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Pharma Strategy | Pharma Marketing | Brand Building – Break the Pill http://breakthepill.com Fri, 17 Jul 2015 11:28:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 10 Traits That Every Pharma Brand Manager Should Overcome http://breakthepill.com/10-traits-that-every-pharma-brand-manager-should-overcome/ http://breakthepill.com/10-traits-that-every-pharma-brand-manager-should-overcome/#comments Wed, 09 Oct 2013 07:33:18 +0000 http://breakthepill.com/?p=335 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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Will the iPad revolutionize in-clinic experience? http://breakthepill.com/will-the-ipad-revolutionize-in-clinic-experience/ http://breakthepill.com/will-the-ipad-revolutionize-in-clinic-experience/#comments Tue, 12 Feb 2013 11:51:58 +0000 http://breakthepill.com/?p=299 Unable to think beyond the VA?

Common complaint against pharma marketers is that since decades they are not able to think beyond the Visual Aid Folder. Though laptops made few inroads here and there, but due to its prohibitive cost and low battery life coupled with long booting time, it could not replace VAs as the mainstream tool of communication.

We got an opportunity to work on iPad communication

Hence, when one of our clients told us about their decision to make a complete shift from VAs to iPads for their entire field force (It’s a super-specialty division, not a mass one), we were obviously quite excited to partner with them for the entire project.

During this process we got some powerful insights which I will share with you in due course of time.

What pharma industry has to say about the iPad?

But, this acted as a trigger for me to find out how pharma industry responds to this idea of using iPads (When I mention iPad, I am referring not just to the iPad but all other equivalent gadgets like tabs/tablet PCs etc.). I therefore spoke to many pharma marketers to find out their view on this.

As expected, marketers were not unanimous about iPads as replacement to VAs and LBLs. Some of them were totally negative, few were very positive while some were not able to decide.

Those who are against it
For those who are against it, money seems to be the major deterrent. Many of them are looking at it as an expense rather than an investment. They want to spend their money on options like CRM, etc., which they think will help them in getting better returns and are extremely uncomfortable to risk it in a new stream like iPad.
Those who are in favour of it
While those who are positive about it, have stated reasons like possibility of designing and delivering customized scientific communication, convenience, being green, reduced turnaround time in response to customer queries and enhancing field force effectiveness. When it comes to in-clinic impact, they feel that what can take many calls can be achieved by just one call with the iPad. Interestingly, the proponents of i-Pad believe that it will save recurring cost of VAs and LBLs and thus will be a cost saving proposition in the long run.

Now, as promised in the beginning let me share my first hand experience on this, along with my thoughts.

Our experience with iPad

Initially, the client believed that an iPad with science loaded in it, coupled with the ease of navigation will help in achieving a high quality customized scientific discussion inside the clinic. The outcome was not exactly as expected. The learning was that technology can’t replace skills and culture.

Our initial thought process was: “How do we adapt the brand creatives to iPad?” As long as we continued to ask this question, we continued to think with the mental model of ‘print communication’. Then we tweaked the question slightly: “If iPad is going to be the medium, how do I create powerful communication?” Suddenly the mental model changed, we found ourselves thinking about ‘videos’. The outcome changed radically. Now we were able to bring that “wow” factor. There is still a long way to go, but iPads have now opened the floodgate of exhilarating possibilities.

Though I had stated earlier that ‘iPad’ is being referred to in the generic sense and it is applicable to other tabs or tablet PCs, here I would like to go into the specifics. The technology of iPad is best-in-class and the benefits are well known. But from an e-detailing perspective, iPad has one major drawback. It does not support the flash player. You can still input your flash based communication into the iPad. But every time you want to do it, you need outside help to design a program that will enable inputting the flash based communication. This will result into a huge recurring cost.

