New Product Opportunity Discovery

The Set Up

I just returned from VIVA2018 and was called out for not addressing the topic of Opportunity Discovery, as promised in the Opportunity Assessment post.

So the question at hand is how do you discover new product opportunities? To figure out the answer we need to turn the coin over and see what is on the other side of this question. How do I discover unmet clinical needs? Once again, the answer is simple; it depends.

It depends on whether you are looking for a disruptive product, groundbreaking new platform product, an improved product, a line extension, or, an adjacent use for your current product.

There are formal and informal ways of identifying unmet needs. Both lead to the same unpredictable place, Insight. Both formal and informal methods require you to “live” in the World of your clinician customers. Both ways need you to collect experiential data.   That experiential data can come from ‘true to life’ or ‘vicarious’ sources. They can be observed, reported first hand, or reported second hand.

 The Formal Way

If possible, the formal process should

start with a loose objective. By this I mean it should be consistent with your current corporate positioning. I.e., if you are known for safety, then you should be looking for opportunities to provide a higher level of protection. If you are known for quality, then look for opportunities surrounding improving quality. If you are known as a company that brings therapeutic products then identify an underserved disease or patient type.

Approaches

The MAUDE database (where mfg. report complaints, defects, and injuries) can provide rich experiential data with respects to needed product improvements.  There are several challenges to using this database, but it is still a great first point of discovery.

Polling thought leaders is a formal way of identifying “pain” points. Just be sure to ask the open-ended questions first and then drill down. Don’t look for solutions yet. Secure an understanding in as much detail as possible first. E.g., your company has identified through an environmental scan that adjacent diseases state or technology is a direction they want to move in. It is emerging or already has high growth rates with little competitive activity.

Once you have polled the thought leaders in this new area and have developed a hypothesis; invite 10-20 physicians to a panel meeting and have an open discussion surrounding the needs of this emerging therapy.   Concretely come to understand the challenges from all dimensions, science, clinical, business, reimbursement, regulatory, to name several.

Attend clinical presentations at medical conferences. Product managers get pulled in two-directions at these conferences. Booth duty, sales support and discovery. If one of your roles is up-stream marketing, then you must attend papers.

 Hospital/Clinic time is becoming more difficult. There was a time where I had free access to spend a day wondering between OR’s just being there, listening to issues, watching for problems. Those days are no longer with us. Often you need to be in the OR for legitimate teaching purposes. There is often downtime between cases. Don’t waste that opportunity. Be curious. Be assertive. Be careful.

Conduct formal ethnographic studies staying consistent with the tenants of the discipline but realizing you are restricted in your ability to remain independent of the environment.

The Informal Way

Just because I label these as informal methods doesn’t discount them. You still have to be observant, aware and present to see them.

Approaches

Wait to be approached by a physician or other clinician with an idea. It is better to have a formal process in place to handle these situations. IP and financial issues are often at stake.

Listen to the buzz at a trade show and see where it leads. It could be a start-up company displaying a product concept for the first time. It could be an established company that is holding a panel meeting; I always check the conference hotels’ directory for events of the day.

Have lightning strike, not literally, but rather from a position of immersing your self in the World of your clinician customer.

Look for parallelism, if your clinician customer is having a problem it is likely that it has been experienced before, in a similar disease or therapy or time. Don’t leap to a solution, but use the parallel experience as a guide to come to understand the problem.

 Learning’s

 You may have noticed that I have kept finding a solution separate from identifying the problem. There are two different processes. It is valuable to keep them separate.

It will prevent you from leaping to the first apparent solution and therefore missing the right answer.

“Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.”

Make it a great day,

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group. A small consulting firm that specializes in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. www.theexperiagroup.com. Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.

© 2018, The Experia Group, LLC

Six Critical Differences with Life Cycle Planning for Medical Devices

The Set Up

I was just in front of a number of Medical Device professionals this past week-end and an observation was made that Product Life Cycle Planning wasn’t a point of focus with many of their organizations. A number of these professionals thought that it was a missed opportunity to optimization their product portfolio’s.

Product life cycle planning is a great concept, difficult to execute in many industries, simple in some.

