Marketing for Startups

MedTech / Digital Health / BioTech Edition

Quality marketing of a MedTech / Digital Health / BioTech / MedSci startup is integral to it’s success. For disruptors there is often a need to educate an audience who don’t even realise they need your product. Achieving this goal takes time. It might be a marathon effort, but in the early days it doesn’t need to be difficult. Work piece by piece and, by the time you’re ready to start shipping, you’ll have an established digital footprint that speaks volumes. An iterative approach may even help you stay on the road to success during the journey!

Before we begin…

If you would like to know why it’s a good idea to start marketing a medical or scientific product before developing it, read our blog post.

We’ll meet you back here when you’re done!

This article is intended to be used as a reference and you should consider bookmarking it due to the sheer volume of information (and useful links) contained within! That way you can revisit it throughout your startup’s journey, because not all of the topics covered below will be applicable to you straight away.

Introduction

At fluidic we elevate medical and scientific companies by developing creative ideas and marketing solutions that help them flourish. In the case of startups with limited time (and budgets), our approach is to implement a framework that efficiently establishes a solid marketing foundation from which to grow.

This resource is an opinionated introduction to the tools and methodology we follow when working with companies in an early stage of growth. Our belief is that things should be done properly from the get-go, but they need to be balanced with efficiency and mindfulness to expense. So you won’t find a lot of choices that will bog you down, just a well worn path based on a best practice approach that leads in the right direction.

The guide is intended to be an organic reference — it will be updated to reflect new trends, recommend the latest tools, best digital services and incorporate quality feedback from the awesome community of medial and scientific startups that are hoping to make a positive impact on the world.

This is our gift to the startup community, which enables even the most bootstrapped businesses to follow a simple formula to get their marketing up and running.

We would love to hear any ideas or feedback you care to share, so be sure to let us know in the comments, or by emailing [email protected].

Website Design & Development

There are literally thousands of options when it comes to creating a website… And choosing once can feel more difficult than trying to pick a toothbrush from the supermarket shelf! This section will help you decide, without having to wade through the plethora of choices.

WordPress logotype watermark

WordPress is the world’s most popular Content Management System (CMS) which means it’s versatile, well supported and easy to learn. It’s the go-to solution we implement for early stage companies that need a combination of great design and adaptive functionality. Simply put it’s a great, low-cost choice that can grow and evolve symbiotically alongside your startup. If you’d like to weigh up the pros and cons James Thomas’ Medium article provides an in-depth appraisal of Why WordPress Is The BEST Platform To Build Your Business or Startup Website On. For a TLDR version our Marketing Communications Manager Dani has also written about Why WordPress is King.

Technical Considerations

Choosing to develop with WordPress means considering hosting, setup and installing themes and plugins – so it’s good to be technically minded and be able to learn quickly.* Our suggestions for each are provided below and because we’ve zeroed in on the optimum choice of platform, you’ll find further recommendations about complimentary plugins (that will assist with other aspects of your marketing) in the subsequent sections.

* If you need help and would rather leave this job to somebody else, give us a call.

Setup & Hosting

Domain names should be registered through Crazy Domains who offer the cheapest .com.au hosting out there, otherwise NameCheap is a good choice (they also offer free email forwarding which is handy). If you are serious about marketing you absolutely need to set up an analytics solution — Google Analytics is the best choice. DNS can be handled by your domain name registrar or CloudFlare.

The easiest way is to host a WordPress site is using a dedicated (an optimised) platform such as WP Engine which provide great services, albeit for a price. On a budget, if you are lucky enough to work with a great marketing agency (like fluidic 😉), they may offer equivalent service at a fraction of the cost which is hosted locally. Otherwise, at the other end of the spectrum, website hosting from Crazy Domains or NameCheap is another option, but may not be as performant. Remember that you get what you pay for!

Themes & Plugins

Themes are what makes your website look like it does and with WordPress there are a lot of choices. For a custom design talk to an agency (like us), otherwise keep it simple and install a pre-designed template which allows for some adaptations to make it more individual to your brand. The best of them can be found on ThemeForest and incorporate page builders such as Visual Composer, which make the process of designing easier for novices. A word of warning here, don’t underestimate the time it takes to massage a pre-designed theme into something that matches your needs. As with anything when you are running a business, weigh up the true cost and consider outsourcing if your time is used more efficiently on other tasks!

In the world of WordPress plugins extend the functionality of your website. You should install Yoast SEO for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), W3 Total Cache for performance (speed is an important SEO factor). Google XML Sitemaps will help search engines like Google to better index your site. Invisible reCaptcha for WordPress integrates the new Invisible reCaptcha by Google with your WordPress site which will stop brute force login attempts to your admin area, helping to maintain security.

