Category Archives: client centric

Hope for the Future of Health IT Marketing!

hopeI just got back from the Health IT Marketing Conference (HITMC). It gets better and stronger every year, building incredible community, thanks in large part to the vision of its founders John Lynn and Shahid Shah.

I was fortunate to present on how to win internal support for better customer-centric marketing, and to lead a workshop – one that both delighted and humbled me. Here’s why.

The half-day workshop, Using the Voice of the Customer to Develop Winning Health IT Marketing, showed how to develop game-changing customer knowledge and translate it into winning marketing strategy.

The workshop participants – mostly marketing directors and managers – were incredible. It was my experience with them that was equal parts delightful and humbling. What stood out was their openness and candor, their desire to improve, their appreciation of the customer voice, and their willingness to challenge their own thinking and mine. And most of all, their commitment to deeply understanding and serving their customers.
Continue reading Hope for the Future of Health IT Marketing!

Brains, Brawn, or Beauty: What’s Your Value Prop?

brain-brawn-beautyIn today’s hyper-competitive healthcare marketplace, getting your value prop right is critical to position your product to win. To open your thinking about the myriad of value prop possibilities, consider the triad popularized in popular entertainment: Brains, brawn, and beauty.

Yup, brains, brawn, and beauty. Like it or not, there’s lots that we in healthcare marketing can learn from what sells in popular entertainment.

For example, the long-running competitive reality TV show Survivor groups its castaways into tribes, like this:

The members of the “Brains” tribe use their intellect to get by in life; while the members of the “Beauty” tribe use their looks and social skills, and the members of the “Brawn” tribe use their brute strength. When put all three traits together, they actually make up the Survivor motto: Outwit (“Brains”), Outplay (“Beauty”), Outlast (“Brawn”).

Now apply the “brains, brawn, beauty” trope to see if it usefully expands your thinking about value proposition possibilities. Of course, do the customer and competitive research to both generate ideas to explore and verify what works.

As a starting point, recognize that most med tech value props emphasize “brains” in terms of smarter technology of some sort. Instead, consider winning at “brawn.” That would center your value prop on the idea of being the workhorse device or the most powerful technology, not necessarily the one that deals with the most complex situations.

Alternatively, you might win at “beauty” by having the most aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly product. This requires being able to score “cool” points and might mean you don’t provide advanced functionalities.

That said, in both cases, you still need to demonstrate parity in “brains” – or at least sufficient table stakes, to be considered a serious contender. However, it may lead to a value prop that stands out based on a meaningful and distinctive strength, and that doesn’t get lost with a “me too” claim with no emotional resonance.

Bottom line, think outside the box about what makes your offering unique and valuable. Will you win with brains, brawn, or beauty??

Earning Trust from Hospital Customers: 5 Tips

If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.       – Zig Ziglar

We regularly talk with a lot of doctors, healthcare executives, and key opinion leaders in our work, as we help med tech clients identify meaningful unmet needs, determine the desirability of new products, and create persuasive messaging.

One thing that comes out again and again is the importance of trust. As famed salesman Zig Ziglar pointed out, trust leads to sales. We’ve heard many clinicians say they don’t buy from a company, they buy from a rep.  Sometimes they don’t even know what brand of device they use. But they do know they bought it from Tracy, the sales rep they know and trust. And they know that next time they need devices they’ll contact Tracy, wherever she is.

Do your customers trust you and your company? Have you given them reason to?  What would you need to know to win and maintain their trust?

Here are five tips for earning the trust of prospects and customers:

  1. Grow a relationship, not just a transaction. Show up when you’re NOT asking them to buy.  We constantly hear that companies disappear and seem to no longer care, once the sale is made.
  2. Take it further and tell prospective customers they shouldn’t buy from you yet.  Tell them only when you have earned their trust, will you talk with them about purchasing.
  3. Provide them with value – white papers, referrals, relevant tips – without asking for anything back. Customize what you provide to their needs, desires, and situation.
  4. Be honest about what they should and should not buy from your company. You’ll earn credibility points when you suggest they buy certain things from competitors.
  5. Ask what specific things you can do to win their trust. Then tell them which you will do, and do those things. Remind them along the way that your aim is to earn their total trust.

Once you have earned their trust, you can grow the relationship further and your customer can be your ambassador within their hospital system and a great referral source. Then you’re not just a vendor, you’re a valued partner. And that’s the place you want to live in the hearts and minds of those you serve.