My Thoughts

Today, for any marketer to influence the minds of his customers, he has two challenges to overcome:
1. Creating a powerful marketing communication that can differentiate his brand from the rest
2. Ensuring undiluted and unadulterated delivery of that communication inside the Doctor’s clinic

Now imagine a brand communication which is very creative, attention grabbing and so classy that it even matches some of the best TV commercials. (I know, the reality is completely opposite so I am asking you to just imagine). But is it of any use if its in-clinic delivery is pathetic? This is where a medium like iPad can create a much better impact. With the iPad entering the scene, marketers can no longer give low competence of field personnel as an excuse for not designing powerful communication. I believe, with iPads true brand building process will now become a reality.

Few insights

1. Great technology alone can never get you great results. To get great results, you need great ideas. Technology is there to amplify its impact.
2. iPad offers the ease of interactivity. This doesn’t mean that once a pharma company adapts to iPad the quality of in-clinic interaction will dramatically improve. There are couple of things that one need to understand:
i. Every organization has a deep rooted culture. For a highly interactive science driven
discussion to happen, one first need to bring corrections at the cultural level, which is
always a long term process.
ii. There needs to be enough time allocated for representatives to develop the comfort level in handling the iPad. To hand over the iPad to the field with few hours of practice would mean a huge waste of money. Pharma companies should be willing to dedicate few days exclusively for practicing and handling the iPad
3. Will iPad completely replace or reduce the importance of field force? No, I don’t think so. iPad will be like an addition of a powerful weapon in their armamentarium.

Future possibilities

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The future is likely to be far different compared to the past and even the present. Based on the signals that are coming from different parts of the world, I see that the future is going to present an interesting scenario:

Interaction with the end consumer. This will include both patients as well as care givers. The apps are already changing the way we live our lives. Soon, we will witness a similar trend in healthcare too.

Doctors from the western countries have already started moving or will soon be moving to iPad. Sooner or later, Indian physicians too will catch up with the trend. This opens up a flood of possibilities like increased involvement of Doctors in social media, ease of connectivity with international speakers through webinars, delivering patient education in an interactive manner, formation of hundreds of big online communities of doctors and ease of sharing the information among homogeneous groups.

Final Word

Opportunity lies in spotting the trends early. As long as you look at it as an expense, you are missing the bigger picture and therefore a better opportunity. The pharma companies who will be early adapters will have the advantage of having enough time to learn the rope and reap the maximum benefit. Those who always believe in ‘wait and watch’ should keep in mind that this will be too costly a bus to miss. If they wait too long, they won’t be around to be a part of the revolution.

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Why do you need the Stop Doing List? – 8 things that marketers need to stop. http://breakthepill.com/why-do-you-need-the-stop-doing-list-8-things-that-marketers-need-to-stop/ http://breakthepill.com/why-do-you-need-the-stop-doing-list-8-things-that-marketers-need-to-stop/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2013 07:35:45 +0000 http://breakthepill.com/?p=293

Do you maintain a To-do list?

My guess is that you do, particularly if you are struggling to achieve too many things in a given day. But you are not alone. We all are brought up in the ‘to do’ culture. While the ‘to do’ list has some role in organizing our life, the problem starts when a marketer extends this ‘to do’ phenomena to his brand strategy. When a marketer tries to do everything to his brand what his competitors are doing, the brand loses its focus. And the price that he pays is lack of any differentiation.

Why You Need the Stop Doing List

According to strategy guru Michael Porter, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”. Trying to adapt too many market practices is perhaps the reason why you are struggling to meet your growth objective. This year did you resolve to start something more? Its time you created a fresh resolution to stop doing certain things. Your ‘Stop Doing List’ can turn out to be the best thing that you will do this year.

The following is the list of 8 things that you can include in your stop doing list for a happier, healthier and successful new year.

  1. Stop trying to be everything to everyone: It’s a most common trap marketers fall into. In their anxiety to exploit the market potential, they promote their brand with too many indications and as many USPs. Remember, when a customer has many options to choose from, he invariably prefers a specialist to satisfy his specific need. As Al Ries and Jack Trout have put it in their famous book 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing “A brand that seeks to be everything to everyone will end up being nothing to everyone”.
  2. Stop focusing on short term measures: Instead, focus on building big brands. Remember the world exists beyond the next month or the next quarter. Short term measures like gifts, CRM, bonus offers etc., at times may give you some reprieve but in the long run they erode the brand equity and hurt your career prospects.
  3. Stop accepting mediocrity: Raise the bar. Set high level of expectations, from others and also from you. They say that it is the dog that should wag the tail and not the other way around. But what we see nowadays is a tail of logistics, travel, deadlines etc. ruling over strategy. The success of a brand is determined by the depth of the strategy, wow factor of communication, effective field briefing and the quality of delivery inside the doctors’ clinic. When you compromise on all of these  you end up with a mediocre strategy which is poorly executed. It doesn’t matter even if you have delivered all the inputs on time and at a much lower cost.
  4. Stop accepting that creativity is not your cup of tea: Believe me, creativity is like a muscle. More the stimulus you put on it, more it gets developed. But like muscle building, you really need to slog. The reward is that once you learn to change the way you think, world class creativity will start flowing through you effortlessly. There are many good books available. You can also learn from your superiors, colleagues and even competitors.
  5. Stop being impatient: Remember, Mega brands don’t get built overnight. Don’t tamper with the core communication of your brand every now and then just because results are not in line with expectation or simply because the core theme was designed at the time of your predecessor. It is better to spend months before arriving at best-in-class strategy and communication. Once it is done, stick to it.
  6. Stop believing that you have learned everything: The biggest trap that a marketer can fall into is to think that he has learned everything. That is where learning stops. Those who stop learning, close their mind. Marketing is all about learning to live with multiple ideas that at times can even be contradicting. It is not all about filtering out ‘right ones’ and shutting the mind for the ‘wrong ones’ but is all about broadening the vistas. Also as stated by John W Gardner, “One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure” This is where we come to the next item of your Stop Doing List
  7. Stop playing safe: There is enough number of people who will tell you what you “can’t” do in pharma. There is equal number of people to tell you what you “ shouldn’t” do. When you design your campaigns keeping in mind all these ‘can’ts’ and ‘ shouldn’ts’ you will not raise any eyebrows but end up designing un-exciting campaigns. Your brand gets lost in the clutter. If you are playing safe with the belief that you are staying away from risk, think again. By not being different, by not being crazy, you are putting your brand to a much greater risk of becoming extinct.
  8. Stop believing that what worked in the past will continue to work in future: There are many seasoned marketers who have been successful in the past. They fondly remember some of their great strategies that gave them success in the 80s and 90s. The problem starts when they insist that their team should implement the same strategies even today. But the market dynamics keeps changing at a very rapid pace. What brought success to someone yesterday can be a total disaster today. If you aspire to be the leader in numbers then take the lead in setting new innovative trends. Numbers will follow.

If the above makes sense to you, please take out few minutes to reflect. Try and figure out if you are doing anything that is hurting you the most. This will be part of your Stop Doing List for the New Year. It need not be all the 8 things. It could be 5 or 3 or even one. Ensure that you follow your resolution and this year could be your best year ever.

What have you resolved to stop from the above list?

Do you have some different Stop Doing List?

Would love to hear from you.

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Trying to Build a Big Brand? 8 steps for THE Right Word. http://breakthepill.com/trying-to-build-a-big-brand-8-steps-for-the-right-word/ http://breakthepill.com/trying-to-build-a-big-brand-8-steps-for-the-right-word/#comments Sat, 22 Dec 2012 14:37:37 +0000 http://breakthepill.com/?p=283 In my previous blog post “Trying to build a big brand? Do you own THE right word?I explained why “owning” a right word is the most important step in determining success of your brand. In this blog post I will explain what makes the word you choose the ‘right’ word.

How to arrive at the right word?

Till the time you become proficient in the process of arriving at the right word, you should start with brainstorming to list down as many words as you can think of. As discussed in my previous blog post Trying to build a big brand? Do you own THE right word? this exercise is best done in a group represented by different functions particularly PMT, field, medical and training. Ideally, the group should also include the customers. In absence of physical presence of customers, you should ensure that before the exercise starts, field has captured customers’ voices. Once you have made exhaustive list of words, you should begin the process of zeroing down to THE right word by applying the following 8 criterion.

  1. Congruent 
    This is obvious. The word has to be congruent with the properties, actions or benefits of the molecule. You can’t pick any attribute and connect it to your brand. There has to be medical rationale for the word you opt for.
  2. English 
    While the word you select has to be backed by medical rationale, selecting a medical word like ‘dual action’, ‘specific’, etc. can never have the desired impact and sustainable marketing campaign. Though your communication will be medically acceptable, it will never bring your brand to top of the mind of your customers. Remember all such medical words are done to death.
  3. Fresh 
    For heaven sake don’t even think of commonly used words like powerful, safe, etc. Whole pharma industry is using these words. It is next to impossible to differentiate your brands using such common words. Don’t settle for something easy. Try hard to come out with a fresh word. If you still don’t get it, try even harder. Remember, you don’t have an option of lowering the bar.
  4. Juicy 
    Many a times, after a campaign or two, a marketer hits a dead wall. The reason being that the word you have chosen doesn’t have enough juice in it. Before zeroing down on any word, ask yourself if it is extendable communication plank. When I zero down on any word, I ask myself whether I can build campaigns around it for at least 36 months. You may also apply the same criterion. You may find it difficult to envisage in the beginning, but experience will make you proficient.
  5. Built around ultimate benefit or emotional benefit 
    Remember, your job is not to promote the molecule, unless you are an originator trying to create the market for a totally new concept. Your job is to build big brands. The word you select is your marketing hook. Picking any of the molecular attributes will amount to loss of marketing opportunity. You brand will get lost in hundreds of me too brands who communicate the same thing. The challenge is to take the molecular attributes to the next level. The best way is by asking the question “so what” and keep on asking this until you are satisfied that you have successfully derived either the ultimate benefit or emotional benefit. By doing so you will enter the zone within which lies the right word that you are looking for.
  6. Differentiating 
    The reason you want to own a word is to differentiate your brand. Hence, the word you choose to own should really create that difference. Remember, you are trying to differentiate your brand where no differentiation exists.
  7. Virgin 
    Don’t try to own the word that is already owned by your competitor. Going back to the example that I gave in the beginning, if you were to launch a soft drink, would it be good idea to own up ‘thanda’? Obviously not as its already owned by Coke. Even if you try this, you will end up exhausting your entire marketing budget without desired returns.  It is better to look for a word which is not “owned” by any other brand. But mind you, when I say “owned by the competitor”, it has to be strongly entrenched in the mind of the customer. If any of your competitor is just ‘promoting’ or ‘printing’ it on the literature, it doesn’t mean that they are ‘owning’ it.
  8. Relevant 
    Even if you follow all these steps appropriately, but if the word that you choose is of no great relevance to your customers, he is not going to be too excited about it.

To sum up, arriving at the right word is definitely a major leap in the right direction. Arriving at the right word may not guarantee you the huge success of your brand. But choosing the wrong word will guarantee its failure.

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Trying to Build a Big Brand? Do You Own THE Right Word? http://breakthepill.com/trying-to-build-a-big-brand-do-you-own-the-right-word/ http://breakthepill.com/trying-to-build-a-big-brand-do-you-own-the-right-word/#comments Tue, 11 Dec 2012 10:42:04 +0000 http://breakthepill.com/?p=247

Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step

–          Chinese proverb

Even the process of building a big brand is not different.

Journey of building a big brand begins with one word

                                                                                – Shall I write my name here or not?

Have you ever noticed, many big and successful brands are so strongly associated with one word that they literally own it?

For E.g. Beauty belongs to Lux, Dettol protects and Thanda matlab… Coca Cola. I am sure you will be able to add many more examples.

“Does your brand own a word?”

When I start working for a brand, apart from many other questions, I invariably ask this question to the client. I am quite keen to know whether he has thought in this direction or not.

And in most of the cases I find that this critical aspect is missing. If a brand doesn’t own any word then the first obvious step is to identify one.

 “Which word should you attempt to own for your brand?”

Quite often I get replies like ‘powerful’, ‘safe’, ‘convenient’, etc.

Sometimes, I sense some degree of impatience in the client. I hear questions like: “Is it really important?” “Is it needed in pharma marketing?” “Can’t we just get on with the campaign?” Obviously the client is under huge pressure to meet the timeline. He is not sure whether the whole business of owning the word is worth or not.

Is it really important to own a word?

How important is it to own a word (or two words in some exceptional cases) for your brand? Well, Indian pharma market is flooded with ‘me too’ brands. It is therefore not surprising when I say that only few of them are able to gather sizable mass. Remaining hundreds of brands just drain the organizational resources.

If you are not amongst the first or the first few to launch your brand, chances are that it is languishing amongst those hundreds.

As a late entrant in the undifferentiated market is there any way to bring your brand to top three? Though odds are heavily against you but the answer is YES…it is possible. But, the only way you can do it is through differentiation.

Every pharma marketer knows well that to differentiate a ‘me too’ brand is next to impossible.

In the undifferentiated market, where every brand has same benefits to offer, the only way to differentiate your brand is through differentiated communication. This involves two most essential steps. The first one is to arrive at right positioning while the second is to build a powerful campaign around it.

Positioning is all about occupying a unique place in the mind of your customers. To do it effectively, it has to be sharp and differentiating. Here, owning a right word will make all the difference.

 “The most powerful concept in marketing”

If you try to pack too many benefits while positioning your brand, it gets blunt. It won’t penetrate in the mind of your customers. Therefore, zeroing down to one word is the key. It also means you have to sacrifice many benefits of your brand. But, the reward of your sacrifice will be the sharp positioning of your brand that penetrates in the mind of your customers.

This concept was first introduced by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their renowned book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” first published in 1993. Law #5 from the book is The Law of Focus where authors state: “The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind.”

The question is, does this hold good even after 20 years? Though the principle remains unchanged, the environment is completely different today. From the world of relatively less brands, we have come to the world of brand explosion. Almost every good word is owned by some or the other brand. Owning a word appears to be a mindboggling task.

How to arrive at THE right word?

This is the most difficult part. Many a times, brand managers either don’t attempt this or run out of patience before taking the whole process to its logical end. The best way to do it is through the process of facilitation involving cross functional team of medical, marketing and sales. The challenge is to have someone as a facilitator who is not just good at the art of facilitation but also has a fairly deep understanding of all these functions. If you can get someone, outcome is worth the effort and the money. I can tell you this from my experience of facilitating many such workshops.

If having such workshops is not a feasible option for you, don’t worry. In my next blog post Trying to build a big brand?  8 steps for THE right word.” I will explain the steps by which you can choose the right word for your brand yourself.

]]> http://breakthepill.com/trying-to-build-a-big-brand-do-you-own-the-right-word/feed/ 6 Don’t Eat Apple a Day http://breakthepill.com/dont-eat-apple-a-day/ http://breakthepill.com/dont-eat-apple-a-day/#comments Sat, 10 Nov 2012 15:08:39 +0000 http://breakthepill.com/?p=223

A newly married man had to go outstation on a week tour due to some professional exigencies. During his absence his wife had to stay with his doctor friend. Before leaving, the husband handed over seven apples to his wife, with an advice: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

As a pharma sales and marketing professional, you know, you just can’t afford to keep the doctor away.

Now you know why having an apple every day is a big no-no for you.

 “An apple a day is not for me. As a pharma marketer, I can’t even imagine doing anything that will keep the doctors away from my brand.” I can almost hear you saying this.  Think once again. What if, as a well meaning marketer, you are unintentionally doing few things which is actually keeping doctors away from prescribing your brand?

Ask yourself whether you are doing any of the following things?

  • You try to play safe and therefore avoid any creativity that can raise few eyebrows making your communication uninteresting to field as well as doctors.
  • You clutter your communication pages with too much information.
  • In your anxiety to impress your customer, you tend to convey all the USPs of your brand and are extremely reluctant to sacrifice on few USPs in order to bring sharp focus.
    • You tend to get repetitive making your campaign devoid of freshness.
    • You tend to change the communication plank too often.
    • You don’t market your communication strategy to your internal customer the way you would market it to the external customer.
    • You don’t allocate enough time in internal meetings in order to ensure that every representative is thorough in his detailing.

