If you’re on time, you’re late.

An important rule to live by, especially for challenger pharma and medical device brands.

Their success lies within the market’s understanding of their product and customers’ willingness to adopt the challenger’s new way of doing things. And this happens only after strategic audience outreach that happens early and often. Emphasis on early.

Patients and physicians are naturally skeptical to new health care approaches, often finding comfort in “the way it’s always been done.” Waiting until the launch period to introduce these audiences to your brand means you’re already three steps behind.

There’s so much work that can be done 18 months prior to a launch. During this time period, start by leveraging your data and research to find the right message for your audience. Then, build anticipation for the availability of your product by getting health care professionals excited about the idea of a new option that overcomes the issues they’re facing.

One word of warning: make sure you understand the FDA marketing regulations for pharma and medical device brands.

Medical device brands in particular face unique challenges when it comes to prepping the market. Because of FDA regulations, brands in this category must be extremely careful about the medical claims they make. They’re unable to prime the market unless they are providing scientific, educational materials that follow strict FDA guidelines.

Even when FDA approvals have been reached, medical device brands still have restrictions. That means that any pre-launch marketing must be factual and formal, and designed only to explain the labeled usage, techniques, safety and risks associated with the device.

FDA regulations prevent medical device brands from prepping the market quite like other brands, but that doesn’t mean they can’t connect with potential buyers at all. There are legal, strategic market prep tactics that work for both pharma and medical device challenger brands.

Focus on Data

  • When overly promotional marketing tactics are out of the FDA question, sharing trial data or research is an effective way for pharma and med device brands to prep the market.
  • Research can help educate health care professionals that may use the product, leveraging data to show comparisons to existing solutions and how a new advancement could improve the patient experience. By using research-backed education tactics to reveal these gaps and opportunities, the challenger brand is effectively priming the market for its eventual product launch.

Focus on the Need

  • Just as important as how your product works is why your product is needed. Before launch, spend time educating the market on issues consumers are currently facing or opportunities to improve surgical practices, and explain why the current status quo just isn’t cutting it.
  • For example, your research could show that X percent of people using the leading pharma drug don’t follow the recommended dosing schedule due to a difficult dosing method. By sharing this data with physicians before launch, you’re priming them to be more accepting of a new solution by the time your product hits the market.

Challenger pharma and medical device brands have to overcome a variety of obstacles right out of the gate – lack of awareness, limited resources, lack of understanding from the audience – but careful market preparation can help alleviate some of these struggles. Don’t let a late start set you back in the race for market share.

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