Monday, December 29, 2008

People power is rising


On the Indian pharma marketing front, there is a new fillip to 'people power'. People are mattering more than ever in pharma marketing. This is the conclusion drawn during my recent marketing experience during the 'in-stall activity' at ASICON 2008
. Like many pharma companies we too had a great time communicating and having exciting in-stall activities for visiting surgeon delegates at ASICON 2008, Ludhiana. ASICON is the annual conference organized by the Association of Surgeons of India. In the latest edition of this annual event - a melting pot for surgeons - pharma marketers got their pool of surgeons to listen to their pitch, while the surgeons got an occasion to network and update themselves with the latest surgical techniques, laparoscopic procedures and the recent trends in tumor removal during cancer management.

Power plays are changing

Power is defined as the ability to control behaviors, events and resources. There are six types of powers:

Expertise power: the knowledge and skills of people.
Reward power: the power to grant rewards.
Coercive power: the power to create negative reinforcements, or to punish ie., to make people jump through the hoops!
Referral power: the charisma, charm and aura that some people have.
Legitimate power: the power that comes with the birth or designation of a person. For eg., a scion of an industrialist will have certain legitimate powers.
Connection power: having relationships with people who matter.

In India, money power and connection power are the traditional routes to market success. A company utilizes its connections with people who matter to obtain licenses and other approvals and consequently market a product successfully. The ability to obtain licenses and other approvals has always mattered a lot. In fact this was the differentiator. It helped companies get their product to the market fast - real fast - before others did.

However, with the product patent regime in place, the rise of media power, the spread of wealth, better education, more and more pharma production facilities, and every body becoming competitive and street smart, all marketers wising up to the concept of connection power, the power plays are now distinctly changing. The connection power for obtaining licenses, approvals and the money power to produce a product are not enough to connect with the market successfully. To make a product a continuous market success, connection power and money power alone are not enough. People power is gaining traction.

Everybody is game for pharma marketing

It appears that everyone now believes pharma marketing is not a rocket science! The MR has to connect with the target audience, deliver regular visits and communication, provide samples, literatures, communication inputs and gifts, negotiate sponsorships, and finally obtain prescription harvests. Every pharma company is aggressive and game for these SOPs (standard operating procedures). For eg., during the in-stall activities at ASICON, all pharma marketers were aggressively using tactics to get the maximum visits from delegates. If you start a lucky dip, the next day, the stall opposite to yours starts the same - to become competitive. Every one provides gifts, freebies and other services to create a better stall. Certainly this is happening on the field during in-clinic activity too. So the question is, how do you get an edge over the competitor pharma marketer? This is where people power gets traction.

People power is communication power

In pharma marketing, communication power is crucial. The process of sending messages successfully is crucial to marketing success. Communication between individuals depends on verbalization - to an extent of 7%, vocalization - to an extent of 38% and body language (particularly facial expressions) - to an extent of 55%. The ability to communicate effectively requires training and confidence. Both these come from knowledge and practice. In fact, this communication power made the difference during in-stall activities, and surely this is making the difference during in-clinic activities too. People communication power is becoming all the more important as most companies (MNC and Indian) are becoming equally aggressive in terms of visits to doctors, sampling, gifting and sponsorships. MNCs do this in style - they provide medical grants or scientific grants to influence prescribing behavior. Indian companies are a little more brazen, they call it deals and sponsorships. The end objective is the same. However, what makes the difference is the person from the company, his communication and representation. What makes the difference is the communication inputs of the company - at the corporate level and field level. The communication print and nonprint inputs and people power are the keys to win the contemporary pharma marketing battles. IT REMINDS ONE OF THE AGE OLD SAYING - PEOPLE DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE!

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down, read all other blogposts, click on OLDER POSTS wherever required. MERRY CHRISTMAS (belated) AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 2009 in advance.


Shanky said...

Nice one...Seeing your article after a long gap of 15 days !!

Sunil S Chiplunkar said...

Yeah! Thanks for your interest, Shanky. I was really on the roll - covered Guwahati, Kolkatta, Patna, Lucknow, Delhi, (for meetings) and Ludhiana (ASICON 2008) - so kind of hectic schedule - couldn't get time for blogging! AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 2009 TO YOU.