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By Neil Baron
Lojack is an acknowledged technology leader, with well established skills selling and marketing to the auto industry. However Lojack encountered significant hurdles when it introduced into the medical device market a bracelet designed for locating missing persons with Alzheimer's, autism or other cognitive impairments. In this fascinating case study, Neil Baron shares methods he used to help Lojack overcome obstacles and accelerate market adoption for its new product line.
Category: Product Marketing and Demand Creation
On March 23, 2011, Faye Jones , a 71 year old Philadelphia resident who suffers from Alzheimer's, wandered away from home and did not return.
Detectives located the woman, who was sitting inside of an unlocked vehicle, approximately eight blocks away. The woman was later returned unharmed, despite the cold temperatures and the fact that she was only wearing nightwear.
Fortunately, her husband Elijiah had purchased a special bracelet from LoJack which enabled the Philadelphia police to locate her within an hour. Her rescue was one of the top stories on the ABC, NBC and CBS local evening news.
The bracelet and the special police tracking equipment are provided by the SafetyNet division of LoJack. As to be expected from a technology leader, the product is a marvel of engineering. However, technology alone does not save lives.
How did LoJack introduce this lifesaving device into the market? How does a company skilled on selling and marketing to the auto industry enter the medical device market?
I worked closely with LoJack management as a consultant and helped define and execute their approach to this new market.
We focused on three areas to accelerate market adoption.
1. Understand customers through in-depth interviews
When I started with the program, LoJack had an existing customer base of people wearing the bracelet. LoJack management felt that they knew their customer and target market. However, as an experiment, we decided to interview the caregivers anyway.
We collected our information by asking open ended questions during 30 minute telephone conversations. We interviewed 15 caregivers over a two week period. This work helped us understand the effect that the SafetyNet service had on their lives.
The early users loved it. We heard comments like "we can go camping for the first time" or "I can take my son to the mall." We learned how much it improved quality of life by allowing families to participate in activities that most people take for granted.
I started off conducting these interviews with just the product manager. However, word spread within the company and we were soon joined by people from across the organization. The interviews were so gripping that we made sure we had a box of tissues in the room. These in-depth interviews enabled us to grasp the emotional impact of the SafetyNet service. These insights influenced almost every aspect of LoJack's Go-To-Market strategy.
2. Focus on the customer experience
LoJack built its well deserved reputation for innovation by recovering stolen vehicles. This product is hidden in the car and the buyer only thinks about it at the time of purchase or if their vehicle is stolen.
As we learned in the interviews, a missing person is an incredibly sensitive topic. A missing person is not a stolen car. A higher level of skill and emotional intelligence are required of the customer service representatives. It is vital to relate to the chaos in the lives of the caregivers especially when a loved one is missing.
We realized that LoJack must now deliver a fail safe level of customer service both internally and via the public safety agencies. LoJack invested heavily to help public safety agencies modify their 911 processes to optimally support the SafetyNet service. Additionally, LoJack hired experts to educate caregivers and special needs professionals in the operation of the service.
3. Improve the value equation for police
The SafetyNet service requires that the local police can search for the missing person. To accelerate adoption of a new technology by any large organization (such as a police department), it is important to understand both the customer's benefits and costs of moving forward. We used the value equation to provide a framework to do this.
Value Equation = Benefits - Costs
If the Value Equation is positive then adoption will occur.
The SafetyNet program provides a number of benefits to the police by enabling them to rescue missing people quickly. On the cost side, LoJack provides the tracking equipment and training on how to use it at no charge to the police. While no monetary outlay is needed, police adoption still requires a commitment to send officers to training and change a number of internal processes.
To improve the value equation of your product or service, you must either increase benefits or reduce costs. Some of the steps LoJack took to accelerate police adoption are relevant to selling any new technology:
· Add value throughout the adoption process. The LoJack Law Enforcement Liaisons were coaches and confidantes who were viewed by the police as search and rescue advisors.
· Provide an invaluable training experience. In addition to teaching police teams how to use the equipment, the SafetyNet training included sections on how to deal with missing persons with Alzheimer's, Autism or other cognitive impairments.
· Make your customers (in LoJack's case it was the police chiefs) look brilliant for adopting your technology. LoJack developed a PR program and a set of promotional tools when each new agency came on board.
· Make implementation easier. LoJack condensed the police training program from 2 ½ days to 1 day.
As a result, police departments in numerous small towns and large cities including Philadelphia, Boston and Miami are now capable of using the SafetyNet service to find missing persons.
Owing to fast action by the Philadelphia police and excellent business execution by a committed team at LoJack, Faye Jones is alive and well.
Neil Baron is principal of Baron Strategic Partners, a consulting firm focused on helping organizations effectively introduce (or reintroduce) complex products and services into selected markets. This article was first posted on FastCompany.com; to view all of Neil Baron's FastCompany blog posts click here.
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