Defined

The product lifecycle is just that, a lifecycle. Birth, growth, maturity, and a decline to death are the four phases of the product life cycle.

There are four phases that every product goes through:

  • Introduction
  • Growth
  • Maturity
  • Decline

Typically the characteristics of each phase are represented in the table below:

Phases >>> Introduction Growth Maturity Decline
Characteristics vv
Sales Low sales Rapidly rising sales Peak sales Declining sales
Costs High cost per customer Average cost per customer Low cost per customer Low cost per customer
Profits Negative Rising profits High profits Declining profits
Customers Innovators Early adopters Middle majority Laggards
Competitors Few Growing number Stable numbers beginning to decline Declining numbers

The lifecycle curve is often depicted as a very neat predictable curve.

The challenge is that each product has it own equation for the curve. How long a product resides in each of the different phases is unique to the segment, product, competition, etc.

The Concept Deployed

So how can we effectively use the concept of a product lifecycle in our day-to-day work lives?   Assuming you can recognize which phase your in, there are strategic plays to make.

Each of the 4 Ps of the marketing mix can be deployed to optimize marginal profit. Or if you get bold and creative you can actually change the trajectory of the lifecycle and extend the growth or maturity phases, essentially prolonging the life of the product.

My personal experience has shown that product lives can be as long as three decades to as short as a few months. The dream scenario is to have a very steep Introduction and Growth phase with a very long Maturity phase followed by a quick Demise.

Nuances from the Medical Device World

Within the medical device space there are elemental difference that change the average life-cycle curve. The need for innovation, patent landscapes, regulatory affairs processes, high switching cost, conservative adoption practices, a required familiarity and consistency of tools that physicians use and how that contributes to quality of care.  These six critical differences must be accounted for in your life cycle planning.

  1. Innovation
  2. IP landscape
  3. Regulatory processes
  4. High switching cost
  5. Conservative adoption practices
  6. Safety comes from familiarity

I often repeat the finding of a study done a number of years ago. On average it takes 14 years for 50% of physicians to adopt a new gold standard technique or technology. Of course this varies by physician type and therapy and may well have changed over the years, but it makes the point that a lifecycle curve for a consumer product and a medical device are quite different.

The most difficult thing to do is to remove a tool from a physician. The tool that your company commercialized and which, the physician bought into the story and has faithfully used in treating their patients. If you ever find yourself contemplating this unenviable task, just remember that the way you treat the customer during this necessary process is what will make all the difference in the World; communicate, communicate, communicate.

Lessons

  • Not all product segments behave the same
  • You can manipulate the curve with creative strategies
  • When obsoleting a product be plan full and communicate, communicate, communicate

“Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.”

Make it a great day,

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group, and author of INSIGHTS: 33 Lessons Learned In Medical Device Marketing.  Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.   www.theexperiagroup.com.

© 2018, The Experia Group, LLC

Five Critical Elements to Include in all Medical Device Marketing Campaigns

The Set Up

I was invited to give a talk to a group of local marketing professionals in the Medical Device Sector and after sorting through all the things I could share with them, from pricing to promotions to channel development and everything in between, here is the essence of that talk. Look for your golden nugget.

At the Core

“Vision without action is merely a dream.

Action without vision just passes the time.

Vision with action can change the World.”

                                          Joel Barker

The above quote from Joel Barker made a significant impact on my life thinking. I first heard it in the 1990’s. It has become my mantra as a marketer. With every campaign, new product launch, strategy and tactic I have created my goal has been to change the World, well maybe just a small part of it. As time marched on I combined the essence of this quote with the Dow Chemical Model of Organizational Transformation and you will see the results in the model below.

So the first declaration to the group after introducing the Barker quote was my beliefs surrounding the neccessity of integrating marketing activities throughout the department and the organization as a whole.

Over Arching Philosophy

I believe that an integrated commercialization strategy is necessary to create and sustain success for all effective medical devices over both the short-term and long-term.  That integrated strategy is as equally important as the actual invention and development of the new product itself.

