The Fundamentals of a Successful B2B Healthcare Product Launch
Few things take more time and effort for your team than launching a new product. Whether your product is new to the market, new to your audience, or simply new-and-improved, it takes collaboration and plenty of planning to make a successful impact.
Each scenario has different particulars, but the fundamentals of any product launch in the healthcare (or really, any!) industry remain the same: It’s not about your product. It’s about the audience.
When you get the fundamentals of your product launch right, you’ll set your campaign up for success through meaningful messaging that resonates with all the right people at the right time.
Typical Challenges of B2B Healthcare Product Introductions
Today’s healthcare market conditions mandate out-of-the-box thinking. The market has squeezed margins exceedingly thin, leading to financial pressure to cut costs. This pressure gets passed on to the buyers considering your product.
In addition, your buying cycles are getting longer and require more approvals. It’s unlikely that the end-user of the product you sell has total decision making power.
The sheer amount of options and information available is overwhelming — especially to an understaffed department that needs to find the right solution as soon as possible. If your product introduction isn’t well thought-out, there’s a good chance it will get lost in the shuffle.
When launching a product you have to first find out what motivates your audience. With the right messages that resonate, and a clear appeal to how your product benefits the consumer — by making their working life easier, or improving the standard for patient care — your launch will be much more successful.
4 Fundamentals for Every B2B Healthcare Product Launch
Each product launch is going to be different. It’s likely the positioning, target audience, and market conditions will all change from launch to launch — even for an existing product or rebrand. That doesn’t mean your process has to change each time. In fact, sticking to a streamlined process will make your internal efforts easier, and set clear expectations for your team when it’s time to launch a new product.
There are four fundamental areas of work to be completed ahead of any successful product launch:
- Understanding the audience
- Creating marketing/sales cohesion
- Building a foundational plan
- Choosing the right tactics
Within each area, specific activities will help you plan, organize, and develop materials for a successful launch:
1. Translate Product Features Into User-Focused Benefits
This may sound counterintuitive, but many healthcare brands are too product-focused during product launch campaigns. Yes, the features of your product are important, but that’s not what ultimately sets you apart from the competition. How the audience thinks and feels about using your product is a key opportunity for differentiation.
This was the challenge we aimed to solve in our work with Henry Schein Dental. A leading dental supply company, Henry Schein was gearing up to introduce a new scanning device that could create 3-D images of patients’ teeth. The problem was there were plenty of similar products on the market and simply offering another version wouldn’t be enough to grab their audience’s attention.
However, it was clear Henry Schein’s version was faster and more accurate than their competitors’, with the ability to scan up to one million 3-D points per second. And while that’s a great feature, that alone still wasn’t enough to differentiate their product. Numbers and statistics are nice, but without the right context, they just aren’t meaningful to the audience.
To arrive at how to actually differentiate their product, we worked with Henry Schein to determine the benefits of their device. And what was that benefit? The device saves more time and effort for dental providers without sacrificing accuracy. Not to mention being a cleaner, faster alternative to taking traditional impressions.
Most importantly for messaging, we translated that functional benefit to an emotional benefit for the user: the confidence to serve patients faster with fewer mistakes, leading to more successful outcomes in fewer visits.
If two products are nearly equal, but one can save the dentist time with each dental scan and provide a better experience to their patients, that’s a meaningful, relevant and differentiating value proposition.
2. Align Your Marketing and Sales Teams Around Common Goals
The most complete and thorough product launch campaign will mean nothing if your sales team isn’t prepared to pick up where the product and/or marketing team leaves off.
When mapping out your product launch, ensure your marketing and sales team are closely aligned and collaborating throughout the process. You can do this by working together to identify benefit-focused messages, create talking points and clear data about the product and the target audience, and regularly conduct check-ins to ensure both teams understand each other’s goals.
In addition, the marketing team can support the sales team by developing collateral and presentations for the sales team to use to both educate themselves on your product and in their various conversations with customers.
This ensures when you launch your product to your audience, both departments will speak with the same voice and the sales process will run smoothly.
3. Build a Strategic Product Marketing Plan
After doing the foundational work, you’ll be able to build a strategic product marketing plan and conduct a variety of activities to better understand your product’s position in the market and the needs of your audience.
These activities can include positioning and competitive landscape analyses, persona development, messaging and materials audits, and creative and conceptual definitions.
All of these activities roll up into a thorough plan to guide your go-to-market strategy and supporting communications tactics.
4. Choose Your Marketing Tactics and Test Them Thoroughly
The tactics you choose will depend on your audience, goals, and the specific information you uncover while building your strategic plan. It’s important to rely on a mix of communication tactics that stand the best chance of conveying your product’s benefits.
Despite its reputation of moving at a glacial pace, the healthcare market has experienced dramatic shifts that have created space for more creative strategies. Sure, the proven marketing strategies you’ve used in the past could continue to drive success. But past performance doesn’t always guarantee future success. Tactics can include:
- Paid media
- Media relations
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media campaigns
You’ve probably used some combination of these tactics in the past. But where could your campaigns improve? Design your next plan with a mix of the tried-and-true tactics you know to be successful and supplement them with new ideas. Out-of-the-box thinking and employing new tactics can help your product beat out the competition. For instance, perhaps media relations have always been the backbone of your campaigns. Shake up your next efforts by integrating social media and patient storytelling through video.
We’re not saying you need to explore new communications tactics just for the sake of doing something different. Challenging yourself and your team to think differently can open new doors and reach new audiences. It can also increase your ability to move the needle with better fit leads that are primed for sales conversations.
With each tactic, make sure you carefully consider the key performance indicators and metrics you need to track. Ensuring you have a plan for all the data you need ensures you can monitor performance, test new tactics, and make adjustments as needed to optimize results.
Solid Fundamentals Mean Flexibility When You Need It
While your audience, messaging, and tactics will change for each product launch, relying on a repeatable, proven process is an efficient way to ensure you are reviewing every possible angle and opportunity.
By reviewing your product launch through the lens of these four fundamental steps, you’ll ensure you align with what your customers want and need. The intrinsic “gut-check” of each step can also help you identify new opportunities your initial planning may not have uncovered, whether it’s a gap in the market or a new target audience.
A streamlined, templated process grants your marketing team the ability to pivot messaging for new audiences, develop additional campaigns for a niche use of your product, or re-evaluate tactics and swap them out if performance indicates.
Experience and expertise are paramount to success in the B2B healthcare industry. To learn how Core Health can support your product introductions, get in touch.
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