There’s something magical about launching a new healthcare brand. Maybe it’s the thrill of starting from a blank slate or the potential for prominence. Whatever the impetus, this two-part series covers some core tenets for achieving healthcare marketing greatness.

Work backward to get ahead

One of the biggest marketing stumbling blocks I’ve observed is that healthcare companies are working at a feverish pace, but they are busy playing “catch up” instead of “catch on” to drive demand for new brands. It’s important to set the stage (ideally) years before the creative branding process even begins by:

  • Creating a robust pool of KOL influencers who will publicly and passionately champion the brand
  • Establishing a strong scientific platform through strategically placed publications
  • Creating third-party support through programs with not just medical associations, but also patient and/or caregiver advocacy groups

Seeding the market with effectively placed, unbranded influences can help audiences anticipate and be more receptive to a brand at launch.

Analyze every dynamic

A starting place is to identify all of the forces that can either drive a brand or restrain it from succeeding. This change force analysis exercise provides a 360° view of:

  • The brand
  • The marketplace
  • Internal influences and/or detractors

Prioritizing change forces from the weakest to the strongest enables identification of the most critical elements for success. It also reveals competitive or environmental barriers that can potentially hamper business goals.

At this point, and moving forward, I should mention that it’s important to involve everyone on the team from both the agency and client side. Getting everyone in a room at the same time – from the C-suite to regulatory, R&D, and marketing – ensures more robust learnings. It also helps to build consensus and create excitement at every level.

Understand every audience

I’m a strong advocate of insight mining market research and audience influence mapping because they are effective exercises to identify by segment all of the hurdles that must be cleared to compel behavior change. They also help focus efforts in ways that are relevant to each audience.

These exercises empower the branding process by answering valuable questions, including:

  • What is the audience’s influence on use of a brand?
  • How high is the need to change their perceptions and/or behaviors?
  • How likely are they to change?
  • What are the key barriers and motivators?
  • What is the buying proposition?
  • What are the key messages?

I always say that you cannot build a strong brand on a weak foundation. All of the insights gleaned here are important to drive the process of crystallizing a brand’s features, positioning, brand essence, and strategic imperatives, all of which I will cover in my next blog.

Ken is a great deal more than just the president of a medical communications company. He is something of a hybrid. He’s part marketing manager, part creative director, and part copywriter. To the chagrin of his peers—but to the delight of his clients—Ken is a consummate perfectionist. As a former creative director for a high-end consumer agency, he challenged his creative teams to go beyond the mundane to produce work with real creative impact, something he’s just as fervent about today. From producing and directing TV commercials, to launching DTC and Rx-to-OTC switches, Ken brings his clients a world of experience in OTC pharmaceuticals as well as business, lifestyle, and high-end consumer products and services. Whether huddled with clients behind a mirror in a market research center in Houston, facilitating a strategic workshop in Madrid, or developing a global campaign either in the New Jersey or California office, Ken is always fully engaged, bringing “bestness” to all areas of his hectic but full life.