The creation and execution of an integrated commercialization strategy is more complex now than ever before. When faced with complexity I find it best to return to the basics. There are six key elements to creating successful marketing programs in the medical device space. If any of the six elements are missing then an undesired result occurs.

Vision, Knowledge, Experience, Method, and Action are all required to create effective programs. See the chart titled Five Critical Element Model for the elements and what happens when one is missing.

Core beliefs…

1.    Safety comes first and always.

2.    The clinician customer is your most important guide, not King.

3.     Constant customer engagement in its many forms is the source of the product manager’s influence and is critical to success.

4.     Minimal regulatory strategies never serve the good of the patient nor the product.

5.     There should always be structure to the input that you are receiving from the field.

6.    Tension is natural and valuable between all stakeholders in the commercialization process.

7.    Going slow to go fast is the right approach, most of the time.

8.    Starting with the end in mind is the best way to ensure success.

9.   You can’t bring positive change to a process without being able to measure that process, never skipping a step or cheapening the ingredients.

10. Practicing unethical behaviors will never lead to success.

11. Authenticity of purpose and action – to truly serve, is the best way to build important relationships.

12. Multifunctional teams are required in the absence of true genius.

13. There are no limits to what is possible, only practical limitations that we choose to put on ourselves.

14. Hands on experiences for customer input are superior to any mental exercise.

15. Competitive analysis is often over done, it can dilute your differentiation strategies, know they self.

What are your core beliefs? Take a few minutes and write them down. Knowing your self and what you believe can go a long way to bringing peace and contentment in your work.

Five Critical Element Model

The two critical elements that are most often forgotten or discounted are Experience and Method (process can be interchanged with method). Many believe that intellect can replace experience and method. Is just isn’t true. “The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein

So, if something is not going well with your campaign review the Model and see what is missing. Better yet, review the model before you create the campaign and get it right the first time.

Lessons

  1. When faced with complexity make it simple by re-visiting your core beliefs
  2. Don’t be afraid to try and change the World.
  3. Use the model for both planning and diagnosis

“Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.”

Make it a great day,

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group. A small consulting firm that specializes in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. www.theexperiagroup.com. Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.

© 2018, The Experia Group, LLC

The Sales Pipeline role in Medical Device Commercialization

The Set Up

Recently I had a interesting discussion with a VP of Sales about who owns the Sales Pipeline, marketing or sales. Truth be told both functions own the pipeline at different times in the Commercialization process. Same holds true for the sales process.

My view is that the pipeline and process can’t be seperated. The process dictates the drop out points along the pipeline.

The Problem

If you don’t understand the sales process and the sales pipeline you can’t predict the need for demand generation (leads). If the pipeline progression is not under control or is not predictable you can’t calculate a success rate. Without understanding the process and efficiency you can’t determine the cost of account acquision.

What is a “Sales Process”?

The sales process is simply the step-by-step progression of activity that the sales professional goes through to successfully close the sale. Is it the same every time? It depends on the type of product and the type of sales approach required. It is not at all unusual that within the same company there will be nuance that change the process steps or important of the steps.

Simplified sales process

For this lesson a very simple sales process will be used.

  1. Lead generation
  2. Local qualifying
  3. Messaging
  4. Evaluation
  5. Value analysis
  6. Close

Example: You may sell a product that needs very little hands on experience by the physician to understand the value. In the same portfolio you may have a new product that requires hands on expeirence, touch and fell to understand the value. The Evaluation step will be more critical with the second product.

What is a “Sales Pipeline”?

The sales pipeline is the aggregate production by step of the sales process. The sales pipeline as shown here is a great visualization of the success of each process step. As shown the sales process has a 65% success rate. From the progression we can see that most of the loss is in Messaging. A deeper dive on how the messaging is not connecting with the physician is warranted.

 

 

So who owns the process and the pipeline?

It is always best to work as a team. Bring in some of the best sales professionals during the development of the process.

The way I see it pre-launch, the marketer acts as the architect of the process and conducts a validation of the pipeline. The marketing’s job is to make the pipeline as efficient as possible at launch. Where the leads come from and at what rate is the marketer’s job. Determining the qualifying criteria is the marketer’s job. Crafting the messaging is the marketer’s job. How the evaluation is conducted is the marketer’s job. Having a strong value proposition is the marketer’s job.

