As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, industries across the spectrum are struggling with unprecedented staff shortages and employee retention challenges. Medical device and equipment manufacturers are experiencing similar issues with recruitment and churn; 84% of MedTech companies believe that skill gaps have adversely impacted their business, with 40% reporting this impact to have become more negative in the last five years. In this landscape of chronic staffing shortages, prospective employees are more able and likely to leverage their experience to get the best deal when seeking out new roles, and existing staff may be on the lookout for new opportunities.
This creates challenges for scaling medical device and equipment companies seeking to bring in new talent and retain valuable existing staff, and businesses may be unsure whether to staff marketing roles in-house, or use an agency. Workers now expect higher compensation packages, more flexible work schedules, and enriching company cultures that they can buy into. Despite challenges in staffing, the industry continues to grow, in the face of a projected shortfall of 4.26 million workers by 2030. Firstly, companies should distinguish between the marketing and sales roles that are beneficial to outsource, contrasting to those that are essential to be kept in-house. In this article, we discuss which roles fall into each category.
Marketing Roles for Medical Device and Equipment Companies: Use an Agency, Or Hire In-House?
Against this backdrop of recruitment and retention challenges, scaling medical device and equipment companies may be unsure which marketing resources should be acquired in-house, versus which could be advantageously outsourced. The following outsourced specialists (see Figure 1) can focus on executing on certain specific deliverables more efficiently than in-house marketing resources that may be sprawled across separate marketing and administrative activities. These deliverables can be achieved in a more consistent and cost-effective way than through using in-house staff alone – dedicated specialists are engaged on specific guaranteed deliverables and will be bound under a service agreement to deliver.
|Account-Based Marketing Specialist||Responsible for targeted prospecting||✓|
|Content Marketing Specialist||Forms and executes content strategy||✓|
|Copywriter||Writes technical marketing content||✓|
|Graphic Designer||Creates visual marketing materials||✓|
|Events/Field Marketing Specialist||Develops relationships with trade shows and partners||✓|
|Marketing Manager||Oversees in-house and external marketing resources||✓|
|Paid Advertising Specialist||Promotes marketing messaging to targeted prospects||✓|
|Product Marketing Specialist||Works with product development team to improve and market feature set||✓|
|Web Developer||Takes on technical projects, website maintenance and updates||✓|
Figure 1: Building Your Marketing Team With In-House and External Resources
Outsourced Content Marketing Roles (Strategy, Copywriting, SEO, Email, Social Media, Web Development):
An effective marketing strategy requires a content marketing specialist – an individual specialized in the formation of content strategy and execution through blog posting, social channel posting, SEO, and email marketing. Furthermore, to bolster the efforts of the content strategy, a copywriter is needed – this individual is a technical writer with knowledge of the medical device and equipment industry who can create compelling copy to engage with existing customers and connect with new audiences. Next, a graphic designer is important for the creation of visual marketing materials and creating unified brand messaging. Finally, a web developer will be necessary for any technical projects and changes to websites on the back end. Outsourcing these roles can work to create long term value for your MedTech company’s marketing campaigns, by enlisting specialists with expertise and who are focused on specific deliverables.
Lead Generation Roles (Paid Advertising, Prospecting, Outbound Email, Cold Calling):
A paid advertising specialist can help maximize the impact of the content created by the content team by promoting marketing messaging and value driven content to targeted prospects on LinkedIn, Display Advertising, or other advertising channels. Finally, an account-based marketing specialist can ensure that while the content team and paid teams are warming up new leads on the website, you have your bases covered with targeted prospecting activities, 1×1 cold email, and phone calling outreach, and booking meetings for your sales team with qualified leads.
Why Should You Outsource Content Marketing and Lead Generation Roles? Expertise, Consistency and Focus – Meeting the Recruitment and Retention Challenge
The roles listed above can supply your company with specific weekly and monthly deliverables guaranteed by a contract with an outsourced agency, which can be effectively delivered with typically higher quality and consistency, and more cost effectively, than by inhouse staff. While of course it could be argued that this is a generalization, and we would agree, the debate here isn’t over whether agencies have access to a better talent pool than in-house marketing departments, but rather how these specific agency resources are a better fit and solving the recruitment and retention challenges that medical device and equipment companies are currently facing.
Challenges in Medical Device and Equipment Marketing Recruitment: Should You Hire In-House, or Seek Out an Agency?
A major challenge for scaling medical device and equipment companies lies in attracting marketing talent and aligning recruitment effort with the company’s marketing strategy, ensuring that new hires amplify efforts and fill any gaps in expertise. HubSpot reports that 21% of marketers expect hiring quality talent to be their biggest challenge in 2022. A LinkedIn report identifies a growing marketing skills gap, due to employers increasingly seeking marketers with soft creative skills as well as technical skills. Finding candidates with the full suite of skills is becoming more difficult due to demand outpacing supply. It is important that new hires are selected to complement the company’s marketing strategy, rather than simply to fill a vacancy. The first recruitment challenge for scaling companies is that in-house marketing managers may not necessarily be experts in the specific roles the company needs to hire for. Managers may have experience in one to three marketing channels, and so may not be experts in the exact areas that the company needs to hire for. Considering the competition for recruiting talent, this can make it difficult to know exactly which skillset the company is lacking, as well as the appropriate level of compensation to offer to aid retention. This can lead to hiring mismatches, as the company lacks the knowledge of its exact hiring needs.
