BPL Medical Technologies is a leading Indian medical devices company backed by a reputed global investment bank. Santosh Abraham, Founder & Lead Analyst at Research NXT got talking with Dr. Karthik Anantharaman, who as the Chief Marketing Officer (VP-Marketing) for BPL Medical Technologies drives the company’s business objectives through impactful marketing initiatives.
As someone who is responsible for new product launches and product roadmap at BPL Medical, Karthik shares his company’s marketing strategy and the extent to which marketing automation has been successfully implemented at BPL.
Santosh: Please tell us about BPL Medical Technology and its target market.
Karthik: I represent the medical technology business of BPL Medical. We also own another medical technology company called Penlon Limited, which is into anaesthesia and critical care solution and is based in the UK.
Larger part of our product segment is primarily B2B. However, a year back, we also entered the B2C Homecare segment, which is picking up well now.
Outside of the BPL Medical division, there are other businesses within the BPL group which are predominantly B2C such as FMCG which has a separate marketing team.
“Primary objective to add innovations and new age channels like Mobile Apps to our products was to enhance consumer experience and make the whole process simple.”
Santosh: Could you please give us a brief on the products in your B2C segment?
Karthik: Let me tell you the list of products that we have on B2C space. Our hand held Bluetooth enabled 12 lead ECG with Glucometer device, the BPL Lifephone+ has won 6 global product innovation awards in MedTech and our other smart tech product is our Bluetooth enabled Fingertip Pulse Oximeter. We’re talking about hand-held healthcare gadgets which can be purchased and owned directly by consumers (patients, health & fitness enthusiasts) and that come with Mobile App compatibility.
Other customer centric products include BP Monitoring devices, Fetal Heart Rate Detector, Thermometers, Heating Pad, Weighing Scale and we are soon coming up with air purifiers as well.
Santosh: In your handheld devices, do I have to punch the data manually or it automatically feeds into the Mobile App?
Karthik: It’s all automated. Device acquires the data, once the sample is collected on it by the user, that data is processed within the device. Then via blue tooth the data is pushed into the app.
The Cardiology Glucose Meter doesn’t have a display because the data to be displayed is complex and it will make the device very bulky. Therefore, the actual display of the ECG and sugar value happens on the mobile app of the user. Primary objective to add innovations and new age channels like Mobile Apps to our products was to enhance consumer experience and make the whole process simple.
Santosh: It is interesting to know that you are using Mobile Apps to enhance consumer experience. From a business standpoint how are you monetizing these Apps?
Karthik: From revenue perspective we are not looking at monetizing Apps. Our business model is based on the device and cloud revenue.
We have launched the app for Cardiology Glucose Meter a year back and have several thousand users for this Device & App. For the Pulse Oximeter the App is recently launched and is at its early stages. As of now we only push App updates to the users. Though we are not looking at monetizing/generating revenues directly from the App, In-App notifications, push notification and promotions would be important to keep users informed for Cross-Sell / Up-Sell opportunities.
Santosh: Are these Apps developed by your Company? How are you marketing these Apps to prospective users?
Karthik: We have an in-house development team which has done the core design and development of these Apps. As of now we are using the internal infrastructure built by our team to communicate with the user of the app and once we expand to a larger user base, I feel there would be a need of additional technologies for more robust In-App marketing.
Marketing of these Apps at present is organic to our existing users and through our sales team. We are working on a well-defined strategy to market these Apps on a larger scale.
“Digital brilliance and digital expertise should be an integral part of hiring process. Somebody who is digitally illiterate or semi illiterate is no longer a valid candidate for sales & marketing.”
Santosh: Apart from Apps are you using other channels to promote your products in the market?
Karthik: We do multiple online and offline activities for lead generation. Online activities include SEO of the website, Blogs, Content Management, Email Campaigns and all different type of Social Media promotions. Offline activities include Direct Mailers, Telemarketing, clinical trade shows, events and conferences.
Santosh: Could you please share some insights on how your campaigns are designed considering different target markets i.e Business & Consumers for Global and Indian market?
Karthik: Some of the campaigns adopt the carpet bombing marketing strategy, which go out generically on the website, and on our social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But some of them are quite targeted, say to the top doctors, then that is where we effectively use Google Ad Words, Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups.
We do run campaigns which are time bound. Depending on the relevance of the technology and product USPs to talk about and prospect segmentation, we come up with a complete campaign calendar for weekly, fortnightly and monthly communications.
