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Japanese medical manufacturer gains traction in U.S.

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HOW NIHON KOHDEN USED AN INTEGRATED CAMPAIGN TO INCREASE LEADS Objective: Nihon Kohden, a Japanese manufacturer of electronic medical equipment, wanted to increase U.S. market share for its patient monitoring solutions. Strategy: The company introduced a new brand category, dubbed “defensive monitoring,” and launched an integrated campaign targeting nurses and hospital executives. Results: The campaign has helped Nihon Kohden gain acceptance at hospitals such as Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Also, the number of leads the company gets from trade shows has tripled. Nihon Kohden, a Japanese manufacturer of electronic medical equipment, wanted to increase market share in the U.S. for its patient monitoring solutions. Though the company had been in the U.S. market for several years, brand awareness was low, and its value proposition was undifferentiated. To address those challenges, Nihon Kohden America worked with branding agency RiechesBaird, Irvine, Calif., to introduce a new brand category, which it dubbed “defensive monitoring,” and rolled out the Prefense Early Detection and Notification System, a mobile patient monitoring system. The idea behind the defensive monitoring system is to continuously track the vital signs of patients at risk of adverse events, regardless of what unit they are in at the hospital and intervene that, said Ray Baird, president of RiechesBaird. To generate market interest in Prefense, Nihon Kohden two years ago launched an integrated campaign that includes print advertising and direct marketing. The direct marketing effort focuses both on sales outreach and on driving prospects to trade shows where Nihon Kohden has a presence, Baird said. The campaign first targeted nurses and caregivers, he said, and about a year ago added hospital executives. “[Hospital] executives will often go to the nurses and say "What do you think about this [product]?' ” Baird said. “In this case, because nurses are responsible for monitoring, it made sense to work both angles.” The campaign, whose tagline is “Transforming patient care with technology,” focuses on selling a solution rather than a product, Baird said. The creative strategy, he said, has been to have a conversation with hospital executives on the topics that concern them most: quality of care and economics. The headline of one ad featuring a photo of a 1973 Toyota Corolla asks: “What could a 1973 Japanese import possibly teach you about your hospital's performance?” The copy goes on to explain how the car changed the American automotive market and that something similar is now happening in patient-monitoring technology. “There's an inference to say Japanese technology is so advanced and has had such an impact on American products that it's only natural for this type of technology to make great advancements [in the U.S.] as it relates to patient monitoring,” Baird said. “There hasn't been a whole lot of innovation in this field.” The campaign has helped Nihon Kohden gain acceptance at hospitals such as Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Baird said. “The first sign of success is acceptance at premiere hospitals, and the testimonials and the stories that the caregivers and users of the product have early on,” he added. Plus, the number of leads the company gets from trade shows has tripled, Baird said. “People [at trade shows] just couldn't get enough of this product,” he said. “The amount of activity they have at their booth [now] compared to what they had three years ago is outstanding.”
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