Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

Good products do not a business make August 3, 2010

I love Mexican wine. Yep, you read that correctly, especially Mexican wine from the small vineyards in the Valle de Guadalupe on the Ruta del Vino. If you like wine, and haven’t tasted wines from this region yet, you are seriously missing out. 

I have a goal to visit and taste wines from all the regions in the world, especially the little known regions. Unfortunately, Mexican wines still qualify as ‘little known’. While wine has been produced there since the 17th century, it was mostly for and by the Catholic Church, after a ban was imposed by the Spanish government preventing ‘New Spain’ from producing highly palatable wine, through a heavy-handed political power maneuver.  Bless the hearts of those defiant Jesuit and Dominican priests for keeping a good thing flowing! 

Fast forward and thanks to Russian immigrants fleeing the czar in the early 1900’s, replanting and winemaking revived many years after the Mexican Reform War.  During this period many church holdings were confiscated by the state, and wine making was abandoned.  

Mexican wines are relatively new again, having taken root, so to speak  in the 1980’s.  I traveled to the region a few years ago to seek out these wines. The wines and the region were more than worth the trouble to get to them.  However, even some twenty odd years later, the wineries were just beginning to develop businesses around the wine.

Wine clubs, restaurant wine lists, tasting rooms, wine events and out of state shipping were not part of the early product offering.  Nor were winery cave tours, branded websites, restaurant lists where wines were served, locations of wine stores where it could be purchased or wine stewards recommending pairings part of the winerys product offering.   Spanish wine was still served for official state dinners at the capitol in Mexico City until the early 2000’s!  Mexican wine, good as it is, was a product, not yet a business.  Each vintner and winery struggled to build businesses, even with a good product.

This situation repeats itself in many life science startup companies. New and innovative products are developed and then introduced to the market with the fundamental wrappings of sales brochures, 800 numbers, return policies and training materials. Companies pin their hopes and earnings projections on the basis of the product being novel, leapfrogging the competition, and winning awards for best in class. 

But it takes more, much more for a good product to be successful and a company to become a business. For a twist in thinking about successful businesses based only on the most innovative  and novel products, read the post by Greg Satell on Crappy Innovation.   Note in particular the references to Charles Schwab – not a crappy product. 

To turn a good, novel or even crappy product into a successful business requires servicing the customer beyond the product.  For life science technologies that includes advertising, PR, education, training, clinical data, publications, technical and reimbursement support, at a bare minimum. 

To develop a strong business the product offering must extend beyond the fundamentals and the traditional offerings.  Servicing the customer must meet their needs beyond the transaction. Providing new services like co-marketing, data sharing, virtual training, community building, cross technology development, and even competitive alliances that facilitate physicians’ abilities and enhance patient outcomes creates significant intrinsic value. If a company is to become a robust business, the product is not the be-all, end-all. Rather a good product must be the beginning of creating a robust business for the customer.

A few final words on Mexican wine – should you find a bottle of Mogor-Badan Chasselas or Casa de Piedra’s blend of Cabernet and Tempranillo, drink them to good health and think of me.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements
 

Baking from Scratch April 13, 2010

Recently a client asked me to design the ‘ideal marketing organization’. Specifically they wanted to create a marketing department that would serve customers and become the go to provider for all customer needs. This kind of challenge only happens in marketing dreams – or with a very forward thinking company. One would expect this type of request to come from a new startup company; however, this client is a large, well-established and respected company.

I eagerly accepted the challenge, relishing the thought of defining a dream team of talented professionals who could implement clear and effective marketing strategic plans.  I was asked to take a blank sheet of paper and from scratch, design a marketing organization with a full complement of the essential members baked into the structure.  No limits or restrictions applied.

At first glance this challenge appears straightforward.  Draw an organizational chart with boxes that contain titles and connecting lines establishing relationships one to another. This part of the challenge is relatively clear cut, but before populating those boxes and setting off to fill the positions, establishing the why and how such an organization is needed is crucial

Why = Goal

Two key business elements must be established to ensure that a marketing organization will be successful.  The first is a clearly stated goal.  It is the why element.  Why is a marketing organization with specific skills, talents and structure needed?  The goal is the accomplishment the team will need to achieve.  The actual accomplishment may be multifocal and many layered, but the goal should be clear, simple and succinct.

How = Strategy

The second element is a sound strategic plan. This is the how element. There are many ways to achieve a goal. Goals can be achieved without plans; however, planning significantly increases the likelihood of success. A sound strategic plan defines the methods to achieve the goal and identifies the essential means to do so. A team of people that can implement the strategy is essential.  The skills and talents of the team are implied in a sound strategy. 

With these two elements in place, the challenge of designing of an ideal marketing organization is straightforward.  Without establishing these business elements first, the concept of defining the ideal organization is half-baked.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

Crisis and Renewal April 5, 2010

You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about the marital woes of celebs like Tiger Woods and Jesse James. Much of the debate in recent weeks has centered on the men and rehab for their promiscuous ways.

No matter what your personal opinion on sexual addiction (Is it real or just a convenient excuse for bad behavior?), both men are following the time-tested formula of crisis communications.

Admit your mistake, ask for forgiveness and take action to correct the problem.

According to the theory, following this formula results in new-found grace.  Kinda like going to confession and saying your 10 Hail Mary’s as penance.

But does this really work for companies?  It depends.  And it takes time.  Your audience may not be as forgiving as the masses who idolize celebrities in our pop-culture driven society.

Digging Deeper

That’s not to say that the formula won’t work.  Just that renewal is a process. Rebuilding trust takes time.  Companies need to not only admit that there was a problem, but take the time to peel back the layers of the onion to discover the root cause of the problem.  How did the problem start? Why was the problem ignored?  If the problem was reported, and nothing was done, why was this the case?

Beyond “I’m sorry”

Once the source of the problem is identified, corrective action needs to be put in place to ensure the problem does not happen again.  Communicating this to your employees, customers and influencers may be uncomfortable.  Your legal counsel may want to stifle any communication to minimize risk in potential litigation.  But rebuilding a tarnished reputation is much more difficult than building one from scratch. Companies need to be willing to be open and honest in their communication if they want to regain their audience’s trust.

 

Ready or Not? March 22, 2010

Filed under: Corporate Preparation,DTC,Lisa,Market Planning — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 9:36 pm
Tags: , ,

DTC campaign here I come!  You’ve sweated the small stuff.  Well, not really small stuff, big stuff actually. And a lot of it. You took a step back and assessed the physician’s needs, your product benefits and your promise to the patient. The focus has been on attending to the physician – rightly so, ensuring they were ready to assume the staff of authority with your product and procedure.

You trained them, encouraged them and supported them. The reimbursement and insurance coverage gaps around the product are closing. Scientific and clinical journals have published clinical data and there are go-to clinicians, who are actively performing the procedure that new customers can contact.  Lastly, you’ve resolved distribution challenges and simplified the purchase process. 

And now you believe your company is ready to launch a DTC campaign.  If that is the case, you can confidently mark ‘yes’ next to the following 10 checklist items.

© Scholastic, Inc. October 1999/ Art by Gioia Fiammenghi

Company Preparedness Checklist                                              

1.    ALL departments agree it is time to launch and are ready to do so.

2.   Regulatory and clinical affairs are available to handle patient and consumer concerns customer needs.

3.   Sales is well prepared to support and manage customer needs

4.    PR, regulatory and legal are in alignment with their responsibilities and messages to address market reactions.

5.   Marketing is ready to support and usher customers, consumers and company personnel through the process of fulfillment.

6.   Manufacturing is able to respond to inventory ebb and flows.

7.   IT has everything online working and significant bandwidth committed to supporting demand.

8.   Customer service knows precisely how to handle all callers and questions.

9.   Finance is committed to releasing funds well in advance of actual media event. 

10.  Senior Management is well versed in the campaign purpose and goal and all employees are aware of their responsibilities.

In addition to the above readiness states, the following conditions also need to be in place.

  • A call center is prepared to handle all reactions from respondents
  • All customers are informed about the planned campaign
  • Referral physicians have been informed about the procedure and know who in their network performs it
  • All patient education materials are downloadable
  • Physician spokespersons have been identified and are prepared and willing to respond to press requests
  • Reimbursement references are available to assist with coding and coverage questions

These conditions are key in preparing the company to support a consumer reaching campaign.  All parties deserve information about the campaign, preparation to support the campaign and continued communication about the progress of the campaign.  Launching a DTC campaign should only be done when you can confidently declare ‘here I come!’

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

 
%d bloggers like this: