Communicating Product Value for Success: Every Word Counts

June 14, 2018 Danielle Twigg

Developing a Single Core Value Proposition (part 2): Key Value Message Optimization

By Ebony Samuels1, Michael Tang1, Krissia Manansala1, Nichola Gokool2, and Chris Langford2

1PAREXEL Access Consulting; 2Medical Communications, PAREXEL International

It is well recognized that a strong value proposition is essential at product launch to maximize market access and therefore optimize return on investment. Our strongly held belief is that there should be one value proposition for a product, and that the value proposition should map across all internal Pharma teams, all markets, and all stakeholders[1]. This single core value proposition is critical for every product at launch to ensure strong, consistent value-based communications and therefore optimize market access.

While it is agreed that a strong value proposition is essential, there is often less agreement on what defines a strong value proposition – what does it look like? How should it be developed? Below are presented some of the key questions relating to key value message development our clients ask us. We’d also like to hear from you regarding other questions that we can help to answer, so please do add to the discussion!

When should I start thinking about the core value proposition?

It is essential to begin thinking about the value proposition in Phase 2, before the development of Phase 3 protocols. While you may not have a clear idea of the clinical data that will be attained, starting at this point allows a clear understanding of the landscape and value drivers – and therefore a good understanding of what the product needs to achieve to be successful (i.e. aspirational messages). At this point evidence gaps can be identified and activities initiated to fill the gaps prior to launch. Waiting until later in Phase 3 to consider the value proposition leads to a loss of responsiveness to these data gaps and likely a weaker value proposition overall.

Having a clear idea of the value drivers in the landscape, the unmet needs, and the aspirational clinical/economic value messaging also forms the hypotheses that can be continually tested against the data as it evolves. As the data come through, it quickly becomes clear whether the product is positioned for success or if challenges are likely to be faced at launch. Without the value proposition in place, these challenges are not always immediately obvious.

It is also important to remember that the core value proposition is not static and will evolve over time, not only based on the evidence and strategy for the product, but also the existing and pipeline competition. Our recommended approach is to start early and then constantly review the core value proposition as the treatment and competitor landscape evolves. Regular post-launch updates are also important to ensure maintenance and defence of market share following launch.

What am I aiming for when developing a core value proposition for my product?

The term “value proposition” can be used in several different ways, and can lead to confusion over what is being discussed. Often it is used to refer to both the high-level product value statement and also to the entire value story for the product (including individual messages and supporting information).

Whichever terms are used, it is clear that the core value proposition should capture all of the available evidence to support the product, the specific key value messages targeted/developed from that evidence, and the overarching value proposition encompassing the key elements for the product’s value. An understanding of the value drivers in the disease area underpins all of these elements.

What does a good core value proposition look like?

Importantly, you should have an over-arching product strategy that your value proposition is aligned with. Today’s brands are rarely launched in isolation. Your company may have several other products in the therapy area, or this product might eventually have multiple indications. When you create your value proposition, you should keep these elements in mind to ensure consistency, and this in turn strengthens your overall brand.

One of the most important things with the value proposition is to make sure it’s short and impactful.  Stakeholders can only remember so much for so long – it is why we like informative news headings so we don’t have to read the full article. That having been said, you need to balance short and impactful messaging with fact-based, by including just enough data in the message itself. There’s a delicate balance between eye-catching messages that are easy to remember and those that are believable. You want messages that are both. We’d also recommend avoiding vague language like “substantial” and “significant burden”; payers have heard these words so many times that they’ve lost any impact.

Not only should your individual messages be short and punchy, but your overall value story shouldn’t be too lengthy either. The more value messages you have, the more you dilute the power of them and de-emphasize the most important ones. At PAREXEL we recommend no more than 10-12 messages, ideally fewer if possible.


