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Andy Kach
Principal
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Brian Chapman
Principal
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Marketing Excellence: An Overlooked Key to Launch Success

Posted by Matt Scheitlin on October 12, 2017



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This is the second post in a two-part series on marketing excellence in the medtech industry. 

In my last post, I described an all-too-common scenario for many medtech companies: A lack of the marketing excellence needed to leverage the market, competitor and customer insights that drive business decisions. In this installment, I’ll describe how establishing a holistic and structured marketing approach helped one company on its journey toward global marketing excellence.

While the priorities and focus of the wound care company that I discussed in my previous post likely differ from yours, the business rationale is the same: Strong marketing acumen can be a differentiator in a world of undifferentiated products, value-oriented purchasing decisions, and a focus on cost reductions. Our initial assessment revealed that while the company’s sales team was positioned to succeed, the largest long-term impact on both growth and profit would come from making improvements to the marketing organization. As the wound care organization grew over time, the U.S.-based installment of its global marketing structure was unable to meet the needs of a rapidly changing global customer base. While the company took steps to reset its marketing strategies across the board, it needed to overhaul its new product launch marketing process.

One of the key challenges for the wound care company was a development pipeline with U.S.-oriented products that focused on incremental innovation—a factor that often wasn’t appealing on a global scale. And by overinvesting in non-strategic products, the company’s portfolio had an uninventive value proposition and lacked “value beyond the product” offerings.

Solving these types of challenges, and improving the organization’s marketing capability as a whole, required a holistic yet simple approach. Here are the four steps that the company took to achieve marketing excellence:

1. Design an organizational structure that emphasizes marketing on a global scale. Companies need to begin by defining the global, regional and local-level structures and roles needed to meet the requirements of their global strategy. In the case of the wound care company, the organizational structure needed to undergo two key changes to better support the launch of new products.

First, the company assigned an upstream marketing lead to engage in each product’s development life cycle earlier to ensure launch buy-in. This marketing role is also focused on prioritizing the key features and benefits that resonate across all of the markets.

Second, the company increased its regional-level marketing resource to better understand and ultimately prioritize local market needs. Previously, during the product development process, each local market only shared product development advice that prioritized their local customers’ needs—requiring the global team to make choices. The regional layer now follows the 80/20 rule, sharing with global only the most impactful product requirements across the region. Ultimately, this regional layer is also responsible for helping to build each country’s launch business case by ensuring that market nuances are well understood and applied in projections, and by removing unnecessary complexities.

2. Establish roles and responsibilities to support the marketing initiatives. Companies need to outline the key success factors, activities and competencies that will ensure success in each of the required roles. The wound care company completely reworked the upstream marketing function and enhanced regional-level roles. The organization started by establishing role profiles that clearly articulate the objectives and skills required. This led to the creation of competency models for every role in the organization that describe the key activities and proficiencies needed to excel.
 
Another key to the wound care company’s upstream marketing competency is an ability to understand market opportunities and how to develop and integrate the customer’s voice into the development process. This requires teaching both the regional and local marketing representatives to better separate the customer’s needs from his desires early in the R&D development process. Engaging the marketing function throughout the design process was revolutionary for the company. The shift involved changing an organizational innovation mindset from “What can we build?” to “What should we build?”

3. Create and define the processes needed to execute tasks in the new organization. The wound care organization’s leaders realized that in order for the new model to succeed, they needed more explicit guidance on product launch processes. They started by creating launch project plans that included phase milestones and input from the various roles throughout the organization. For each of the key phases, a global step-by-step process was developed with ownership by the upstream marketer.
 
The company established critical activities and key inputs and hand-offs to ensure that the process was as smooth as possible. Throughout the definition process, the company found that many of its “textbook” templates, frameworks and tools were overly complex and non-intuitive to the everyday marketer, so the team developed simple, easy-to-use materials that focused only on the most critical launch needs. For example, the team developed a flexible tool to assess and identify market opportunities, which led to more consistency and understanding across the business.

4. Ensure that talent is placed in the areas that allow for the greatest impact. With such a significant change in roles, the wound care organization needed to rethink its deployment of talent around the globe. Leveraging the competency models created for each role, the team performed an initial assessment of the entire organization, highlighting strengths and development opportunities for each individual role. This allowed them to place people in roles that best matched their natural strengths. 
 
However, those efforts alone weren’t sufficient to ensure the success of future upskilling. The organization also established focused trainings, cases and practice forums that pushed the teams to sharpen their existing skills and develop new ones. The development centers are available through a mix of online, classroom and test-based training, all with a focus on practical and applicable skill development, such as how to write a value proposition.

While the organization is still in the early days of the transition, feedback from the marketing team and customers has been positive. In fact, with the new product launch processes in place, only those products that have true global opportunity are positioned to pass executive reviews. Though fewer products are making it through these reviews, those that do have three times the global opportunity and are welcomed by a far more receptive global team.

As we’ve seen through the wound care company example, medtech companies can optimize their marketing effectiveness by leveraging a structured process that’s focused on key areas of need. The result is commercial differentiation that allows an organization to fundamentally support a revitalized sales force with a marketing function to match.


RELATED CONTENT

BLOG POST: The Shift From Sales Excellence to Marketing Excellence

BLOG POST: Ladies and Gentleman, It's Time for Marketing


 

Topics: sales, marketing, medical devices, medical products and services, medtech, value, Launch Strategies, launch planning, reinvent go-to-market strategy, global strategy, marketing excellence, wound care

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AUTHORS
Brian_Chapman_thumbnail
Brian Chapman
Principal,
ZS Associates
Tobi_Laczkowski_thumbnail
Tobi Laczkowski
Principal,
ZS Associates
Will_Randall_thumbnail
Will Randall
Manager,
ZS Associates
Matt-Scheitlin-London_thumbnail
Matt Scheitlin
Associate Principal,
ZS Associates
Andy-kach_thumbnail
Andy Kach
Associate Principal,
ZS Associates
Bhargav_Mantha_thumbnail
Bhargav Mantha
Associate Principal,
ZS Associates
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