Tag Archives: Commercialization

The Power of Story: 3 Key Steps to Connecting Your Vision with Commercial Success

By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

open book with watch on it

Take the time to craft the ‘story’ of how your offering will impact your customers to provide a focus and direction to your commercialization efforts

There are a million things to do to get your new ideas and discoveries into a finished product that will delight your customers.  This can be a very overwhelming experience as you are not only trying to determine what your product will be like when you launch but also how to talk about it to your investors, your prospects, partners and your team.  One unifying principal that can help here is to use the power of story to guide you through this process.  Think of the story you would like people to tell about your company and its product(s) years after its success.  When you take the time to do this, the path to success will seem a bit less treacherous.

Easier said than done
The key here is to focus on the interests of your target audience and realize that the narrative will be different for each of your stakeholders.  This is kind of like trying to come up with a story that will appeal to both children and adults (perhaps using a comic book version for kids and a novel for adults).  However, as challenging as this might seem to be, the process that you will follow to create the story of your company will ultimately provide you with the insights and focus you will need to move your company forward.

Step 1:  Start with Your Future Customers
Your new product will provide some new outcomes for your future customers.  This could be a new diagnostic test to guide medical treatment, a new tool or kit that will allow researches access to new information or perhaps even a significantly improved version of an existing product or service.  In each case, you need to find out how badly your customers would wish to overcome a particular issue and ultimately if they can envision your solution to it to be compelling.  From this effort you will know what your product or service needs to do for your customers (not just what it can do but what it must do).  This is the most critical story to get right.  You will be basically retelling this story of how your product or service impacts customers to your other stakeholders in the following steps.

Step 2:  Delight your Board and Investors
Use the insights that you gained from the previous step to build enthusiasm on your Board of Directors.  Being able to share testimonials from future customers, and statistics like, “90 percent of the people we targeted in our initial outreach said that they would pay $$$ today for our offering to fulfill this critical unmet need.”  Testimonials like this go a lot further than statistics from market reports that have been shoehorned to fit your business case with these stakeholders.  Remember your ‘audience’ prefers non-fiction over fiction here.

Step 3: Putting It All Together with Your Team
The feedback from your future customers in Step 1 will become the minimal set of performance and pricing characteristics for your first product(s).    Your development team can use this to produce the first prototype for alpha evaluations.  Your commercial team will have key insight into what will be a compelling value proposition to use to reach and win new customers.  If your board and investors liked your ‘story’ so far, they will have validated it with their approval and perhaps even some additional funding.

In Summary:

  • As early as possible, find out who will buy your products and for how much and why (what impact will your offering have on your customers).  – The Customer Needs and Solution Story.
  • Use real prospective customer feedback to further convince your stakeholders (Board of Directors and investors) to support your team.  – The Rags to Riches Story –non-fiction version
  • Provide your team with real outside feedback to guide your development efforts towards making the right product for the right customer at the right price at the right time.  – The Life Science Idea to Successful Biotechnology Company Story

Picture Credit:  © Tomloel | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Building Buzz while Avoiding the Buzz Saw: Public Relations and the Life Science Start Up

Honeybee on a flower

Get the PR buzz you want, avoid getting stung by bad press

By Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

You have a ton of things to do to get ready for your product launch at the upcoming trade show.  You have got your website in great shape, you have product on the shelf, trained your sales team and/or partners and have a great booth.  You have even spent some valuable marketing dollars to promote your product.  Public relations is often neglected and mainly because it is often confused with marketing.  In its starkest definition, marketing looks to build a positive image and its products to a target audience though advertising and other paid means.  Good public relations looks to do this in an unpaid and perhaps more organic matter.

Public Relations is…
A good PR strategy will include interviews with reporters (both in trade journals and potentially in the mass media as well), speaking engagements, arranging to be on influential panels at scientific meetings and, if appropriate, on state and local panels when your products could have an impact with the general public like a new diagnostic or therapeutic offering.

Why You Want a Professional for This
This is often an effort that is best delegated to a professional.  A good PR consultant will often have a ready contact list of key people that will get you the interviews, articles and speaking engagements that will not only help to increase your visibility to potential customers but will also generate the valuable but hard to grasp concept of ‘buzz’.  A PR firm or consultant can also help to resolve any bad press or negative reactions in the media and on the web should that occur (that’s the buzz saw, in case you were keeping track).

Quick Tips:

  • Do develop a PR strategy with a PR Firm or experienced consultant
    Unless someone on your team is an experienced PR person with all of the contacts you need, include this in your business plan budget as part of your commercialization plan.
  • Do Make sure your website is up and running and contains compelling content
    When your PR activities generate ‘buzz’, you want interested parties to have ready access to additional high quality content.
  • Do prepare a ‘Media Kit’ to better manage your brand and image.
    Put a tab on your website that contains high quality images, logos and other resources that journalists and other media folks can use when they write about your company.  This gives you better (not absolute) control of how your logo and products are conveyed and helps to generate the positive impressions you hope to foster.

Picture Credit:  © Vojtechvlk | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos