“When you’re getting ready to launch into space, you’re sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen.” Sally Ride, NASA Astronaut.
Space launches and product launches are not all that different!
Several Get-to-Market Health clients have engaged us to help with new healthcare IT product launches and it is fast becoming some of the most interesting and challenging work we do on their behalf. Launching a product is a pressure cooker of a process requiring a significant investment with very little chance of a “do-over.” That means it’s critical to get it right when bringing a product to market.
Successfully launching a product is a multi-step, complex process that needs to be managed in an integrated fashion. It requires a dedicated project owner with responsibilities assigned across your organization.
An effective launch is made up of the following four key elements:
1. New Product Fit to Healthcare Market Need
How tightly tuned is your new product to market requirements? How do existing customers and new prospects react to your new product? What are you doing to listen to the market and the voice of the clinical or business customer? As we noted in a previous blogpost, assessing how your solution complements/competes with the dominant EMR vendors can be critical to your future success.
We have found targeted focus groups to be incredibly valuable in delivering candid market feedback for new healthcare products. You can gather invaluable insights by creating the right environment and conducting tailored sessions with representative healthcare buyers at each stage of the launch process.
2. Real Market Planning
Effective product launches require product marketing and financial planning efforts from your team and possibly outside resources. This will ensure that you have precise, baseline information to justify your new offering and help make your product introduction a success.
Critical market planning elements include:
- Total Addressable Market (TAM)
- Market segmentation
- Competitive differentiation
- Key solution capabilities needed at first release
- Healthcare regulatory requirements
- Major barriers to entry
Planning a product launch effort requires a total commitment. You must engage your broad team and build support for all the needed activities to ensure you get out of the gate quickly and make an impactful launch.
3. Early Adopter Targeting, Pricing and Positioning
Having those first customers who are pioneering with your healthcare product is critical to a successful launch, so it is important to take a thoughtful approach to acquiring them. Healthcare IT customers generally follow a well-trodden path and pay close attention to who has gone before them.
Question to answer when attempting to attract Early Adopters:
- What do the right Early Adopters customers look like?
- How many do you need/want?
- Will they truly help you sell the next wave of customers?
- What special pricing or other terms will you provide them?
- What do you want from them in the early adopter process?
Not all potential customers are good Early Adopter candidates, so focusing your sales team on targeting is important. You are asking a great deal from your first customers so being super careful about selecting the right type is essential.
4. Launch Strategy and Tactics
This is probably the most important element in a successful product launch, so you must be creative and calculating.
Questions to answer here include:
- When, where, and how will you announce? (e.g. HIMSS, ANI or other major event, live stream, social media strategy)
- What is the Bill of Materials (BOM) powering your launch plans? (e.g. FAQ, Sales Battlecards, eBook, Whitepaper, email, webinars, Press Release, Analyst Commentary)
- How will your announcement be different enough to be heard above the typical health industry white noise?
- Will you have customers with you at announcement?
- What is your plan to generate Key Opinion Leader (KOL) support for your launch?
- What are your success metrics?
- How tight is your ROI story and tools to help both sales and partners help potential customers?
To set yourself up for a successful launch, you should initiate launch planning at least two quarters from first customer delivery. That will provide enough time to make sure you get your product “off the ground.”
However once your product is “flying high,” your work isn’t done. You would do well to follow the example of Apple CEO Tim Cook who said, “When we launch a product, we’re already working on the next one….”
If you have feedback, questions or best practices you would like to share; we would love to hear from you. Share your experience in the comments below, or contact us to learn more.