10 Ways to Botch a Medical Device Launch

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Several years ago, we were asked to consult on the launch of a troubled medical device, one that had cost millions to develop. Our first step was to assess doctor demand for the product through qualitative and quantitative research. The results were stark and conclusive. Not one doctor in the study said they would purchase the device at any price. The launch and the product were scratched.

So why do launches of new medical devices fail? Are the products not innovative? Are they too expensive? Did you lift off too close to the holidays? Those are rarely the root cause, but our list below maps out some of the key troublemakers.

    1. Ignore the distributor, doctor and patient. Medical devices are rooted in science and engineering. But market acceptance is driven by consumer insight and education. Consult your distribution network, and doctors who you don’t pay as KOLs. Apply what you learn to products in development, and uncover the need for new devices.
    2. Let R&D propaganda drive the marketing. They’re undoubtedly jazzed about their new widget’s performance. But that doesn’t guarantee the market will feel the same way. Determining an effective strategy depends on finding out what the end user, or decision maker, values. Test the prototype with your target. Listen. Repeat.
    3. Starve the marketing. You only get to be new and shiny once. Make it count. Your new product needs sustained support not just for the launch period, but for months afterwards. And, you can’t do it with just journal advertising anymore. You must employ multiple tactics that work in sync in your sales funnel.
    4. Launch a bum product. Pushing a product out the door before it’s ready will cost you dearly. You’ll pay to make it right, the product will never reach its potential, and the damage to your brand will be exorbitant. You’ll pay all over again when your next product launch is greeted with skepticism.
    5. Underestimate the competitive response. If you’re lucky and your product is worthy, it should provoke jealousy, fear and hatred from your competitors. Assume that you have more leakers than the White House, and that your competition is preparing for your launch with the same intensity as you are. Prepare your sales force to counter the flak and misinformation. Otherwise, rumor becomes reality.
    6. Hype it ‘til you’re hoarse. New products rarely live up to their hype, which makes them ultimately disappointing. Again, think to the future, and consider the credibility of your next hype fest. If you want brand love, be authentic. Show it through the story of your product and the people who are passionate about it.
    7. Play games with the price. Introductory offers are a tell that every doctor, distributor and buyer recognizes as: A. You don’t have confidence in the value of the product. B. You consider the real price too expensive. Both of them will come back to bite you in the haunches when it’s time to deliver margin.
    8. Launch without adequate inventory. This seems obvious, but it happens. Especially when manufacturing, management or accounting don’t share your confidence in the product, and hesitate to invest in inventory. Your introduction may go flawlessly your reputation will never recover from the inability to deliver product. Instead, you’ll lose orders, and give competitors time to catch up.
    9. Ignore aesthetics and ergonomics. Too many new medical devices come out of the chute looking like science experiments. Your innovation might be brilliant, but leaving out details like smart design and ergonomics leave the end user with a “blah” instead of a “wow” experience.
    10. Don’t believe. Deep down, you know this new product is a goat. You don’t need to say a word. Your cynicism or fake enthusiasm will poison your sales force and customers. Maybe you do have a dud on your hands, but you, as the leader, should not cement its fate. Speak truth to power. Get another job. Bad products and bad launches reflect on you, too.
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Consumers Turn to Social Media for Blazing Fast Support

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Customer service has leapt from phone and email to responding to the disgruntled or confused on social media.

Customers in the traditional support model expect a response within 24 hours. On social media, however, they expect answers at light speed. According to The Social Habit Study, however, 32 percent of people who contacted a brand, product or company through social media for support expected a response within 30 minutes; and 42 percent expected a response within one hour. Keep in mind, you’re also playing to others on a social media feed who evaluate how you treat customers, and use this information in a buying decision.

Large companies like KLM, Walmart, CNN and Xbox lead the industry with exemplary customer service response times.

These companies also lead the social media customer service craze because they’re proactive. Their customer service support teams search for opportunities to answer questions or solve potential customers’ pain points using keyword monitoring tools, like Mention.com and Hootsuite.

Your social media marketing strategy should put standard status updates and uniform ad blasts to shame. Don’t worry, we can help. Call Susan Abramovitz at 513-947-1444 ext. 10.

