5 top tips for creating and testing powerful propositions in healthcare and Medtech markets
Even before the recession that the world is now entering, continuous medical advances and the resulting ability to do more and more, increased competition; coupled with limited or even decreasing funds meant that there was an increased focus on value right across the health industry.
‘Value’ means different things to different people and there is a danger that for many, value can equate simply to price – “It is all about the money”. However, the true meaning of value isn’t limited to price; that is only half the story. Value is a balance of cost and benefit.
Value is derived from delivering benefits at a given price, the more perceived worth attached to those benefits and the more unique or distinctive they are; the greater the value. What this means is that a more expensive but ‘similar’ product can actually provide better value because what it offers performs better on certain dimensions or it offers an unique specific benefit.
In this context, identifying and communicating these points of difference is crucial for any brand. For marketers the corollary to the focus on value is a renewed emphasis on the development and testing of any proposition – the product promise – whether the aim is to turn a new product development into in-market success or moving an existing product from competing on price to winning on true/added value.
So, what are my top 5 recommendations for creating and testing great propositions? Some are blindingly obvious but combined they provide an essential checklist for value development and testing:
1. Identify and magnify any positive points of difference: A good proposition understands people have choices and you need to encourage them to choose you over your competition so what do you offer that is better or different from those competitors.
2. Focus on the benefits that the point of difference delivers - People value benefits not features, identifying and addressing needs is the all important hook. If interested, people can then check out the specifics of your features. There is a famous saying attributed to the chairman of Black & Decker which goes “People don’t want a ¼ inch drill bit, they want ¼ holes” and its good advice… though I might say I don’t want ¼ inch holes I want to put up some shelves easily.
3. Recognise that one size doesn’t fit all - Nowadays brands often have more than one product or service in their range, and each product may need to appeal to different target groups which means you need to think about flexing a core proposition, different propositions need to be coherent not rigidly consistent. If I was selling a rainbow to my investors my proposition would be around the pot of gold, if I was selling to a customer I might have a proposition about its natural beauty and if I wanted to recruit more staff my proposition would be how I would give them seven colours and ask them to help create a rainbow. A coherent but adapted set of propositions all about rainbow-ness.
4. Remember everyone is human. There is a tendency to focus on the logical, functional benefits and to try and appeal to the more rational ‘System 2’ type of thinking but we are all human and have emotions and tapping into those can make your proposition much more engaging, memorable and, therefore, stronger. Sometimes the rational benefits are better used as reasons to believe rather than the lead of a proposition.
5. Test against what exists not previous norms. When you go to market you will compete against other products, other services from other brands not against other research concepts… so choose a methodology that allows you to see how you perform versus what’s on the market already.
To demonstrate the points above I’ve chosen one case history, which I think is powerful because it’s about a third to market brand; ultimately outperforming the well-known first to market brand plus it’s not a sector often quoted in marketing literature – erectile dysfunction.
When it was launched in 2013, Cialis was third to market. The market was dominated by Pfizer’s billion-dollar drug Viagra. Bayer’s Levitra was the second, albeit smaller, brand.
Now Cialis, like Viagra and Levitra, was a treatment for erectile dysfunction; similarly, it was effective and safe so the Eli Lily team had to search and find a point of difference. What they identified was while both Viagra and Levitra have an effective duration time of four to five hours, Cialis is different - its effective window of time can last as long as 36 hours.
“Laddering up” they translated it from a functional product feature into a more emotionally led benefit. They realised that extended effective duration time meant it worked any time of the day or night following taking the pill. There was less time pressure, less need to ‘schedule’ sex and more opportunity for spontaneity.
Cialis shifted from a focus on the man, performance and sex, which Viagra used: to communicating about couples; spontaneity and relationships.
Cialis’ proposition was translated into communication, which featured half-washed cars and a washing-line where only half the washing had been hung up. The copy told couples that Cialis was for daily use, “So you can be ready anytime the moment is right.”
This proposition based on a point of difference, laddered up to an emotionally led benefit translated into a huge commercial success. Cialis became brand leader in total sales in 2015.
So, in these challenging times, make sure you focus on creating powerful propositions which make your different customers, “an offer they can’t refuse.”