Nine Things Health and Medical Marketers Can Learn from Retail
By Carol Russell, CEO
Despite the economic challenges of the last few years, innovation is critical to the success of brands and the companies that launch them. While the pace of bringing new products to market has slowed (down 8.3% from 2010 to 2011 alone, according to USA Today), new product introductions will continue to be a strong revenue source across most industries – particularly if they save money, save time and make the buyer feel ahead of the curve.
But promoting Tide Pods is, of course, far different than bringing the latest cochlear implants or new orthopedics center to market. Or is it? In reality, multiplying communication touch points, stretched budgets and accelerated need for creative innovation are the stuff of migraines whatever the sector.
So what lessons can health and medical marketers learn from consumer packaged goods and retail that are unquestionably fighting the toughest battle for the sale? A lot.
For starters, the anatomy of failure. Thousands of new products are introduced every year, yet – says Nielsenwire and Harvard Business School - some nine in 10 do not survive. Why? Experts say most launches fail due to an ill-defined target audience, an inadequate marketing budget (instead, using a disproportionate amount of funding for product development), an internal campaign marketing plan that lacks objectivity, and a messaging strategy that fails to ignite excitement. Sound familiar?
Whether you’re introducing a new health system service for consumers, or the next technological solution for physicians, it’s worth knowing what made the difference for those who succeeded.
- Do your behavioral insight homework. Well. How does your target market learn about products and services? Probably not like they did two years ago. Call in a focus group or, better yet, go into the field and ask them. In an incredibly complex communications landscape, knowing where to invest your dollars for highest impact is crucial
- Understand the true competitive set. It’s not just the obvious players. By figuring out what your product or service will replace, you can far more easily define your competition and how to position your product or service’s benefits.
- Focus your message. Understand what trigger will illicit the greatest response and lead with it. Yes, you have a laundry list of great features, but if there is no priority, resonance or clarity to what you’re saying, your message will be lost.
- Make sure you have a strong, differentiated value proposition. You must serve a real need, something especially critical during a time of slow economic recovery. Define it, own it and creatively promote it.
- Bring in the reinforcements. No matter what your marketing budget, it can be significantly greater when you encourage others to tell your story. Before your campaign begins, focus on building great networks and establishing relationships with influential bloggers. Then effectively leverage them to bring visibility to your product launch. Look no further than Apple for a lesson in how to do it right.
- Establish credibility. Demand for authenticity and reliability has never been stronger. Make sure your promises can be kept – every time. Remember, done right, a new medical product or service not only builds revenue, it transforms parent brands.
- Socialize your message. As USA Today reported, the goal is not longer just about getting someone to buy a new product, “…but also to nudge you to very publicly gloat on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube about how savvy you were to make the purchase.” Integration of new media into traditional marketing outreach is essential, as evidenced by the fact that the number of consumers who learn about new products from social media has more than doubled to 49 percent+.
- Think beyond the launch. Company commitment to adequate marketing support is crucial – and not just at time of launch. In fact, actions taken in year two can make the key difference in long-term sustainability.
- Measure what matters. Continual, objective assessment and monitoring of on and offline response is critical. Establish the key analytics, create a dashboard and study it carefully.
As the economy continues to improve, demand for new products and services will continue to grow within health and medical. That’s good news, but only for marketers who act strategically.