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To ensure a successful new medical device product launch start early with a marketing MINDSET

Set up

I have been approached recently by several start-up companies to assist in launching their New Medical Devices. All of them have worked incredibly hard on developing their technology. Brilliant scientists, physicians, and inventors, they genuinely have done great work, some spending more than five years on getting ready for their launch. More often than not, they are not prepared, for a variety of reasons, but at the core is that they didn’t have anyone with a Marketing Mindset performing the upstream marketing role.

But are they ready for their launch?

Have you put the building blocks in place?

Based on my observations of nearly 40 years commercializing medical devices, here is what I have learned. To successfully launch a new product, you have to have applied a Marketing Mindset from the very beginning. Let’s look at the upstream process steps in marketing a great new medical device.

Process notes:
    • Voice of the Customer (VOC) is the only way to validate the problem and the solution.
    • VMO = Vision, Mission, Objectives, well documented.
    • Five core documents are: (there are more, but if you don’t have these five, you are at risk of failure)
        1. Clinical need statement
        2. Product positioning statement
        3. Product value statement
        4. Customer persona
        5. Pricing strategy

Purpose of this post

My objective here is not to scare anyone, run anyone down, and I don’t want to discourage anyone. My goal is to alert you that you should not be surprised when you move to the launch phase. You may have to slow down and let someone put in place the basic building blocks of success.

Doing it right the first time may not be free, but it is the least expensive way to reach success quickly.

Offer

If you want to talk through your state of readiness, I am happy to spend 30 minutes on a call with you. Schedule the call, https://calendly.com/tegllc, and I will send you a copy of INSIGHTS: 33 lessons learned in medical device marketing, absolutely free. Also available on Amazon!

Lessons

  1. Technology is not a product
  2. Build the foundation of market knowledge and document it
  3. Beware of confirmation bias – build independence into the collection process – use a diverse set of customers.
  4. Prepare all five core documents from the perspective of the individual stakeholder.

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

Make it a great day!

Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal Consultant for The Experia® Group, a small consulting firm specializing in providing experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success.

One-on-One, or, team coaching is available.

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. https://calendly.com/tegllc.

© 2020, The Experia® Group, LLC

Pre or Post Covid-19 creating the right message for new medical devices is critical

Preface

Since the early 1900’s it has been well understood that we, as marketers, sell holes, not drills. Translating that adage into the 2000s and relating it to medical devices, the saying goes something like this; we sell improved clinical outcomes, not the tool that provides it. We sell greater safety, not the equipment that enables it. Yet, I still see advertisements that describe in great detail the physicality of the device. I hear sales representatives take about how their device is made of optically clear plastic.  

 We complain that it takes a decade for physicians to adopt our technology, and yet, we take decades to deploy the latest realizations in medical device marketing.

 Virtual or not, digital or not, regardless of the channel, we must deliver a clear and relevant message. We must promote the outcomes of our products, not what the product is. The clinical benefits and health economic benefits motivate the healthcare institution to purchase, not the device’s features and attributes. They never get to what clear empowers or enables. They let the clinician connect the dots.

Set-up

Recently, I was working with a client on developing the messaging for a new medical device. He went on for 15 minutes on what the product was, how it worked, its cost, how it was better, lighter, and faster than the competition. He was articulate and passionate. It was truly amazing to hear.

 When he finished, I asked a couple of simple questions. Why would I need your device? What will your device allow me to accomplish? This sparked another 15-minute download about the therapy that the device supported. He was equally articulate about the therapy description as he had been about the device description.

 He started to realize that the connection between the two revealed the benefit that the device brought; that is what we were selling.

 The features and attributes exemplify how our drill makes the hole better than our competition’s. 

 I pulled this quote out and had him read it; then, I watched as the wheels turned. 

  Leo McGivena: “Last year one million quarter-inch drills were sold, not because people wanted quarter-inch drills, but because they wanted quarter-inch holes. . .”

 How do you get to the right message?

    •  We started with a one-paragraph description of the clinical problem from the perspective of the clinician. 
      • (Why we needed a hole)
    • We then wrote a two-paragraph product positioning (benefit) statement.
      • (How we provided the hole.)
    • We then wrote a one-page value proposition.
      • (Why our hole was more valuable than the hole our competitors made.)
    • We then crafted a pricing strategy.
      • (What was the realizable value of the hole.)

