How To Pitch a Medical Device Company #4: Deliver Different (Not as Easy as It Sounds)
“Of course,” you might say. “Naturally that’s the point of asking an agency to pitch.” But wait—this is not so easily accomplished. Words and ideas in MedTech become entrenched over time. There are reasons for this, not the least of which is the organization’s internal gating system, organized entirely around the claims they’ve decided they can legally make and can support with the scientific literature and clinical trial conclusions. The gating system also includes those words that fall within the risk tolerance introduced by the legal department. That risk tolerance gets tighter and tighter over time. The internal politics of retaining control over messaging is another reason for entrenchment.
What to do? On the one hand you’ve got seasoned creative minds ready to work out the benefits in a fresh way. On the other hand, it looks like you have a limited set of pathways to follow.
Being an outsider is a huge plus. Your track record outside of MedTech is a huge advantage in the pitch. It creates a platform for you to speak from. A reason for your audience to listen. They’ll be listening for something new, but their antennae will also be up for familiar words that indicate basic levels of understanding of their problems (of which I advocate not pretending).
Brief your team on how to work within and around the framework presented. To stay entirely inside the framework is the curse of living within an organization and heeding the internal rules. But that is not your arena. Knowing all you can about the target audience may help you turn a perceptual problem into an opportunity. One assignment I gave an agency was to turn a therapy largely perceived by spine surgeons as a joke and unproven into a viable option. We had the science behind us and knew how far we could go with the claims. The agency’s resulting concept was a hard sell internally but eventually made it through. The concept shocked the journals so much they initially refused to run it. Know the framework, but as a springboard not a straightjacket.
Don’t forget to play dumb. Being an outsider helps because you can do stuff an insider would know not to do. In fact, this is exactly where you do your best work. And isn’t that how the creative process works—eventually you stumble onto the right thing.
Courage! In the end, doesn’t it always come down to belief in the thing you are presenting? Help them see why it is such a great idea—but you know that. That is where you excel.