By Ethan Popowitz
It’s often said that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
For life science organizations, there’s much wisdom to gain by following this old proverb. Simply put, bringing a novel therapy or medical device to market is a lengthy and complicated process. With obstacles to overcome and risks to navigate at every step of the commercialization journey, these organizations can’t afford to wing it.
As we ring in the new year, it’s time for biopharmaceutical and medical device companies to ready their marketing and sales strategies for another year.
Consider this blog your cheat sheet for reaching your goals with five tips to keep in mind as you pull together a go-to-market plan:
- Align sales and marketing with open communication
- Scope out the competition with a quantitative approach
- Identify your target markets with clinical data
- Build your messaging plan around HCP and patient needs
- Develop an omnichannel strategy to reach the right audience
Align sales and marketing
No matter the organization or industry, there’s perhaps one question that’s top of mind for both marketing and salespeople: “How can we work better, together?"
Though marketing and sales teams share a common goal (growing market share), misalignments of strategy, implementation, and partnering outreach activities do occur. Misalignment between pharma sales and marketing teams is a common challenge, leading to poor KPIs like low customer retention rates and win rates.
Communication—or the lack of it—is a big blocker to alignment. A good marketing strategy at a life science organization isn’t made in a vacuum. Keeping communication channels open with sales (and other teams!) is vital to creating a cohesive strategy that leads to success. Achieving an open and harmonious relationship between marketing and sales teams ensures that:
- The same prospective accounts are identified and targeted in a coordinated approach by both teams.
- Leads are properly nurtured with relevant, useful content at the appropriate cadence. About 55% of marketers don’t know which assets salespeople use most.
- Value is demonstrated to prospects by delivering the right message, at the right time, through the right channel.
Aligning marketing and sales teams can lead to big benefits for your organization. According to research by the Aberdeen Group, successful alignment contributed to a 32% increase in revenue, a 38% higher win rate, and a 36% boost in customer retention. The research also found that marketing/sales-aligned organizations generated more brand awareness and increased average deal size.
Check out our webinar to learn more about the importance of cross-functional alignment, and the steps your organization can take to achieve it.
Scope out the competition
You may not realize this, but your competitors are lurking in dark shadows, waiting to take market share. One wrong move and, well, you might not like what happens next.
That’s a slightly dramatic way to say it pays dividends to keep tabs on your competition. Understanding what you’re up against can help you develop your messaging, identify what differentiates your drug or medical device from the competition, and guide your targeting strategy.
Combining real-world data like commercial claims data with physician and hospital data can help you better understand procedure volumes and prescribing habits of the key organizations and physicians in your market. Not only can this show you where your opportunity lies, but it also reveals what your competitors are doing.
By coupling claims and physician data, you can see which providers are prescribing a competitor’s treatment. And by adding hospital data, you’ll also gain visibility into the relationships facilities in your territory have with your competitors.
In her webinar, “Developing an effective marketing strategy for your medical device launch,” Ashley Volling, senior product marketing manager, also suggests arming your sales and marketing teams with three key documents:
- A benefits ladder: This document translates product features into relevant psychological benefits and helps your teams define how your treatment or device benefits your target customers.
- An objection-handling document: A list of pre-populated answers and counterpoints your sales team can use during a conversation when an objection is made.
- A competitive counter-detailing chart: This is a simple comparison chart pitting your drug or device against your competitors'. Ashley recommends including relevant categories like patient outcome metrics or workflow improvements to clearly mark how your product differs from the competition.
Identify your target markets
As your organization plans for and commences the post-marketing/commercialization phases of a medical device or a drug, consider the providers and facilities you intend to engage with to expand market share. It’s essential your teams fully understand them.
Leverage reliable data and analytics tools to help you identify, better understand, and segment your target market. You can access information like account size, executive contacts, census beds, diagnosis and procedure volumes, affiliations, and more to construct your ideal customer profile.
From there, you can start answering the most critical questions to your strategy, like:
- Does your account see the patients or perform the procedures that matter to you?
- Who are the key decision-makers?
- Who are the physicians that can champion your drug or device?
- What are the steps within your target account’s buying process?
Build your messaging plan
Messaging is everything. To get physicians to champion your product and influence their prescribing habits, your organization needs to talk the talk and walk the walk. Now that you have a better understanding of who you’re targeting and how competitive the market is, it’s time to start putting things together in a comprehensive story that resonates with target HCPs, patients, and other pertinent stakeholders.
Figure out what’s important to your target audience, what their challenges are, which solutions they’re pursuing, and how they’re searching for answers and approaching the patient journey. Once you uncover this, your teams can craft messaging and start conversations relevant to what your organization brings to the table.
Here’s how you do it:
- Create your value proposition: Think of this as your 60-second elevator pitch. As concisely as possible, your value proposition should explain what your product is, what its tangible benefits are, and why your organization is the best choice on the market.
- Determine differentiators: If you conducted an in-depth analysis of your competition, you should have a strong idea of the unique features and benefits of your drug or device that your competitors can’t deliver on.
- Outline your features: Your features are the clinical, technical, or descriptive elements of your drug or device that are noteworthy. Features explain what your product does.
- Connect the dots with benefits: A benefit tells your target audience why they should purchase your product. Benefits are compelling reasons that help customers understand why the features of your product matter.
- Personalize your messaging: If you’re not personalizing your marketing campaigns, you can bet your competition is. Use the healthcare commercial intelligence you’ve gathered in the earlier tips to better understand patient populations, physician specialty and prescriber habits, and more, so you can get the context you need to tailor your messaging.
Develop an omnichannel strategy
As technology advances, and the lines between what we do in real life and what we do online blur, new opportunities to engage with customers have appeared. An omnichannel strategy can help your marketers and salespeople best capitalize on these opportunities.
Omnichannel marketing is a strategy that uses multiple marketing channels in a well-crafted series of cadences to provide a personalized experience for target audiences.
Depending on your drug or device, consider what information your HCPs and patients are looking for before or after prognosis, diagnosis, and/or treatment.
Then, ask yourself where they’re going to get that information. What keywords are they using online and where are they finding answers to their questions. Are they searching social media, watching webinars, attending conferences, or engaging with support group chat rooms for patients with certain diseases? These are all touchpoints your teams can strategize around to expand your reach and engage with customers through the patient journey. Deploying an omnichannel strategy can also improve the collection of customer data, earning you deeper visibility into who your audience is and what their behaviors are.
Whether this is the first drug or device your organization is bringing to market, or you’re an experienced organization with multiple products, you’ll likely face many challenges during the commercialization journey. A solid go-to-market strategy can make or break the success of your launch.
Fortunately, we have resources like the DH Intelligence Center that can help you navigate the risks and important decisions you'll need to make along the way.
For biopharma companies, read our eBook on the benefits of using data to commercialize new drugs and therapies, or check out our how-to guide on positioning your pharmaceutical company for success in a crowded market. Medical device companies can check out our cross-functional launch guide.
Or, if you're ready to put these tip into action with the right data to support your commercialization needs, start a free trial today.