Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pharma product promotion checklist

I got the above image from here.

Marketing revolves around the 4 Ps - Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement (or distribution) to increase the consumption of brands. The important factor in promotion is the AIDA process ie., Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. It is the marketer's goal to take the prospect through the AIDA process to finally produce the action of adoption of the product. Pharmaceutical product and healthcare promotion operates slightly differently, at three levels - at the PRESCRIBER level, CHEMIST level, and PATIENT level.

Many professionals use a checklist method while performing tasks. I too prefer this system - even if there is no physical checklist surely there is a mental checklist to perform tasks. Making a checklist indicates that a person is thoughtfully and purposefully going about the activity. To prepare a checklist, one needs to have knowledge, imagination (of future events, and hence the necessities for the same), application, experience, and methodical thinking. Making a checklist involves breaking the task in to several subtasks, so it involves going to the minutae - a checklist helps avoid loose ends. In fact, a checklist centered functioning gets ingrained early in the pharma marketer's life. As a MR, he begins his day, by preparing a checklist of doctors and chemists to be met, along with the promo inputs to each doctor/chemist. The call list for the day is prepared in sequence of the timing of making the visit. So by the time, a pharma salesman has put in two or three years, the checklist habit becomes very deep rooted.

Making a check list also requires one to be flexible. This is because checklists are appended or otherwise modified to take care of various alterations in the situation. My funny experience with checklists used to be during my joint field working days (in Bellary dist., along with Mr. Anand, my MR there). We used to go to the Bellary bus-stand with all planning as per the checklist to work in some pre-decided interior place. However, we would end up going to some other interior depending on the bus available or the rush in buses!! So in Bellary we used to have the most flexi checklist - to adjust to the chaotic situation! So all in all, checklists are a great roadmap but one needs to be very adaptable to ensure all sudden opportunities and situations are accomodated.

Here is a pharma product promotional checklist:

A) At the prescriber level: Influencing the prescriber behavior is the fulcrum of pharma product business. It is done through several approaches inside the clinic, at conferences (through stalls), and other media (like mailers, internet websites, journals, etc).

A1) Visual aid: this tool is still the most important device to help in detailing about the product to the doctor. (Besides visual aid detailing, one has to indulge in extempore detailing (say by holding a sample of the product), and dialogue detailing (with Yes Momentum)).
A2) Literatures and brand recall inputs (like stickers, standies, NEWSLETTERS, danglers etc) of various sizes, shapes, and colors (pertaining to the product) need to be prepared for detailing and left behind with the doctor - these act as silent salesmen, providing clinical pearls, updates, product benefits, and other interesting points. Even if the doctor sees it for a few moments, and then puts it aside or disposes off with it - during the time he sees the literature/INPUT, the doctor is engaged with the brand, and this will help in brand prescriptions, through brand recall (in time to come, there is no doubt that aspects related to NEUROMARKETING will be used to prepare such promotional aids to ensure better returns in terms of prescriptions).
A3) Small gifts are very important for relationship management and prescription generation. It is not that the doctor is dying to get a good complimentary pen from the pharma marketer - the act of giving a thoughtful gift is what waters the relationship. Small gifts also act as communication tools providing brand recall stimulus, and they help buy time to engage the doctor for some more time. Small gifts may be print or nonprint items.
A4) Large gifts/sponsorships also play a key role, however, controversial they may be in term of ethics of marketing. The best way to provide large gifts and sponsorships is to tie them with some educational programs (either CMEs or medical conferences or meets or patient education programs), to make it appear as ethical marketing eg., have a half day CME for doctors in a cruiseliner for 5 days (with family) during vacation time!
A5) CME materials are provided by pharma marketers to strengthen evidence based prescribing. It is a very useful input to influence prescriber behavior, provided target doctor selection is appropriate.
A6) Gift and special schemes to dispensing doctors will certainly influence consumption of products.
A7) Key opinion builder doctors play a role in engineering prescribing habits in the doctor's sphere of influence. For instance if a Prof. has a particular affinity to a drug or brand, it will carry down to his students, and junior colleagues. Hence, identifying, building relationships, and managing the needs of Key Opinion Builder doctors is important. Such key doctors are given cash and kind for their inputs.
A8) Sponsoring small meetings (say with high tea) is vital to help influence prescriber habits.
A9) Ads in journals are very important to provide the brand prescribing stimulus.
A10) Relationship management approaches based on the doctor's profile like birthday gifts/bouquets, clinic anniversary day, cake parties etc help in winning the doctor over.
A11) Partnering doctors in their disease management programs like sponsoring costs of pulse polio program, osteoporosis detection camps, free medical camps, etc will help in building patient flows, and strengthening doctor-pharma marketer relations.
A12) Modern approaches to influence prescriber behavior is engaging prescribers through websites, sms, e-mail, and call centers - thus, to gain access to the doctor's mind.
A13) Samples are extremely important inputs that help in influencing prescriber behavior. Samples are given as free gifts to patients or used for charging premium fees from patients, so they assume very high importance.