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Marketing to Women. Are Advertisers Still Clueless?

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When Ideopia launched in the early 90s, working women, like me, were still an oddity. We were chastised, guilt-ridden and sometimes viewed with pity because we “had” to work.

Advertisers didn’t help this perception, either. They depicted the working woman in a rumpled business suit running between pre school and the office with a briefcase in one hand, a child on her hip and towing another one by the hand.

Marketers, eager to show empathy, shot these stereotypical photos, or bought them from stock photography houses, to sell us their detergents or Calgon (Take me away!)  Reality? Hardly. Yes, we were stressed and sometimes we needed that Calgon, but we usually handled our responsibilities at home and work competently and with grace. Like other working women, those pandering ads offended me.

1980 Calgon Bath Soap Commercial “Calgon, Take Me Away!”

Although fewer than 6% of CEOs are women; and aggressive little boys are still called “leaders” while little girls are called “bossy”, advertisers are starting to get the message.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Driven by user generated content on social media and campaigns like Dove’s “Real Beauty Campaign,” which celebrated its 10th birthday this month, Pantene’s “Labels Against Women” and “Not Sorry” campaigns advertisers are seeking a broader representation of women.

Stock Photography Gets Real

At the 2014 Cannes, the CEO of Getty images teamed up with the COO of Facebook to present a series of 2500 images called the Lean In collection. These photos show women in a diverse light. Rather than the stereotypical images, the Lean in Collection offers photos of women working in fields like robotics. They are aging gracefully and are eating real foods instead of fussy little salads.

Sales of the Lean In photos, all that were previously available from Getty, have jumped by 54% in recent months.

It’s a start. But we have a long way to go! Silicon Valley, for the most part, doesn’t get it. They still think women have nothing other than shoes and weddings on our minds. Honestly, does Microsoft even want women to buy its computers?

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Put a Sock In It and Listen.

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What you’re missing if you’re not listening.

My anchor for listening dates back to editing audio in radio. Alone in an edit bay, I not only listened to the content of what people said, but how they said it. Are they afraid, angry, sarcastic, overjoyed, or just flat lining it?  The emotions spoke more to me than the words. I felt empathy for these people, and I felt like I truly understood them.

That sounds nice, but in real life, I’m not a good listener.  But I’d like to think I’m a recovering terrible listener.  Self awareness is the first step, right?  Before you pat yourself on the back and move on to a much sexier blog post about analytics and marketing automation, see if you agree with any of these statements.

  • I usually start meetings with a monologue about my ideas.
  • When people ask me what somebody said in a meeting, I have no idea what they’re talking about.
  • While other people talk, I see my favorite video game in my head.
  • What other people have to say is boring.
  • And, of course, I’m just plain smarter than everyone else.

Yeah, I thought so. You need help, pal. Start by remembering a moment in your life that you absolutely  know you were listening. A doctor giving you news about a loved one. What the cop muttered when he handed you a ticket for doing 75 m.p.h. in a school zone.

Imagine if you could have that experience in a meeting, or a quick chat in your office. If you truly listen,  the chances that the other person will listen to you and cooperate zoom up exponentially. I’m sure you’re already stuffed with articles about active listening, neurolinguistic programming, body language, and facial tics that give away liars. I would guess that people who are naturally good listeners don’t need those tools.

This brings me to my pet peeve. Fake listening. The people who’ve taken one too many seminars, but have never actually done it. They’re easy to spot, too, by their bobbling encouraging heads, and active listening murmurs,  uhmms, and making just a little too much eye contact.  “Yes, we’re listening to you,  but please finish babbling so we can fire up our PowerPoint deck, so we can finally tell you how special we are.”

To be honest, I can be a faker, too. And some situations demand it, e.g. when you’re on the dias with a keynote speaker who is droning on oblivious to the glazed eyes of his audience.

Information is cheap. We don’t need to talk about your LinkedIn profile. I read it. Tell me something meaningful, and I’ll do my best to listen.

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Treebies Send Environmental Message to Clients

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Are you an Ideopia client? If so, keep an eye on your mailbox for a Treebie card and environmental message from your socially responsible friends at Ideopia.

So, what’s a Treebie? After every major print job, we plant a tree to restore what we borrowed from the environment. It’s our way of making things right with Mother Nature, and spreading a little good to our business partners.

As for the cards, they’re FSC® certified, which means made with 100% post consumer fiber, earth-friendly toner instead of ink, no new trees, and processed chlorine free.

Dig into the Details on Our Treebie Website

To learn more, check out our new Treebie environmental program website. It’s loaded with factoids about the program, and a cool infographic that highlights the impact on the environment. For example, did you know a single replanted tree can provide roughly 20,000 sheets of paper and enough oxygen for two people?

Ready for your very own Treebie? Call Susan at 513-947-1444 x10, and put in an order for a new print job.

Designer: Emily Babel
Copywriter: Eric House

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Ideopia’s Tasty New Account Stretches Waistlines

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While we remain committed to the medical market with clients like Bell Ophthalmic, Eyefficient and Volk Optical, we’re thrilled to have food in our lives from Avure Technologies. Avure is the global leader in HPP, a processing method that kills microorganisms and seals in freshness with water pressure alone. Yep, no chemicals or radiation. And the food? It tastes just like it came from the kitchen. The machines cost millions, but we think it’s a small price to pay for delicious food. Check out Avure’s new website, and stop by Pack Expo in Chicago this weekend to see more of our work.

Avure’s website has a non-technical look, which reinforces HPP’s position as a mainstream food processing technique.

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Holiday Social Media: Don’t Blow It.

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Brands often fall flat with their holiday social media execution. It takes sensitivity and common sense to balance content, appropriate frequency and sales plugs.

For a winning social strategy over the next few months, follow these do’s and don’ts. And tweet us your own social media holiday wins @Ideopia.

Don’t clutter your feeds with pushy sales messages.

Unless you’re a retailer with major discounts on Black Friday, cut the pushy sales copy from your queue. It’s not the time or place to interrupt your audience’s online experience.

Instead, share content that pairs well with the holiday. Post a branded card or try helpful and entertaining content, like cold-weather family activities or recipes. Your audience will appreciate the effort, and you’ll appreciate the increased loyalty and engagement.

Don’t over do it.

Consider your brand’s social media goals and business objectives. Do these align with a specific holiday message? Desperate social media tie-ins have #fail written all over them. Like the Golf Channel’s shameless plug on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Piggybacking off a historic day and making it about golf was obnoxious. Tactics like these may get your brand viral, but not in the way you want!

Instead, consider your brand voice in typical social media content. Create copy that encompasses that personality and remains appropriate for your audience. If your post doesn’t naturally connect with the holiday, don’t stretch to make it fit.

Social media habits change during the holidays.

Your audience likely engages with social media differently over the holidays compared to work mode. Instead of sourcing Twitter for industry news and +1’ing content for increased reach, your audience is online for entertainment and recreation.

Don’t share the same “work mode” content for your B2B audience. Get creative and lower the frequency. Humanize your brand with fun, relatable and visual content like Lowe’s hardware fireworks display on Vine.

Interested in more social media marketing tips? Click here or give us a call at 513-947-1444 x10.

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Coffee Brings Life to Ideopia’s New Graphic Designer

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Curtis Gable is the latest Ideopian queuing up every morning, zombie-like, to the magic machine that brews Ideopia’s sweet ichor of life. Curtis uses the boost to design the heck out of every project that comes across his desk, from product brochures and newsletters to digital goodies that people can’t wait to see pop up on their computer screens.

A design nut by nature, as well as trade, Curtis grew up in family of builders, chewing on Lincoln Logs and Legos instead of teething rings. Encouraged by his passion, Curtis graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a BFA in Graphic Design.

Curtis is also a serial entrepreneur, so if you see him at a local watering hole, catching the latest happening band or quaffing a local craft brew (two other things he loves) ask him about his forays into the exotic garment trade.

