Question for all healthcare marketers: How similar is your product or service to a Vitamix?

By Brad Dodge on June 21st, 2012

About a month ago, my wife and I invested in a new Vitamix. Here’s why: (I’ll get to the point of what this has to do with PR and marketing in the healthcare industry in just a minute) We owned a Cuisinart blender for a number of years. Lately we became more curious about juicing, but we were pretty sure our Cuisinart wouldn’t know what to do with a bunch of kale or a whole orange (We never tried it, we just speculated.). After all, the darn thing had enough trouble with a basic fruit smoothie, never seeming to work effectively until you stopped it and stirred the ingredients around about a million times.

Vitamix blenderAt our local Whole Foods store, we saw a huge poster saying that there would be in store demonstrations of the Vitamix for a whole week. Coming soon! The ultimate juicer! No discarded pulp! Same ones that Starbucks uses for smoothies! Two gazillion RPM! Well, the next week we stopped to watch the demo. Wow. The Vitamix guy, a headset and a counter full of fresh fruits and vegetables. First he made a FROZEN sorbet with kale and apples, then he made a HOT soup with whole tomatoes and cilantro. And easy clean up! The features just kept on coming. And if you buy today, get this gorgeous cookbook absolutely FREE! And a DVD that shows how to make everything from soup to bread, from waffles to smoothies! Long story short (or not so short?) we bought one. And it’s an amazing machine.

That got me thinking about the sorry old Cuisinart that’s now on a shelf somewhere. Where did it go wrong? How did it get replaced by another comparable machine that may or may not even be better? Don’t you wonder “what happened?” when you lose a client to a new competitor that’s just full of new ideas and creative energy?

All signs point to marketing. Have you ever seen a Cuisinart demo at the food store? I haven’t. If I had, I might very well had bought it instead. I speculated that the Cuisinart wasn’t as good. Is that what happens in your market? Does your prospect see the other guy’s demo and assume it’s the best because of the marketing program surrounding it? What aren’t you demoing to the same prospect to give your Vitamix-competitor a run for his money? The Vitamix has a tamper (I don’t think that’s the right word, but my wife suggested I not use the word plunger.). Anyway, it’s a plastic rod that fits inside the top of the container to push stuff down into the blades. If it didn’t exist, the smoothie would get jammed up just like the Cuisinart. Brilliant idea. Why doesn’t the Cuisinart have one? Does your competitor have the features that your product needs to really work for the client? Perhaps a mobile app? Better documentation? Smoother implementation? A different pricing or distribution structure? You may be losing deals to an inferior product just because of a simple  good idea that makes the product work for the customer. How about your demo? Is it clear and compelling? Does it emphasize your product’s strengths as seen through the eyes of the buyer? Can the buyer find a demo of your product? Everywhere they look?

And how easy is it that we could buy the Vitamix right smack in the vegetable aisle? Where and how does your customer buy your healthcare product? Is it easy to buy, or hard and complicated? To be honest, I would never have even HEARD of the Vitamix if it hadn’t been in the food store. Is your product being shown to your buyer where they are? It is not easy to reach the elusive healthcare CIO, CEO, CFO, CMO, CTO, department manager, physician, office manager or any other key contact in the healthcare organization to whom you’re trying to sell. It takes creativity, strategy, persistence, and a marketing plan that’s integrated across all the disciplines of PR, marketing and digital.

Don’t be the Cuisinart—a brand that thinks it already owns the market and can just sit on a shelf in Target waiting for the buyer to come by. Be the Vitamix. Aggressive. Creative. Effective. Now they just need to figure out either (a) how to make green smoothies not so green, or (b) how to make green the next black.