Sunday, October 26, 2008
The current buzzword in IT is CLOUD COMPUTING. This tech wave too rides on the collaborative trend in business activities.
Cloud computing is a nice poetic descriptive word. This refers to the concept of IT as a service. Data and information is present on the internet (cloud), and clients using various devices can access it from remote locations. It is a very exaggerated or amplified form of LAN (local area network). Companies like Cisco are betting big on this tech wave - and those who become clients of Cisco for this technology, are expected to enhance efficiency of businesses through the cloud computing phenomenon. Essentially, the "cloud" meets all the computing needs of the subscribing company.
Egs.: Google apps is an application where documents are present in the "cloud". Basically data and information is not stored in an in-house server. It is like a website of many a company. The website data does not sit in an in-house server. The website is hosted from another location. This is similar to say many e-mail ids, which are not created on in-house servers.
IMS is another some-what similar example on how it provides data to client companies these days. IMS is a premier market data provider for pharma companies. Client companies are given a password and allowed to access the data from IMS website.
How can cloud computing benefit pharma or healthcare companies?
Let us say a pharma company starts storing its sales data "in a cloud".
Let us take a hypothetical example of Brand Bo whose sales data is in the "cloud". Now presume, a Medical Representative (MR) from Madurai (in Tamil Nadu) logs in and checks the brand performance in various MR territories of India. And he sees that one of the highest sellers of Brand Bo is from Manipal.
So this kindles the curiousity of the MR from Madurai, and now he wants to check out why Manipal sells most. Now remember, it is because the data is in the "cloud" that the Madurai MR comes to know that Manipal sells most of Brand Bo. The Madurai MR can now send an e-mail to the Manipal MR asking for further information on how he is selling such high quantities of Brand Bo.
Further, if an analytics software is present along with the data - all the MR has to do is click on the sales figure of Brand Bo in Manipal, and the MR from Madurai can get a nice bar graph of the doctor segments that are prescribing Brand Bo the most.
Let us assume Brand Bo is being well supported by ENT segment in Manipal and is the main contributing doctor segment, while in Madurai it is the OBG segment that is bringing in the prescriptions for Brand Bo.
Thus, the gentleman from Madurai can use this tip to launch a special campaign, say call a doctor meet for all ENT specialists of Madurai, in a nice hotel, serve dinner, make a powerpoint presentation on Brand Bo, and excite the prospects of Brand Bo in the ENT segment. And may be even create a videoconferencing discussion between ENT specialists of Madurai and ENT specialists of Manipal.
This is a hypothetical example on how "cloud computing" can be applied to enhance business results, and make the working of the field force more efficient.
Cloud computing can, to put it in a sentence, HELP GET MORE BANG FOR THE MARKETING BUCK.
It is perhaps for this reason that companies like Infosys are repositioning themselves as TRANSFORMATIONAL AGENTS for client companies providing not only software for companies, but also software-as-a-service along with analytics and consulting. Thus, IT companies are trying to play a lead role in helping transform business results for companies.
Thanks for reading this blogpost, wish you all a VERY HAPPY DIWALI (festival of lights), please do scroll down to read all other blogposts, click on older posts icon wherever necessary.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The Tequila is an interesting alcoholic drink concept. The charisma of Tequila lies in the way it is consumed. The wikipedia way: first, take in some salt by licking it off from near the palm of the hand, where it is applied, and then down the entire drink all at once. After downing the first shot, a lemon slice is quickly bitten.
An alternative method, is placing some salt on the back of the palm, squeeze some juice from a slice of lime on to the salt, gulp the drink at one go (bottoms up!), and then lick off the salt + lime.
Well, whichever way you follow, you will realize as you down the hard- drink in one go, it is really hot on the throat and it hits you really fast and hard!
Question: Hey, but what does the Tequila drink have to do with healthcare products?
Answer: The Tequila punch is required for new product launches.
Explanation: Today doctors are burdened with a plethora of new brands and product concepts. Each day, atleast one MR launches a me-too brand or a new product concept. And all this hectic new product launch activity has made the doctor inured to new product (whether new concepts or me-too brands) launches. Thus, it has become a 'nightmare' for a healthcare or pharma marketer to get the new brand consumed by way of prescriptions.