Weekends find Curtis out and about early, because, inexplicably, he doesn’t own a coffee maker at home. His need for caffeine forces him from his lair in search of relief from the nearest coffee stand. Yeah, he’s one of us.

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Show Us the Money. The Joys of Agency/Client Transparency.

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If you’re gun shy about disclosing your marketing budget, join the crowd. Maybe you were traumatized by a used car salesman at a tender age, or got a hose job from an unscrupulous ad agency, and you’ve learned to hold the money cards.

We would kindly suggest, get over it. It’s hurting your ability to get the best from your agency, and lack of transparency on either side of the agency/client relationship erodes trust. And, if you don’t’ trust your agency, why are you working with them?

Bereft of a budget, agencies will punt with an array of strategies, and none work to your advantage:

  • Guess based on marketing allocations within your industry, and inquiries to publishers and media outlets to determine what you spent in the past.
  • Over plan for a budget you don’t have, which wastes your time and the agency’s.
  • Go low, cut corners, and pile on features by using junior people to execute your work.
  • And the good agencies, the one’s you most want on your work, will simply choose not to play.

In other words, you’re inviting agencies to take a trip to Walmart with your very important project.

Instead of telling an agency to plop out a number for, say, a website. Ask which of your important goals can they achieve within your budget. Find out how they plan to allocate your budget and what they will deliver. If you’re running a review, or a competition for a prime project, leveling the field is the only way you can realistically compare agencies – at least on a financial basis.

Laying your budget on the line may seem counterintuitive. After all, if we know what’s in your piggy bank, won’t we spend it all? Darn tooting! You told us the important objectives you want to achieve. And you determined that if you invested “x” amount in marketing, the ROI would make it worth it. So why not cough up the numbers?

All this takes valuable time and energy, which should be applied to determining strategy and the most effective way to allocate the budget you do have.

Reap the Rewards of Transparency

  1. Tell your agency your marketing objectives strategy and budget. And focus your agency team on developing the most effective way to spend it.
  2. Evaluate agencies based on what they can do for your money, not how much they spend.
  3. Create an atmosphere of transparency and trust from the start. Agencies will respond with extra attention and work to live up to their part of the bargain.
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5 Handy PR Tips to Ace Reporter Queries

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You’ve chummed the water. You’ve staked out the goat. You’ve greased the trap, baited the hook, and smeared peanut butter on the mousetrap.

In other words, you’ve sent out your pitch or news release. Now what?

What do you do when the phone rings, or the inbox pings or Twitter tweets? That reporter needs details and lots of ‘em. And maybe needs to talk to a Subject Matter Expert (SME) or wants a quote from the CEO.

Here are 5 tips so you don’t get caught flat-footed:

Expect the call. Lots of people in the public relations biz think the job is over when the press release goes out. Maybe you make a follow-up phone call or email. But that’s just the first bean in the burrito. Most reporters will use your release as a starting point, but they’re gonna have lots more questions. So don’t be surprised when they call.

Be prompt (and available). Reporters (like most of us) have deadlines and they’re usually pushing them to the max. Answer the phone. Or email. Or tweet. But get back to them quickly. The curse of the 24-hour news cycle? You’re expected to be accessible during waking hours (and sometimes after). Being accessible via social media can be a big advantage for both you and the reporter.

Be prepared

Get technical. Have relevant information handy – not just the information pertaining to the news release, but basic company information and background. And if you don’t know something, find out and get it to ‘em ASAP.

Be prepared. Have the contact information of your Subject Matter Experts available. Make sure the SME has been briefed. Coordinate between the SME and the reporter. And have a few pithy quotes ready from the SME just in case the reporter and the SME don’t connect. Make images available, hi-res and web-ready, plus video and audio, if relevant. And have a way to get it to who needs it in zippy fashion (reference to speed and compressing files…see what I did there?)

Be friendly. And helpful. And pretty, and witty and wise. Help the reporter get what she needs. PR is a service industry. The better service you provide, the more successful you’ll be. <Ring! Ring!> It’s for you!

For more PR advice and where to plan your next microbrewery tour, call or email Ben Singleton, Ideopia’s director of public relations. 513-947-1444 ext 18.

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