Will doing above mentioned activities keep doctors away from your brand? You may or may not agree with me. May be few of the points will even make you somewhat indignant. But then my target is achieved, this blog post is intended to do exactly the same. It is meant to challenge you, to make you think.

Only those who dare to be different can create big brands and a successful career for themselves.

I would like to hear your views and experiences on it.

While for a pharma marketer, an apple-a-day is forbidden but breaking pill-a-day is a must. Please subscribe to this blog’s newsletters to receive your daily dose of pill through email.

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Never Do This When Competing with Big Brands http://breakthepill.com/never-do-this-when-competing-with-big-brands/ http://breakthepill.com/never-do-this-when-competing-with-big-brands/#comments Sat, 10 Nov 2012 14:58:31 +0000 http://breakthepill.com/?p=218 Competing against big brands?

Let’s accept it.

Competition among diverse competing brands is never a battle among equals because different brands are of different sizes. And size matters.

The big ones have better perception, better pen habit, better availability and most importantly bigger promo budget. Hence, the deck is heavily stacked against the smaller ones. Big ones enjoy all the benefits and smaller ones have to fight with the big ones with much lesser budget. And the outcome is often predictable, the smaller ones gets crushed.

Is there any way smaller brands can survive this battle of unequals?

Yes there is a way. Identify and build on that one area where you can be mightier than even the mightiest.

Before I explain, let us take a look at the current scenario.

When you compare the promo budget of different brands you will see pies of different sizes. But deeper look will reveal that percentage disbursement inside each of the pie is almost identical for big and small brands. In other words, the brand manager who is managing a smaller brand with much smaller budget spends his money in the same proportion as his big competitors who are doing it at considerably higher budget.

When you try doing everything that your competitors do but with much lesser budget, you are forced to try hard to reduce the cost. Eventually, you end up in compromising on both, quality and quantity. When field compares your campaign material with that of your competitors, they start feeling inferior. And this is where half of the battle is already lost. In the market place none of the elements of thinly spread marketing mix is able to create the desired impact. Your entire campaign gets simply overshadowed under high decibel campaign of your big competitors.

This is where guerrilla marketing comes in play. But to do it effectively first you need to identify an area and work your way towards being mightier than the mightiest of your competitor and STOP doing many things that you are doing at present. For many, it may appear scary decision. But believe me, it’s the best alternative you have. The reward for your sacrifice will be manifold increase in your resources that you can deploy in the chosen area.

Many years back, a nutraceutical brand from one of the division that I was heading started showing stagnation. We found that a new entrant from a relatively small sized company was growing leaps and bounds and causing all the damage. They were claiming to provide same nutraceutical with different formulation. But the whole claim had no scientific basis. Then how come doctors were believing their story? It was a mystery to me till I interviewed their product manager. They had mastered one area and that was the gimmick.  Everyone from the marketing team and also their promoter would get involved in the ideation for gimmick. They had developed a large set of vendors who had the capability of executing their ideas. With this they were able to grab complete attention of the doctor and create profound impact inside the clinic. They knew that with their meager promo budget they just can’t afford to do all the conventional things that the whole industry does. They made their mark by channelizing their resources in one single area.

While all your competitors are busy being jack of all trade by diffusing their resources too thin, you choose to master one. And this is how you are taking your brand to the level of sustainable competitive advantage. You don’t get sustainable competitive advantage when you start doing something new because if it works, the whole industry will start copying it. And it will no more remain sustainable. But when you create competitive advantage for yourself by stopping to do something, competition finds it extremely hard to emulate you as it involves stopping doing something that they had been doing since ages.

Whenever I have discussed about this with marketers, most of them don’t want to give it a second thought. There are few who agree with me at conceptual level, but don’t want to take the risk of upsetting the apple cart.

In final analysis it is not the knowledge of principles of strategy and marketing that gets you the results. You get the results only when you take action on the basis of these principles. It calls for a high degree of conviction and unshakable courage.

 “I have a complete conviction on what you say, but I have to take into consideration the mindset of my field.” This is the response I sometimes hear.

