10 Traits That Every Pharma Brand Manager Should Overcome


Demolish These 10 Heads of Ravan and Rule the Market

Indian pharma industry is studded with insightful marketers. I am fortunate to have the chance to learn from many of them during my thirty years of association with pharma industry.

There is one more thing which I have learned.

No marketer is and can ever be perfect. All of us have one or the other set of imperfections. But only a few effective marketers understand that there are certain traits that not only hamper the performance of their brands but also their career growth and therefore strive hard to change those traits.

But for change to happen, the first step is to be aware of those traits.

Demolish These 10 Heads of Ravan and Rule the Market

In this blog post I have mentioned ten traits that can impede the growth of a marketer.  These ten traits represent the ten headed Ravan. Outstanding marketing career awaits those who exhibit courage to demolish this ten headed Ravan.

  1. Impatience

Why Amul’s ad campaign leaves so much of impact?

Well, we can go on and on listing many reasons for its success. Let me tweak my question a bit: Why Amul’s ad campaign is so successful?

“Because it is so powerful” you may reply. You are right. But this is just half the story. The other half of the story is often missed: They have stuck to their campaign for more than half a century.

Mega brands don’t get built overnight. They are built by influencing minds of their customers by building the desired perception. This can be achieved only through sound strategy, differentiated, creative and most importantly consistent communication. Marketer with strong conviction on the principles on which the marketing campaign is built will pursue with it consistently. But when the conviction is low, mind starts wavering and the concerned brand manager gets impatient. What we see more often is a sad story of marketing communication getting changed very frequently. Only those who have strong conviction on marketing principles display courage to remain steadfast and go on to build big brands.

2. Compromising

What expectation should a marketer set for himself for his marketing campaigns? He should aim for nothing short of creating wow and that too consistently. Lowering the bar will amount to compromise in quality of the campaign. This is where mediocrity sets in. An effective marketer will never compromise either on the quality of his campaigns or its execution inside the doctors’ clinic. He understands that he has a major role to play in ensuring effective implementation of his campaigns.

3. Myopia

Marketing myopia causes inability to see things from a long term perspective. A myopic manager will always tend to go for the short term measures that will help in short run but will create more problems in the long run. I am quite amazed to see marketers who are more than willing to put most of their resources on things like gifts or CRM etc that will give them transient increase in business but are not willing to spend one tenth of their budget towards right marketing strategy and creating powerful creative campaigns which in long run will help them build big brands.

4. Pessimism

I am yet to see a pessimistic marketer who is out of the box thinker.

Those who aspire high try hard to do things in a better way. But when they don’t get the desired outcome in spite of trying hard, they look for ways to do things differently. They start looking for opportunities that no one has seen. If necessity is mother of invention, audacious goal is the mother of innovation.

5. Conformist

A conformist is the person who confirms to or abides by or adapts to the customs, behavior, convention, practices etc. He is opposite to a challenger marketer. He is someone who will go for those ideas that his superiors will not reject. He will try to design campaign that won’t make field uncomfortable and most importantly won’t make customer raise his eyebrows. In reality, creativity and innovation is all about challenging all assumptions. You need to be a non-conformist or a challenger to look at things differently.

“Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”

– George Bernard Shaw

A challenger marketer is the one who is often seen asking “why not”. Corporate world is full of examples of breakthrough performance that happened because someone showed the courage to challenge the assumptions.

6. Ego

In this world there is so much to learn that even one life time is too small a period. Successful marketers continuously strive to learn. Sir Isaac Newton said that “I have simply collected a few grains of sand in the ocean of knowledge.” Humility is the hallmark of great people. I have come across many marketing heads, national heads or business heads who are always eager to learn more on strategy and marketing. I have also come across marketers who after spending few years in marketing often start believing that they know everything. Ego closes the mind. Closed mind stops learning. Ego comes in way of actively seeking feedback from sales team and customer hence introduces bias to your marketing strategy. Ego brings arrogance which can hurt your brand as well as your career.

7. Fear

Today, the problem of Indian pharma market is not just the flood of undifferentiated brands but it is the flood of boring, insipid and undifferentiated communication that gets delivered inside the doctor’s chamber in a pathetic manner. No wonder doctor is experiencing immense boredom. He is half asleep when representative details to him. The need of the hour is to startle him, to wake him up from his slumber. This calls for designing the communication that is attention grabbing and clutter breaking.

This requires courage which is becoming increasingly rare.

Those marketers who churn out mediocre campaigns are doomed to lead mediocre career.

8. Greed

“Mine is the broad spectrum antibiotic”

“Mine covers even the broader spectrum”

“Mine is the broadest spectrum antibiotic”

“Mine is mega spectrum antibiotic”

Many pharma marketers love to spread their brand too thin.

Why they do it?

It’s greed to capture entire market that makes a marketer, position their brand as an all rounder. This is sure way of losing the focus. As Al Ries and Jack Trout put it in their famous book 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing “A product that seeks to be everything to everyone will end up being nothing to everyone”.

9. Discomfort with ambiguity

“If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.”

Still quite a many marketers continue to do what they always did. Why?

It is because there is no ambiguity in doing what they have been doing year after years. Even if he is not getting desired results he will stick to it at any cost than venturing into the unknown.

Those marketers who aspire to grow at a rate that is much higher than the market will have to come out with differentiated strategy. This requires taking the road less travelled. It is possible only by learning to deal with ambiguity.

10. Discomfort with creativity

From my experience of working with different brands, I have often noticed that being too creative or too radical at times can also make the client uncomfortable. But nobody will admit their discomfort in so many words. “I prefer discussing lot of science in the doctor’s chamber” or “We would first like to focus on basics” are some of the common reasons cited for continuing with run-of-the-mill type of communication.

The Cornell Chronicle reports a study “The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire But Reject Creative Ideas.” The title of the study: “How is it that people say they want creativity but in reality often reject it?” tells the whole story.

I am sure, you got fairly good hang of the 10 headed Ravan that I was talking about.

Now don’t wait for next Dussehra! The battle has begun!! Rush to get your bow and arrows!!!

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