The way out? Give the Tequila punch!
Giving the Tequila punch does not mean literally pouring the alcoholic drink down the doctor's pharynx (ie., throat).
Apply some salt first: Tease the doctor with a campaign to evoke the attention and interest in the product or brand concept. There is a need for a logic in the product launch, some important emotive points in the promotion, and a lot of marketing gimmicks to engage the doctor. That is the salt.
Then, give the drink: The doctor will surely not take to the product - it needs to be sort of made-to-gulp by the doctor, even if the 'drink is hot in the throat', and the product should give a never before high to the doctor. It should excite him.
Do not forget the lime: The doctor ought to be then exposed to the 'lime of another marketing gimmick' or the brand will slip out of his or her mind.
Today, no doctor will come out of his or her 'comfort zone' and experiment with a new product concept or brand concept in his or her clinical practice very easily. Only the Tequila shot or Tequila punch will get him or her to shift his prescribing behavior.
Some live examples from the marketing lore are given below:
Here are two marketing concepts (live case studies) that have rocked the market. Both are examples of product launches by Wockhardt.
Launch of a brand of lipid lowering agent: In this case, to preselected target doctors, the MR visited with a bright big gift package. After a small pre-detailing pep talk the doctor was requested to open the bright big gift package.
The doctor would obviously have opened the package with glee. Imagine his surprise, when on opening the lid of the package, a hydrogen filled balloon with a string tied, rose up, and hit the ceiling.
The enterprising MR then went on to detail thus: 'Dr., when the lipid levels in blood go up, please recommend ........ brand which reduces (etc)'.
While detailing all the points, the MR was to slowly pull the string down with every detail point of the brand, and finally the MR puts back the balloon in to the box and closes, triumphantly announcing that Brand X reduces lipid levels to normal levels.
Needless to say, the brand became a success.
Launch of Freecad: Wockhardt was a rather late entrant in to the booming antioxidant market. To gain mindshare, a very novel strategy was implemented to the early adopter and innovator opinion builder doctors.
Each MR had to select 3 to 5 such doctors in his territory. And he had to take permission to visit the doctor's house early morning on a particular date.
The MR visited with a pigeon in a cage. The doctor was asked to come out of the house or on the terrace, the doctor was asked to release the pigeon. The doctor would have perhaps done it with a lot of questions in his mind! May be he would have been flabbergasted too!!
Anyway, as soon as the pigeon was released, the MR would then announce that the doctor has now ensured 'freedom from coronary artery disease' through Freecad. And the MR would detail the product. Needless, to add this marketing brand gimmick ensured that the product went on to become a big hit in the antioxidant market.
Hey, wait do not raise holier-than-thou points that clinical aspects govern the prescribing behavior, and not such 'SILLY MARKETING GIMMICKS' as described above.
Let us understand, buddy, doctors are human. They have enough of pharmacology and scientific evidence bombarded from every direction - through MRs, peers, mags, journals, internet etc. NOW WHERE IS THE FUN?
It all comes from such interesting MR activities. And they influence brand sales significantly. Marketing requires one to wear the green cap of creativity (green is for creativity as per Edward de Bono - the messiah of lateral thinking). And this can lead to transformational results.
Hope this blogpost was as exciting as a Tequila punch! Please scroll down and read all other posts, do click on older posts to read all other blogposts. Thanks for your time. (PS: this blogpost is put up from nearby cyber cafe at 7.36 pm)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The world over there is a buzz on the pharma and healthcare front. However, an economic slow down in developed markets, is shifting the focus to rapidly developing economies like India. Thus, the scene for pharma and healthcare, in India is indeed vibrant.
So what is alluring about pharma India?
The market growth, increase in GDP, and the huge population of India are indeed very alluring to pharma marketers. 1.1 billion is a big big number – now, that is the estimated population of India.