B) At the chemist level: In India, the chemist plays a very important role to provide the retail shelf space, and ensure that the patient's prescription or oral purchase request by the patient is honored. Many a times, a chemist has financial understanding with nearby doctors and this gives the chemist some liberty to substitute the prescribed brand.

B1) Schemes (free gifts, or free goods tied in with purchases) help gain the chemist's co-operation.
B2) Small gifts (such as books, order pads, pens etc) help in relationship management with key chemists.
B3) Chemist education materials is an interesting approach for certain products where a chemist can push the product. These materials are in the form of CDs, literatures, books and sometimes display certificates are given to the chemist (eg., This chemist has undergone a short course on first-aid, the education program and certificate is sponsored by an antiseptic ointment marketer).
B4) POP (point-of-purchase) materials: help in strengthening brand purchase habit of healthcare consumers. These materials include display stands, stickers, danglers etc.

C) At the patient level: Patient compliance and auto purchase behavior are very vital for pharma product success. To improve compliance and auto purchase decisions by patients the approaches used are:

C1) Technical intervention: making it easier to consume the product, like calendar packs, Alu-Alu packs to make the dosage formulation attractive, improving taste, presentation, and other organoleptic qualities of the product. It is not only the safety, efficacy, purity, supply, clinical data, and affordability of the product that increases consumption, PATIENT SATISFACTION is critical.
C2) Educational intervention is providing relevant educational materials (like patient information leaflets) regarding the disease and drug to ensure patient compliance.
C3) Behavioral intervention is providing inputs that strengthen patient compliance or auto purchase behavior eg., sms reminders on dose, discount offers for repeat purchases etc.
C4) Social interventions is forming product user clubs etc that help create a community of product users. These are very useful in strengthening the patient compliance and auto purchase.
C5) Structural interventions like specially trained nurses, or patient counsellors who ensure compliance.

It is essential to create the buzz constantly, and strengthen the word-of-mouth (between patients, and between doctors) to ensure sustained success. BIG PHARMA BRANDS HAVE GROWN ONLY THROUGH WORKING AT ALL THESE THREE LEVELS. For eg., let us see an evergreen brand. (AN EVERGREEN BRAND IS ONE THAT HAS A LONG PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE UNLIKE MANY ANTIBIOTICS ETC.). Herbal preparations, and multivitamin brands like Becosules, are evergreen brands. Liv 52 is a very successful evergreen brand: in Dec 1991 (MAT), it was a Rs. 17.20 crores sales brand; in Dec 1992 (MAT), it was a Rs. 19.78 crores sales brand; in Dec 1995 (MAT) it was a Rs. 31.50 crores sales brand; in Dec 1998 (MAT), it touched Rs. 42.72 crores sales; in Dec 2000 (MAT), it touched Rs. 56.30 crores sales; in Dec 2005 (MAT), it touched Rs. 75.17 crores sales; and in Dec 2008 the sales (MAT) increased to Rs. 118 crores. This brand seemingly will keep growing.

Zifi (from FDC) recently created history in the Rs. 34118 crores Indian Pharma Market (Dec 2008 MAT) by reaching Rs. 115 crores annual sales in about 8 years.

I -Pill from Cipla is a top new introduction with Rs. 22 crores MAT sales (Dec 2008).

The moral of the story is that to succeed in the marketplace checklists like the above product promotional checklist helps as a roadmap.

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Helen Jerson said...

Good blog! Ultimately to fully develop your business you will probably want to create your own brands alongside those of your principals. This will enable you to fill in gaps in the market or address areas that are not presently open to distribution, and to grow sales on the back of existing resources.

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