Website Design Resources

Accessibility

Think about the experience of your users, especially if you are developing a product that belongs in medical and healthcare. Doing so will ensure that you project an understanding that is relevant to the industry you plan to operate in!

On the website design end Hex Naw is a great browser accessibility tool for comparing colour contrast using hex codes.

tota11y is an accessibility visualisation tool from Khan Academy that allows you to see how your site performs with assistive technologies. It has been incorporated into the wA11y plugin for WordPress, along with other useful tools such as WAVE. It’s a great all-round solution to get your new website on track.

It’s not just about visual elements either, the semantics of everything are worth thinking about, even the humble form. Nicholas Kramer can educate you further about this in his Medium article.

Blogging

Another reason that using WordPress to build your website is a great idea is because you get a blog in the box. Since it started life as a blogging platform and still retains those inherent features it’s a relatively simple procedure to get yourself up and running.

Essential Tips for WordPress Blogs

  1. Ensure you change the permalink (url) structure to be SEO friendly at the very beginning. If your WordPress blog has been running for a while and you haven’t already done this, proceed with caution! It will affect search engine indexes and could impact traffic to your site unless you put appropriate redirects in place.
  2. If you plan on cross-post blog articles to other platforms such as Medium make sure you understand what a canonical URL is and decide which site should be attributed as the one that hosts the original content.
  3. Assuming that you’re blogging about topics related to your startup running a blog will enhance the SEO of your website and bring you new visitors, who may become leads. Growing an audience takes time so don’t expect success overnight but there are techniques that can help; check out this Medium post about how Ahrefs did it.
  4. When you start blogging learn about writing headlines that grab attention and entice visitors to read more. Newscred and Mark Growth each have articles that may help.

WordPress Blogging Plugins

  • Email Subscribers & Newsletters will collect subscribers (leads) and send automated notification emails when a new blog post is published.
  • The Medium plugin will automatically publish your posts to Medium with the correct canonical attribution.

Branding

Branding encompasses the entire personality of your company, from it’s look to the tone of voice used to communicate. It’s the feeling that is invoked when thinking about your products. Early on aspects of your brand are likely to develop alongside your products, so don’t feel there is a need to rush — gradual development is a luxury! We’ll just cover the fundamentals which you can use to develop your brand as you grow.

Branding & Positioning

Develop your brand story & voice, or at least start thinking about what it sounds like. Break it down into these 5 elements and list your answers:

  1. What do you? (Brand)
  2. Why do you do it? (Purpose)
  3. How do you do it better or different than the pack? (Position, USP, value proposition, etc.)
  4. Who do you do it for? (Customer)
  5. What do they get out of it? (Benefit)

Now, combine the above elements into a story and you’ll not only have some great content for your website, but also a clear explanation of why you do what you do. And it doesn’t have to be long and complicated either, Warby Parker did an elegant job of it in just 100 words!

If you want to dig in further you can read more about Brand Story and Voice over at Phoebe and Kate. The Brand Identity Prism has a number of questions to help you think about all the facets of your brand (not just your logo).

Finally, for all you early stage founders out there, take a look at Branding Your Business on a Budget, or get in touch with us to discuss your needs (we also work to tight budgets).

Be Inspired!

For inspiration take a look at Atlassian’s style guidelines which sets a high standard. This infographic – What belongs in your branding style guide – is a handy reference and there are even templates such as available which are an adequate start that could save you time.

Know of any other resources that should be mentioned here? Let us know!

Brand Identity & Design

The visual side of branding is the aspect that most people are familiar with – specifically logo, fonts and colours. These days there are plenty of awesome tools and services that really help to narrow down the choices, but you could also go the traditional route and run a logo competition on 99 Designs.

Online logo creation using AI is a new trend, check out Logo Joy and Brand Mark and see if you like what the robots do for you!

Colours are important too, see how the world’s most wildly successful companies use the psychology of colour in their branding in this inforaphic. Hands down the best tool for selecting complimentary combinations is Coolors and you may also dig up some nice ideas on the Web Gradients website.

Google Fonts is the go-to choice for your typographical needs. They stock a huge range of fonts which are free to use and well supported by most WordPress themes. Font Pair can help you to pair them up in a decent combination. Pick one that you like but think carefully about legibility and accessibility on the variety of screen sizes and print formats your work will be seen in. A good designer can help remove this indecision, or our staff who spent months typesetting a PhD thesis to perfection (that’s another story).