I have just one thing to say. If you have the desired conviction, you have to spend time with your sales team, put your arm around them, influence them and align them. Whether it is external customer or internal customer, as a marketer is it not our job to influence their minds?

Do you have any personal experience where you did something similar to what we discussed and it paid off? Please share, I would love to hear it from you.

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What Every Pharma Marketer Dreams Of and How To Make It Come True – Part 2 http://breakthepill.com/what-every-pharma-marketer-dreams-of-and-how-to-make-it-come-true-part-2/ http://breakthepill.com/what-every-pharma-marketer-dreams-of-and-how-to-make-it-come-true-part-2/#comments Sat, 10 Nov 2012 14:51:54 +0000 http://breakthepill.com/?p=216

Consistently achieving business objectives without month end sales closing pressure is dream of perhaps every pharma sales and marketing personnel.

I mentioned this in my previous blog post What Every Pharma Marketer Dreams Of and How To Make It Come True – Part 1. I also stated that it’s only through brand building process one can be assured of sustainable growth. I ended the post stating that brand building can happen only through “pull”.

To understand what pull means, I will once again take you to a typical scenario in my workshop.

“A prescription can be generated through two routes. Either through push or through pull. Can anyone tell me what does generating prescription through pull means?” I see lots of blank faces.

“Okay. Let me explain it”

“How many of you have worked in the field?” Almost all hands are raised.

“How many of you had been really good in the field?” I see surprised expressions on many faces, gradually all hands are raised.

“It was in a lighter vein, I know, as a Medical Representative, each one of you had been awesome or else you would not have been here” I assure them.

I have couple of more questions for you. “During your field stint, have you ever come across a doctor who is a prolific prescriber of competitor’s brand?”

“Not just one but a plenty of them.” Comes the answer in chorus

“And could you convert any of them?”

“Most of them” Chorus continues.

“Now imagine that you once again have a challenge to convert one such doctor. How would you go about it? I want you to bring out all your arsenals. Let us begin”

At this stage I am ready with the whiteboard marker. Responses start pouring in. During next few minutes the white board is full of scribble. Almost always, responses are like this:

Heavy sampling…gifts…CRM…CME…sharing my brands superiority vis-à-vis competitors’…repeated visits…understanding and fulfilling his need…sponsorship…daily reminders…SMSs…phone calls…emotional appeal and the list is endless with similar answers…

“Thank you very much. It was a great participation” I normally break at this stage and announce that  “Everything that you told me is the PUSH way of generating prescription.”

Group seems to be surprised.

 “Are these not the only ways of generating prescription?

If this is push, then what is pull?” Gradually this question starts trickling in.

“This was a great exercise; it helped you to understand what is NOT “pull”. Now let us try to understand what IS “pull”.

 “When you create your brand communication based on sound marketing principles and maintain consistency with it, your brand occupies distinct and valued place in the mind of your customer. The doctor then no more prescribes your brand by remembering it consciously. It penetrates deep into his subconscious and this is when you have succeeded in generating prescription through the pull.”

Now coming back to you, after reading this post, I want you to think on the following questions:

How sharp is your brand positioning?

Is it distinct from the rest?

How consistent are you with your communication?

How far it has penetrated in the mind of your customer?

And finally…

What is the dominating element of your present business? Push or pull?

If it is push then you have years of struggle ahead.

If your answer is pull, Congratulations. You are on your way to build a big brand!

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What Every Pharma Marketer Dreams Of and How To Make It Come True – Part 1 http://breakthepill.com/what-every-pharma-marketer-dreams-of-and-how-to-make-it-come-true-part-1/ http://breakthepill.com/what-every-pharma-marketer-dreams-of-and-how-to-make-it-come-true-part-1/#respond Sat, 10 Nov 2012 14:40:13 +0000 http://breakthepill.com/?p=214

Imagine a scenario wherein after putting in month of efforts in field, the representative goes to the stockiest, prepares stock & sales statement, multiplies it with the formula and voila! He is on 125% of his sales target! Imagine the same phenomena happening not only month after month but also year after year. Now imagine that YOU are that person. How would you like it?