Post-launch it is the Sales professional job to nuance and perfect the steps in the pipeline. Use their local knowledge of the account to their advantage. Produce a 65% success rate or better. Communicate improvements into marketing so they can validate the process improvement and communicate outward the new best practice.

The advantages of understanding the nature of the sales process and the drop out points of the pipeline are:

Advantages

  1. Predictable demand forecasting
  2. Metric for sales force performance
  3. Diagnostic tool for macro and micro improvements
  4. Produces a common language
  5. Provides a tool for sales management to monitor the sales force path to competency

Other key aspects of the pipeline

Other key aspects of the pipeline are the velocity and progression through the pipeline. The sales cycle may take 15 days to 2 years to complete. Momentum is important to carrying the “good news” throughout the process. If you stall out in any step it will take extra effort to kick-start the process forward. Cost of acquisition goes up at an escalating rate.

  1. Velocity
  2. Momentum
  3. Continual progress

Lessons

  1. Partner with sales professionals to develop the sales process
  2. Validate the drop out points during a controlled or limited launch
  3. Use the pipeline as a quality tool not as a fault hammer

“Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.”

Make it a great day,

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group. A small consulting firm that specializes in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. www.theexperiagroup.com. Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.

© 2018, The Experia Group, LLC

 

Clinical Evidence Plan Creation for Medical Device Marketers

The Set Up

I have found that there is often a disconnect between the desired Marketing Messaging and the Clinical Evidence proof that has been created in support of the product. Many product managers are caught between what they want to say vs. what they are allowed to say. This sets up a potential conflict that could lead to “off-label” claims.

The Problem

When there is a disconnect between messaging and proof points a number of outcomes may or will occur:

  • The message is weak
  • Un-supported claims – misleading statements
  • Failed regulatory process
  • Confusion and wasted resources
  • Frustration

What causes the disconnect?

There are a number of reasons this disconnect might occur:

  • Lack of an integrated Commercialization strategy
  • The Clinical Affairs group acting to serve the minimal required Regualtory Strategy
  • Marketing not providing input to Clinical Affairs before the evidence collection begins
  • Marketing not knowing what they want to say about the product
  • A desire to minimize cost

None of the above reasons are good ones. We have talk about the product managers role as being the keeper and communicator of the vision for the new product launch. This has to include the development of a clinical evidence plan.

What to do to prevent the disconnect?

Create a Clinical Evidence Plan – a clinical evidence plan is the thought process and document that connects your marketing message to the clinical trial/study development goals with the regulatory strategy. As with all commercialization processes there are natural tensions between the four roles that surround clinical evidence development. Getting to a consensus won’t be easy. The gains are worth the effort.

How do I create a clinical evidence plan?

There are thirteen steps to creating the plan. I’ll list them here for you, but it may not be clear to you how to actual complete each step. Steps 5-12 are particularly difficult and require some experience to do them well.

Plan creation steps (assume that you will need a working group of marketers, clinical affairs specialists, medical affairs specialists, and regualtory affairs specialists)

Step Description Type of step
1 Strategic marketing message (clarity is required on primary claims) Input
2 Proof points from messaging Extraction
3 Brain storm support claims New input
4 Brain storm desired future claims (outside current messaging) New input
5 Load all desired claims into a spreadsheet (Steps 2,3,4)(leave a comment to this post with your e-mail address for a free spreadsheet template) Team leader action
6 Populate the spreadsheet with the claims and all details

Nature of the claim, clinical end point, evidence level required, study type, study description, regulatory requirement, sample size, number of investigators needed, etc.

Team event(s)
7 Define scoring scales 5-1 for each impact variable

·      Duration of study score

·      Total cost score

·      Magnitude of market impact score

·      Likelihood of success score

Selecting weighting for each variable

Team event
8 Have an expanded group score each variable, independantly Individual input
9 Collate and compile the results from all receiptient (best to do frequency plots and averages for all variables) Team leader action
10 Review scoring and reach concensus on each score, don’t just use the average score. Team event
11 Calculate the impact scores (Duration x weight) x (Total cost x weight) x (Magnitutude market impact x weight) x (Likelihood of success x weight) = Combined impact score Team leader action
12 Apply team judgement to the scores and prioritize Team event(s)
13 Publish results Team lead and team

Cautions: Scales and weights will drive the prioritization; spend enough time on these two sets of decisions.

