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Marketing is not just about the sales outcomes it produces … marketing is not taking – money from the pocket of the customer! Marketing is creating, communicating and delivering value to the prospect, and, in return for having gained customer satisfaction, the prospect becomes a customer, by giving money or barter goods or prescriptions, to the marketer. Marketing is verily achieving the acme of success: obtaining unsolicited appreciation (in form of words or gestures) from the customer. Marketing is obtaining appreciation and thence, word – of – mouth publicity!
To give value, marketers should understand –
a) What is possible by them to give to the target audience?
b) How can they give to the target group: the most ethical, effective and efficient way?
c) What exactly are the target group’s ethical needs/wants/desires…
d) What is the framework of ethics for this ‘giving of a value offering(s)’?
Besides, the concept of ‘giving value’, marketers need to have the knack of gaining appreciation, preferably unsolicited appreciation: marketers should make even the most dodgy or pugnacious or fault-finding or reserved prescriber/customer appreciate the marketer’s value offering: and then, translating this appreciation into tangible business or sales results. It is important to obtain appreciation from customers or prescribers - in words during conversations, or verbal remarks or written remarks – this will ensure commitment from the opinion builder or customer. Thus, this forms a part of the EXCHANGE aspect of marketing process.
Is marketing a one-man-show?
Today, marketing departments/marketers cannot afford to work in silos, thinking only they can create, communicate, deliver and exchange offerings with customers or target entities. There is a need to have the holistic marketing approach. Here, marketing is viewed as a complex process of several variables and inputs, to finally ensure consumption happens and is maximised.
In today’s pharmaceutical world, marketing is a multipronged holistic activity. Earlier pharma marketing was a MR-centric marketing process, today, pharmaceutical marketing is more complex and holistic - adding other components in its endeavour to identify prescriber and patient segments, these “other components” include:
a) digital marketing communication
b) patient – centric messaging
c) special agencies who create and manage CMEs (Continuing Medical Education events)
d) dedicated agencies who conduct disease detection camps (like neuropathy camps, bone mineral density camps, blood haemoglobin level check camps etc) at hospitals or pharmacies or other community centers, in co-ordination with the beneficiary doctor(s))
e) advertising in various medical journals and magazines that reach out to opinion builders (like doctors)
f) and booth or stall activities - manned by glamourous hostesses, and specially trained personnel who communicate product benefits or offer value-added experiences such as e-quizzes to engage with attendees to the stall
Moving forward from the era of MR – centric marketing
The Medical Representative (MR) is the human medium, conveying samples, brand reminders, messages, and other paraphernalia for relationship management and inspiring prescription generation towards the promoted brand. With sweeping technological changes and new business structures (such as emerging generics retailing), the marketing process has begun to include other elements.
Non – MR media, include:
- digital marketing/radio messaging (website, email, message boards, blogs, twitter, social media, and group/individual communication through mobile) to PATIENT SEGMENTS and TARGET DOCTORS
- advertising in print and digital media (such as www.pediatriconcall.com) mainly to doctors
- third party agencies who will conduct CMEs, and booth or stall marketing
Cause marketing is another approach that will work wonders as part of holistic marketing, to boost demand.
Cause marketing helps connect the pharmacist, doctor and patient in the messaging and campaign loop. Cause marketing picks up a trending cause with the product virtues.
Eg., Vitamin D marketers can talk about the importance of going out in the sun or tie up with cyclathon and marathon events, thus making the brand, a connect with health and immunity-building. This will strengthen brand recall among the target audience of doctors, pharmacists and patient consumers.
Another instance of cause marketing: let us assume Sun Pharmaceuticals launches – tildrakizumab (a monoclonal antibody for psoriasis management), a cause marketing approach can be playing on the concept of SELF-ESTEEM. This can be a patient-centric messaging on skin health, psoriasis and self-esteem. Messages can be sent through registered patients onto their mobile through sms and whatsapp. Registration of patients can be done through a dedicated website, missed call from mobile and through doctor recommendation. This messaging concept will strengthen patient compliance, patient confidence, prescriber confidence on product (as it gives a message that the marketing company cares), and produce better sales outcomes and “feel-good” factor, for tildrakizumab.
Cause marketing, thus, is a platform to engage multiple target audiences and render better marketing outcomes. It helps patients stick to the prescribed branded generic and helps retard or prevent the migration of patients to non-branded generic market (generic stores).
It is expected from marketers to produce a set of activities... that produce better sales outcomes… However, to achieve this, marketing should concentrate on learning how to give better value to target segments, with positive and highly engaging programs. This will inevitably give better sales outcomes.
Conceived marketing programs should get a ‘buy-in’ from the top management, the sales personnel (Medical Representatives and managers…so that implementation excitement is palpable) and the marketing programs should have a clear vision on how it benefits all stakeholders: doctors, pharmacists, patients, sales personnel and the company itself (the company is finally glued onto the goals of market share, ROI, brand equity and sales in units/value).
A methylcobalamin brand sponsoring neuropathy camp or orthopaedic camp also makes sense …further, since gastric acid production inhibitors (like proton pump inhibitors), prescribed frequently along with NSAIDs (pain killers), interfere with absorption of Vit B12, hence, methylcobalamin (a form of Vit. B12) supplementation makes sense with gastric acid production inhibitors. One can make a marketing program on this point too.
To make a marketing program, one needs to pick on an interesting idea that has not been played by competitors to a large extent. It gives the marketing program a differentiation and novelty. This cachet increases the chances of success for the campaign or marketing program.
Marketing programs that give novel value - breathe new life into brands. Marketing programs are not easy to conceive, they are also difficult to deliver…it is not easy to monitor and execute marketing programs .... but that is the daily challenge of a marketer, and makes his/her life exciting!
Marketing is about giving in an ‘ethical way’. There are various guidelines such as established market values, and documents such as UCPMP, which provide the "do’s and don’ts" for the “giving process in marketing”. It is better to conceive marketing programs with these guidelines in mind for better acceptance and sustainability. Marketing programs should stand the scrutiny of audits for ethics.
Marketing programs are successful when conceived from the customer or prescriber point of view... the program should truly give ‘value in an ethical way’ to the target patient or target doctor! Marketing is giving (albeit ethically)!
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