We'll get back to you quickly
after a few brief questions:
September 13, 2018 Shownotes:
How do you promote a state-of-the-art medical device that is brand-new to the consumer market? This is a question that BioPhotas CEO Patrick Johnson had to answer during the launch of Celluma, a NASA-researched series light therapy devices. Find out the marketing tactics that secured his brand’s success on The 19: Healthcare.
This is The 19. In 19 minutes or less, game-changing insights from Orange Label, the leading response marketing agency for established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset.
Hi, I’m Rochelle Reiter, agency principal at Orange Label. One of the things that really inspires me about healthcare is that it creates a space where pioneers can thrive and make a positive difference in the lives of others. I mean, think about it. There’s never a dull moment in healthcare. The industry is constantly moving forward into new territory, new inventions, new technology, and the dynamic spirit is truly exhilarating.
For example, what if I told you there was technology researched by NASA that you uses LED light to treat everything from arthritis to acne? Yep, you heard that correctly. This groundbreaking technology uses rays of light to accelerate the repair and replenishment of compromised tissue cells. Known as Celluma Series Light Therapy, these products have received more medical credentials than any other form of LED light therapy, and they are currently used for treatment in hospitals, clinics, spas, physician’s offices, and in homes around the world. So you may be wondering, who’s responsible for bringing this innovative technology to the public? Well, let me introduce you to Patrick Johnson. Patrick is the CEO of BioPhotas, and Orange County, California based medical manufacturer, and the inventory of the award-winning Celluma Series of Light Therapy devices. And we’re absolutely thrilled to welcome him to The 19: Healthcare.
Rochelle: Patrick, thank you for joining us today.
Patrick: Thanks Rochelle, it’s great being with you here this morning.
Rochelle: So, Patrick, what is BioPhotas?
Patrick: BioPhotas is an Orange County based medical manufacturer. We specialize in the manufacturing and sale of light energy devices. Those are devices that use the energy produced by high intensity LEDs to upregulate cellular activity from the surface of the skin to about an inch below. So we’re using those devices to treat skin, muscle, and joint conditions that at their root all have compromised cellular function.
Rochelle: That’s amazing. So, BioPhotas is such an interesting company name. What does BioPhotas represent as a name?
Patrick: It’s actually Greek for “life light.” BioPhotas.
Rochelle: Love it. Love it. So what led you personally to work with BioPhotas?
Patrick: You know, I had spent about ten years as an executive officer in a publicly traded company that was in the orthopedic segment of the medical device industry. And while the company was doing well, and while I was doing well, I felt like I needed to be playing bigger. I wanted to leave a bigger footprint as far as a professional legacy, and I thought that would be in an area of helping people maintain their wellness, not necessarily treating sickness.
Rochelle: That’s great. I find it so much more rewarding to work with companies with a big “why” and a vision. So that’s great.
Patrick: Yeah, yeah absolutely.
Rochelle: So, what makes BioPhotas unique as a company?
Patrick: You know, at the core of our cultural commitment is basing everything we do on scientific fact. As a medical device company, you are regulated pretty strictly in what you say. We think the credibility of the company comes by being able to demonstrate through robust, peer-reviewed, published clinical literature that our product works for a reason. I think surrounding that core are really the cornerstone of our culture, which is: accountability, responsiveness, compassion. You know, your competition will always try and copy what you do. What we really focus on is who we are as a company. You know, and that we walk our talk. We try to respond to people before they expect us to respond. We care about everybody the company touches, even the people we’d rather not touch. We own everything that happens to the company. We don’t make excuses. If things don’t go our way and it was someone else’s fault, we still own that. When you take a look at BioPhotas and you look at who is arguably our competitors in the market, it’s really who we are, not necessarily what we do that distinguishes us from them.
Rochelle: That’s great. So tell us a little bit about the benefits – you mentioned them in the opening, of the product line itself. The Celluma product line itself.
