Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Since I’m asking the question, you can probably guess my answer: Yes. Here’s why I think so…

With some exceptions, commercial training departments in biopharma companies tend to be thought of as “order-takers” for the more high-profile Sales and Marketing departments. “We need this done – toss it over the fence to training.” Ever seen that sort of approach to the training department before?

Deservedly or not, training tends to be viewed as a place for tactical execution. Add to this fact that many of the roles in commercial training tend to be rotational (successful sales people moving through the training department toward roles in marketing or sales leadership) and it’s easy to see why the default identity for training might devolve to “merely” a support function.

Hence the need to pro-actively create and reinforce a clear value-adding identity for the training department – a “brand,” if you will.

One of my most interesting assignments last year was to work with one training department on establishing a brand identity, including key principles and practices demonstrating the value (to the organization) of the training group. In an upcoming LTEN webinar, Jason Zeman (Director of Sales L&D of Valeant) and I will outline how we developed a brand identity with the department, and how that brand shapes the vision, leadership, and practices of the training staff.

The key question we worked with during our brand session was, “How does the Learning and Development group uniquely add value to our organization?” You’ll discover how “Developing Value” became a key mantra in the Valeant training brand.

Developing Value

Join us on Friday, March 4th (12:30 ET) as we discuss with you how branding goes beyond just a logo and a catch phrase, and explain the practical impact of a department identity that demonstrates ongoing value. Register for the webinar here.


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Yes, we’re in the midst of the digital revolution. If you know me, you know I’m totally into it (and have been for a long time).

We made a slow but steady move toward taking our training and marketing and communications, and migrating them to digital formats and platforms. Learning Management Systems. Content Management platforms. iPads. YouTube. Closed-loop Marketing programs. On and on.

That’s not what’s primary, however. It’s inevitable that we evolve into using these new tools. But digital conversion is not enough.

The conversation should not primarily be about digital. When delivering information to any audience, these three things should be at the forefront, driving every format and delivery decision:

  • Clarity
  • Relevance
  • Timeliness

Whether it’s 1954 or 2014; whether it’s print or .pdf or television or Twitter; whether it’s sales or marketing or training; these three issues are our primary concerns.

> Is it clear? Whatever you’re trying to convey has to be understood by your audience, not just put in front of their eyeballs. Even the Golden Gate Bridge cannot be appreciated when it is buried in fog.

> Is it relevant? The most wonderfully formatted and expressed information will not move any needle strategically, if it is delivered to an audience that doesn’t see a WIIFM.

> Is it timely? Communications of any sort have to reach people at the point of felt need. Digital may – or may not – be an important part of the timeliness equation.

We (and our vendors) often think about tactics and programs in terms of deliverables; e.g., this is going to be blended learning module on A&P and disease state which will be compatible with iPad delivery. That’s fine, but it’s a layer below the top-tier concerns. How will the information design be incorporated to achieve maximum clarity? How can the most prominence be given to the most relevant information? How can ensure that our audience can access what they most need when they most need it?

Utility is primary

Format isn’t the focus. Utility is primary. If it’s not clear, relevant, and timely, it’s not useful.

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Every vendor/provider should seek to be outstanding in at least three ways:

  1. An outstanding track record of success and great service;
  2. An outstanding and focused set of clearly-understood offerings;
  3. An outstanding message that makes clear what you’re about.

Many companies are good at 1., but not so good at 2. and 3. For example, here is the generic and unfocused language used by one training company I recently found on the web:

generictrainingUmmm…what’s the differentiating message here? None. Nada. Generic, vague biz-speak (they even claim in the text above that they “don’t subscribe to the routine or generic” – ha!). It’s a bad case of JATS (Just Another Training Supplier) marketing.

If your description could fit just about any other company you’re competing with, then you don’t stand out. You need to discover your fit in the marketplace and express it with clear differentiation.

I’ve worked with many of my training partners to help them define their offerings, refine their message, and focus their marketing (see Clarity Therapy). If you need something better than generic branding, let’s talk. Commodity messaging won’t make you stand out, even if you are outstanding.

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Why aren’t companies bolder to differentiate themselves?

Once again, this morning, I came across a website for a digital (pharma/healthcare) agency. And, once again, there was the familiar list of bullet points, similar to this:

  • Digital Strategy
  • Web Analytics
  • Creative Services
  • Digital Sales Aids
  • Audio/Video Aids
  • eLearning
  • E-Mail Marketing
  • Microsites, Campaign and Brand Websites
  • HCP Social Media
  • Medical Animation
  • Mobile/iPad Development
  • Application Development
  • Web Development
  • Social Media

PenguinsWeDoThatIt could have been any of a number of such firms, because most of them claim to do – well, everything. Just like all the others.

Yes, I understand that agencies want to give the impression of being a one-stop shop so more marketing dollars can flow into their coffers. You’re afraid to miss out on some piece of work because the net is not wide enough. So you do bullet-point marketing. But at what price?

You’re now just like everyone else. “Will Work for Revenue.” There’s a biz-ugly word for that: Commodity.

In my Vendor Selection workshop, I show a web page with a very similar “we do it all” bullet point approach to training solutions. It’s disingenuous, really. Nobody does 10-12 disparate things well. And customers instinctively know it.

I’ll tell my pharma clients the dirty little secret: vendors may be ABLE to do 5-10 things, but typically, they’re going to do 1-2 things really well. That’s the differentiator. And, when doing clarity consulting with small companies and individuals, I say the same thing. Narrow your message down to your uniqueness; don’t broaden it to everyone else’s generalities.

It’s actually quite a liberating experience to move away from the broad message, where you’re competing with everyone; and instead, defining and promoting your unique offering.

It’s best not to lead with the 5-10 things. Clients cannot remember you for that – you will be dumped right into the commodity bin of their memory banks, soon to be deleted. Instead, lead with your tangible, demonstrable differentiator and build your message around that. Become a trusted supplier of something you excel at, and maybe the door will open later to some of the other things that you do.

“We’ll Do Whatever!” is not a message that sets you apart in the minds of your clients. Focus. Differentiate. De-commoditize.

Unlike everybody else!

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You know those Powerpoint slides loaded with text, bullet points, statistics?

That’s not communication. That’s content delivery.

That dense, fine print product information that accompanies prescription medications?

Content delivery. Definitely not communication.

Sales brochures so loaded with information that they are just plain hard work (and, you just put them aside for “later,” like I do…right?)

Content delivery. Not communication.

If it’s all up on the slide, then we don’t need you, the speaker. And, in fact, we don’t need Powerpoint, which is a lousy content delivery device. Just write it up and forward it.

A PI/ISI is a CYA device only. Everyone knows it. Communicating relevant product information to patients (and even physicians) requires a whole different method.

And if your sales brochure doesn’t give me the main point in 10 seconds – doesn’t spark interest because I see the WIIFM – then you’ve just wasted all that money putting content together.

If the task is to impart content from one location/person to another, that’s fine – call it what it is. It’s a handoff. But if you’re actually seeking to communicate – you’ve got a lot more work to do. The good thing is – most of your competition isn’t willing to do it.


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For you or someone you know….

Senior Brand Manager (Princeton, NJ)

Field Sales Diabetes Care Specialist (Chicago, IL)

Field Sales Diabetes Care Specialist (Glassboro, NJ)

Senior Manager, Field Force Training (East) (West)

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I had the pleasure, this week, of attending the Digital Pharma conference (sponsored by eXL Pharma) in Princeton, NJ. I’ve been to a number of conferences over the past years that did not meet expectations. This one, however, EXCEEDED my expectations.

This conference was about the use of new media (esp. Web 2.0/Social Media) in pharma marketing, a topic near and dear to me.

The speakers, on balance, were solid and knowledgeable. As usual, in a setting like this, there were some who were just spewing platitudes and generalities, but some were quite engaging and well-informed.

I “live-blogged” the conference (first time I’ve done this) and the experiment was a great success – not the the least reason being that it forced me to stay engaged as I uploaded the messages in real-time to the Impactiviti blog. If you’d like a summary of the sessions, you can start with this link to the first one, and then scroll “up” to the various others.

I also was invited to speak on a panel, and showed the attendees how tools such as live-blogging and Twitter were being used (by me and handful of others attending) to interact and share with the “outside world” during the conference.

Some interesting statistics and resources were shared. Here is a list of related links that you might find interesting:

Internet Surpasses Doctors as the Top Source of Health Information (from Manhattan Research).

AstraZeneca digs into the Cause of Non-Adherence

Why Pharma fears Social Networking

Web portals open up pipelines of Information to Consumers

Marc Monseau (of J&J’s corporate blog JNJ BTW) on Healthcare Companies and the Social Web.

More resources–

FREE upcoming webinar: E-Detailing in a Web 2.0 world. Info here.

You may wish to purchase the “Social Media Pharma Marketing” Supplement to Pharma Marketing News. Click here for more details — including a table of contents and link for ordering the pdf file online. If you order it, use the discount code SMM444JM and get $17 knocked off the list price of $29.95!

You may wish to purchase the “ePharma Marketing Special Supplement, Vol. 2 Sec. 1 & 2” Supplement to Pharma Marketing News. Click here for more details — including a table of contents and link for ordering the pdf file online. If you order it, use the discount code sep268 and get $15 knocked off the list price of $29.95!

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This will be a stream-of-bullet-points (with some related commentary) on this conference on the use of digital technologies in pharma marketing. Session #7-

Mike Cearley, Strategy Director, IMC2: Creating Breakthrough Conference Engagement.

The “4th screen” – There’s your TV, your office computer, your home computer – the 4th screen is everything else. Like, conference experience.

– Expectation pyramids for exhibitors and attendees. Lowest-level for attendees – getting free stuff! Highest-level – achieving a trust-based relationship.

– Creating flair on the conference floor, using technology.

– (OK, we get it; use cool stuff. Would rather hear some concrete case studies and tangible approaches that relate here.)

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What happened to the August “lull”? I’ve never seen so many incoming calls for vendor recommendations – not that I’m complaining, mind you!

In the last few weeks, a lot of concentration on Account Manager (and other personnel) training for Managed Markets. Finding some great resources, with the help of my “inner circle” of clients and suppliers. Also in recent days, requests for specialty field force training, sales-meeting-in-a-box providers, marketing agencies, and training audios.

It is my goal to continue gradually expanding my network of providers, finding the best vendors who focus on specific needs and niches. And those of you on the client side are a big help, providing your recommendations of those that have served you best. When you help me identify your best-in-class providers, you not only strengthen their business so that they can grow and better serve you, you help your pharma training colleagues and make the entire marketplace healthier. I call it “accelerated natural selection”!

(by the way, if you’re working with software development vendors, please be nice to them. This amusing little video clip explains why!)

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