5 Habits of Highly Effective Pharmaceutical Marketers

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Kevin Clancy and Eric Paquette of Copernicus report on the five practices that put pharmaceutical marketers and their campaigns ahead of the curve.

If the raging debate about healthcare doesn't already have pharmaceutical marketers on edge, heightened pressure from the corner office to continuously improve the effectiveness and efficiency of physician, patient, and caregiver-directed marketing efforts could certainly push them over.

"While it's pretty easy to say 'we want a physician or direct-to-consumer campaign that drives sales,' for a variety of reasons, it's much more difficult to actually do," explains Kevin Clancy, chairman at Copernicus, a research-driven marketing consulting firm with offices in Waltham, Massachusetts, and Norwalk, Connecticut.

Eric Paquette, senior vice president at Copernicus and the firm's pharmaceutical industry expert, points out that doctors and patients are overwhelmed with marketing information while CEOs and CFOs have very high expectations for results. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, "pharmaceutical marketers could really use some guidance on what to do to make sure they will get the most out of marketing dollars."

Clancy and Paquette offer five essential habits of highly-effective pharmaceutical marketers that lead to truly exceptional ROI performance.

Habit #1: Make an Impact
A wide variety of factors--from the characteristics of a patient to a physician's perception of treatment alternatives and more--impact therapy decisions. The relative influence of these different factors on behavior varies by treatment category and by brand. By understanding the role of different factors, highly-effective pharmaceutical marketers identify the marketing initiatives that will drive sales the most.

Habit #2: Accept That You Don't Have All the Answers
There are many characteristics--demographics, specialization, attitudes, treatment motivations, and more--that could predict who among physicians, patients, and caregivers holds the biggest profit potential for a brand. Rather than take a guess and go with it, highly-effective pharmaceutical marketers test a wide variety of these characteristics against clever measures of profitability to determine which groups represent the best investment opportunity for their marketing dollars.

Habit #3: Stand for Something Meaningful
If a brand fails to register with physicians and patients, it's going to have a tough time delivering big sales numbers. Highly-effective pharmaceutical marketers look for positioning opportunities that play to the target's needs, wants, and aspirations to which no brand currently offers a satisfactory solution.

Habit #4: Go Beyond the Norm
Many problems with advertising performance originate in the process used to come up with a campaign. Often only one idea is developed and tested. Highly-effective pharmaceutical marketers routinely investigate many different options and pick the executions that perform significantly better than historical norms in testing databases.

Habit #5: Reduce Risk
Finding the right mix of communications--direct sales, direct marketing, advertising, social media, etc.--is more critical than ever to solidifying a place in the hearts and minds of targets. To minimize financial risk, highly-effective pharmaceutical marketers take advantage of marketing mix modeling technology to perfect a marketing plan before spending a dime in the real-world.

"A big marketing budget can't make up for an imprecise or unfocused marketing strategy when it comes to delivering improved returns," concludes Clancy.

Paquette agrees: "Developing some good marketing decision-making habits, on the other hand, can make all the difference when it comes to hitting the ROI numbers that pharmaceutical marketers need to keep management happy."

The two marketing strategy consultants have additional tips for improving marketing ROI in the August edition of PM360 magazine.

Copernicus works with prescription and OTC brands at all phases of product life--from new launches to those nearing patent expiration. The firm's work developing physician and consumer marketing strategies has improved marketing performance for industry giants as well as firms focused on one or two treatment categories.

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