Patrick. Yeah. So light therapy, or low-level light therapy, as it’s called technically, is using light energy to restore cellular function that’s been compromised by a myriad of environmental insults, whether that be disease, illness, injury, bad behavioral habits, or, you know, the normal aging process. Arguably, you could define aging as the degradation of cellular function. So, much like plants, we have chromophores, which are photoreceptors. Which can absorb light energy – very specific wavelengths of light energy – and turn back on natural cellular function.
Rochelle: Hm. Amazing. So, BioPhotas has obviously grown. What do you attribute the success of the company to?
Patrick: Obviously, the product has to work. The core technology in the Celluma was developed by NASA. NASA developed it to counter the effects of zero gravity environment on astronauts. When you put the human body into a zero gravity environment, it shuts down at a cellular level. And basically enters a state of hyper aging. And so, you know, if we can counter those effects, they have a lot of commercial implications back here on earth where people are very interested in sort of maintaining their youth, maintaining their good looks, maintaining their good feelings. And so, you know, I think at the core of the success is a product that works. And a product that works simply. You know, it’s much like drinking bottled water. Hydration improves your holistic health. Light therapy does the very same thing. So it’s a very experiential product. And once people try it, they gotta have more.
Rochelle: I noticed on the website that there was a veteran that it had helped. Explain some of the experiences that you had with people that the product has really helped and changed their life.
Patrick: That’s a great story. Part of the cultural foundation of the company is giving back. Making a difference. Having an impact. And through some of our board of directors connections, we have an affiliation with the Semper Fi fund, who supports the wounded warrior community who is transitioning back into civilian life after wounds or injury in battle. And we had donated a Celluma to The Wounded Warrior Battalion West at Camp Pendleton to see if it would help in that transition back to the civilian life. And the first marine who tried the device was an elite ten year veteran of the Marine Corps, unfortunately was exposed to IED injuries. And when we met him, he was in a walker. He couldn’t walk unassisted. So we offered the device to him to help with the pain he had from spinal injuries, and so about two weeks after delivering it to him, we checked in. And the Naval nurse that was helping him said, you know, he’s kind of gone dark on us. We haven’t heard from him, he hasn’t shown up for his appointments, it’s very odd. And so I said, send him a text that says he gets to keep the Celluma. And he immediately surfaced. And he said, I wasn’t checking in because I was afraid you were gonna take the Celluma away. It has helped me so dramatically. He actually started running. Yeah. So it gives me chills, you know, thinking about it. So, it’s a very very powerful therapy, and as much as we like making the world beautiful, what really gets us up in the morning and gets us through the bad days is dramatically affecting the quality of people’s lives. And we have those stories over and over again.
Rochelle: That’s amazing. That’s amazing. You mentioned earlier it helps to have a good product. So that’s the proof in the pudding. The proof point. Let’s talk about marketing that. And how you’ve gotten the word out with marketing, and what is your message to the public?
Patrick: Yeah, and so it’s been sort of an interesting go-to-market strategy for us, because with that rush to market, with salesmen and charlatans, for lack of a better term, there was a lot of skepticism around the product category. So we knew we needed to overcome that. And the way to do that was really to hold ourselves out as a medical device company. Despite the fact that from the very beginning, we’ve believed that this is a consumer product, and it’s a product that should be in every household, without first establishing the credibility of the product, we thought that that was gonna be a rough road to hoe. So we spent really the first five years of commercialization focusing on licensed professionals. Getting them to integrate it into their practice. Getting them to expose their patients or clients to it. Even having a sales channel where those licensed professionals could sell the product to their patients or clients, believing that was gonna create a market awareness that would just naturally pivot us into the consumer market. And, sort of surprisingly, it has worked that way. And it’s happened in the last year. Not much more than a year ago, five percent of our sales were direct to consumer. They’re now 35 percent.
Patrick: And that’s all been just organic. And we haven’t – we have plans for it, but we’re busy. You know, we haven’t done really any direct to consumer marketing. It’s just all organic as the core use of the device has expanded on the professional side, the consumer awareness has expanded and because all of our devices aren’t FDA cleared on an over the counter basis, we get consumers coming to us saying, I gotta have one of these at home.
