Several years ago, we were asked to consult on the launch of a troubled medical device, one that had cost millions to develop. Our first step was to assess doctor demand for the product through qualitative and quantitative research. The results were stark and conclusive. Not one doctor in the study said they would purchase the device at any price. The launch and the product were scratched.
View work from our medical division at Ideopia Medical Marketing.
So why do launches of new medical devices fail? Are the products not innovative? Are they too expensive? Did you lift off too close to the holidays? Those are rarely the root cause, but our list below maps out some of the key troublemakers.
- Ignore the distributor, doctor and patient. Medical devices are rooted in science and engineering. But market acceptance is driven by consumer insight and education. Consult your distribution network, and doctors who you don’t pay as KOLs. Apply what you learn to products in development, and uncover the need for new devices.
- Let R&D propaganda drive the marketing. They’re undoubtedly jazzed about their new widget’s performance. But that doesn’t guarantee the market will feel the same way. Determining an effective strategy depends on finding out what the end user, or decision maker, values. Test the prototype with your target. Listen. Repeat.
- Starve the marketing. You only get to be new and shiny once. Make it count. Your new product needs sustained support not just for the launch period, but for months afterwards. And, you can’t do it with just journal advertising anymore. You must employ multiple tactics that work in sync in your sales funnel.
- Launch a bum product. Pushing a product out the door before it’s ready will cost you dearly. You’ll pay to make it right, the product will never reach its potential, and the damage to your brand will be exorbitant. You’ll pay all over again when your next product launch is greeted with skepticism.
- Underestimate the competitive response. If you’re lucky and your product is worthy, it should provoke jealousy, fear and hatred from your competitors. Assume that you have more leakers than the White House, and that your competition is preparing for your launch with the same intensity as you are. Prepare your sales force to counter the flak and misinformation. Otherwise, rumor becomes reality.
- Hype it ‘til you’re hoarse. New products rarely live up to their hype, which makes them ultimately disappointing. Again, think to the future, and consider the credibility of your next hype fest. If you want brand love, be authentic. Show it through the story of your product and the people who are passionate about it.
- Play games with the price. Introductory offers are a tell that every doctor, distributor and buyer recognizes as: A. You don’t have confidence in the value of the product. B. You consider the real price too expensive. Both of them will come back to bite you in the haunches when it’s time to deliver margin.
- Launch without adequate inventory. This seems obvious, but it happens. Especially when manufacturing, management or accounting don’t share your confidence in the product, and hesitate to invest in inventory. Your introduction may go flawlessly your reputation will never recover from the inability to deliver product. Instead, you’ll lose orders, and give competitors time to catch up.
- Ignore aesthetics and ergonomics. Too many new medical devices come out of the chute looking like science experiments. Your innovation might be brilliant, but leaving out details like smart design and ergonomics leave the end user with a “blah” instead of a “wow” experience.
- Don’t believe. Deep down, you know this new product is a goat. You don’t need to say a word. Your cynicism or fake enthusiasm will poison your sales force and customers. Maybe you do have a dud on your hands, but you, as the leader, should not cement its fate. Speak truth to power. Get another job. Bad products and bad launches reflect on you, too.
Learn more at our medical division website, Ideopia Medical Marketing.
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