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Success Factors in Value Communication Design - Start with the Key Message

This is Part 1 of the ‘Success Factors in Value Communication Design’ series, a set of articles that examine the key success factors in creating customer engagement tools that successfully communicate the clinical and economic benefits of pharmaceuticals, devices and diagnostics. These recommendations have been drawn from the experiences of Gijs Hubben, Founder and CEO of BaseCase.

Success Factors in Value Communication Design

Start with the key message - it’s a simple idea, but it’s often forgotten. We can’t know for certain how much face-to-face time an account manager will have with a customer. In this time conscious environment it may only be 5 minutes. Regardless, it is important to make sure the key message is delivered. For example, a key message can be: “Our device can save your hospital over a million dollars per year and improve the well-being of more than 500 patients”. With the key message, you capture the attention of your audience. It is designed to overcome the initial “why am I listening to you?” scepticism. Once hooked, you can use the remaining time to walk the customer through your ‘story’ of supporting evidence and assumptions.

Of course, we need to have a clear key message first. This can be quite hard, because it is tempting to have multiple ‘key messages’. Especially with novel technology, you might try to throw a handful of great benefits at the customer at once. However, this defeats the purpose of a key message: “one short, clear sentence”. If you could pick one thing that you would like customers to remember when they go back to their busy jobs, what would it be? The key message is the minimum communication objective. If you can get the customer to comprehend that first - the rest is a bonus. Of course, you can have other messages as support. For the key message mentioned above (‘Our device can save your hospital over a mission dollars per year…’) a supporting message could be “Our device reduces the rate of re-operation by 20%, freeing up 180 bed days per year” or “Our device can prevent 250 unnecessary procedures per year in your hospital that would otherwise cost you more than one million dollars”.

In this noisy world, if your key message is not specific, it will simply be ignored. People are too busy to connect the dots themselves. In other words, you need to connect your message to their context. For this reason, it’s critical that you understand and segment your audience. The interests and needs are different depending on who you are speaking to - whether it be a surgeon or a hospital CFO. If you have limited resources you are better off targeting the most important segment. The alternative is to design a multi-stakeholder presentation, with optimized messages and story lines for each segment.

The worst you can do is to try to design one presentation that tries to be everything to everyone. Such presentations will be politely ignored by your commercial teams and collect digital dust in the “value communication graveyard”.

In summary, formulating the key message is an important process that should precede everything else. The key message is specific to a well defined customer segment. It needs to be the first thing people see in a presentation, so that you can be sure it gets delivered. You then spend the rest of your presentation backing up your key message with “the story” - which is the next topic in this series.

Success Factors in Value Communication Design: