Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

Marketing Tool Kits: Exemplary Compliance October 10, 2011

Updated post

In Lisa’s post about legacy marketing, she extols the virtues of doing things well and I couldn’t agree more especially when considering the legal realities associated with industry codes–AdvaMed, PhRMA, CMSS, et. Al. If those acronyms are alphabet soup to you then please take the time to read up and come back, I’ll wait.

Bottom line (and one of my truth’s):

Health care providers must own their reputations and practice marketing.

What that means to companies is that they can supply to all QUALIFIED CUSTOMERS with a DIY Marketing Tool Kit.

The company determines exactly how a customer qualifies as long as those rules are applied consistently across the customer base. Here are some qualifications:

  • Complete product training program
  • Perform a minimum number of cases to demonstrate competency
  • Perform procedures in a specific site of service
  • Have admission privileges to at least one hospital facility
  • Have an active medical/DEA license
  • Agree to make specific dollar contributions to a turnkey marketing program with a third party vendor.

If your management team wants you to just dole out money for customer’s marketing activities without a formal program, push back. Regulators can see the brightly lit money trail a mile away. Here’s an example:

[Newly added 10/10/11]

Here’s a Press Release from Office of the Inspector General about a military cardiologist getting sentencing because of benefits received from a variety of activities including dinners with sales reps.

NPR Story:

Here’s a story from the AP on Massachusetts reporting of payments to physicians. “The report was the result of a 2008 state law that banned some types of gifts outright and required companies to report other types of payments.”

Note how the state has categorized the payments to physicians:

“That’s according to a new report from the state Department of Public Health, which said the payments included speaking and consulting fees, meals, and education and marketing programs.”

Doing it right is more than a compliance issue–it’s a mindset. People value what they pay for and they are more engaged in success when they have skin in the game. Everybody wins when customer marketing programs are both compelling and compliant.

(C) 2011 all rights reserved eGold Solutions.

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Marketing From on High July 6, 2011

Domenico Ghirlandaio – The Visitation 1491

Recently, I had a very special experience. My best friend was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. The ordination was lovely and stirring. The offerings of support and affirmation of worthiness were abundantly proffered on her behalf by the many whose lives she has touched, mine especially.

 We have many conversations about the parallels in our respective career paths. We come from the same humble and rewarding beginnings – nursing. Her path took her to the spiritual side of wellness while I’ve followed the therapeutic path. The director of our nursing program drilled into our psyche that each patient must be cared for wholly. This tenet stuck with us, a foundation we spring from as we pursue our particular sliver of wellness expertise. And, it comes in handy to have complementary expertise to reach for, when needed.

 Although the nature of the work we do is different there are two things that are the same. There is a person who needs care and to provide care we must connect with the personConnecting with the person is the very definition of marketing.

In today’s world we are regularly pummeled with information, brands, and messages. See the very cleverly demonstrated example by an arts group ‘Studio Smack’ [cool name] in their video report. Lots and lots of noise – visual and auditory, all designed to capture and keep our attention. So much so, we are becoming blind and deaf to much of it. This presents obvious challenges to the marketer who wants to connect with the person who needs that which we offer.

A priest and hospital chaplain – her former manager, delivered a homily of her work. The consistent thread throughout the history of her work is her ministerial style. Whenever considering how to reach the ever-so-slightly-out-of-reach individual, she sought input by inviting her manager to walk and talk with her. This ‘walk and talk’ method, out of the office, away from the walls, distant from a sanctuary has become her trademark.

To reach the individual in need, she goes to them. She does not wait for them to come to her. She goes to where they are.  She doesn’t require they come to a defined and assigned place. From her time within the sanctuary at the altar she knows that there are few inside, many more are not. And from her work in the field she knows that those outside of the traditional space are no less in need or of wanting. To connect with the person and provide service, she must be where they are, when they are there. She has identified how to market her services. She knows that what she has to offer can benefit many however, it is the one-on-one relationship that is most impactful. And her most effective marketing is word-of-mouth from those she has served. She has more than mastered the ‘P- Place’ in the marketing mix.

My work in life sciences involves specialized and sophisticated technologies. The value of the technologies can only be realized when applied to the person in need of the particular care the technologies provide. It is a long way from development labs to patient care. To get to the right patient at the right time in the right place is my favorite challenge.

Successful contact with the right patient requires mastering the right marketing mix. I invite you to read examples of highly effective marketing in the postings by my blog partners.

Should you find yourself faced with business challenges reflected in their postings I encourage you to connect with them – Debbie Donovan and Barbara Kowalski.

My best friend – the newly ordained Reverend and I do different work. She cares for the soul and spirit; I care for body and mind. However, we both use marketing to promote our type of care. And I am reminded by observing her trademark style that to reach the masses, I must connect with the individual – a highly specialized method of marketing.

(C) 2011 pH Consulting; all rights reserved.

 

Vanilla doesn’t sell unless it’s Ice Cream October 28, 2010

Vanilla ice cream has a rich taste and appealing aroma, making it the best selling ice cream flavor around. The Wikipedia page devoted to vanilla notes that it is the second most expensive spice after saffron, because of the labor required to grow the vanilla seed pods.Vanilla is used in foods, perfumes, aromatherapy, and apparently even as a bug repellant and a home remedy for minor burns. Clearly, it is very versatile.

Getting it right

However, when promoting a product, a ‘vanilla’ description is anything but appealing or versatile. Product descriptions are critical in product positioning.  Descriptions provide the basis for establishing a brand identity, a communication platform, a competitive edge, the value proposition and so much more. In the medical device space product descriptions are considered labeling. Significant effort and expense goes into securing medical device labeling.  Because medical device labeling is absolute and creative license is forbidden, getting it right is critical.

Connect the dots

To have the best possible chance at successful product adoption customers should readily recognize the value of the product through the labeling. Product descriptions should resonate intrinsically with the customer. Understanding customer needs is the core responsibility of marketing. Therefore, involvement by marketing in the product description is essential. It is senseless to disconnect the customer and patient advocate – marketing, from the customer and patient guardian – regulatory/clinical. 

Engagement at a higher level

Proactive interaction by marketing with the regulatory/clinical department early on in the clinical plan development provides the best possible outcome for labeling that will resonate with the physician customer.This is not about making it easy for marketing to promote a productNor is it about securing labeling that is loose, boastful or inaccurate in any way

Rather, this assertion that marketing participate in the discussion about the clinical plan and the desired outcome is because marketing should be leading the efforts to ensure that the product or service truly meets and exceeds customer expectations and is reflected clearly in product descriptions. The regulatory/ clinical expertise is most impactful by establishing strong and undisputed product labeling, that doesn’t need interpretation or lyrical descriptions for the product to be appreciated.

Untangle the tangle

Many marketers complain that they are hamstrung by the regulatory department when product promotion and communication plans and tactics are proposed. Many regulatory departments cringe at the creative approach marketers present to convey a product purpose, benefits and applications. 

It seems that the simplest and cleanest approach is to use the product labeling granted by the FDA,

based on evidence provided by the regulatory and clinical experts

that distinguishes the product precisely as it is intended to be used by customers,

through the distillation of customer needs by marketing. 

And while that seems a mouthful and a tall order, early collaboration between marketing and regulatory/clinical is the most likely path to labeling that is descriptive and telling. The kind of labeling where ‘creative marketing’ is about the many ways to communicate product availability and not about the many words required for product description. Product labeling typically happens only once. Getting it right so the right customer connects their needs with the value of the product will make the best use of all efforts to promote and protect.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting; all rights reserved.

 

 
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