Tag Archives: Medical Device Marketing

Walker Announces one-on-one coaching opportunities for Medical Device Marketers

Are you new to the Medical Device Commercialization world and would like guidance on a new product launch, product messaging, strategic planning, product management, and many more elements of marketing?

Tim Walker, author of Insights: 33 Lessons Learned in Medical Device Marketing, has announced that he is providing one-on-one coaching for those professionals who are new to commercializing medical devices and would like some practical guidance.

Every great athlete in America relies on coaches who have access to processes and methods to reinforce the fundamental. Why not you?

“To excel at the highest level – or any level, really – you need to believe in yourself, and hands down, one of the biggest contributors to my self-confidence has been private coaching.”  Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Stephen CurryAwards  All-NBA Team
NBA Most Valuable Player Award
2016, 2015
All-NBA Team
2019, 2018, 2017, …
NBA All-Rookie Team
2010
Best NBA Player ESPY Award
2015
NBA Community Assist Award
Best Male Athlete ESPY Award
2015
NBA Sportsmanship Award
2011
BET Award for Sportsman of the Year
2019, 2017, 2016, …
Teen Choice Award for Choice Male Athlete
2017, 2016, 2015
Assist of the Year Fan Award
2017
Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year
2009, 2008
Best Record-Breaking Performance ESPY Award
2016
Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
2015
Shorty Award for Best in Sports
2016

Feeling alone, a little overwhelmed, find yourself inventing work processes from scratch? Are you a top performer that suddenly finds themselves supervising others and are not sure how to go about the mentoring and coaching of your team?

Relieve some or all of the unhealthy stress and pressure you are feeling, lean on Tim’s experience, expertise, methods, and processes.

I know I can provide the support you need as I did for Lauren.

Lauren Rhodes, IMBA

Lauren Rhodes, IMBA

Medical Device Marketing/Product Manager

“Few people have the opportunity to work with and learn from a recognized industry expert like Tim Walker during their careers. I am privileged to have been personally mentored by Tim at a start-up medical device company during the launch of our flagship product last year.
Tim’s extensive knowledge and contagious passion for standout medical device marketing have been instrumental to the success of our company and to my own professional development in the medical device industry. His insights enabled us to quickly develop an effective value proposition for our customers, craft unique and consistent product messaging, and launch our product using a results-driven commercialization strategy.”

Declare your interest in living into the new challenges of your career by contacting Tim, send an email to tim@theexperiagroup.com. Limited space is available for this new service, so act now.

You don’t have to do it alone!

Tim Walker

Author, consultant, coach, and mentor

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

Band 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

 

Subjective Review of On-going Marketing Activities

The Set Up

Recently I sent a letter to a colleague of mine asking how everything was going? He replied that he wasn’t sure. It was too early in the year to tell. So I dropped him a note that he indicated was very helpful for him to get his mind around how things were going.

He then suggested that it might make a good blog post. So here you go.

Just for full disclosure, I am a huge proponent of metrics and data. Sometime it is too early in a program or product launch to realize any of the metrics. It doesn’t mean that you as a Senior Manager shouldn’t try to take the temperature of programs, campaigns or launches early on.

It just means that you are going to do it subjectively.

Whenever I have had to subjectively evaluate progress it has been with the assistance of a  framework.

Framework

Here is how I have done it.

I attend several team meetings or review sessions. I then get a sense for the progress and capabilities of this team on this task. Then I ask which outcome from the following chart is most likely, just a feeling. It also helps me identify why.

If you feel like this team will, “Change the World”, then check in later. If your sense is that something is amiss you can act early and reduce the risk of sub-optimal results.

A bit of mentoring or coaching early will often prevent big changes and poor performance later.

Lesson

My friend discovered that they had two programs that both were missing a sound Method. He hired us to provide that methodology. One was a new product launch and the other was their annual tradeshow campaign.

“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

Product Line Rationalization for Medical Devices

The Set Up

It has been some time since I actually performed a Legacy Product Line Rationalization. Two calls this week have prompted me to create this post. This is how I think about it.

As a Product Manager, one of the most necessary and potentially difficult tasks is to rationalize your portfolio product lines for an exit, maintain or invest strategy. If you review your product line performance on an annual basis, see AARP post, you will find that you have most of the data and insights you need.

The Goal of the Review

The goal is to rationalize your current portfolio based on the previous performance changes year over year. You pretty much have 3 options although they can be thought of as on a scale.

  • Maintain
  • Invest
  • Divest

This review will point you toward actions that are needed in support of each product line. Your annual action plan can be driven by your findings.

“The Key is to be intentional about your product line.”

How do you do the review?

Step 1 – Collect and Organize Your Data

Determine a method for objectively determining how well your product lines are performing. Elements that you should consider including in your assessment or scoring tools are:

  • The volume of revenue, ranking
  • Change in revenue
  • Gross profit dollars
  • Profitability
  • How ubiquitous the product is geographically
  • How stable is the supply chain
  • Quality yields
  • Number of customers won and lost this past year
  • What is the status of the treatment it is used on
  • Of those customers who are buying, where do they stack up on your best customer rankings list
  • Does it fit in the future strategic plan or will it become an orphan

The examples used here are designed to demonstrate a complex and murky review. Sometimes the answers pop off the page once you have organized all of the relevant data for your portfolio.

Step 2- Build Your Model

There are two aspects to this step. First, collect the data and rank each product line by element. Secondly, rank them all as a portfolio.   The first step is fairly mechanical. The second is where the lines are compared by rankings.

So if you have 10 product lines your spreadsheet would look like the one shown below.

Step 3- Analyze the Rankings for Obvious Ins and Outs

  • Product line 1 is new, so it is IN
  • Product line 2 this needs a deeper dive, a better understanding of the market conditions are required.
  • Product line 3 solid performer so IN
  • Product line 4 solid performer so IN
  • Product line 5 solid performer with few key accounts so IN
  • Product line 6 solid performer so IN
  • Product line 7 this one needs a deeper dive. It is an average performer and seems like it will stay there for a while. If it still fits with your future vision for the portfolio it appears to be IN
  • Product line 8 too big to cut, needs some mfg. improvements
  • Product line 9 too big to cut, but needs a deeper dive so IN
  • Product line 10 this needs a deeper dive but may be too big to cut without a plan

So there are six product lines that should not be cut, 4 that need a bit deeper dive. Another element that we did not take into account was synergy between product lines. Sometimes you keep an underperforming product line to support a high performing one.

So if we plot our choices on to a Boston Consulting Group grid it can really give you a clear picture of your strategic position for each product line.

Combining this review with a go-forward plan you can use a matrix like this:

Follow this simple three-step process to rationalize your product line and defend your position.  Keep the grid/worksheet with you in every meeting and you will be able to see at a glance where you are going next.

It is ok to keep all of the product lines. It is unacceptable to not know why you want to keep them.

 “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

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. They 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 portfolios.

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 its 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 is an elemental difference that changes 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 the 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