Five reasons to pre-launch

It’s natural. You will be launching a new product and all of your efforts are going into making sure the new drug, diagnostic or device is ready for prime time. Budget is allocated to support the launch. Branding is developed. Messaging honed. Communication materials prepared. Reps trained. But what about the pre-launch?

Far too often so much attention is paid to the launch of a new product or service that the pre-launch gets neglected. It’s not only a missed opportunity, but often has a direct influence on market adoption of a new product, technology or approach.

Here are five reasons to plan a pre-launch as part of your overall brand strategy.

1. You can raise awareness of the need.

Your brand solves a problem and is different from existing ways to overcome a challenge. It’s important to build awareness of the limitations of current approaches and create criteria for what the ideal solution would be (based on your expected brand profile). The pre-launch is a critical time to cultivate interest, set expectations, and generate real momentum toward launch.

2. You can communicate what’s possible.

Prior to launch is the most opportune time to communicate the aspirations of your customers that your brand will directly address. These messages are not intended to be product claims as your product is not yet available for purchase. Nor is there a need for strong substantiation tied to your brand if your messages are credible and the aspirations communicated are legitimate. This is the time when you are least encumbered with regulatory restriction, as the pre-launch messaging is not directly tied to any specific marketed product or service.

3. You can seed the brand.

You’ve likely made a significant investment in the brand to be launched. Audience-specific messaging. A compelling visual identity. The pre-launch is a legitimate time to start using some of those elements in a subtle manner to tease the market with where the brand will take them. The overall brand is not revealed during this time, but pre-launch communication can serve as an important bridge to the brand. It can get the market interested and comfortable with where you want to eventually take them.

4. You can get the most out of pre-launch assets.

There are a number of activities conducted prior to launch regardless of whether a pre-launch is planned. Clinical trials, HCP and patient outreach, and disease state learning should all be seen as important opportunities to communicate in manner that is deliberately synchronized with the brand strategy. These initiatives can be used to help optimally position the brand prior to launch

5. You can establish credibility.

Practitioners and advocacy groups can play a critical role in augmenting the credibility of pre-launch communication. Obtaining spokespeople to address an existing problem or the absence of a viable solution is easier and often more believable when it is not directly associated with a branded product or service. Having expert opinion from both the practitioner and patient perspective can be useful in casting light on issues that may otherwise not garner attention. And moreover, it allows you to shape audience perception so when your brand is launched, adoption can be more natural and a logical choice.

From disease awareness to new technologies or clinical approaches to overcoming procedural hurdles and more, pre-launch of a brand is just as vital as the actual launch. It can be instrumental to the rate of market penetration and, used correctly, can be a powerful competitive advantage. The pre-launch should be integrated into your overall brand plan and can be implemented as early on as the brand strategy is set and budget enables. Don’t be fooled that because your brand is new that it will have the market reception you would like. People are creatures of habit. The industry rightfully demands rigorous clinical substantiation and evidence. This takes time to establish. Once a brand is launched, there are significant commercial expectations. The pre-launch is about maximizing your market opportunity. Done correctly, it can serve as a foundation that supports your brand for years to come.

by Jonathan D. Katz