Advertising agency "PEGs" new method for dental product launch ROI

Feb. 18, 2009
Walter F. Cameron Advertising develops concept of Product Evaluation Group taking the traditional focus group to another level.

HAUPPAUGE, New York--For health-care marketers in a historically challenging
economy, the costs of an off-the-mark product launch can be catastrophic.
Considering the high level of investment required to develop and launch new dental products, trial-and-error marketing is no longer an option.

"At the end of the day, just recouping your investment isn't enough--every
new product introduction has to be a home run," said Mark Ross, vice president, brand strategies, at Walter F. Cameron Advertising, a full-service marketing agency with a specialty in healthcare.

The key to maximizing ROI, Ross says, is to nail the messaging.

"Typically, in a dental product launch, media placement, direct mail campaigns, email broadcasting and trade show programs are all analyzed for ROI because these mediums are essentially trackable," he explained.

"But the marketing message itself is much harder to track. For the most part, this aspect of the program is left to the experts at an agency and the managers at the manufacturer. While it's true these professionals do have a good grasp on their customers, they're essentially guessing at what their target audience wants to hear. When success for the entire marketing program hinges on the messaging, guessing isn't acceptable. The only way to really know what your customers want is to ask them. By listening to what they want from you, there's far less risk when it comes to achieving a successful launch."

Toward that end, Ross set out to take the concept of a traditional focus group to
an entirely different place. The result was Cameron's proprietary Product
Evaluation Group or PEG.

Unlike typical one-way-mirror, rigidly structured focus groups, the PEG functions more as an interactive think tank, comprised of the manufacturer's target audience and key opinion leaders.

As moderator, Ross walks the group through a methodical program, sharing potential product positioning and messaging, with constant opportunities for secondary questioning and back-and forth discussion. Often, there is a second round of Web-based follow-up with group members as marketing materials are fine-tuned.

"What truly makes the process unique is that the client is IN the room with us,"
Ross said.

"There is a level of intimate interaction not found in any other form of primary research. Every client who has participated in a PEG has walked out calling the process a no-brainer. After a few hours in a room with your most knowledgeable customers, you know exactly what they want from your product and the right way to sell it to them. You know what will lead them to trial, to switch, to purchase and to refer your products. Your marketing launch transforms from trial-and-error to a sure thing. Furthermore, you now have a group of opinion leaders who have become your best salespeople in the field. They feel like a greater part of a manufacturer's strategy and believe they have made a difference in dentistry."

Cameron's PEGs have already produced some remarkable successes. Companies including Waterpik and Dentek have enjoyed "aha" moments during the PEG groups.

Dentek called on Cameron to PEG the validity and feasibility of a new line of
dental instruments prior to launch.

"The PEG session was invaluable," noted division vice president Pamela J. Runge. "It helped us identify several unanticipated obstacles that inevitably impacted our launch."

Waterpik asked Cameron to help analyze a niche product that wasn't finding
traction with dental professionals.

Cameron's PEG "delivered the direction we needed to re-launch," said Brenda Thomas at Waterpik. "We were able to pinpoint the right product positioning and messaging that spoke directly to our customers' needs."

Based on the Waterpik PEG results, Cameron developed several preliminary
campaign concepts, which were reviewed by the PEG members electronically.

"The resulting campaign we rolled out was pre-wired to succeed, where previous
campaigns had failed," Ross said, "because every element of it had been pre-tested."

Cameron can PEG virtually any element of health-care marketing, from brand
names and logos to product concepts and designs to branding campaigns.

Through its industry professional contacts, such as Catapult and CareerFusion, Cameron can reach out to opinion leaders and top clinicians to participate in its groups. Both in-person and Web-based PEG programs can be arranged.

For more information, contact Ross at (631) 232-3033 or Mark Ross.

For more information, go to Walter F. Cameron Advertising.

To read more about focus groups, go to focus groups.

To comment on this subject, go to PennWell Dental Community site.