I was presenting a case study of our new product launch work today and highlighting the critical importance of first getting the positioning strategy right, well before getting into any messaging or creative development. One participant reacted strongly that his global med device company was not good at that, often jumping from a general 40,000 foot product positioning strategy to a detailed and tactical listing of features and benefits. And suffering the consequences. He rightly pointed out that ineffective internal behaviors contribute to this dynamic and asked how we would intervene.
I answered that we have several ways to carefully set the stage for people to have necessary and positive “Oh Shit” moments (OSMs) that generate the sudden insight often needed to change longstanding internal behaviors. These are the moments when you get unexpected clarity and realize what you had been thinking or doing was way off. You feel it deep in your core.
Examples: 1) A med device product manager suddenly realizes the product he’s been overseeing for three years isn’t really solving the problem customers care about. 2) A health IT engineer wakes up to the fact that she’s created all kinds of functionality no one wants and that obscures the basic usability of the platform in the process. 3) A marcom director has the epiphany that he has no idea why hospitals should care about the next gen product they’re spending millions on to launch next quarter.
When you have a “Oh Shit” moment, you know it’s a truth you cannot debate or doubt. But you can choose to act on it or ignore it.
I invite you to think of “Oh Shit” moments as a miniature crisis, and then think of crisis from this perspective: The Chinese symbol for “crisis” is made up of two characters. One means danger. The other means opportunity. Every “Oh Shit” moment you have is an incredibly powerful opportunity to let go of an old habit or way of thinking that is no longer healthy, and to adopt a new habit or way of thinking that is healthy. And at your best, you can do so with grace and gratitude.
May you have many enlightening and productive OSMs. We all need ’em!
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.