Archive for the ‘Global Pharma Marketing’ Category

Pharma and its Innovator’s Dilemma

A recent conversation with a friend in the pharma industry validated my thoughts and concerns about the systemic challenges that pharma is facing. The pivotal insight came from my friend’s comment that he wants his next job to be “not just about pills,” but a job that takes on a broader role in healthcare, one that’s more focused on patient outcomes.

This personal revelation was a bit surprising given the fact that my friend’s entire career has been pharma marketing. Promoting drugs is his area of expertise. So why did it take a career “transition” phase to bring about this personal commitment to the need to broaden pharma’s mandate?

innovation highwayWhy not innovation?
The challenges and obstacles that senior-level pharma executives face are extraordinary, especially when it comes to innovation and moving the industry forward. Pressure from Wall Street, business partners and investors who are focused on revenue growth and short-term profitability makes it incredibly difficult for top executives to think outside the box or consider what’s next for the industry or their company.

Every day, pharmaceutical companies large and small are managed to meet performance and revenue expectations. My friend observed first hand how even the long-term planning process (5 to 10 year horizon) doesn’t give senior executives the flexibility to discover and engage in innovative opportunities that might allow them to consider new offerings or business models.

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When did Pharma miss the Innovation Pride Parade?

A recent article identified four basic skills that new leadership in pharma needs to be successful in the arena of consumer health. The author, Michael Winter, addresses the topic from his perspective as an executive headhunter, with the expertise and obvious vested interest in helping to find, source and
pride paradeplace talent.

Winter observes that the capabilities, talents and skills that built pharma into the very successful industry sector it has been aren’t necessarily the same attributes that will make pharma successful over the next 5, 10 or 20 years.

“What got us here won’t get us there,” has never been truer than it is in pharma today.

The Skills Needed
The clinical research and development skills needed to produce new drugs will always be critical to pharma’s success, but our approach to the marketplace needs to be rethought and adjusted. The kind of marketing expertise needed in today’s environment has more common with successful consumer goods companies than traditional pharma.

This realization has spawned a growing contest for talent between pharma and consumer goods companies. In some cases pharma is trying to poach senior consumer executives. To be successful, however, pharma needs to first make itself an attractive destination for this type of experienced hire.

Most consumer executives look at an industry like pharma and say, “I don’t know… It looks complicated. It’s a highly regulated industry. They’ve got business model challenges. They’ve got brand issues. I’ve done well on the direct consumer side. Why would I ever leave my successful career here and move over into health? That just seems like a recipe for disaster.” Read Full Article Now »

Expectations on the Rise for Digital Marketing in Pharma

ExpecatationsI’ve begun to observe among our clients a distinct shift in expectations for the role of digital marketing. Even though pharma marketing budgets continue to invest in the traditional channels of television and print, I’m seeing a change in how digital is viewed, and that’s a positive sign.

Smarter Marketing Talent
The caliber of marketing talent in key pharma leadership roles has improved, bringing higher expectations for technology and digital-based marketing. Marketers in both so-called centers of excellence and at the brand level are demanding measurable goals for what technology can be and should be doing for their company and their products. They reward success and fire agencies or technology partners that don’t meet expectations.

The Amazon Effect
Online retail and social media companies have raised the bar of consumer expectations for access to information and the ability to search and buy in a very seamless way. But until recently, consumer expectations didn’t impact pharma. Now, the online consumer experience is raising the bar on healthcare.

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Traits of a Healthy Marketing Agency

As closerlook passed 100+ employees last  year, I began to reflect on what makes (and keeps) an agency healthy. Although there are many qualities that one might attribute to a healthy agency, I’ve boiled it down to four main traits or characteristics that I think are key, at least in my experience.

traitsBusiness Clarity
The first trait of a healthy agency is clarity. The agency should be clear about what they do and don’t do. A healthy agency’s focus is rooted in deep expertise and a clear understanding of its business value.

In other words, a healthy agency knows what role they play in the business of their client. They know what kind of influence they have. Healthy agencies don’t think of themselves as just executors of strategy, but thinkers — they have brains, not just hands. Successful agencies want to have impact. They want to move the needle, not just deliver on tactics. They really see themselves as a business partner for their clients. Read Full Article Now »

Pharma and its Love of Deal Making. All Good This Time.

3-wayThe recent 3-way deal between GSK, Novartis and Lilly represented a major transaction for all three companies. The deal has been scrutinized by the Street like a master chessboard swap of assets, in this case, molecules. Obviously, it took a fair bit of corporate development work to make these deals happen, so it’s actually pretty impressive from that perspective. But what’s more interesting to me is the strategy that these moves belie. It’s another clue to how pharma is changing.

For the past thirty years, pharma companies rose or fell based on their ability to develop or acquire a drug with blockbuster potential. Sometimes blockbusters just showed up, as did the disappointing blood pressure medication with unusual side effects called Viagra. Or the also-ran cholesterol-lowering drug that was almost cancelled because it would be the fifth drug in its class and that went on to become the largest drug in history. Read Full Article Now »

Publi-com: the whole was less than the sum of its parts

publicom3The dissolution of the Publicis/Omnicom merger
(or was it the Omnicom/Publicis merger?) provides a helpful cautionary tale for all of us. The moral of the story is not that you should decide your CFO or your merger documents before you make the announcement. More fundamentally it’s a question of who your most important stakeholder is.

For many years I taught a business school class on CRM, and one of my observations was that the center of gravity for successful entrepreneurial companies was always the customer. No customer value, no company. But as firms got larger, the center of gravity gradually moved internal because of the many pressing organizational needs. Mergers and acquisitions are particularly distracting, to the point that many corporate managers never even interact with customers. Read Full Article Now »

Is pharma doubling down on TV? Really?

The data is out on consumer ad spending in 2013. It wasn’t a surprise that TV and magazine ad spending was down significantly while digital spend was up. If you own a TV network, you can’t ignore the handwriting on the wall. You feel the pain.TV.jpg

Unless you are selling to pharma.

It appears that pharma is trying to single-handedly bail out traditional media. Pharma’s TV ad spending was up more than 12% last year, and magazines were up more than 6%. And digital? The channel to which every other industry is moving their spend?

For pharma, digital spend was down more than 14%…

The total pharma DTC spend last year was $3.8 billion, and of that, it spent about $60 million on digital ads last year. That doesn’t even qualify as a rounding error. Of the top 20 pharma brands, 16 didn’t even spend more than $1MM on digital advertising.

I’m left scratching my head. Why the heck is pharma bucking the global trend to digital? Does it know something the rest of us have missed?

I have a couple thoughts on this trend. First, I have to give props to TV and magazine sales executives. Obviously, they haven’t surrendered to digital, at least among their pharma clients. They make the argument that cable TV allows for better targeting, an attractive argument for brands that are trying to reach a mass audience.

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Closed Loop(s) Marketing – It’s More Than Pharma Sales Rep Tablets

As I re-read a recent Gartner report on Closed Loop Marketing (CLM) in pharma, it struck me that while Gartner was very focused on the shortcomings of current tablet-based sales applications for closing the sales rep-physician loop, they missed two other equally important brand-customer loops.

closed loops editedI’d suggest that there are three “loops” that need to be closed. And closing them would provide a lot more effectiveness in marketing.

First, let’s briefly touch on the sales rep-physician loop that Gartner’s analyst Dale Hagemeyer focused on and that most brand teams and agencies think of when they talk about CLM.

The Sales Rep – Physician Loop
Gartner’s point is that sales forces are underutilizing tablet technology and that this major investment in mobile presentation devices has not resulted in any true brand differentiation. In fact, for most companies Gartner talked to there wasn’t even a good business case for investing in sales rep tablets. According to interviews with 63 pharma clients, Gartner was consistently told, “We don’t have a business case. We simply have to have them because everybody else is getting them.”

As a result of this non-strategic implementation of interactive detailing, it’s no surprise that the tablets are simply another show-and-tell device, and with 85% of sales forces now equipped with the technology, their use provides no competitive advantage. The real power in tablet technology is the ability to collect individual physician data for analysis and the generation of insights at both the individual and aggregate level. This is a major missed opportunity and is one reason why the ROI on CLM hardware investments has not lived up to its promise.

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Pharma Innovation moves to Business Innovation

The need for innovation within pharma now goes beyond just product R&D. Innovation today must include business model innovation.

road2This could lead to an unexpected left-hand turn in your near future…

Moving beyond the pill?
It has become de rigueur for pharma executives to talk about “moving beyond the pill,” something closerlook has been championing for several years. This new way of thinking includes offerings like disease management, patient engagement, companion diagnostics, etc.

That’s all well and good. However, a critical part of this discussion, especially in light of healthcare reform changes in healthcare delivery and payment, is how pharma will get paid for all of this. Paid for the “value-add” investments, yes, but even paid for the core product if and when it becomes commoditized.

Another way to ask the question: Who will be the buyer in five years?

More and more health systems (buyers) are becoming vertically integrated. These vertically integrated systems are achieving the most productive and most streamlined patient experience and the best outcomes at the lowest cost. Given these results, the trend of provider consolidation will continue across the country. Numerous health systems and policymakers are advocating this integrated approach.

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Change The World, Change Your Bottom Line in Pharma

The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest opportunities. Help a billion people, make a billion dollars.

This was a provocative challenge laid down by Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize Foundation and a successful serial entrepreneur, at a recent Strategic Coach workshop.

So why aren’t more of the world’s biggest problems being solved?

Ask Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach and he will note that most of us – and most companies – operate within the narrow range of our own status quo. We find a comfortable rhythm and lifestyle and just stay there. We become average.

Average is safe. By definition, it’s where most people are. But being average doesn’t solve big problems.

Real Opportunity Lies at the Borders

shipThis leaves real opportunity for entrepreneurs and change agents. The business growth opportunities are at the edges of the status quo. In terms of S-curve business growth, the opportunities are in the transitions between one S-curve and the next S-curve. These are “border” regions where innovators and risk-takers experiment and challenge the status quo.

Like Columbus, those who leave the comfort of home and travel over the horizon often find new worlds of opportunity and growth. It’s over the horizon where new ways of “border” thinking are discovered and companies and individuals move to higher levels of growth.

Relationship Marketing at the Edge

One example of border opportunity is relationship marketing. Relationship marketing is a border set of processes, technologies and partnerships that can transform a marketing organization from status quo results to a higher level of engagement, interaction and profitability. It’s a mindset that fundamentally changes how a brand thinks about its customers.

Pharma marketing is right at the edge of this border. Crossing the line challenges the status quo. It’s seems scary, but in reality the current pharma marketing status quo – the way it’s always been done with traditional media, sales aids, product-focused messaging – is not sustainable.

Pharma’s biggest problems are pharma’s biggest opportunities.

It’s time to cross the border…