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Resources:

Earning Real Customer Loyalty: The Challenge for Med Tech Companies

The Promise & Challenge of Customer Intimacy for Med Tech Companies

Med Device Companies To Hospitals: Do NOT Buy Everything From Us!

Think or Know? Disarm Dangerous Marketing Assumptions With The “Sandwich” Approach

Which new idea should you invest in?  What’s the right value proposition for your portfolio? How should you position your game-changing product for a winning launch?

These are significant questions that if not answered correctly, can cost you a lot of time, money, and trust. Here’s the “sandwich” approach we use to help med device and other health tech clients avoid making risky moves based on unspoken assumptions.

The Bottom Slice: Identify your high-risk assumptions. Gather your team together for a hard-hitting work session, with all egos aside. Set the expectation that you’re going to identify the key assumptions that must be validated because they’re so mission critical that if you’re wrong, you’re, well, screwed. Here’s how in detail.

The Filling in the Middle: Validate your assumptions. Do the needed research with customers to determine which of your assumptions were on target, and which need correcting. To get the most from your investment, focus on your top priority, highest-risk assumptions.

The Top Slice: Refine Your thinking. Bring your team back together. Review the assumptions you had earlier identified as high-risk and in need of validation. Consider the customer research results by noting which assumptions were right on target, which would need fine-tuning, and which were way off base. No shame, no blame. Now refine your thinking based on what your learned.

This “sandwich” approach works because 1) it gives team members much needed permission to not know everything, 2) it acknowledges that customers can provide many answers, and 3) it lets your team refine their thinking together and get on the same page.

Most important, the “sandwich” approach efficiently and effectively helps you avoid assumptions and wisely answer the tough questions that can spell the difference between success and failure.

The Better MVP: Why “Minimum Viable Products” Are Dead

The basic idea of a “minimum viable product” – popularized by Eric Ries and the Lean Startup movement – is good: Create just enough to validate that what you’re making meets a customer need. And it’s led to many hugely successful companies, like Dropbox and Zappos (more here by Vladimir Blagojevic).
mvp_2
The problem we’ve seen is that “minimum viable product” can also lead to a product-centric mindset in which value to the customer takes a back seat to minimizing features. The dominant thinking is how little can we put in this product to be viable.

What’s the alternative? The intersection of “minimum viable product” and a different MVP we call “maximum value product” (others call it that too, like in this solid prezo by from Liquid Reality’s CEO Adam Smith).

“Maximum valuable product” is not about how many features you can pack into a new product. It is about how well can you solve whatever problem you’re addressing. That’s how you maximize value. The dominant thinking is not about how little, but how much; specifically how much of that particular problem you can solve for the customer.

The order and integration of the MVPs is critical. Here’s the 5 step sequence we recommend:

1) Maximum value: Start with the “maximum value product” perspective. Identify how much you value you can provide customers on a particular problem. Specify in details what aspects of the problem you’re solving, what benefit is created, and how important each is to customers.

2) Value validation: Validate with customers the meaningfulness of the problem you’re solving and have them rank order the importance of the benefits your product can provide.

3) Features: Make a list of what technology or features are needed for customers to experience each benefit and its value. Be sure to include low tech and high tech possibilities. Align features with the ranked benefits.

4) Minimum viability: Now bring in the Minimum Viable Product approach to decide what it will take to provide the required  features. Start with the features needed to deliver the most highly ranked benefit, then continue down the list. Think about trade-offs like this:

Option A: Do a good job at providing for the most important benefit, so that you’ll have enough resources to also provide for the second most important benefit.

Option B: Do a great job at providing for the most important benefit. Pour all your resources into that, and come back to the second most important benefit later.

5) Viability validation: Use lean and agile research techniques to get customer feedback on option A vs. Option B. Now you’re ready to take something to early adopters that has the optimal balance of providing value to customers and being viable to make.

Please share your experience with MVP vs. MVP!

3 Powerful “B4’s” that Put First Things First in Winning Innovation

Let’s say you need to come up with new products and services that will make a lot of money.  Here are 3 customer-centric principles that help you do first things first in new product innovation, and get far better results. We call them our “B4” principles (as in what comes “before” what).

Purpose B4 Profit: Your company exists to achieve a certain purpose (what Simon Sinek calls your “why”). Be clear and passionate about your purpose. And know that turning a profit is not it. Successfully fulfilling your purpose is how you make money; it will always entail satisfying desires of your customers. Which requires…

Customer B4 Product: It all starts with the customer.  The notion of putting customer desirability ahead of technical feasibility is a hallmark of Human-Centered Design.  Avoid the seduction of making things because you can, rather than because customers value what it does for them and will pay for it. This means…

Problem B4 Solution: First focus on identifying meaningful problems and unmet needs that customers care about before diving into technology and solutions. Even if you initially come up with a great idea of a new product, think through the lens of how it will improve the customers’ situation.