The Benefits of an Integrated Clinical Evidence plan are:

  • Powerful messaging
  • Team alignment
  • Effective use of resources

Lessons:

  1. Be proactive and lead
  2. Know what you want to say about the product before you start the clinical evidence collection process
  3. Build consensus on the best approach to develop clinical evidence

“Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.”

Make it a great day,

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group. A small consulting firm that specializes in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. www.theexperiagroup.com. Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.

Copyright 2018, The Experia Group®, LLC

Keeping the Strategic Message Pure in the Marketing Mix

The Set Up

Working with several clients to develop their up-stream product and corresponding messaging strategies for elements of their portfolio was relatively straight forward, right up until we needed to translate that strategy and messaging into actionable input for the down-stream activities.  Then everything came to a grinding halt.

I don’t use the word translate lightly.  It felt as though there were three or four languages being spoken in the room at the same time.  It was to say the least frustrating at the worst maddening.  How do you translate the Up-stream message to the Down-stream message?

What was going on?

Digging a little deeper I determined that it was much more than just a language issue. The promotions and branding teams that were put together to “package” the message into an attractive and readily acceptable set of collateral materials and campaigns came from different cultures where specific tools had been developed, practiced, and became so engrained that they could no longer accept input without it being in the format they were individually accustomed to.

 This was a challenge as there were at least six different formats that were being used.  When you stepped back from the translation process it was amazing to see that the majority of these forms, templates and formats all used the same words and phrases, but they all had slightly different meanings due to the contextual difference from the user perspective.  Words and phrases such as: segmentation, positioning, targeting, persona, value proposition all meant different things.

 This translation issue was significant and any hope for efficiencies went right out the window.  My role was to make sure we didn’t lose effectiveness as well.

What to do?

Admittedly my thinking is not complete on this issue, but here is what I did.  For those of you who have read some of my other posts you’ll know that I am a huge fan of writing down concepts as a vehicle of communications.  It became clear to me that that would not be enough in this case.  I had to make sure that the messaging did not become confused. I had to make sure that the Strategy was not “thrown over a wall” to those responsible for putting a beautiful wrapper around the execution of the strategic messaging.

I asked myself what brought clarity to me regarding the positioning of the product.  The answer was, perspective and context that I had gained through immersion in the customer environment.  Somehow I had to translate that perspective that insight to the down-stream creatives.   

So?  Here is what the team did.  We held several sessions where market research findings were presented to the creative team with discussion.  We made available digital recordings of customer interviews.  We used their forms and we stayed intimately involved as a “technical advisor” to their creative process.  We attended their creative workshops.  The tone of our input was one of a knowledgable guide.  When the creatives seemed to be diverting from the message we assumed that it was us that didn’t understand and we listened carefully.  We would reassert an insight and show where we derived that insight from an interview or the research in real time.

We did everything we could and more to “tear down the wall”.  Did this approach work?  Couldn’t hurt.  Time will tell.

Lessons:

1.     Don’t assume that just because we are all marketers that we speak the same language.

2.     Sometimes we can’t see the walls that we ourselves helped to build.

3.     Tear down the walls, don’t throw vision over the wall and think it will land correctly.

 “Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.” 

Make it a great day, 

Tim Walker

 

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group.  A small consulting firm that specializes in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success.  www.theexperiagroup.com.  Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.

 

© 2018, The Experia Group, LLC

Important Aspects of Segment Targeting in the Medical Device Market

Targeting

Target as a descriptor is used in several different ways in Marketing. The Targeting that is referred to in this post is Segment Targeting. Targeting can’t be accomplished until you have the Segmentation of the Market complete. As a reminder the S-T-P in STP marketing stands for Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning.

  • Targeting is simply selecting the segment or segments that will afford you your first right successes.

