Ask most medical device marketers about market segmentation, and you’ll get an earful about physician specialty (and subspecialty), hospital/facility size or type (academic, ASC, for profit, large system, etc), or adopter type (early adopters, followers, and skeptics). Unfortunately, these approaches rarely help companies identify customer groups that are differentially addressable – i.e. best served by different products or services, different price points, and/or different marketing channels and sales techniques.
Medical device firms can do much, much more to understand and better serve their markets. Even back in the 1980’s much more could be done. Let me explain how I approached market segmentation twenty-something years ago.
Having trouble getting your medical device startup funded? Most likely, you have picked the wrong problem to solve. Think about it this way: When you launch a new medical device, you are asking physicians, hospitals, nurses and patients to change medical practice. That’s a big deal. A really big deal. So get it through your head that medical practice will only change if your new device solves an important problem. That’s why the lean medical device startup defines its problem hypotheses first. That’s also why the lean medical medical device startup tests its problem hypotheses early and often. You need to make sure you are solving the right problem.
What does ‘testing your problem hypothesis’ mean? How do you go about testing your problem hypothesis?
To test your business plan at its earliest stages, you have to find early adopters. Early adopters are the potential customers who have the problem you intend to solve, have tried to solve it on their own, and are willing and able to purchase a solution if one can be built. For medical device startups, true early adopters also have experience shepherding new products through the provider process (e.g. hospital purchasing and CFO) and payor process (e.g specialty coding committee and Medicare). Consequently, only early adopters are able to provide value-added feedback to the lean medical device startup. How do you find them?