Carol Chapman, vice-president of sales and marketing and investor in Resilia Inc., knew she was up for a big challenge as the company's target market was dominated by big multi-national pharmaceutical companies.
Resilia's sole product uresta was the first non-surgical, self managed and self-administered solution for women to stop light bladder leakage (LBL) caused by stress urinary incontinence (SUI). LBL happens when some women cough, laugh, sneeze or perform simple physical tasks. This condition causes the urethra muscle, which acts as a valve to close the bladder, to drop open. Another major challenge was to change the way women thought about incontinence issues. These issues are generally not discussed as openly among women who are conditioned to think, through marketing campaigns, that their only choices consisted of pads, diapers or a doctor administered pessary. Her research found that over 90 per cent of incontinence issues were related to childbirth and in extreme cases required surgical intervention.
In 2007, Dr. Scott Farrell, a leading Canadian urogynecologist, launched uresta as an alternative to the current products available for treating female SUI. The product was patented in over twenty countries and approved for use by U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada. Ms. Chapman knew that she had a good product which targeted an unmet need for women, the question was how to get the message across to women in a space dominated by big pharmaceutical companies which had deep pockets.
Ms. Chapman was born in Halifax and graduated from Mount Allison University in 1981. She spent the next two decades in the marketing and communications industry working for a company in Moncton, New Brunswick, whose roster of clients included a number of leading Canadian companies. In 2004 when the business was sold, she set up her own consulting business, C-Volution, which focused on corporate social responsibility and cause marketing strategies.
Her interest in uresta started when a potential investor in the company approached her to consider developing the company's marketing strategy. The more she researched and looked at the impact the product would have on women's well being and health, the more she was convinced of the opportunity. This inspired her along with other investors to acquire the Shediac, N.B.-based company from the founders in Jan., 2014.
Ms. Chapman adopted a three-pronged strategy to get the message out to the prospective target market. First, she leveraged various social media channels to target early adopters who could then provide testimonials and use word-of-mouth to get women to try the product and share their experience with other women. Second, she targeted the business-to-business (B2B) space by connecting with health care organizations, such as clinics, fitness centres and convincing them of the advantages of partnering with uresta, creating a win-win situation for women's clients, clinics and the company. The third prong focused on creating awareness among healthcare professionals such as specialists, general practitionners, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and physiotherapists to showcase the advantages of uresta as compared to the available solutions in the marketplace.
Although it has been a couple of months since the strategy was launched, Ms. Chapman has been successful in getting the message out to the target market through all three channels. The company is gaining momentum through testimonials, word-of-mouth referrals as well as successfully creating partnerships with health care organizations. Giving consumers a voice will be key long term.
Fundamentally, she and her team believe it's important for women to know that although urinary incontinence is common, it is not normal and can be treated without surgery. They feel by creating a voice for women in Canada and around the world they can truly provide a solution, not merely a band aid.
Nauman Farooqi is a professor in the department of commerce in the Ron Joyce Centre for Business Studies of Mount Allison University.
This is the latest in a regular series of case studies by a rotating group of business professors from across the country. They appear every Tuesday on the Report on Small Business website.