Why Should We Target a Segment at All?

Ideally, your product or company would be equally appealing to the entire market. Seldom is that the case. To gain effectiveness and efficiencies you target a limited segment which focuses your resources on the customers that you are most likely to be successful with.

Targeting Challenge

The challenge with targeting is that it is a process of inclusion and exclusion. Very few sales organizations have reached the level of sophistication where they are willing to firmly accept exclusions. Honor this and leave room for deviation from your target. By leaving a little room for individualism for the sales professionals you will avoid an instantaneous negative reaction to a rigid set of rules and you will leave open a channel for exploration for secondary targeting or follow-on targeting.

Leakage from your target segment into those you have excluded is unavoidable and in the long-term can be very beneficial, as long as it doesn’t get out of control. Leakage typically comes from three sources:

  • Physician driven to adjacent segments
  • Sales force driven through tangential relationship or opportunistic contact
  • Peer – to –Peer recommendation outside the targeted segment

Examples of Target Segment Leakage

From the segmentation example provided, lets assume you choose OR and Post-Op vs. Surgeon as the target segments for your product. Trauma surgeons work in both the ER and the OR, there will be some natural overlap of product utility that can lead to leakage; this would be an example of physician driven leakage.

Or, lets say that your Sales Professional was scheduled in surgery and that appointment was cancelled, they can go home, or they can stop by the ER to visit a loyal customer from a previous stop on their career journey, assume they close this sale; this is an example of relationship driven leakage

A real life example from my history is, that an ER physician presents at an M&M conference and one of your OR surgeons says, “in the OR we would have prevented that death by using this product, this way.” The next day your representative gets a call from the ER doc that just experienced a death. How can you not take that customer call (perhaps the product manager takes the call); this is an example of peer-to-peer leakage.

Critical Consideration for Targeting

  • Is, or are, the segments large enough for you to reach your strategic goals/objectives?
  • Even though the segments may have been differentiated enough in your segmentation scheme to be considered separately, are they similar enough to be combined?
  • Does your product deliver strong utility to the target?

Key Lessons

  • Targeting is not about a single customer, yet.
  • Targets must be large enough to be worthwhile.
  • Targets must be able to realize the utility of your product or company.
  • Practically, you will have leakage between segments.

“Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.”

Make it a great day,

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group. A small consulting firm that specializes in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. www.theexperiagroup.com. Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.

© 2017, The Experia Group, LLC

A Practical Approach to Segmentation in the Medical Device Market

The Set Up

It just occurred to me that I had not completed the STP market trilogy. This post will introduce the concept of segmentation, the S in STP marketing. As a reminder the S-T-P in STP marketing stands for Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning.

Segmentation Defined

  • Segmentation is a methodology to cluster customers with similar buyer behavior (i.e., desired experiences, behaviors) into meaningful groups that can be differentially targeted with unique marketing mixes

Why should we segment the market at all?

  • Segmentation can be a significant source of competitive advantage
    • If you can “see” and “act on” a group of customers — that competitors “don’t see” — you can quickly gain advantage
    • If you segment the same way as competitors you give up a very big potential source of competitive advantage

Segmentation Challenge

Of the three, segmentation has the most potential to set you apart in a significant way from your competition. Segmentation is also the most difficult to do well.   It’s potential comes from the fact that you can segment a market in a large number of ways:

  • Geographically
  • Technology
  • Customer persona
    • Customer type(s)
    • Customer charaturistic(s)
    • Customer preference(s)
    • Customer buying behavior
    • Customer attitude
    • Customer demographics
  • Therapeutic method
  • Care facility type
  • Price point
  • Distribution channel

The difficulty comes from having so many choices. How do you know which way is best for you? Difficulty also comes from the fact that you are likely to use multiple segmentation schemes for different reasons. The segmentation choice I am referring to here is to optimize your product based segmentation. In other words, how will segmenting the market help in my defining or selling the product that I currently am developing.

Segmentation Schemes

To select a segmentation scheme it must be: Meaningful and Actionable. See the table below for an example. Typically you would brainstorm the demand side variables and then score them with type of method.