Is it also essential that the payer value proposition and the scientific platform are aligned (see Figure). It may seem obvious, but often these two platforms are developed in parallel by separate teams and using different inputs. Even if the resulting payer value messages and scientific communication points look similar, any discrepancies introduce confusion and weaken the overall value proposition.

Finally, when you claim an unmet need, you should make sure that your product helps to address that unmet need!

What is the best way to develop a value proposition?

A multi-internal stakeholder approach to developing a key set of value drivers that are the basis of all value communications can deliver major benefits. The perspectives of different internal functions (e.g. market access, clinical, medical, health economics and outcomes teams, and medical affairs) and the needs of various external stakeholders can be accommodated in a common value proposition. This achieves consistency in how product value is communicated across all audiences, while recognizing that particular value drivers will be more of a focus for specific audiences.

A Core Value Proposition Resource that articulates the common value proposition but has elements tailored to the information needs of the specific external audiences minimizes risk of misalignment and optimizes information sharing. And, by having the propositions and supporting evidence for the different audiences all together in a Core Value Proposition Resource, any differences, blind spots, and gaps are clear. Creating a Core Value Proposition Resource as a combined endeavour can deliver cost and time efficiencies - the duplication of effort involved in creating separate Scientific Platforms and Payer Value Messaging is avoided. A single literature analysis is conducted to identify supporting evidence, one core value proposition is created and tested, one document is reviewed and approved, and one final resource is distributed.

What common mistakes are made when developing a value proposition?

A lot of what we at PAREXEL consider to be “best practice” has come from the mistakes and challenges we’ve seen over the years. The most common mistakes can be summarized as value messages or medical evidence statements that are too long, too many, too generic, too vague, or too emotive. A value story that’s too long or has too many messages is quickly overwhelming and the impact is lost – it becomes impossible to identify what the key value drivers are and stakeholders get lost in the detail. Messages that are too generic, vague, or emotive are quickly dismissed by stakeholders (and are boring as well). “Disease X has a substantial burden on patients” has been used so many times that payers don’t register anymore. If you can change the product or disease for any other and the statement remains true, it is not an effective value message!

In a nutshell, every word counts. Every single word needs to be chosen to be effective, clear, concise, and to differentiate the product.

What steps can I take to ensure my value proposition is optimal?

Firstly, validation testing! That is the simple answer but what that testing looks like can vary considerably. It can be as simple as asking a partner such as PAREXEL to conduct an assessment with some of our experts in the disease area, can involve interviews with a small number of internal stakeholders to identify key market considerations, or activities such as payer and external expert testing in interviews, advisory boards, and workshops. With all of these activities preparation is key, and deeply critiquing the value drivers and value messages/evidence statements at a meaningful level. Handled correctly, these validation activities can also identify potential objections to the value proposition, data gaps to fill, and new angles to consider in future evidence generation.

It is also important to remember that validation testing is an ongoing task. It is not the case of conducting validation testing once and “ticking the box”; whenever a significant change to the value proposition occurs, validation testing should be considered at some level. These validation activities form a solid basis for tailoring the value messages to markets or archetypes when close to finalization as well.

Secondly, efficient internal collaboration is required to achieve optimal and aligned messaging. In part 1 we discussed the requirement for efficient internal collaboration to achieve a single value proposition for a product, and as a result achieve improved value communication[2]


Overall, there are a number of actions that can be taken immediately to ensure that the Key Value Messages are optimized (see Figure). Firstly, start planning the core value proposition early and build a development plan that encompasses the relevant teams to ensure alignment across the clinical and payer value stories. Secondly, identify the key value drivers and ensure that the evidence generation plans are working to strengthen the product evidence base in these areas. Thirdly, pay close attention to the structure, length, and phrasing of the specific messages or evidence statements; every word used should be intentionally chosen for maximum impact. Finally, ensure appropriate validation testing is built into the core value proposition development plan.

To discuss how PAREXEL can help you optimize your product’s core value proposition, please contact Ebony Samuels at


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