By contrast, an outsourced agency’s first step will be to conduct a needs assessment and gap analysis on your medical device company’s current marketing program and provide suggestions on how their team could complement your in-house team. Having an outside set of eyes assess your marketing program and provide you with insight on the roles that would complement your existing in-house team and provide additional bench strength can help avoid costly recruiting mistakes, and also give your team access to a wider variety of skill sets, rather than a single skill set that often accompanies a new hire.
Beyond the question of the appropriate hire for the company’s needs, is the simple problem of hiring for roles that are in short supply. For example, while there often seems to be many job seekers looking for social media marketing roles, finding an expert email marketer who knows the ins and outs of your specific email marketing platform (e.g. HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo, Klaviyo, Zoho Campaigns, etc.) can often be quite challenging. In our experience, this can lead to expensive marketing tools and software going unused while a company desperately hunts for a qualified candidate. Again, by contrast, the right agency may be able to supply you with a HubSpot or Marketo qualified email expert, who can immediately achieve results for you on a fractional basis – where this process could take months if training up a new hire.
Using an Agency to Overcome Challenges in Marketing Employee Retention for Medical Device and Equipment Companies
While recruiting in the current labor market is challenging, retaining staff is also becoming more difficult. One issue relates to misallocating new hires based on their experience. For instance, companies may believe a new hire with experience in social media will also be able to easily assume responsibility for tasks in other marketing channels, such as SEO, paid advertising, or email. In practice, each of these channels its own distinct discipline and takes extensive experience to master. Expecting a junior or mid-level hire with experience in a single channel to perform in that channel while juggling others is a recipe for employee churn.
Furthermore, the competitiveness in the hiring market being driven by the shortage of qualified free agents is shortening the lifecycle of new marketing hires. Increasingly, talented marketing and sales hires are in high demand and are unlikely to stay with the same company for longer than a year or two. At this stage employees are leveraging their experience to transition to higher paying roles with more seniority. This is a problem for medical device or equipment companies looking to scale and invest in their marketing staff, as companies commonly overestimate how long they can keep talented new hires. Ambitious staff will often leave for higher paying roles before the company’s investment in their recruitment and training is fully realized – this results in having to start the expensive hiring and training cycle all over again.
By contrast to the problems faced in activity sprawl in your medical device and equipment company, burnout and churn by in-house marketing staff, an outsourced agency will be able to provide a specialist in each role. An agency is incentivized to retain your business as long as possible – this leads to focus and continuity in the delivery of marketing and sales activities. On this note, it is much easier to dismiss an external marketing firm than an in-house employee – this further incentivizes an outsourced agency to perform.
In summary, the roles described above (Figure 1), can be ideal to outsource for a scaling company given the natural advantages to expertise, focus, and consistency that come with avoiding the recruitment and retention challenges many companies are currently experiencing. However, it is equally important to staff your medical device company with specific in-house marketing resources, as this will be much more effective than trying to deploy agency resources for these positions. This is particularly true of positions that require a level of product or market expertise, positions that require long term relationship building that may require a physical presence, and marketing management and leadership roles. In short, product marketing specialists, field marketing/event managers, and marketing managers/directors should all be sourced in-house for optimal results. Other channel-specific marketing roles can be more advantageously outsourced, however, as enlisting an agency gains your company access to their expert marketing professionals while negating many growing challenges in recruitment and staff retention.
Forming an In-House Marketing Team for Your Medical Device Company
Certain marketing positions are critical to your medical device and equipment company’s success and cannot be practically outsourced, due to difficulties in executing on specific rationalized deliverables. The first of these positions is an in-house marketing manager. This individual is important to keep in-house to maintain responsibility for and oversight of managing in-house and external resources, as well as articulating the goals and KPIs of the executive to the marketing team – while also providing status updates in the other direction.
Secondly, you will benefit from keeping an events and field marketing specialist in-house. This individual will be responsible for handling trade shows and in-person events, and this role is best performed by a long-term member of staff who has developed relationships and rapport with partner companies, trade show hosts, etc.
The final role that is important to keep in-house is the product marketing specialist. This individual works directly with the product development team to improve the feature set of your MedTech products and translates the value of their feature sets into operational marketing. They will have intimate knowledge of the user experience and use customer feedback to seek out new marketing opportunities – therefore, it is important that this resource is an expert on your products and has a deep understanding of the wider industry. Best practice is to hire for these roles in-house, attracting talent that is passionate about the company, products, and industry. These individuals are more likely to be long term industry careerists, embedded in and passionate about your company culture and the wider industry – and ultimately represent a lower ‘flight risk’.
In conclusion, medical device and equipment companies can scale their marketing efforts successfully through a hybrid approach whereby they outsource key roles to agencies taking advantage of their expertise and consistency, while maintaining core in-house personnel whose roles are less defined by consistent deliverables but rather deeper long term knowledge of your products, your industry, or your company’s strategic objectives.