 Note: These documents are defined in previous posts and in INSIGHTS: 33 lessons learned in medical device marketing available on Amazon.

 Result

 Over the course of 3-weeks, we had created four of the five foundational documents (messages) that are needed to drive all the down-stream marketing activities and collateral material.

Lesson(s)

 1. Crafting a message is critical, no matter how long it takes.

2. Creating great foundational work is crucial to successful communication with the clinician customer.

 3. Who delivers the message, how the message is delivered, where the message is delivered, are all important, but are secondary to what the message is.

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

 Make it a great day!

 Tim Walker

Tim Walker is the Principal Consultant for The Experia Group, a consulting firm, which provides experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. Author of INSIGHTS: 33 lessons learned in medical device marketing, available on Amazon.

One-on-one or team coaching is available.

 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. tim@theexperiagroup.com.

© 2020, The Experia Group, LLC

Why Map the Patient Journey? INSIGHT

Set up

I was developing a Strategic Marketing Plan for a new company. There were so many potential use cases that it was difficult to determine which was the first right one to go after. If you want a complete understanding of whom, how, when, and why your new product might be used, then map the patient journey from the presentation of symptoms through cure. Some journeys are long, and some are short, but the mapping process will reveal much.

 

What can you gain from mapping the journey?

· Stakeholder identification

· Facility variation of care and cost

· Identify diagnostics testing

· Identify protocols

· Identify referral requirements

· Identify cost centers

· Identify service line hand-offs

· Identify reimbursement coding

· Identify the breadth and depth of in-serving requirements

· Determine the value proposition

 

There are many ways to use mapping, a journey with the patient, or frankly any aspect of any process.

 

Note:  If you just can’t access the patient directly there is still value in walking the journey in your mind.  Document it and use it as a hypothesis with others who have experienced the journey personally.

Example one

In1995, I went to work for a company that was plagued by back-orders. No one understood why, exactly. I was assigned to solve the customer service issue, so I had to follow an order from inception to fulfillment. It may sound wasteful, but I went to customer service, and when an order came in, I stapled it to my sleeve. Everywhere that order went, I went. Taking notes, starting and stopping stopwatches, asking questions, cataloging who touched the sales order, and why. What an eye-opening experience. What I learned from that experience allowed the company to redesign every aspect of demand planning and fulfillment. A new goal of 98% same-day shipment, orders received before 3:00 PM, was shipped the same day. Orders after 3:00 PM were shipped the next day. Within a year, that goal was met 94% of the time.

 

The impact of the organization was huge. Inventory carry cost went down, personnel were able to be redirected to other departments, customer satisfaction level increased exponentially, and though I could never quite prove that it was directly related, revenue grew at an unexpected rate. Probably the most significant gain was in salesforce satisfaction with the company.

 

I applied this same mapping process to several other aspects of business, but have found the highest value from following a patient on their journey through an interaction with the healthcare system, not the grand healthcare system just the micro aspects.

 

Example two

A new product opportunity was identified for possible development. We had identified all the aspects of the product opportunity, size, required clinical outcome, costs, and stakeholders in the purchasing process. Everything looked good. We then reached out to several physicians and convinced them to allow us to follow a patient from presentation to the ER through discharge. We stayed out of the way and observed everything, capturing every aspect of that process except the patient’s name. The takeaways were massive. It quickly became apparent that if we were to develop the product, there would be many challenges to our success, that had nothing to do with the physical aspects of the device.

Challenges that we identified:

The patient touched six different service lines (six different budgets), 

1. ED, 

2. Cardiology, 

3. Surgery, 

4. Post-op, 

5. SICU, 

6. General ward.  

7. Woven through all those service lines were RT, Cardiac rehab, and this list went on and on. 

 

Every one of those services was going to need in-servicing as the device would modify their protocols.  

 

We both positively and negatively impacted the cost of care. The value propositions were complex and needed to be based on the total cost to the organization. We would need to make that case higher up in the administration of the hospital.

 

The clinical outcome potential was much greater with the new device than we expected.

 

This realization caused us to rethink every aspect of our marketing, market development, promotional process, the evaluation process – just about every aspect of the device’s impact on the patient and the hospital proved different and more complex than we understood.

 

After our patient mapping exercise, we reworked every aspect of the budget and plan. What we thought would be a quick 18-month development program that would lead to a quick resolution of an un-met need and increased sales, was not this opportunity. 

 

Results

We went forward with product development and ultimately produced a very successful product. There is no doubt that this product would have failed if we had not done the mapping exercise. We went into the opportunity with all of our eyes wide open. Outcome – we spent more time in the concept phase than any other product I have commercialized – nearly a year. We reduced the adoption curve slope, and there was no hockey stick at the end. The marketing budget was three times that of the R&D budget. The good news was that we uncovered cost reductions directly tied to our device, so the price went up dramatically. What we thought would be 18-months to market morphed to 36-months to market.

 

Note: Looking forward, performing these types of exercises is becoming more difficult as hospitals are restricting access to industry personnel. They are also becoming more and more valuable. Restricting access in the actual care setting is just something we all will need to workaround. Partnering with academic institutions and getting them to conduct observational studies seems the only way.

 

Lesson(s)

 

1. It is ok to go slow to go fast.

 

2. Emersion in the patient experience pays enormous dividends.

 

3. A deep understanding before you begin can save significant time and money from re-starts and failures.

 

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

 

Make it a great day!

 

Tim Walker

 

Tim Walker is the Principal Consultant for The Experia Group. A small consulting firm which, provides experience and expertise during critical device commercialization phases to increase the probability of success. 

 

One-on-one or team coaching is available.

 

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. tim@theexperiagroup.com.

 

© 2020, The Experia Group, LLC

 

 

Trade shows Importance in the Go-to-Market Strategy for New Product Launches

Set up

Trade show attendance is a tactic, a tool, not a strategy or objective. They have a habit of developing a life of their own due to the expense and time investment they require. Additionally, it is easy to fall into a pattern of planning for and attending the same congresses year after year without even considering if they are achieving their objective.

What if?

As trade shows are significant events, it is also easy to use as a launch mechanism for new products. I would propose that the new product launch plan become an 18-month campaign, of which, one, two, or three congresses might be a part of the campaign.

The tradeshow can be considered the centerpiece or the anchor, but attending a show is not a goal or objective onto itself.

To truly optimize and make a step function change in your thinking, consider congresses or tradeshow as the highlight of the process by which you are building a community of customers. The tradeshow serves as a celebration, an acknowledgment, a recruiting tool, and a prospecting tool for future community members, and of course, a lead generation tool for the sales organization.

The launch plan/campaign can be a story. With all good stories, there is a prologue, introductions, body, conclusions, and epilogue. With all the proper caveats and warnings that follow along with regulatory listings, clearance, and approvals regarding the promotion of Medical Devices, great care should be taken.

Another thought construct to consider is that every new product launch is an opportunity for customer engagement; you could even think about it as a recruiting tool for your clinician community.

Story Timing New Product Launch Campaign Objective
Prologue 6 months prior to launch Targeting Create a target persona

Identify KOLs

Introduction 6-1 month before launch Pre-approval channel preparation

(Trade show activities)

  • Recruit targeted KOLs at a national, regional and local level.
  • Collect feedback on the problem statement from the community that you created in the KOL world.
  • Collect proof that there is a problem.
  •  Frame the problem’s impact on patient outcomes.
  •  Frame the economic impact on the institution of the problem.
  • Recruit for pre and/or post-market clinical trials
Main body Once FDA approval/clearance is received
  •   Awareness (Trade show activities)
  • Customer Contact(Trade show activities)
  • Engagement (Trade show activities)
  • Sales process (Trade show activities)
  • Evaluation
  • Social media (SM) campaign
  • Leads from SM or Digital awareness
  • Tradeshows leads
  • Document and communicate the buzz
  •  Sell
Ending Market and Sales execution

 

VAC, New Product committee approval
  • Document and communicate success stories
  • Package the testimonials
  • Collect product improvement
  • Conduct post-market studies
Epilogue Customer service monitoring Successful integration into the standard workflow
  • Post-market surveillance
  •  Constantly provide evidence that the buyers made the right choice (Tradeshow activities)

A Quick Review of Customer Engagements 

Customer engagement is a two-way equal value exchange of information, experiences, desires, hopes, and dreams that leads to a more in-depth professional relationship between the two parties.

The engagement events can be:

      • Digital
      • Social media
      • Panels
      • Animal labs
      • Training validation
      • IFU validation
      • Installation validation
      • Clinical trial recruitment for pre or post-market studies
      • Plant tours
      • Design input processes
      • Human factors validation
      • One-on-one interviews
      • Product improvement reviews

Challenge

      • Can you see the potential in having all these touchpoints identified?
      • Can you see the power in having collateral to support each step specifically?
      • Can you see how a tradeshow is a component of a grander process?
      • Can you see how thinking of a trade show as a media channel gives you a new perspective?
      • Can you see how tying the trade show into an entire campaign makes funding it easier?
      • Can you see how laying out an 18-month plan builds flexibility into the calendar, making you proactively prepared for regulatory delays?

Lesson(s)

  1. It is ok to think differently about trade show attendance
  2. Build metrics and mini-goals into every step
  3. Follow-through is critical, discipline

“Experience is what you get, right after you needed 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.

One-on-one or team coaching is available.

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. tim@theexperiagroup.com.

© 2020, The Experia Group, LLC

 

 

 

Are You Ready to Launch?

Set up

Recently I have had two potential clients ask during their free 30-minute consultation if they were ready to launch their new medical devices. Thirty minutes is no-where near enough time to answer that question. As I thought through both scenarios, it occurred to me that I usually ask myself a series of questions when I am trying to make that determination. I am going to share those questions with you in this post.

 

The Process

The questions I usually ask have multiple layers to them and fit into at least six categories. Now, if you think I am over complicating this fundamental question, let me remind you that when I am preparing a launch, I consider over eighty elements in the design. If you are not confident in the answers, a more in-depth review is warranted.

 

The categories won’t be new to you if you have been reading this blog for a while. If you are new, then you will recognize them from Marketing 101.

 

Before you even dive into the next level, ask yourself if there is a launch goal? If you don’t have a clear expectation from the launch of the product, then stop. Work as a group to set a goal that has more than just revenue as the target.

 

Categories (the 4 p’s of marketing[1] + business Process):

    • Product
    • Price
    • Promotion
    • Place
    • Process

 

Considerations for Product

    • Have I demonstrated that the product is safe for the patient, the user, and the environment?
    • Am I sure that I can reliably predict the performance in any situation the device is used?
    • Do I have an evaluation process in place that lets the user see the product in its best light?

Considerations for Price

    •  Do you understand how the price will impact the uptake of the product?
    • Do you have a complete understanding of the reimbursement that the buyer will be eligible for?

Considerations for Promotion

    • Have you validated your value proposition?
    • Have you validated all your clinical claims?
    • Are your promotion claims within the boundaries of your regulatory clearance or approval?
    • Do you have a plan to collect additional clinical evidence in support of your current and future claims?

Considerations for Place (Distribution)

    • Does your distribution channel selection fit with your product?
    • Have you tested your sales process? 
    • Have you adequately designed product and sales training for those who will be representing your product?
    •  Have you tested your in-service procedure?

Consideration for Process

    • Have you developed all the business processes that will allow you to provide high-quality professional service to your customers?

Do you have in place:

        • Complaint handling procedures
        • An escalation process for technical and clinical questions from the field
        • A returned goods process that has the right level of Biohazard safety
        • Environmental considerations

These are just a sampling of the questions you should ask yourself and your team before you authorize the launch. There are many, many, more. The answers are not, yes or no. The implied question is, is there evidence that you have answered these questions correctly. Now is the time to hold each other accountable, no surprises to the best of your resources and abilities.

 

In launching or directing the launch of nearly 100 new medical devices, I have made mistakes. 

Many of those mistakes would have been prevented if I had been honest and thorough in answering the question, “are we ready?”

 

Lesson(s)

 

1. No one wants to fumble the ball in the red zone after driving down the field for months or years.

 

2. Small issues will come up. However, you need to do everything in your power to prevent the big ones.

 

3. The sooner in the launch prep process, you all agree on the “readiness checklist” and the required pre-launch performance and knowledge, the better.

 

“Experience is what you get, right after you needed 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. 

 

One-on-one or team coaching is available.

 

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. tim@theexperiagroup.com.

 

© 2019, The Experia Group, LLC

 

  [1] McCarthy, 1960

Persuasive Power derived from the Benefit Pyramid+™, in Medical Device Marketing

Set up

I saw a half dozen posts this past week that announced New Medical Devices. So this INSIGHT goes out to those product managers that produced those notices.

Was there something inherently wrong in those announcements? No. Could they have been better? Yes. Given that they were merely announcements, they weren’t necessarily intended to convey the entire message. So please take this post as an opportunity to think deeper.

So how could they have been improved?

By applying the lessons of the Benefit Pyramid. Most of the content of the announcements referred to Attributes or Features of the devices. Seen in the image below, Attributes and Features have a low impact when persuading someone to act differently. I would offer that if a message that focuses on features is successful, it is because the clinician is projecting the benefit they might derive from those features. As a product manager, being intentional about messaging you will realize that counting on a very busy clinician to project a benefit is not as strong a position as you telling them how the device will be beneficial to them.

For most of us mortal marketers, we target benefits, for those among us who truly understand the psychographics of their targeted clinician customer we suggest or present an emotional benefit that they derive from using our devices.

In this post, I add one more element, hence the + sign. So this new benefit pyramid represents a change in the way I think about persuading clinicians to change their behaviors. It takes into account the ultimate persuader, a moral or social imperative. The closest I have ever gotten to explain the impact of a product as a moral imperative is when I market a safety device.

One only need look to the writings of the Greek physician Hippocrates to discover aspects of the medical ethos and why they might consider safety and having clinical data as a moral imperative.

Hippocratic Oath:

“I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.”

Of the Epidemics:

“The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future — must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.”

Lesson(s)

  1. The higher up the Pyramid you can go the more power your persuasion will be
  2. Take the time to dig deep to discover the benefit your product will provide
  3. To tap the p persuasive power of the Benefit + Pyramid, you must authentically believe in what you are saying in your messaging

“Experience is what you get, right after you needed 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. tim@theexperiagroup.com.

 

© 2019, The Experia Group, LLC

On Amazon.

 

Social Cause Marketing with Medical Devices

Set up

Recently, I had a great discussion with a group of new medical device marketers. It was a great exchange of ideas. One of the topics that struck me was a question from a younger, recent graduate who was starting a career as a product manager.

Which comes first the Social cause or the Product?

The question was something like this, “I have been given the responsibility to launch a new line extension, and I would like to know how I choose the social cause that I use to market the new product?” I thought this was a great question. So I fired back, “What did your manager or director advise you to do?”

The response was, “That they told me if I wanted a great launch, I should leverage a social cause.” Having a social cause affiliated with a product launch can be a strong linkage to the product message and could, for a short time, aid in launching a new product.

An aside

There are several debatable points of view in Marketing, such as, which comes first the Brand or the Product? The Social cause or the Product? Strategy or tactics? To some in our profession, these topics are the same as the “chicken or egg” question.

 

If you have been a loyal reader of this blog, you will recall that I have positions on all three questions. The purpose is never to convince the reader that I am right, but rather to trigger a thought that might lead you to your informed view.

Back to the topic

In my view, we need to recognize that if we align with a social cause, as a company, a division, or a product line that we must make sure our messaging is congruent and authentic.   Without authenticity to the Social cause, it will be a trick. That is why the “Social cause” comes first! If a cause is core to your Brand or that of your company’s then, by all means, your commitment will come across as authentic. It will help explain why. Searching for a cause to attach to a product so that you can gain market leverage is not going to serve anyone over the long-term.

Remember that your Brand comes from who you are, what you believe, your entire life history.

A plea

Please do your homework and look deeper behind all techniques and fads. MVP, Social media, Social cause marketing are all great concepts if they are applied correctly. However, honestly they are just creative ways of using the basics; at the base is and always will be the 4 Ps. I now think of the basics as the 5 Ps and 2 Cs.

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion
  • Process
  • Customer
  • Competition

Ask yourself, what is my Brand? Who am I at my core? Be true to that core.

There are two more blog posts under development right now.   Watch for, “A return to the basics of messaging,” and “The Marketing Ethos for Medical Device Marketers, “both post coming soon.

Lessons

  1. Social cause marketing is power if it is real and is congruent with your product message.
  2. Tricks to promote a product are disingenuous and may work for a while, but won’t produce a positive long-term result.

“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 and relieve unhealthy tension. 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. tim@theexperiagroup.com.

If you would like to own a collection of 33 lessons learned, Search Amazon for INSIGHTS: 33 lessons learned in medical device marketing.

© 2019, The Experia Group, LLC

Beware of bad data in Medical Device marketing decision-making

Set up
I was listening to an MLB game the other evening and the announcers we spouting statistics right and left. They were reporting data. I then waited for the analysis, for the insight, for the reasoning that explained an action taken by a manager or player. We never got there.

I turned off the TV and realized that the announcers for that game were doing what I see prevalent today in inexperienced marketers.

Collecting data without knowing why they are gathering it and then spouting that data as if there was some type of magic in numbers.  The magic comes from deriving (analysis) from the data insight, converting that insight into wisdom by contextualizing it and then applying that new wisdom to form a solution or make a great decision.

Is there a time and place for making observations, collecting subjective data? Absolutely. It is the source for developing the questions or problem statements that you will then apply the “scientific method” against.

An Example

An example of the power of observation: I was in an open-heart case, and the perfusionist and I were talking about how cold they keep the OR rooms. She had three layers of jackets on (observation 1). The conversation continued, and she made the point that they are trying to cool the heart to protect it. One way they do that is by recirculating cold water around the heart and pumping a cardioplegia solution into the heart itself. By having the OR rooms too warm, they are defeating that goal. That made sense to me. Then I noticed that the source of the cold fluid was being pumped through 6 feet of tubing (observation 2). The question that resulted was, is there a way to get the cooling source closer to the heart, so the ambient temperature does not have time to impact the fluid adversely and is there a new product opportunity to be realized?

These observations resulted in two streams of exploration, 1) a technical stream, and 2) a marketing stream.

This blog is not about how to analyze data. However, instead, to caution that unless you are willing to collect the data correctly, then don’t start, garbage in, garbage out.

When do you need to collect data?

Recently, I have been mentoring several individuals who are new to marketing as a role. They struggle with determining when and how to collect voice-of-the-customer (VOC) data, as did I for the first 5-years of my career in marketing. The answers are painfully simple. How to do it well is difficult and takes years of experience.

The answer is to collect VOC data whenever you have an unanswered question.

Does that mean that you need to collect data for every marketing question? Yes, you do. However, how much data, what kind of data, how you gather that data, from how many, of what types of customers, is where you can apply judgment. Save the significant data collection efforts for the huge questions, ones where a wrong answer or misinterpretation could cause severe negative consequences if it leads to a poor critical decision.

Commit to writing could questions

So once you decide that you have a critical unanswered question, you have to frame the question (s). The better the question (s), the more informed the decision.

I typically will rewrite the questions up to a dozen times. With each revision, I work hard to remove any real or implied bias.

Data’s value comes from using it to inform a decision-making process. If you’re lucky, you will convert data to information, information to insight, insight to wisdom, and then apply that wisdom to excellent decision-making.

Lessons

  1.  Most of the time, biased data is worse than no data.
  2. Spend all the time that you require to frame great, unbiased questions.
  3.  Risk adjust your VOC efforts to optimize the value of the undertaking.

“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. tim@theexperiagroup.com.

© 2019, The Experia Group, LLC

Brand vs. Branding in Medical Device Marketing

Set up

I have experienced/observed that business professionals who are not familiar with the nuance of marketing get confused between the Brand and Branding. I have found myself explaining the difference multiple times over the last few months, so here is how I think about it and explain it. You may find it useful if you ever need to explain the differences yourself.

Summary

Your brand is who you are, an internal facing belief system; branding is how your brand manifests itself outward toward your customers, your market, the world at large.

You cannot do branding without first being crystal clear about your brand. Getting clear on your brand is a profoundly unique discovery process that is at your or your products core and comes from your or your products history. It is the most authentic aspect of your company or product. If you are a new company, it may be a confluence of the founders’ personal histories.

Many companies /products have a name, a logo, a color preference, etc. These are all representations of your brand. If the outward expression of your brand is inconsistent with the brand, then your customers will be confused.

Having an understanding of the difference between the brand and branding, take a minute to reflect on the recent McDonalds attempt at deluxe burgers. Custom made to order specialty burgers.   When they announce this program, it was crystal clear that they were moving outside of their core value, their brand. McDonald’s is known for and was created from, a belief that customers wanted a quick, convenient, consistent meal that had good taste.

So they based their success on location, consistency of product, and a standardized menu. For decades that is what the golden arches stood for. They have just recently announced that they are discontinuing the specialty burger menu option.

Changing your brand is a challenge; it is tantamount to changing history, changing who you are.

Living into your Brand

Do you have to perfect in your branding on day one? No. However, you do have to be crystal clear on your brand.

Lesson

Look deep within to discover or reveal your brand, first.

“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 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.

© 2019, The Experia Group, LLC

 

 

MVP a potentially dangerous concept for the Medical Device Sector

Forward

I don’t typically repeat topics in this blog. However, I am making an exception this time. This is the third post related to the use of the Minimally Viable Product (MVP) concept with Medical Devices.

Set up

Recently, I had an email exchange with a potential client where they informed me that they were pursuing an MVP and they didn’t need any marketing support at this time. I may write a post about how that may be misguided thinking if there isn’t a Marketing Mindset in the company.   Marketing Mindset will be the subject of a future post as well. That e-mail exchange triggered an emotional response within me.

I offer this post because I feel compelled to. The Universe woke me up at 3:00 am last night to inform me that my mission in life demands that I caution inventors, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, investors and product marketers that are involved with product commercialization where human safety or health is at risk, that the MVP concept can be misinterpreted.

MVP is a useful concept as defined by Eric Ries; “A minimally viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” I am sure that there are many industries where this definition can be applied directly. It seems particularly applicable to entertainment sectors, like video games. I strongly recommend that everyone who is using that term, reflect on if it is a thought construct that is appropriate for his or her market sector.

In the example above, the first set of drawings do not provide full utility. The second example does. This concept applied to medical devices gets at the need for complete clinical utility (CCU).

Cautionary Note

For me, what I have come to believe is the concept of safe, complete clinical utility (CCU) is the way to think about the first product to be launched by a company or a technology platform in the medical device space. In the medical device space or any space where human lives are at risk, we should never strive for a minimum of anything.   I have found that the long-term success of any product results from maximums, maximum utility, maximum compliance, maximum clinical evidence, and maximum safety.

If you want to use a hot buzzword like MVP in a high-risk space, then I think it will be worth your time to define the scope of “Viable” for your product. It will show the clinicians, investors, and patients that you understand where their health is concerned that Viable is a big word and includes, regulatory compliance, safety, and complete utility.   If you must put the acronym on a slide, then do it this way – mVp.

For those of you who are involved in the acquisition of technologies or products that can present a risk to humans make sure you do more than financial due diligence. Be intentional about your technical and clinical due diligence as well. If you are new to M&A activity, hire a coach who has been there and done that. I have seen first hand the results of poor clinical and technical due diligence. Large follow on investment in the millions of dollars, months of delays, failed launches, investors losing confidence in management teams, negative impact to the brand, and of course worst of all, a patient injury that may result from truncated due diligence!

Marketing Mindset

What I believe is that if you have and apply a Marketing Mindset to product commercialization you will think in terms of multi-generation product releases that move you toward 100% customer satisfaction.

Lesson

Words matter, using a popular buzzword implies knowledge of the thoughts behind the term. Don’t be caught unprepared or leave an opening for misinterpretation.

“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.

© 2019, The Experia Group, LLC