VP Digital Marketing at Itamar-Medical | Digital Health Expert | Business Growth Mentor | mHealth Israel | G-CMO
Even after a highly turbulent year, the recent McKinsey Global Survey on the economy found that executives were more upbeat than pessimistic about the outlook for the global economy, their national economies and their own companies in October 2020. At the same time, the survey results suggested that executives are acutely aware of the challenges posed by an increasingly competitive and disruptive climate across industries.
In a world that’s changing faster than ever before, it is no small challenge to maintain the awareness and momentum necessary to propel growth. While I hope the most recent cause of global disruption — the Covid-19 pandemic — will eventually fade as vaccines are distributed worldwide, the pandemic accelerated disruption to such a degree that there is no going back to the old normal.
The pandemic reality check was probably the best example I’ve seen of collaboration across science and tech companies. We witnessed nations around the world sharing insights regarding protocol management and decision-making around major Covid-19 challenges like health, education and unemployment. We’ll likely see serious marketing campaigns to obtain the required vaccinated population ratio for re-opening the economy and re-balancing the health system again.
But ecosystems and organizations are not normally managed in world crisis mode. Budgets are limited and audiences may be less engaged in non-life-threatening situations. On top of this, executives will have to get used to an even more rapidly changing world. So, leaders should ask themselves:
• What will it take for organizations to keep building market recognition?
• How can leaders impact the sentiment of their audiences?
• Why are some companies excelling and others getting behind?
The Magic Of Unicorns: Building Market Recognition
What separates a unicorn from the rest of the pack? The most successful startups I’ve seen lean on simple solutions to existing and well-defined problems. Scalable solutions are mostly delivered by technology, online pathways and/or a sales team on the ground. These solutions are normally very valuable to customers and are designed for repeatable use. These solutions have often earned strong brand sentiments and active customer involvement in social communities.
In a post-pandemic world, organizations are looking to redefine and reimagine the future of their companies and products. This will require laser-like focus, fast time from decision to execution, highly marketable value propositions, pipelines full of new leads and iteration milestones: Organizations will need to update, test and improve as quickly and as often as possible.
Moving forward, the innovation ecosystem will need more committed serial entrepreneurs to recreate true product-market fit (PMF) and capture the most valuable users and casual customers alike.
Popular Versus Profitable: Impacting Audience Sentiment
Amazon offers a prime example of the rapid success companies can enjoy with a robust direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategy. Consider the company’s growth evolution. In December 1996, the company boasted 180,000 customer accounts — a figure that grew to 1 million by October 1997. Its revenue trajectory reflects a similarly steep upward climb, from $15.7 million in 1996 to $148 million in 1997 and $610 million in 1998. The company has come a long way since then — but how can others translate popularity into profits?
Another example is Netflix and how it disrupted the channel marketing game. So many companies are following Netflix’s lead with strategies to impact their market perception by participating on Netflix’s platform, like Headspace.
It is probably no surprise that I’ve found brand valuation is largely correlated with consumer awareness, but is DTC a must-have strategy to drive market perception?
The X Factor: Aspirational And Persistent
When you’re trying to gain market recognition, the immediate simple solutions you use are as important as your overall strategy and positioning in the ecosystem. Telling a story, delivering on a roadmap and iterating when necessary are the foundation of a plan to lead a market category.
In my industry, healthcare tech, the biggest challenge is persisting in the face of external forces and trends to successfully position a business in the market. There is no shortage of clear, addressable markets and cost-effective and relevant solutions. Still, the challenge lies in aligning those solutions with market needs and surviving through the high-cost years of conducting clinical trials, conforming with regulations, studying health economics and obtaining patents and technology.
What are digital health companies like Livongo and Omada Health really doing — apart from pursuing clear growth strategies based on predictable and recurring revenues, delivery automation, sales engines and digital machines? From my perspective, digital health companies connect the needs of their addressable markets with the capabilities of their offerings and measure expectations with their audiences. At Itamar Medical, the company where I work, we strive to follow this same path and facilitate the continuum of care for effective sleep apnea management with a focus on additional care pathways, like cardiology.
Rapid change and disruption breed new markets, new needs and new thinking — and the companies that can harness these trends and combine them with offerings that can support a viable path to profitability could be the unicorns of our new normal. As the wise saying goes, “You should always run a company as if it will last forever, but with a clear-cut exit strategy.” Keep close to your customers, measure expectations and gather feedback about your value proposition; the market will recognize you for that.