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Succeeding in Value Communication: Start with the Key Message

This is Part 1 of the ‘Succeeding in Value Communication’ 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 the BaseCase Consulting Team.

Create a key value message that is clear, concise, and connected to your audience’s needs.

Start with the key message. A simple idea, but it’s often forgotten. You can’t know for certain how much face-to-face time you’ll have with a customer. In an increasingly time conscious environment, it could only be 5 minutes – or even less! Therefore, it’s imperative to ensure the key message is delivered. For example, a key message can be: “Product X has the potential to save your hospital over $1,000,000 per year, and improve the Quality of Life of more than 500 patients”. With a key message, your aim is to capture the attention of the audience and overcome the initial, “Why am I listening to you?”, skepticism. Once hooked, you can use the remaining time to walk the customer through your Value Story of supporting data, evidence, and assumptions.

However, developing a clear and concise key message can be difficult. Especially as it can be tempting to have multiple key messages. With new technology, it is hard to resist the urge to throw a few great benefits at the customer simultaneously and see what sticks. But this ultimately defeats the purpose of your key message. After seeing your presentation, customers will go back to their busy jobs. What’s the one thing you want them to remember?

The key message should be treated as the minimum communication objective. If you can get the customer to understand this first – the rest is a bonus. A key message can of course have supporting messages though. For example, a supporting message of our key message mentioned earlier could be: “Product X is proven to reduce re-operation rates by 20%, freeing up over 150 bed days per year.”

How many times have you left a meeting remembering only a few bits of information? In such a busy world, if your key message is not specific it will simply be forgotten. Your key message needs to not only be clear and concise, it needs to be connected to your customer’s individual context. And so understanding your market and segmenting your audience is another critical activity. Interests and needs are different depending on who you’re talking to – whether it be a payer, surgeon, or hospital CFO. If resources are limited, identify your most important segment and narrow in on their needs and pains. The alternative is to design a multi-stakeholder presentation, with optimized messages and story lines for each segment.

But it can be detrimental to build a single presentation that tries to cover all bases. Such presentations will likely be rejected by KAMs and Field Teams, as well as audiences! This results in wasted resources and possibly failed launches.

In summary, formulating the key value message is an important process that shouldn’t be overlooked. The resulting message should be clear, concise, and connected to your segment’s needs. By communicating this at the beginning, you can capture your audience’s attention early and spend the rest of the time backing up your statement with supplemental messages and your value story.

About the author

By: Danny Hudzinski