Dermatologists breathe life into new products
Practice branding equally important.
E001 – Branding and The Business of Dermatology
Thursday, July 21 | 1 – 5 p.m.
Dermatologists play an essential role in bringing new products to market that ultimately improve patient outcomes. A look at the dermatologist’s role in product development and the importance of branding a dermatology practice was the focus of Thursday’s session, E001 – Branding and The Business of Dermatology.
Session panelist Anar Mikailov, MD, FAAD, director of hospital dermatology at Lahey Heath in Boston, said dermatologist input is critically important in the early development of new products.
“For dermatologists interested in business development centered on a consumable product, the most important step is detail-oriented product development,” he said. “Product development involves formulation, packaging, and testing. These are exceptionally challenging and time intensive but fundamentally important for ultimate success. Great marketing will never overcome a poorly formulated product that over-promises and under-performs.”
That early involvement can be a game changer for successful products and positive, patient outcomes, he added.
“Dermatologists are uniquely able to bridge patient concerns with product features that will be most successful,” he said. “We are needed for product feedback and product testing, so we should be there at the start of product development.”
Contrary to what some believe, Dr. Mikailov said, product development doesn’t have to be a huge monetary investment.
“I would like to emphasize that product development does not require venture capital or angel investment funds and a minimum viable product is a tangible reality for everyone in this room,” he said. “Furthermore, a product is not a brand and to develop a successful business requires the creation of a brand. A great product can anchor a brand, but a brand requires a mission.”
Terrence Cronin Jr., MD, FAAD, president-elect of the American Academy of Dermatology, echoed Dr. Mikailov, and encouraged dermatologists to get involved in the product development process.
“Physicians are constantly innovating the practice of medicine and coming up with new ideas on how to help their patients,” he said. “Dermatologists can benefit from knowing how to take their ideas to the next level.”
Practice, physician marketing
Equally important, Dr. Cronin said, is physician and practice branding. In fact, navigating the line between professionalism and self-promotion has never been more important for dermatologists.
“Creating a brand that denotes quality and expertise, but also is uniquely suited for the dermatology arena is tantamount to the successful marketing of a product — whether that’s a new invention, a practice, or even the doctor themselves,” he said. “Success can be measured in many ways, whether it brings greater influence, monetary rewards, or just knowing you have helped patients receive better care.”
The non-physician point of view
Two non-physician experts also weighed in on the importance of physician and practice marketing. In particular, customer service was the focus of presentations by customer service expert and best-selling author Robert Spector, and leadership expert and executive coach Libby Gill.
Spector has written four books, the latest of which outlines what he calls “The Nordstrom Way,” detailing how the retail giant has survived for 120 years by following the F.A.C.T.S. — Flexibility, Adaption and agility, Communication, Transformation, and Social responsibility.
“Flexibility: All four generations of Nordstroms have been flexible enough to take calculated risks,” he wrote. “Adaptability: I think we’re all familiar with adapting to new conditions. Communication: Leaders constantly convey the organization’s vision and sense of mission, especially in times of adversity. Transformation: Nordstrom always views itself as a startup. They always ask themselves, if we were a brand-new company, what would we look like? And Social responsibility: Your people want to be part of an organization that does well and does good. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”
According to Gill, the most effective leaders practice a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.
“These leaders believe that their skills and abilities can be developed through hard work and commitment to change. They take calculated risks, persevere in spite of failure, and embrace feedback and criticism,” Gill said. “Conversely, leaders with fixed mindsets believe that we are born with finite and immutable skills and talents and that no amount of effort can improve them. They avoid change, give up easily, and refuse to listen to criticism. It’s no surprise that those with growth mindsets reach much higher levels of achievement than their fixed mindset counterparts.”
Gill told attendees that while most of us experience “change fatigue” at some time, clearly articulating the benefits of change with a compelling narrative will inspire others.
“By identifying formal and informal change agents who can help inspire and influence others, your change initiatives will be much easier to implement,” Gill said.
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