The human side of B2B marketing

Even small can be big

Many start-ups today find themselves doing battle in a field of giants. This is especially true in the medical device industry, an industry dominated by powerful multinational companies. The key to standing out and ensuring efficient communication is to understand your customers as human beings, to connect with them on an emotional level, and thereby, get them excited and enthusiastic about new products. And if, as a marketer, you’re especially effective, you may even be able to leverage your best customers’ enthusiasm and turn them into brand ambassadors. This is why Human Centric Segmentation is especially effective in B2B marketing.

B2B Marketing: The medical device industry example

As often happens in B2B marketing in the medical device industry, the end-users and the purchase decision-makers are not the same. Therefore, it is critical to engage both customer targets: the end-users (doctors), and the administrative decision-makers (business leaders) in the hospitals and clinics who control the budget. Ultimately, what you want to achieve is that doctors request the business leaders to purchase new devices while the business leaders encourage the doctors to use new devices.

The challenge is to address both target groups while maintaining a high level of focus. The solution lies in understanding that, at the end of the day, both doctors and business leaders are human beings with full lives that affect how they make decisions in their professional work.

Understanding this enables you to identify the most aspirational targets – brand ambassadors – within both groups while ensuring brand consistency.

A new way of looking at doctors

The times of delivering the same sales pitch, giving the same samples, and providing the same motivational incentives for each and every doctor are over. Recognizing each doctor as a human being with a full life, we can reach them in a more personally relevant way, which breaks through the clutter of visits by sales reps and a plethora of statistics-driven product launches.

This strategy enables us to better position our product as a unique tool that helps doctors with their professional objectives. One aligned with both their professional needs and their personal values and aspirations. By understanding the target as humans, we can also determine who the influencers are so that our B2B marketing is more efficient as well.

Comparing doctors based on their focus on patients, their risk adversity, their openness to change, and their decision-making process, and how they involve their patients, enables us to identify six separate and distinct doctor segments. The over-representation or under-representation of different specializations can vary segment by segment; however, all six doctor segments can be identified across the different medical specializations.

Doctor segmentation

B2B marketing segmentation - Doctors

Figure 1. Doctor Segmentation

Based on their psychographic profiles and a range of behavioral factors, the six primary doctor segments uncovered are:

  • RISING HEALERS – “I need to know so much more to better treat these people”
  • COUNSELORS – “I put science to work. I’m here to heal, and to best do that, I need to be personally involved with my patients.”
  • THE RESIGNED – “I’m floating on the tide of what’s happening. This is not the world I used to enjoy. These days I just want to find a way to get through the day.”
  • QUEENS/KINGS – “My patients would be lost without my guidance and experience”
  • DISTANT PROFESSIONALS – “Science fascinates me, but my patients tend to get in the way”
  • SELF-PROMOTERS – “Career, status, attention – they matter a lot. I want to be the best at what I do and be justifiably admired and respected for it”

Business leaders are humans, too

Even if we get the end-users (doctors) on our side, we also need to convince the administrative purchase decision-makers. To understand them, we must delve into the Business Leaders’ segmentation.

The Business Leaders segmentation is a fusion of business situations (focusing on business-related need states and purchase decisions) and a standard psychographic segmentation (inclusive of business with personal lifestyle values and behavior patterns). In this way, we combine both the rational and emotional sides of business decision-making.

B2B segmentation

B2B marketing segmentation - Business Leaders

Figure 2. Small and Medium-Sized Business Person Segments

Based on this deep-dive into relevant values, interests, and behaviors, the eight unique Business Leaders uncovered are:

  • OPTIMISTIC ACHIEVERS – “I can achieve what I set my mind to – personally and I have the potential to make it happen.”
  • CHANGE MAKERS – “I want to do something new that makes an I’ll do my best to make it happen for my team and others around us.”
  • CONTRIBUTORS – “I believe that being in agreement and contributing as a team is the key to a good strategy. Only together can we succeed.”
  • CAUTIOUS MOVERS – “I’m moving forward, but at my own steady I can get fruitful results without putting it all at risk.”
  • MATERIALISTIC ASPIRERS – “I know the way forward to financial success and prosperity. The others would be smart to follow me.”
  • FLOATERS – “I’ll join in. Standing out can be too much of a burden.”
  • POWER SEEKERS – “I believe that to get the required results, I should take charge and be powerful”
  • GO GETTERS – “I do what it takes to get things done – no matter how”

Connecting the dots: Which doctors and business leaders will drive business growth?

With a better understanding of doctors and business leaders as human beings with deep emotions and motivations, the next step involves identifying which segment from each group to focus on as ambassadors for the brand to create exponential growth. Focusing solely on one segment:

  1. Provides a positioning-development focus to create a strong and personally valued brand with a clear purpose and a defendable market position.
  2. Helps to optimize a communication focus, with resources allocated where receptivity is high.
  3. Increases loyalty and a personal sense of ownership that encourage individuals within the lead target segment to persuade and influence a larger number of other doctors and/or business leaders – the brand ambassadors we’re looking for to magnify our B2B marketing and sales efforts.

When creating brand ambassadors, it’s critical to choose the segment which has the best brand fit and is aspirational to others.

Choosing the right primary doctor segments

When introducing an innovative solution to the medical devices industry, we need to focus on the segment which is modern, has an open mind to introduce new solutions, and constantly looks for new ways to improve treatment methods. Additionally, the segment needs to be aspirational to other doctors so that we can create the ripple effect we seek from an influencing standpoint. In such a case, COUNSELLORS would be the recommended choice as they most closely align with the criteria and are well respected by doctors and hospital management alike.

B2B Marketing - Influential potential doctors example

Figure 3. Doctor Influencers

COUNSELLORS are a good new product lead segment because they see their work not only as providing medical solutions to patients but also as inspiring and empowering others who work with them to be confident and successful. They enthusiastically take on new professional challenges and respond quickly to situations where they feel they can add value and have a personal impact. Because of their open attitude, COUNSELLORS are pro-innovation and like to keep themselves up-to-date with the latest professional developments. To COUNSELLORS, career advancement and expertise matter, but only as they serve their primary purpose of becoming a better doctor.

Choosing the right business leaders segment

To ensure maximum impact, we need to identify the highest potential BUSINESS LEADERS segment to also serve as our brand ambassadors from the administrative side of the decision-making process. In the case of launching a new medical device, we want to focus on the segment which is most open to taking on new innovations because they place a high priority on patient satisfaction. In addition, we need to make sure that the chosen business leaders segment links well with COUNSELLORS and that both segments can work well together and thereby, complement each other.

Following the same thought process as in the case of doctors, OPTIMISTIC ACHIEVERS appear to suit the acceptance of new devices and products. Additionally, due to their ease and willingness to work with a Doctor segment such as the COUNSELLORS, OPTIMISTIC ACHIEVERS demonstrate a high potential to influence other business leaders as well.

B2B Marketing - Influential potential business leaders example

Figure 90. Business Influencers

Going deeper into values and attitudes, we can more fully understand who OPTIMISTIC ACHIEVERS are as human beings and as business leaders. They have a “full-on” attitude toward life and determination to achieve their personal goals. Tend to follow their heart as well their mind, by being passionate about what they do. And they are inspiring leaders who are also inspired by their co-workers. Their own growth and personal development is a significant reward and highly motivates them. If sometimes, they need to sacrifice their personal lives to reach professional success, they will not regret it because of their commitment to what they’re doing and see the greater purpose.

Delivering a strong value proposition

Based on the motivational insights of COUNSELLORS (doctors) and OPTIMISTIC ACHIEVERS (business leaders), it’s possible to develop a much stronger value proposition for a new medical device, or any product that offers an innovative solution to the market. This use of Human Centric Segmentation in B2B marketing allows us to identify and connect with both the functional as well as the emotional drivers of our brand/product. It also enables much more effective brand communications by gathering meaningful insights to develop laser-focused messaging to exponentially grow the business. And lastly, it allows the little guys out there to be bigger by targeting those lead customer segments that can serve as brand ambassadors to influence other customers and help us do our marketing and sales job.


by Austeja Subaciute and Vanessa Eelma

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