This listed company is a very interesting case study. It is a multi product and multi category company. Its pedigree is very sound. The TTK group was established by the famous T T Krishnamachari. However, in the market, TTK Healthcare is perceived as a stable and very conservative company. As per the annual report of 2007 – 2008, the Chairman is Mr. T T Jagannathan, an elderly distinguished person, a B Tech GOLD MEDALLIST from IIT Chennai. He also has a Masters from Cornell University, USA.
The company views the lifestyle disorders, growing demand for herbal products, and the OTC market for healthcare and beauty products as an attractive market. Besides they are into veterinary care, biomedical devices (including heart valves) and food products. Woodwards gripewater and Eva range of body fragrance products are their popular brands
The pharmaceuticals segment in 2007 – 2008 on a net sales (after deduction of Excise Duty) of Rs. 96.16 crores, has a profit of Rs. 11.52 crores. The consumer division with all the hype and brand visibility on a net sales of Rs. 79.38 crores has a loss of Rs. 3.45 crores. The entire company (including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consumer products, printing and other divisions) has a net sales turnover of Rs. 199.04 crores and profit of Rs. 21.99 crores. Just look keenly at the above figures, you will see that the pharmaceuticals division is contributing almost 50% of the profits, even though the sales is not even one third of the total sales
IF THIS IS THE STORY OF A CONSERVATIVE COMPANY YOU CAN WELL IMAGINE THE BALANCE SHEETS OF AGGRESSIVE BIGGIES AMONG INDIAN PHARMA. THAT IS THE LURE OF PHARMA!!
This company too is an interesting case study. Wanbury has a focused approach and operates mainly on two platforms: one, Wanbury concentrates on the OBG segment, and secondly, Wanbury looks to NDDS (ie., novel drug delivery systems) or other differentiated branded product offerings to make a distinguishing cachet in the pharma marketplace. By concentrating on the OBG segment Wanbury seems to get a better bang for the buck. It is this specialist-focused approach that worked for companies like Torrent, Intas, and Sun Pharmaceuticals too when they began their operations. In fact, this DNA has not changed for these companies – they have divisionalized and the specific divisions continue to have the basic focus.
Wanbury has created waves through a powerful launch of C-pink - the hematinic brand. Wanbury growing at 87% has just launched sustained release delivery based NDDS nitrofurantoin for management of UTI - particularly in gynec cases (there is the OBG focus once again). This market is again not crowded and has good potential as UTI in women is a chronic, frequent and recurring problem. The basic USP of Nitrofur SR (Nitrofurantoin-100mg, sustained release) is patient compliance.
The lure of pharma is profits, sales, financial health, feel-good feeling for the promoters, an excitement
From time immemorial, herbal and Ayurvedic products have been the sheet anchor of healing systems in India. While most companies looked to cash in on the opportunity through allopathic or Western Medicine products, few companies like Himalaya Drugs endeavored to present the ancient remedies in a modern scientific format, backed by clinical trials that are acceptable to modern physicians. Liv 52 continues to be a star brand of the Indian pharma market. In recent times, Himalaya has started an approach that can redefine its financial performance. Realizing the untapped rural potential (since most of the herbals are consumed in rural sector, and the fact that 70% of the Indian population is rural, and constitutes 21% of the total market), a new division of Himalaya is focusing on this market segment particularly in the Hindi belt where Ayurveda rocks most. In fact, evangelical marketers of Yoga and Ayurveda like Baba Ramdev are contributing to the market expansion of Ayurvedic pharmaceuticals.
Another very interesting dimension of this market is the possibility to address the end-consumers legally. Patient education strategy is meticulously adopted by Ayurvedic marketers, to enhance revenues through the OTX positioning.
The lure of Indian pharma is in its huge market potential.
Healthcare supplements market is exploding
There is a healthcare wave and this has caused a rush market for authentic healthcare supplements and services. Cashing in on this wave are companies like Juggat Pharma, Merck, and Mankind that have launched electrolyte energy drinks concept brands (in a ready-to-drink format), and creating ripples in the pharmaceutical and healthcare market. In fact, Juggat Pharma has pioneered the concept and contract manufactures the brands marketed by Merck and Mankind (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All in all, hail the rise of Indian Pharmaceutical and Healthcare market!! The lure of Indian Pharma and Healthcare is irresistible!!!
