professional journey so far.
I started in marketing MedTech at 17, after landing a job out of high school working for a custom contact lens company. The company was eventually acquired by a global vision care firm, and this was my first foray into the M&A world and the pitfalls and challenges of startups.
Forty years later, I’ve been through that process dozens of times, several over the past eight years while serving BMMG clients. My team and I love working with smaller companies where the environment is familial, void of bureaucracy, nimble, and energized to try new things and achieve success collectively.
What are the key products and services of the company, and how is it impacting the concerned demographic?
We are a fully staffed medical marketing department. That’s how I characterize it. We offer exactly what you would expect from the largest marketing department within the largest MedTech organization out there: events, PR, communications, social media, web development, research, strategy, and outreach.
But, because we can, we round it out with other services that many are unable to have in-house. We have a Six Sigma Master Black Belt for in-depth analytics and support driving HCP utilization within a care setting, several market access experts who can support your reimbursement strategy, and a well-rounded sales ops/enablement team.
Our intent is that you can access all the resources you need under one roof – ensuring continuity of messaging and strategy, but also effectively managing our clients’ limited time and money.
In a market filled with various healthcare organizations and professionals, what strategies and avenues does your company provide to its consumers to make an informed decision?
We like to think we are an out-of-the-box marketing powerhouse. We have all the traditional bases covered, from social to PR to events, but what we really like to do is problem-solve. We try to break through the noise of the market and find what truly resonates with healthcare professionals, whether they are clinicians or administrators.
We understand that in today’s economy, the technologies that we bring to their doorstep have to be radically better than the current standard of care or else the change and investment are not worthwhile to these healthcare organizations. Hence, depending on the problem our clients’ technologies solve, we may hold workshops or, webinars, send “how to” guides, facilitate proctoring, or offer some other solution that is best suited for the problem we’re solving.
How has your company helped its clients improve their customer base of HCPs?
I’ll interpret this question differently from the one above and tell you how we help early-stage companies get traction in the market. It is true that we’ll make sure that we are positioning them well to take on the status quo (standard of care). But what we truly counsel our clients to do is understand where the physicians are those who are most receptive to adopting new technology and related procedures.
If we’re not already well familiar with the thought leaders in a specific therapeutic area, we conduct a key opinion leader (KOL) analysis through our subscription to HCP Universe™ from H1. We approach not only leaders but also leaders-to-be, meaning we’ll help our clients find recent graduates from fellowship programs who are eager to make a name for themselves.
What are the key challenges in the industry, and how is your company turning them into opportunities to keep its growth chart upward?
One of the latest challenges is that investors are becoming a bit spooked about letting go of their money with the economic uncertainty. We balance that by helping our clients to, garner interest and support from clinicians who are excited to see their innovations come to market. We believe that if there is obvious market demand for an emerging company’s widgets, investment in that company’s commercialization is not as risky.
How is the company infusing emerging technology into its operations to improve its marketing services?
We must practice what we preach. We try to employ for BMMG the same tools and resources that we suggest our client’s leverage. That’s constantly evolving, from social media management software to integrated analytics applications to the latest thinking in broadcast email and marketing automation. For those who interface directly with consumers (patients), we are always looking at chatbots and AI resources to give people the answers they need, when and where they need them.
As an experienced leader, what advice would you like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who wish to venture into the competitive industry that you are serving?
Dive in. The water’s great. For what BMMG does — focusing on supporting early-stage MedTech companies — there is plenty of room for more. I read once that the average number of medical startups each year was in the thousands. There is more than enough room for companies to support these vital contributors to people’s quality of life. Just make sure you know your stuff — come prepared and experienced at walking the walk.
What are your goals for the future? And how will this impact the industry you are serving?
BMMG will continue to listen to market demands and hire the right specialists and disease state experts to serve our growing client base for as long as they need us. This means expanding our offerings, listening to clients’ unique needs, and being the best resource at delivering what they need as they drive for success. If we continue to be great at what we do, along with the high ethical standards we hold ourselves to, we believe we are bringing the best technologies to market to save — and extend — patients’ lives.
What awards and recognition accurately highlight your company’s position in the market?
Here is a list of awards that our company has achieved in the last few years.
- 10 Most Trusted Healthcare Marketing Services Companies 2022.
- Best Specialist Marketing Services Firm for Medical Devices 2021.
- 50 Fastest Growing Companies 2021.
- Lisa Bichsel —Named to Fast Company Executive Board 2021-23.
- DotCom Magazine — Entrepreneur Interview Series 2021.
- Top 10 Healthcare Marketing Consulting/Services Companies 2020.
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