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 drug treatment 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 not to plan.
As 2023 looms on the horizon, it’s time for biopharmaceutical and medical device companies to ready their marketing and sales strategies for the new 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:
- Alignment is key
- Scope out the competition
- Identify your target markets
- Build your messaging plan
- Develop an omnichannel strategy
Alignment is key
No matter the organization or industry, there’s perhaps one question that’s top of mind for both marketing and salespeople: “Why can’t we be friends?”
Though marketing and sales teams share a common goal (driving revenue), a lack of alignment is all too common in some companies. In fact, misalignment between sales and marketing teams has been one of the biggest problems companies have faced in the last decade, a problem that’s reportedly costing businesses 10% or more of revenue per year.
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:
Leads are properly nurtured with relevant, useful content. 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 down your business. One wrong move and, well, you might not like what happens next.
While reality isn’t quite as cutthroat as this, it pays dividends to keep tabs on your competition. Understanding what you’re up against can help inform your messaging, determine how your product is different (and better) than the competition, and guide your targeting strategy.
Using claims data, alongside physician and hospital data can help you better understand 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 folk 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 a rebuttal 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 how the workflow is improved, to clearly mark how your product differs from the competition.
Identify your target markets
As your organization navigates the commercialization journey, consider the patients, providers, and facilities you intend to sell to. It’s essential your teams understand them.
Products like HospitalView and PhysicianView can help you identify, understand, and segment your 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 critical questions important 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 close more business, 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 probe deeper.
Figure out what’s important to your target audience, what their challenges are and the solutions they’re pursuing. 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 different marketing channels to provide a consistent and personalized experience for prospects and customers.
Depending on your drug or device, consider what information your patients are looking for before or after being diagnosed with a condition. Or what information they’re looking for before or after a procedure.
Then, ask yourself where they’re going to get that information. What keywords are they using on Google? Are they finding answers to their questions on social media, a webinar, or a conference? These are all touchpoints your teams can strategize around to expand your reach and engage with customers earlier in their 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 some more resources 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 healthcare commercial intelligence to commercialize new drugs and therapies. Medical device companies can check out our cross-functional launch guide.