As healthcare marketers, we often focus on the official launch of a new product as a pinnacle moment for its commercial success. But in many cases, success depends on actions taken before the launch date—specifically, how well the market has been primed to receive a novel product.
In addition to all the regulatory hurdles that must be cleared, marketers must also deal with the challenge of getting potential customers to adopt a new category of healthcare products. In a hot new space, such as multi-cancer early detection (MCED), several diagnostic companies are racing to launch their test. Despite not having a product commercially available, many continue to market their ongoing product development efforts to ensure they are viewed as a key player in this space.
For example, at the 2022 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, at least seven different companies presented data and promoted their MCED test, while only one of them has a test commercially available. The rest are priming the market and solidifying their position as a thought leader and innovator to set the stage for a more receptive launch.
To be successful, your marketing efforts need to follow these three key points to prepare the market for an upcoming product launch:
1. Raise awareness of unmet needs or medical conditions it will address.
Before launching a new healthcare product, you need to confirm demand is sufficient. Otherwise, your product will likely fail to gain traction in the marketplace.
One way to contextualize your product’s benefits is by raising awareness of the unmet need or medical condition that your product will address. Statistics and trends in health can demonstrate an industry gap for a solution to an underserved disease state. Elevating awareness can be accomplished using unbranded campaigns, educational content, and other thought leadership activities.
For example, a company focused on addressing a disease with poor screening protocols due to difficult sample collection and low diagnostic accuracy started with an educational website and series of social posts to highlight disease symptoms and the shortcomings of existing methodologies.
Then, they produced explainer videos and an email campaign to showcase their innovative approach to overcome these current challenges. All this content was created to prime the market by educating potential customers and engaging them before the product was even available.
2. Establish the company as an industry thought leader.
After informing your audience of the problem, establishing your company as a thought leader in this area is essential to establish credibility for your solution. This can be done through associations with major institutional partners. It’s helpful to have a respected academic or industry leader who can drive customers to believe in the company and the product. In addition, highlighting clinical studies and R&D expertise can demonstrate scientific rigor and underscore the trustworthiness of your new product in development.
Using key opinion leaders (KOLs) can further establish credibility for your organization. KOLs can be physicians, pharmacists, or other experts who can advocate for a product or service among their peers and professional networks. Booths and speaking opportunities at conferences are additional options to create a footprint for a new product. These events offer potential customers an opportunity to learn about the technical details of the product and its benefits through data presentations or direct interaction with company representatives.
By attending relevant conferences, such as ASCO for cancer-related products, companies can build anticipation for their upcoming product by sharing exciting research data such as study endpoints or enrollment criteria. This helps to create an existing base of interested and engaged customers for when the product does come to market.
3. Avoid overly promotional messaging.
When crafting pre-launch messaging, it’s important to take a data-driven approach and focus on the needs of your target market. This will help ensure that your product is well-received upon launch.
It’s also important to refrain from using promotional or branded messaging in your communications. Instead, focus on scientifically supported key messages and how your innovative approach will solve a problem. General benefits of your solution can be shared, but avoid product-specific benefits until your product is ready to launch. Developing thoughtful facts-first messaging should be an integral part of your communications strategy.
By following these tips, you can ensure that you effectively prime the market for your new healthcare product. Doing so will increase your chances of success when launching the product and help you build a strong foundation for long-term growth.