What is your experience practicing these “B4” principles?

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More here:

How to Get to Breakthrough Innovation: Desirability First!

New Product Innovation: How to Determine the Winners

“But We’ve Always Done It That Way” – Zen, Zero-Based Thinking, and a Fresh Approach

Fear or Love: Which Drives Your Business Decisions?

John Lennon famously said, “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.”

Some of our consulting engagements are with med tech and health IT companies that have created a culture of fear.  They don’t say so. But it’s evident in how employees are treated, how customers are viewed, and most clearly in how decisions are made.

We try to help them move away from fear and toward love- even if we usually don’t say so (my fear??). The main way we do this is by putting the customer first. This enables people to let go of the need to magically know what products to make and how to market them effectively and instead co-create the necessary understanding together with their customers. The process, when done well, is as humbling as it is empowering.

Do you work from fear or love? Can you imagine loving your customers? What would change if you did?

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More posts on how compassion is good business:

The Painful Cost of Disruptive Innovation: Uber & Cancer?

Introducing Compassionate Nonviolent Marketing: A New Paradigm

Health Behavior Change? Try the “Wrong Reason” Approach

Health behavior change is a major challenge for hospitals, providers, med device companies, health insurers, etc. It’s been a topic of well-meaning and often paternalistic debate for centuries- how do you get people to do what’s good for them?

The prevailing – and not very effective approach, is to try to logically convince them. Make a rational argument as to the benefits of changing their behavior and the risks of not. Assume people will digest the information you provided. The light will go on! People will stop the bad behavior and start the good behavior. After all, it makes so much sense, how could they not agree and do what you say?!

We all feel that way when we are doing the persuading. It’s human nature. Whether it’s trying to get a kid to put on sunscreen, an overweight person to stop eating so much, or a patient to upload their blood pressure readings to their doctor, we often persuade with the logical “right reasons.” Which rarely works.

Why? It doesn’t meet people where they’re at. From their perspective, it pushes your agenda, not theirs. It presumes and may even require people to care about what you care about and believe what you believe.

The alternative is to figure out what already motivates them, what they  already care about, what they already believe -then find the common ground with what you want.

Example: Want to promote better nutrition? Maybe most people won’t be motivated by your logical argument about reducing their risk of morbidity and mortality (as exciting as it sounds!). But maybe what you may consider “wrong reasons” – like looking hotter or saving money or fitting in socially, will do the job.

“Wrong reasons” are really the right reasons when they motivate people to do good things. Then, once they’re doing the healthier behavior, they be open to your more rational point of view.

More here: http://www.researchworks.com/YMM_2012/ResearchWorks_YourMarketingMinute_HowToChangeYourEndUsersBehavior_TwoPathsToPersuasion.html

 

 

The Dot: Brilliant Low Cost “Wearable” Leverages Culture to Save Indian Women’s Lives

A new take on wearable technologies: The familiar red forehead dot – or bindi – has been a traditional symbol of beauty in India and other countries in Southeast Asia for centuries. Now the cultural adornment doubles as a slow-release iodine patch, potentially saving the lives of millions of women in rural communities with iodine deficiencies and no other access to the much-needed supplement.

Continue reading The Dot: Brilliant Low Cost “Wearable” Leverages Culture to Save Indian Women’s Lives

Best Marketing Framework: 6 Ms, 4 Ps, or Customer-Centric 4 Es?

When I was serving on an expert FDA Risk Communication Advisory panel last week, a colleague described the “6Ms” marketing communications framework to the FDA staff we were advising. It’s been around for awhile and is still a useful mnemonic to remember what to consider when crafting a campaign. The 6 Ms are: Mission, Market, Message, Media, Money, Metrics.

Of course the classic marketing framework – or marketing mix – is the 4Ps popularized by Dr. Phil Kotler: Product, price, place (of distribution), and promotion.

Now the 4Ps have morphed into the 4Es: In our version, Product becomes Experience, Price become Equity, Place becomes Environment, and Promotion becomes Evangelists. I see this 4Es model as being the most customer-centric and thereby useful for developing a powerful customer/patient experience. More here.

What framework or mnemonic do you find most helpful?