I was catching up last week with a former client- a very bright, articulate, and to-the-point MarCom professional with years of experience in the med device industry. I was sharing some of our recent new product launch client success stories. (FYI – Here’s a “how-to” summary from a recent talk I gave at the Health IT Marketing and PR conference).
She raised the question of how to handle continual revisions to products (vs. brand new or next gen products that are clearly worthy of significant launches). The key disconnect she identified is when the product manager thinks every revision is significant, field sales doesn’t, and MarCom is stuck in the middle.
Here’s how she put it:
It’s a drip, drip, drip of improvements that on their own may not have much value. Eventually it all adds up to some nice functionality but I’ve seen a fair amount of disconnect between the field and the business unit in the significance of these modifications. From my standpoint, I am always trying to tell the segment/issues-based story. So, what does it mean? What problem does it solve for the customer, what is the big issue it is addressing? The field is always asking, the business unit has trouble articulating. MarCom has to figure it out. It also makes for a very fuzzy launch with no clear beginning and end because it’s always ongoing.
What to do? Do your research. Don’t put Marcom in the unfair position of bridging the gap. Use the customer as your guidepost to decide what improvements are and are not significant. This means you need to 1) know what problem you think your revision solves, 2) determine if and why it matter to customers, 3) figure out how important the improvement is relative to the status quo, and 4) be able to create a compelling story about the new and improved device.
Set up metrics in advance as to what level of customer response constitutes significance. Combine that information with revenue projections to determine what investment should be made in promoting the revision.
BTW, if you can’t make a story that you find compelling, don’t expect your customers to be sold. There may just not be a “there” there. Instead, position the revision as what it is – another in a series of small improvements to an important product, from a company dedicated to continuously making good things better. No shame in that; or in telling the truth.