Posts Tagged ‘pharma’

Physician Marketing, meet CRM

A lot of ink has been spilled on the decline of the blockbuster and the search for a new specialty-product commercial model. But less attention has been paid to how that changes physician marketing strategy.

In the traditional PCP blockbuster model, promotional saturation was effective. The medical claim could be simple and the sales message clever. It didn’t matter if marketing tactics existed in their own silos with little or no coordination. Whether it was a leading statin or ED product, there was strong consumer demand and the marketing strategy could be share of voice.

In today’s specialty market, these old assumptions are just plain wrong. Not only is the target audience smaller, the buying criteria are more sophisticated. Writing a $15,000 oncology regimen is different from writing a monthly $150 PPI script.

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The internet as intelligence

In most of my conversations with health care marketers, campaign strategy is not complete unless it includes an internet strategy. Everyone wants and needs an internet strategy (and now a mobile strategy, too) to stay relevant.

Usually when people talk about using the internet for marketing, they are thinking of it as a promotional channel. Call it digital marketing, non-personal promotion, or online communication, it doesn’t matter. The point is that for a truly integrated marketing plan these days, there needs to be a set of online tactics to make it complete.

But there is something missing from this picture. Yes the internet is a convenient, cost-effective promotional channel. It doesn’t require sales reps or postage or expensive TV buys. It’s the internet, and everyone is connected. So there you go, right?

No.

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Dark Night of the Pharmaceutical Soul

Tolstoy’s observation that while happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way describes the pharmaceutical selling environment today. No standard go-to-market strategy will work for every unhappy brand and every disaffected doctor.

A new focus on flashy iPad sales presentations will slow but not stop the slide in office access. Technology should enable marketers to learn about and serve the customer better and faster than the competition, not simply be a new shade of lipstick on the traditional sales pig.

Relationship Marketing, or “treating different customers differently” is finally getting the attention it deserves. Contrast RM with the more typical marketing approach of “shouting” at the audience with a single message and betting that a brand will get its fair share of the audience. Now with the perfect storm of declining physician access, pricing pressure from private and government payers and the looming patent cliff on many blockbusters, marketers are finally seriously considering the benefits of building long-term relationships with their customers.

This year, brand teams will begin to invest in physician databases and predictive analytics and digital channel integration and will start learning how to treat different customers differently.

There is a day of reckoning approaching when it will become painfully obvious which brands have created meaningful, value-based relationships with healthcare professionals and patients. Pharmaceutical companies are starting to be scrutinized by a new wave of tech-enabled professionals, empowered patients and enlightened bureaucrats intent on holding suppliers to higher standards of value and engagement. And depending on what they find, they will vote with their pocketbook.

The essence of strategy is to be ready before you need to be. This year, from brand teams to board members, there will need to be a new focus on customer strategy and on recalibrating what it means to serve our different customers differently. The way they need to be served and the way they prefer to be served.

 

 

 

Opening salvo

Obama signing healthcare reform billRegardless of your point of view on healthcare reform or the much-discussed legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is now the law of the land in the United States. Our friends in every corner of the healthcare sector are scrambling to understand what reform means for them and how to take advantage of new opportunities or mitigate new risks to their business.

Any time there is a significant change in the business rules of engagement, whether it’s tax policy or new regulations, company executives look for loopholes or workarounds to maintain their competitive positioning and avoid additional burdens. With the passing of the healthcare reform bill, general counsels and consultants everywhere are looking for ways to avoid complying with the new law.

Don’t do it.

The right response is not to dodge, hide or obfuscate. At this point, with healthcare costs projected to rise to nearly 25 percent of GDP in the next 15 years if we don’t intervene, we need to rethink the industry. Like the industrial revolution that laid the first transcontinental railroad, created the auto industry and put a man on the moon, we need a healthcare revolution. We need an innovation revolution.

The only way out of the healthcare morass in the United States is through innovation.

An incremental approach to insurance reform and consumer access will have a commensurate incremental effect on the cost curve. What we need is to dramatically rethink how to prevent and diagnose disease, how to treat chronic illness and how to compensate physicians. We need to apply technology in new ways to bring targeted therapies to market quicker and to package the latest in behavioral change theory to create wellness programs that become part of our pop culture. And we need to understand how even little nudges and informal social support can have a big impact.

Every sector in healthcare has a role to play, from providers and health insurers, medical device and pharma companies, large employers and government agencies, teaching hospitals and research institutes to entrepreneurs and venture capital firms.

This blog, The Difference Makers, is my personal journey to find those entrepreneurs who are applying innovation to health and healthcare. I want to see if big problems require big solutions or small solutions. I’m curious about whether the diffusion of innovation in healthcare follows the same curve as it does in technology, and whether the market economy, the public economy or a combination does a better job of meeting the needs of the patient. And I’m curious about what it means to put the means of health production in the hands of the consumer.

Innovation + Entrepreneurialism meets a Big Challenge. It’s worked before. Let’s see what happens this time.

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