During many sessions with field colleagues I often paint this dream scenario.

Their facial expressions tell me that I have touched the right chord. I have brought out one of their deepest wishes. Almost everyone who is in sales tells me that achieving targets month after month, without pressurizing (or even at times begging) the stockiest is the ultimate dream for them.

What about you? Do you think this dream can ever be a reality for you?

Personally, I believe it is not just possible but practically doable proposition.

Now comes the million dollar question, how to achieve it? Is there a magic wand?

No, there is no magic wand but still it can be achieved. The only way you can make your business sustainable is through Building Big Brands.

Brand building can happen in its true sense only when all the stake holders comprising of sales team, marketing team and business heads effectively play their respective role.

Today, Indian pharma industry is flooded with countless brands that fail to attain even the critical mass.  Why very few brands are able to attain the stature of mega brand and continue to grow bigger while the rest remain languishing at the bottom?

Because brand building in its true sense happens only through ‘pull’ which is missing in most of the cases.

What is pull?

Continue reading… What Every Pharma Marketer Dreams Of and How To Make It Come True – Part 2

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Give Doctor a Break (Hint: It’s Not What You Think) http://breakthepill.com/give-doctor-a-break-hint-its-not-what-you-think/ http://breakthepill.com/give-doctor-a-break-hint-its-not-what-you-think/#comments Sat, 10 Nov 2012 14:31:38 +0000 http://breakthepill.com/?p=209

No, I am neither referring to a doctor’s trip to Greece nor sponsoring him a holiday in Goa along with his family. Neither am I referring to an evening get together.

What I am referring to is just a five minutes refreshing break.

The five minutes break that a doctor will really enjoy when he is presented with well crafted and equally well detailed creative communication.

“Enjoy? Doctors hate it”. Perhaps this is how you may want to respond.

Yes, in its present form, they really hate it. We all know, there is hardly any doctor who loves to listen to any representative’s detailing talk. But we also know that we rarely come across creative campaigns that are well designed and equally well executed, something for which doctors would wait every month.

And this is possible only when an organization resolves to be the best at it.

Yes, the best at it!

There is a huge difference between being good at many things and being the best at one.

In Indian pharmaceutical industry, almost every player plays the same game. Everyone tries to be good at several things. But have a look at those who have stormed their way into the top league from seemingly nowhere. At many instances you will find that they have managed to be the best at one thing. Some of the examples that I can quote are Serdia in science, Lupin in CRM. As far as exploiting the fortune from bottom of the pyramid is concerned, in recent past Mankind has proved that they are the master of it.

Why should any organization choose creative communication as the area to be the best at?

Doctors are overworked, they are tired. Day in and day out they only see diseased patients and at time even deaths.  I don’ think any doctor feels excited about it. After all he is also a human being. What does majority of pharma promotional material comprise of? It comprises of loads of images, references and data pertaining to morbidity and mortality.

This is where I believe that most neglected area i.e. creative communication can be a real differentiator for your organization provided…

…every person from sales and marketing team is convinced on role of communication in brand building.

…every piece of communication that you create is nothing short of a masterpiece.

… it is delivered in world class manner inside the clinic.

…you stop trying out too many things and choose to be the best at just one.

Everyone is aware of the changes that are happening in the environment. But pharma industry is still in denial mode.

In days to come we will see IT department flexing its muscles. The practice of “CRM” and gifting may not continue forever. But very few are willing to think about the future.

Writing on the wall is clear. Future is not going to be an extension of the past.

 Instead of considering it as a threat and trying to find out loopholes to beat the system, won’t it be wiser to look at it as an opportunity and start getting ready for it?

Is it not the time to go back to marketing basics?

Is it not the time to relearn the forgotten but time tested art of brand building through power of communication?

Perhaps you are feeling that the whole proposition of making doctors love the brand communication is somewhat farfetched. But then creating a differentiation for the organization is never an easy thing to achieve. Good news is that almost everyone is thinking the same. Be the first one to show the rare conviction, get committed to it and create huge differentiation for your organization.

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