Example

 

 

For each segment you need to consider:

  • Size?
  • Competitive implications?
  • How this might drive future success?
  • How these might box you in?
  • Is there a pathway for future growth?
  • Is it possible to prioritize the segments?
  • What are the channel implications?

Key Lessons

  • Segmentation can help you see your customers differently than competition.
  • Segments must be meaningful and actionable.
  • Segmentation must lead to a targeting that works with your current sales force or be prepared to change it.

“Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.”

Make it a great day,

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group. A small consulting firm that specializes in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. www.theexperiagroup.com. Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.

© 2017, The Experia Group, LLC

Voice of the Customer in Medical Device Product Development

The Set Up

Over the past year I have been involved with a number of mentoring, coaching and consulting projects and one question that keeps coming up time and time again is, “When do I need to collect the Voice of the Customer (VOC) for input into my new product development process?”

There is a simple answer, which is, “all the time”. Now the context and design constraints surrounding that answer are significant. In this posting I will elaborate on the simple answer offered above. Hopefully you will gain from this perspective. Suffice it to say that regardless of the magnitude of the effort it is one of the most important ongoing aspect of what the marketer does to ensure successful resolution of the problem in an attractive way.

Context

The way I think about VOC is that it is the first right activity to minimize risk of missing the mark with the utility of a new product. How much time and money you dedicate to the effort really depends on how well you understand the problem statement, how many unknowns there are, how different the solutions might be from technology there are used to using and how much of a change to their clinical practice might occur. In other words, how much design risk is there?

The age old concept of, “if we build it they will come” is not the case in Medical Device Commercialization.

There are too many preferences and nuances to believe that: a marketer, engineer, inventor, single physician could in isolation determine the right design approach for a device that solves a clinical problem and would be attractive to the entire market.

As far as timing goes, the right time to begin collecting VOC is to test your hypothesized problem statement. Remember that you have to determine if the opportunity is real? The, “is it real?” question is one that requires a deep understanding of the customer, their environment and the problem space. You need to collect insights through VOC to know if it is a real problem, how wide spread the problem is, and how accepted is the belief that the problem needs solving.

Once you understand the nature of the risks, I would recommend designing a customer input plan to parallel the design and development activities and make that part of your marketing plan.

For details regarding the VOC process itself see the post, VOC Input for Product Requirements Development. Look to this blog for a future post on developing a Customer Input Plan for the Medical Device Product Development.

The Bigger Question

The bigger question isn’t when, but rather how extensive. The answer to that question is, “it depends.” If the nature of the project is that its success is critical to your business, has a long development cycle or will require a huge amount of resources, then plan to get a significant amount of input throughout the development process.

If the risk is low or the technology is well understood, then maybe a customer input plan that involves fewer touch points or fewer physicians is ok. Just make sure that every stakeholder’s views are represented.

An Example

The project I am currently working on has six different types of clinicians in three different care setting that will be targeted in the first 24 months post-launch. Normally, I would segment these groups out and prioritize their inputs based on the number or participants or by the dollar or unit volume that they represent. This time there is essentially no basis to prioritize the input.

 So for this project I will interview a high volume user in each category before I propose a problem statement. That problem statement will be tested with 10 inputs from each category or 60 physicians before I submit it to the R&D group for their concept generation process. I estimate that I will spend on average $500 per input and take six-weeks to collect the information. For the entire project (through technical design release), I am budgeting $240k- $360k that will be used over a two-year period at different points in the process identified below.

Key Points for VOC

  1. Pre-problem statement development
  2. Problem statement integration
  3. Product requirement generation
  4. Design concept ideation
  5. Design concept selection
  6. Design detail input
  7. Clinical evidence plan input
  8. Prototype utility study
  9. Prototype human factors study
  10. Validation protocol generation input
  11. Design validation
  12. Messaging input

Of course this list is not the only time customer input would be collected, as mentioned in the first paragraph, VOC is collected all the time. The unique aspect of this device is that it is not intended for use internationally, this reduced the complexity and cost substantially.