The leads gathered through all these online campaigns are channelized through two specific contact points –
1) A centralized email ID which automatically collects all online and inbound web/email leads
2) We also have a call centre to take in-bound calls. India specific leads are put into a separate bucket list. Similarly, there are other region-wise bucket lists.
Santosh: Out of all the channels you mentioned for your campaigns which are the most effective in lead capturing in terms of volume and quality of leads?
Karthik: The best qualified leads come from the service team of the company. The reason and logic behind it is that once any medical device or product is sold to the customer, these products are owned by our customers for a minimum of 4-5 years. So it is very important to maintain the relationship through good quality, timely services. This will create more satisfied customers. Satisfied customers bound to offer positive referrals to their peer groups.
The second most effective medium is publications – publishing content in the form of both editorials and advertisements in the leading healthcare journals which are distributed to several lakhs of recipients who are from the purchase and management side of a hospital. Also, we are subscribing to third party channels who are official publication partners for leading clinical conferences and trade shows. We also subscribe to third party telemarketing services where inbound inquiries regarding medical technology get routed to our company. So primarily online & offline publications and direct mailing activities help us in getting the right quantity and quality of leads.
“We wanted a single system that is tightly integrated and used across different business units. Off the shelf MAS and CRM products might have made the marketing and sales automation process more advanced and robust, but this solution (SAP ERP) meets our overall organizational objective.”
Santosh: What kind of technology or tools that you use in the backend for marketing and sales?
Karthik: For Email Marketing, SEO, SMM, Website Management and Customer Journey Mapping, we use the campaign management module of SAP ERP.
We are also using the CRM module of SAP, through which our entire demand generation process is automated. All leads are properly funnelled and qualified before its passed to the tele-calling team and post qualification leads are assigned to the sales team. This entire process is managed in the CRM and it is our centralized source of data.
Santosh: Why did you choose SAP ERP over existing off-the shelf Marketing Automation and CRM products?
Karthik: Primary reason to go for SAP ERP is because we have a complex mix of B2B and B2C processes. Involving sales, marketing, finance, sourcing, factory level inventory management and input raw material management etc. Some features like drip marketing, lead scoring etc are missing and needs lot of manual intervention, but most of the important aspects are covered with this solution.
We wanted a single system that is tightly integrated and used across different business units. Off the shelf MAS and CRM products might have made the marketing and sales automation process more advanced and robust, but this solution (SAP ERP) meets overall organizational objective.
Santosh: You have implemented these systems at an organisational level, did you face issues related infra or resistance in adoption from sales & marketing teams based in India?
Karthik: It’s more of a habitual problem than an infrastructural issue. The reason I say this because you can check any recently published report about internet availability and penetration, India highest incremental growth in the internet users are in villages and cities. So the infra required to login to an app check and punch in data & reports is available to everyone and we all have smart phones these days.
If the organisation understands how marketing is linked to sales and business process, and the need for a solution to enable the process, I think half the job is done. We have made it a mandate for every respective individual to learn and use the system, you cannot wait for everyone’s approval and acceptance to implement.
Digital brilliance and digital expertise should be an integral part of hiring process. Somebody who is digitally illiterate or semi illiterate is no longer a valid candidate for sales & marketing.
Santosh: Do you think marketing leadership should be well versed with technology?
Karthik: I recently attended a Marketing Transformation Summit, a clear message which was coming out of that the marketing leadership now needs to understand technology very well, not only at a theoretical level but at functional level as well. The Role of a CMO is fast transforming into a that of a Chief Marketing Technologist (CMTO: Chief Marketing Technology Officer) / CMIO (Chief Marketing Information officer) & the current marketing leadership roles now focus not only on traditional marketing verticals like Business Analytics, Market Research, Pricing, Marketing Communications & Customer Events, but also on adoption & implementation of technology in marketing practice to enhance customer experience.
Santosh: What is your expectation from the B2C Marketing Automation Report, India 2017?
Karthik: This report should give good insights on the real impact of B2C Marketing Automation on Consumer Purchase / Buying Behaviour. The price threshold at which the customer is either comfortable or not comfortable to buy online gets better defined. Beyond a certain price threshold, consumers would still prefer to visit brick & mortar stores to have a touch and feel of the product before buying and a lot of these conventional perceptions may get redefined in the times to come.
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