Communications

Communication is one of the most important aspects of building your brand’s presence, and by extension preparing the market for your products and services. If you’re not out there talking about it nobody will know! Given that you have established a website, blog and recognisable image, telling your story is the next natural step.

Know Your Audience!

Most organisations have six stakeholder markets they’ll need to communicate with. These include:

  • Existing customers
  • Prospective customers
  • Internal (Staff/Board)
  • Partners and Suppliers
  • Government
  • Media

Develop A Content Marketing Strategy

One way to remain engaged with these segments is by developing a content marketing strategy, keeping your six markets in mind. Another excellent article about documenting and ensuring the content marketing is aligned to strategy is available from NewsCred.

It is also beneficial to consider what consumers want from brand content, which boils down to being different and authentic. In other words, don’t write an article about how “We are building a stethoscope that even a baby can use” if you have a bog standard design that is complicated to operate. It’s considered click bait if you don’t make good on your promises and will only serve to drive your visitors away.

With the strategy in hand, you can then use tools like blogging and social media to achieve your goals.

Become a Social Media Guru

There is no need to be active on every social media platform, just where your target market is. Felicia Sullivan’s article on the subject makes this point well. Use your customer insights and research as a guide for where to hang out! To help you choose here is a summary of platform strengths and weaknesses and some ways to get more followers.

If you have limited time and resources (likely) and multiple platforms to manage, services such as Hootsuite and Buffer have a free tier and help you manage multiple accounts across platforms, identify opinion-leaders schedule posts and engage in two-way communication. They also have pretty good mobile apps so you can manage aspects of your engagement away from the desk.

Social media takes time, from both a management perspective and in order to develop an audience. This is another reason we suggest starting early, so you can grow your brands digital presence organically by commentating on the development of your progress along the way. Share the highs and the lows, people love to feel emotion!

♥ Create Content People Love ♥

There are loads of great web applications that can speed up the process of creating original, copyright-free images and designs for your social media posts.

For posters, social media posts, infographics, and more try Canva. It’s a fantastic, cheap and fast way to develop professional looking graphics for digital as well as print.

Illustrations are a fantastic way to convey complex ideas in a simple and attractive manner and are coming into vogue at the moment. For some freebies check out FreePix and Pixabay to get started or talk with us if you need some custom illustrations.

For quality, copyright-free photographs Pexels and Unsplash are both great, or multitask and use an aggregator / search engine like Everypixel. To get away from generic looking stock photography, try Australia’s own Aus Stock Photo otherwise there are lot’s of quality (paid) microstock agencies including DreamstimeShutterstock and iStockphoto.

Finally don’t forget the camera on your phone which is probably capable of taking high SLR quality photos. It”s with you all the time and nothing beats authentic images to match your story. Take Smartphone Photography 101 or consume some tips and get snapping!

Regulatory Considerations

Most of the other sections could apply to any startup out there, but this one is definitely specific to those looking to operate in medical and health, with a bias towards Australia, which is the market we serve and know best.

Advertising

Consider the rules for medical advertising — don’t make claims that are not backed by accepted research and hard data! The Medicines Australian Code of Conduct is a good place to start and if you are looking to do business in another country do your homework!

In Australia advertisements for therapeutic goods are subject to the requirements of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act) and Regulations, the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and other relevant laws. Read more about this on the Therapeutic Goods Australia website. If you are advertising health services with medical devices the TGA provides some useful information for health professionals here.

Be mindful that companies like Google or Twitter have strict guidelines and policies on how you can advertise with them, which could affect your plans for growth depending on the overall strategy. For example, Google restricts the use of certain drug terms, even if you are not advertising the drug itself. So, naming your product Generic Pill Dispenser rather than the “Aspirin Tube” could have it’s advantages! Again, do your homework as these rules differ from country to country.

Website

Privacy policies and spam compliance should be visible on your website. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was put into effect recently in Europe. It gives EU citizens more control over their personal data, including what messages they receive from marketers, and it’s having a ripple effect across the connected world. Shopify provide a free privacy policy and terms of service generator which is free and will help you get started, just be mindful they are an eCommerce SAAS platform so you may have to revise some of the clauses.

We’re Here to Help!

Now you understand the how it’s time to ask yourself —are you prepared to handle this task? If you’d like some help with all this marketing business we offer sensible rates to Medical and Healthcare startups at any stage of their journey. We are experts in medical marketing, which means that working together costs less than the time it would take you to do it yourself. So, if you’d like some expert help, let us know!

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