This weekend there will not be any other blogpost due to preoccupations. Thanks for reading this blogpost, please do scroll down, click on older posts wherever required, and continue reading all other posts.
Monday, October 6, 2008
I GOT THE ABOVE IMAGE FROM HERE.
Pharmaceutical marketing and selling requires the right training. The training requirement is not about the technical aspects alone. It is very much about successful oral communication and influential body language in different settings with the physician. There are several aspects to the science and art of speaking successfully, and getting the message across. And there are specialists who train and help pharmaceutical companies excel in the challenge of customer conversion through field force effectiveness.
One look at the web site http://www.taylorpresentations.com/index.htm – and you are convinced with the positive vibrations, confidence, and cheer that Sarah Taylor can bring to the table. Sarah Taylor is apparently making a great deal of contributions in the sector of training for pharmaceutical selling through her firm, Taylor Presentations.
Besides her own persona that strikes out, Sarah has put together a great team of sales training professionals whose vibrant bios you can read here. It is apparent Sarah has a great team building ability and this helps add value in the sales building process of pharmaceutical companies.
In the website Pharma rep, Sarah has written very useful articles that touch every day activities of MRs.In this article Sarah emphasizes on the importance of TARGETING THE MESSAGES. The basic point is that one cap does not fit all! Although there can be uniformity in messages, it needs to be tailormade to the doctor's profile to obtain a better listening index of the prospect. The exciting point in this article is the suggestion to try and understand the learning style of the prospect - and accordingly perform the in-clinic activity. For eg., there are doctors who learn more from visual displays. Others prefer the audio and discussion style. There are important points such as, on how to strategize the message content and delivery depending on whether the doctor is an early adopter of new drugs or not.
In another article Sarah advices on how senior reps can help in inducting rookie MRs. It is also interesting to note that Sarah uses 'she' when referring to MRs. Probably there are many lady MRs in America. In fact, Sarah emphasizes that this is an opportunity for the senior MR to demonstrate that she or he is 'manager material' apt to be considered for future promotions. Thus, MRs can use this experience to coach new MRs for career advancement. This is the normal routine in India too - albeit, we have to use 'he' more often than 'she'.In another sensitive article the author deals with the common problem of dealing with 'difficult' doctors. This is a common field problem. To attract the attention of such doctors, stimulating the interest of doctors, kindling the desire to prescribe a particular brand, and finally the action of actually prescribing the brand is a challenging task. And Sarah offers tips to manage such difficult doctor calls successfully in this article. In fact, ruminating on the contents of this article makes it clear that EQ is a very vital faculty in doctor conversion.
Unlike in India, sponsoring lunch to doctors and using the time to interface with the physicians and getting them to prescribe the target brands is a common field strategy in USA. In India, the emphasis is still on in-clinic activity. This is the culture of medical practice and pharmaceutical selling in India. The moral of the story is that whether the platform to promote the product is in a clinic or during a working lunch, it is vital to use the opportunity for product promotion and business. It is prudent however, to make powerpoint presentations on the product and related therapy aspects while the doctors have lunch as is done in India. This will also strengthen product oriented conversations to reinforce prescribing behaviors.
Consultative selling is a powerful style but requires solid grounding of knowledge and communications skills. However, it is a very successful technique. In fact, Pfizer MRs are known to start consultative selling using a social style selling skill. One relates to doctors on interesting social issues and then the MR proceeds to engage the prospect on product matters. This point is explored in the article.
The hot button in a prospect is to be understood and used for successful closing. This may be a price point, a safety point, company image aspect, quality issues, and so on. One needs to do a lot of homework on the doctor's profile to find the hot button. This point is beautifully highlighted in the article.
There are no short cuts to success. Preparation and practice is the only way out. Make the preparation fun and purposeful advices Sarah, and she goes on to suggest that joining toastmasters club is a very effective strategy.
This article engages the reader to take one's career seriously before it is too late. The article gives practical and actionable advice on how to reboot one's career as a MR.
It is indeed heartening to note the activities undertaken and the value addition to MRs and consequently to the pharmaceutical profession, by Sarah and her illustrious team. She has also distilled her learnings in a book called Secrets of Successful Pharmaceutical Salespeople.
Thanks for reading this blogpost. Please scroll down, and clik on months as required to read all other blogposts. There won't be any blogpost this weekend.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The excitement and inevitability of marketing
Marketing is an exciting dimension of human activity. Whether it is pharmaceuticals or religions – all organizations are involved in marketing.
The core of marketing is increasing the consumption of marketed products and services. If it is a religion it is the consumption of the religious services which is at stake. And it implies revenues because, devotees bring in revenue. You plant a seed to harvest later. Pharmaceutical marketers plant samples and gifts to harvest prescriptions. The pharma company gains magnificently by way of profits through the good harvest of prescriptions. In the case of religions, the religious authorities (like the priests) gain in terms of donations (in terms of kind, cash, land and jewels), popularity, a high feel-good factor, respect from people, authority over people in society, ability to control resources and behaviors, and may be finally a great place in heaven or a better rebirth (depending on your belief).
Marketing is the value delivery process of companies or organizations. The objective of marketers is lifestyle change, increasing the customer base, ensure customer retention, and finally increased throughput from customers. Marketing is improving market penetration. Marketing begins by visualizing the target market based on demographics and other market characteristics and titrating the product or service to the market.
The above sentences are applicable to marketing of religions, religious products, and pharmaceuticals too. Pharma marketers go geography by geography and target doctor segment by doctor segment. The idea of all marketers is to develop a huge market base for the product or service, and build habits. For pharma marketers developing favorable prescribing habits is the Holy Grail; for religious marketers it is building a habit of worshiping a particular God, a habitual ritual, or the habit of frequenting a particular place of worship by people - that is the target. Religious marketers too go town by town, seeking the weak or amenable social links to enter, set base and expand.
There are a number of parallels between marketing of pharmaceuticals and religions.
Let us see some dimensions, strategies, and tools of marketing:
For pharma companies the day of the MR starts and ends with customer conversion or doctor conversion. Customer conversion is the fundamental premise on which all pharma marketing activities are pegged on. Right from the highest authority involved in pharma marketing, to the MR, all activities are to secure higher and higher customer conversions. Reams of market research data are analyzed to map market characteristics, prescribing habits, practice density, market receptivity, pharmacy purchase patterns and so on. This is done to ultimately convert the doctor.
The same principles are used in religious marketing. Target audiences are identified, behavioral patterns analyzed, and their needs, wants, and desires are understood. A religious strategy, structure, and resources, are put in place which address the material, social and spiritual wants of the target population. Thereby finally conversion is achieved.
Value is something that is perceived by the prospect or customer. A doctor may find price advantage to patient to be of value; or a doctor may value a service input from a pharma company such as a sponsorship to a CME or a medical grant for conducting a free medical camp of value, and thereby a doctor will reward the company with prescriptions. Value may also be in the form of regular visits, friendliness, and positive strokes from a MR – here the relationship is valuable to the doctor. Value may come from intangibles or tangibles. Value can come from material things for the personal use of a doctor or for his clinical use. Ultimately there is an exchange process here, value from the company is transferred to the doctor, and the doctor rewards the company with prescriptions.
The ultimate pharma marketer sells hope to the doctor: a hope that the marketed products will satisfy the patient and will indirectly improve his or her practice, a hope that an association with the pharma company will empower the doctor and make the doctor upwardly mobile, and he can improve his status, personal life, quality of clinical services to his patients, personal material comforts and so on.
The same principle comes in to play in religious marketing. Religious marketers offer intangible and tangible benefits to the faithful – an entire global system may back the value offerings. These may ultimately improve the physical, material & intellectual quality of life, educational attainments, moral and cultural fibre, and spiritual growth of the individual. Religious marketers sell a hope of upwardly mobility and a better life. For eg., if a segment of population wants a tube well for conveniently drawing water, the religious institution will offer it provided the users become faithful to the provider.