Rochelle: Sure, sure. So, you mentioned you have a plan. What’s the next step to grow that?
Patrick: We’re currently in the process of building a new website. We’re aware that state-of-the art websites have gone from drop-down tabs to scrolling down to swiping. And so we need to catch up with swiping. We also recognize that a large percentage of consumer products are bought on tablets, or even on mobile devices. So we gotta make sure our website resonates in those mediums. And so that’s hopefully gonna be done in a couple of months. Then we think direct to consumer marketing makes sense. Because then we have a vehicle, a channel, a nexus, with the consumer market to sort of expose them to the company and bring them in for hopefully a sale.
Rochelle: Sure. Are you doing anything right now in terms of response marketing directly to people at all?
Patrick: We do, but it’s to professional opt-in database, and extensions of that. So we do a lot of e-mail campaigns, and we do targeted e-mail campaigns depending on if we’re talking to existing customers or potential customers and whether or not they’re consumers or professionals. We’ve tested some direct to consumer advertising, and it didn’t hit. So we’re re-evaluating that. But quite honestly as I said earlier, the Celluma is an experiential product. Once you try it, it’s like it’s a done deal, and so really where we see the growth in our direct to consumer sales, is coming from people who go to their esthetician, and you know, people who go to a Four Season’s Spa, people who go to their chiropractor. They get exposed to the Celluma, they have a positive experience, and go. And I not only use that for what I went to that practitioner for, but I can bring it home and my kids can use it for their acne, or husband can use it for his residual pain from extreme sports, the folks can use it for their arthritis. It’s really a whole family, whole body wellness device.
Rochelle: That’s amazing. What has been your biggest marketing challenge to date?
Patrick: Quite honestly, it’s staying focused. Because it’s such a fundamental therapy, and it applies to so many different conditions, every day we go oh well we can do that! Or oh, we can do that! There’s this great potential in the veterinary market. Animals are amazingly drawn to light therapy. They seem to know what’s good for them, and so there’s all kinds of veterinary applications. You know, whether it’s in wound healing, or treating joint conditions in animals. We just haven’t gotten there.
Rochelle: Yeah. We find that most entrepreneurs that’s the issue. Is the focus because they’re so excited. And you strike me as that type of a person. What marketing advice do you have for other healthcare and wellness entrepreneurs?
Patrick: Traditionally startups, particularly venture fund startups in the medical device arena usually have a product idea or a disease condition and all they need is the ten million dollars to sort of bridge that gap. And that really wasn’t our approach. We really wanted to build a technology platform that would easily have many applications in the market. So that we could actually generate the cash and profit to develop advanced indications for the device. And so, that’s worked out fairly successfully, but it comes back to that focus thing. So you have to draw out a realistic roadmap for the company and how you’re gonna go to market and when that’s gonna be monetized, and when that’s gonna become profitable, and whether or not you actually have the funding to do that. And if not, you either have to change the plan or you need to go get the funding. Because you don’t wanna find yourself in the middle of it, and run out of money.
Rochelle: Sure. That’s great. Patrick thank you for joining us today. It was great hearing about Celluma, and BioPhotas, and the great impact that it’s having on the world.
Patrick: Thanks Rochelle.
Rochelle: Thanks for coming.
Thank you for listening to The 19: Healthcare – Shining a Light on Healthcare Innovation. If you have additional thoughts on this topic, send us an email! You can send questions, comments, and more to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to subscribe to The 19 on iTunes and Google Play, and if you like what you heard today, leave us a review.
This was The 19, brought to you by Orange Label. If you’re interested in more healthcare response marketing, visit our blog and subscribe to our content, where we share our response marketing expertise on current healthcare industry topics. Visit orangelabeladvertising.com for all the details.
Explore more related industry podcasts
As Orange County’s longest-standing, privately held response marketing agency, we have witnessed dynamic shifts in the world of marketing. Through it all, we have ensured our clients stay at the forefront of communication and technology, driving response and value with every new endeavor.