Key Lessons

  • When in doubt ask a customer, not just one.
  • Watch for bias in your sampling.
  • Never stop listening.
  • Risk-adjust your VOC efforts.
  • Beware of KOLs representing the mainstream users.

Caution

If you are asked to cut corners or reduce your sample size make sure that Management understands the residual risks of doing so.

“Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.”

Make it a great day,

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group. A small consulting firm that specializes in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. www.theexperiagroup.com. Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.

© 2017, The Experia Group, LLC

New Product Launch Planning Topics for the Medical Device Market

The Set Up

Over the years I have been privileged to launch or direct the launch of nearly 100 medical devices. With that experience I have learned that launching a new product is not a marketing function. It takes an integrated team with an integrated mind set. I have assisted a number of clients in designing their new product launch plans. Several long-time colleagues have recently asked me to provide a thought check-list for their less experienced team members to aid in launch planning.

So I have decided to share that check-list with everyone. I caution that this is a list of decisions or thinking that should occur as you are designing your launch. Following this check-list doesn’t gaurentee success. So much of the success comes from the quality and deepth of thinking you put into the topics. So with that cautionary note here is the check-list. A conceptual thought that might make this clear to you is to think about the topics as section title slides for the Launch deck.

The Intent with an Integrated Launch

The way I have always thought about a product launch is parallel to a rocket launch. Planned well (correct trajectory to achieve the proper orbit) you apply a tremendous amount energy (time, resources, targeting) to a launch and once you break free of Earth’s gravity (market resistance to change) you fly along at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour with no fuel being utilized at all.

 

 

 

The Thought Check-list

 Launch Summary

 Product vision

 Elevator pitch regarding the launch, not the product

 Market Understanding

 Therapy understanding

 Technology understanding

 Macro segmentation

 Competition defined

 Market drivers determined

 Key success factors identified

 Product Understanding

 Product definition

 Product description

 Positioning statement

 Value proposition

 Health-economic story

 FAQ

 Trouble shooting guide

 Allowed claims

 Competitive comparison

 Portfolio revelance

 Launch Strategy

 Launch goals/objectives

 Financial

 Revenue

 Profit

 Share shifting rate

 Non-Financial

 Quality

 Complaint

 Close success rate

 Compliance to targeting

 Business process metrics

 VOC

 Customer satisfaction product

 Customer satisfaction service

 Customer targeting

 Channel considerations

 Customer profile

 Customer engagement strategy

 External communication strategy

 Launch Tactics

 Launch structure (Controlled, Limited, General)

 Launch campaign development

 Team membership

 Launch calendar

 Sales process (Controlled, Limited, General)

 Product sampling plan

 Evaluation process steps identified and facilitated

 Pricing (Controlled, Limited, General)

 Reimbursement

 Demand generation plan

 Sales pipeline projections (1-12 months)

 Demand/Supply plan

 Revenue projections

 Share penetration rates

 Service plan

 Sales training progression plan

 Messaging Mix Development

 Message development

 Collateral development plan

 Video

 In-service video

 Promotional video

 Testimonial video

 Digital

 Print

 Promotion

 Trade show plan / calendar / collateral

 Poster and Potium plan

 Advertising plan / calendar / collateral

 PR plan / collateral

 Social Media Use plan

 Launch Controls

 Team dashboard

 Mgt. dashboard

 Quality dashboard

 Sales detail dashboard

 Product Claims

 Current claims

 Desired claims

 Gap analysis

 Clinical evidence collection plan

 Regulatory strategy

 Multi-generational Product Portfolio Plan

 Launch budget / spending plan by quarter over 12 months

Guidance

Not every launch will require all the check boxes to be checked. However, I strongly recommed that you think through the inclusion and exclusion of content from the list, defend the “in” and “out” decisions.

The higher the complexity of the technology / product / launch process the more likely it will be that you need to address each and every thought.

“Experience is what you get, right after you need it most.”

Make it a great day,

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal consultant for The Experia Group. A small consulting firm that specializes in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. www.theexperiagroup.com. Contact The Experia Group for a free 30-minute consultation to determine if 30-years of experience can contribute to your success.

© 2017, The Experia Group, LLC

30 Years of Lessons Learned