For B2B healthcare companies that specialize in mission critical areas like patient care and safety, establishing a key opinion leader (KOL) program is an absolute must.
Because industry experts are frequently looked to for independent collaboration on critical technology needs, research and innovation feedback to advance our healthcare system. With that, their thought leadership and expertise can draw attention to specific issues and solutions in the media, while influencing peers and important purchasing decision makers.
Larger, more robust programs are typically maintained by an education or compliance officer with a healthy budget to devote to research grants or speaking fees. These types of partnerships vary considerably in scope, and can include clinicians consulting on potential function and design enhancements that could improve patient care; presenting published clinical research; and developing vendor-neutral learning tools for healthcare providers to earn continuing education credits.
But for some companies these programs aren’t within reach, thanks to a lack of resources or experience.
And that’s ok.
You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company, or spend millions of dollars, to engage KOLs to help build brand recognition. Here are a few ways you can leverage industry experts to create content that can support your marketing initiatives for a much smaller price tag.
- Enlist powerful supporters. Tap into advisory board members and friends of the company who carry relevant clout in your area of expertise to provide an opinion piece, press release quote or join a webinar panel, etc. For example, we recruited a well-respected physician from a client’s board of directors and a research center’s executive director from their extended network to help us add credibility to a guest commentary in Modern Healthcare on stateside Ebola precautions. The article likely wouldn’t have been secured without our co-authors’ expertise and credentials.
- Collaborate with passionate customers. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often overlooked or dismissed based on fear that it could negatively impact the customer relationship. There are usually many benefits to both your organization and your customer’s facility in sharing a customer experience. Reach out to your customers who have piloted your products or are strong advocates of your solutions and ask them if they’d like to share their experience with their peers. Rising leaders and facilities like to be recognized for their success and pioneering methods.
- Utilize published studies. Connect with researchers and study authors who have published favorable data supporting your cause and ask if they would be interested in participating in additional press efforts to further the reach of their results. Of course, you must be transparent and source any relevant disclosures if your company was tied to the project, but you can provide support to help draw more awareness to the results. A study author’s Q&A in Surgical Products, “Surgeon Weighs Quality of Single-Use Devices Against Reprocessed,” is one example.
- Repurpose publically available comments. When sourced appropriately, you can utilize remarks from public speeches, presentations, position papers and press releases delivered by industry and association leadership.
Even though larger corporations likely have more resources to support broad KOL programs, that doesn’t mean engaging KOLs can’t be realized by mid-sized or emerging companies. These companies can get creative with the resources they have available to produce compelling content that can help drive results for their business in a credible way.