Among pharma marketers and religious marketers, competition is on value delivery. The better the value - more the customer delight.
Bonding with customers and CRM
Customers of a pharma company or the faithful of a religious denomination require a social bonding. It is human to bond. Pharma companies vie with each other to bond with doctors, and thereby gain prescriptions.
Marketing activities in the fields of pharmaceuticals & healthcare, and marketing efforts by religious organizations involve gifting, merchandizing, branding and other freebies; distribution of literatures, flyers, visual aids, and other marketing communication tools are done to strengthen the central message. Training of the field force in pharma marketing and of the front personnel in religious systems is vital to successfully influence the target market segments. Training ensures better body language, vocalization, verbalization, pronunciation, confidence, and eye contact. Thereby, the objectives of the pharmaceutical or religious organization are realized.
The trick for successful marketing is ensuring positive word-of-mouth, support from opinion builders in society & conformity pressure in the target prospect group to achieve the desired objectives of the marketer.
IN MARKETING, CUSTOMER IS THE KING
Competition between marketers (pharmaceutical and religious) will only intensify in a media empowered society and global market place. The wise ones among religious leaders will see this change as an opportunity and adapt to ensure that marketing activities are powerfully taken up by the religious organizations. Conflicts will continue to rise relating to customer conversion, in pharmaceuticals and religious fields. And in a free market place where competition is rife, finally - Customer Is The King!! In the severe competition between ‘isms’ and products and services, the customer will make his/her choice. CUSTOMER IS THE KING.
Between various pharma brands a doctor will make a prescribing choice based on parameters such as friendliness of MR, service inputs from the marketer, safety, efficacy, quality, supply & availability, and other parameters of marketing communication activity. So the choice is the doctor’s.
CUSTOMER IS THE KING in pharmaceutical marketing and religious marketing.
Marketing warfare and the stakes
Marketing ‘warfare’ between religions or in the pharmaceutical market place cannot be wished away. Because in the process of marketing, there are various aspects relating to revenue flow and asset creation. The stakes are very high. A religious institution’s success rate will measured by the no. of devotees (customers), and collections and assets. A pharmaceutical product’s success will be measured by its market share, ROI, profits generated, and no. of units sold. And all these quantitative parameters will matter a lot - because every one has a higher authority to whom he has to justify. Even the highest authority will have a board of directors or some powerful individuals/financiers to justify to and offer explanations.
Importance of marketing
The importance of marketing is such that today marketing is no more a departmental function, it is an organizational process and applicable to all organizations, may it be religious or pharmaceutical. In marketing of pharmaceuticals and religions, every one is involved - from the highest authority to the receptionist.
Management science and marketing science are all the more important in the 21st century for organizations (both religious and pharmaceutical). Marketing is a sophisticated form of warfare. It involves communication, media management, positioning, promotion, influencing, and value delivery.
Marketing is vital for the nation’s health and wealth. With out competition and marketing, market penetration of products and services will suffer. Healthy marketing competition is a must to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. These home truths about marketing are applicable to pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and religions. If any religion or pharmaceutical organization feels marketing is not required, good fortunes will not court the organization. Market or perish!! The end point is: LONG LIVE MARKETING!
EVOLVING BEYOND RELIGIOUS MARKETING
When you evolve from gross religious marketing - through Yoga, spirit of enquiry and meditation - you transcend (because spirituality is a transcendental experience), you gain mental trances, you go beyond forms, names, communities, creeds, words, rituals, walls, barriers, and the sensory experiences. In that state one gains samadhi – yoga – where the individual soul unites with the supersoul … where individuality dissolves in to the universe … where words and religions end … and spirituality begins! HAVE A NICE DAY!!
This blogpost is put on Mahatma Gandhi Jayanthi (birthday (Oct 2nd), I dedicate this blogpost to the most savvy marketer of all times – Mahatma Gandhi. He used non-violence and non-co-operation as the great tools of his marketing warfare to gain independence for India. This weekend there will not be any blogpost. IT IS DUSSEHRA TIME - HAPPY DUSSEHERA or Dasara TO ALL! Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down, click on relevant icons if required, to read all other blogposts.