Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

In the beginning… July 14, 2010

PSB Church

During a recent discussion about when to hire marketing personnel, my client responded with ‘we’re not really ready for marketing’. This comment struck me odd, as I had been working with them on market development and marketing strategy. So I probed the thinking behind the comment. The client replied ‘we are not ready to roll out the product yet, so we don’t need advertising’.

In discussion with colleagues I’ve found that this thinking is not uncommon, and that many companies associate the term marketing with advertising and little else. It seems that what marketing is – is bewildering to some; sales and marketing are often used interchangeably when discussing customer interaction.

Peter Drucker is credited with the following quote; “Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business has two – and only two – functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation create value, all the rest are costs.”

That quote perfectly defines my belief about business and marketing. I have long worked in marketing, the world of art and science blended to connect with and serve a customer.  I love that marketing consists of a wide breadth of functions and is core to a business.

The very definition of marketing through the four P’s defines the necessity of marketing early on and throughout the course of the product life.

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

While promotion is very important to the mix, it is the last in the list to master – and so much more successful if the other three are well attended to with hard core professional marketing.

Marketing happens in the earliest stages of a company.  An idea, a product concept or a service is presented to investors for early stage financing support, this is concept marketing.  Demographics, profiles and current practices provide a backdrop against which a new product or service is contrast; this is market definition.  Investigation into customer needs, behaviors, and loyalties is market research.

Marketing continues throughout the development phase of products and services, with a product requirements document, this is product marketing. Branding, product naming, product promotion, product training and service are all marketing functions.  All customer support and engagement are marketing. Public relations, education and training, pricing and promotion and market development are all marketing functions.  Even the discontinuation of a product or service is a marketing function.

Eric Brody, author of the blog Healthy Conversations, recapped the July Fast Company story about 10 lessons from Apple.  Among these key lessons is that ‘Everything is marketing’.  The recap and post can be read here.

It is true that my client is not yet ready to do advertising and should thoughtfully consider which marketing talent to hire. The best hire is someone who can do the marketing that is essential to the business at this point.  However, they have begun marketing, and if they are to be successful they must continue to do so.  Marketing starts in the beginning.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

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Fish for Your Supper May 18, 2010

 

Fishing with nets, tacuinum sanitatis casanatensis (XIV century)

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. 

Teach a man to fish; you have fed him for a lifetime.  

Teach a man to sell fish and he eats steak.”  Author unknown      

In a previous post I suggested that industry could play a role in physician practice marketing. To do so successfully defining a common purpose and identifying the intersection of that purpose is primary.  

Physicians and healthcare product companies have related interests, and very different roles and responsibilities. Because a patient exists, physicians and healthcare suppliers have purpose. The patient is at the very nexus of these interests, roles and responsibilities.   

If physicians desire greater demand for their special services and skills, saying so out loud, as discussed in prior posts Practice Marketing is Not Rocket Surgery and Make Some Noise, is essential.  Physicians are accustomed to communicating with patients through a one-on-one interaction.  While this is an effective means of communicating, it will take a bloody long time before this approach is impactful. A broader approach is needed and industry can provide effective lessons in marketing to a larger target audience.       

Essential Foundation   

 To effectively implement practice marketing programs a company must be committed to the following three fundamentals:   

  1. Focus on the patient as the primary reason for communications programs
  2. Grounding of all marketing activities around the needs of the physician/practice
  3. Establishment of professional marketing expertise before designing third party services

 Once these three fundamentals are well established, the tenets below will be useful in creating practice marketing programs for the physician.    

Program Framework   

Be a role model   

  • Develop, implement, measure, analyze, fail and refine all programs and processes first, before you ask your customers to do it.  If you haven’t tried it, why should your customer?

Identify common goals   

  • Clearly define the marketing goals and gain commitment by all participants of a practice marketing program in advance of implementation.  Hint:  The goal should be eerily similar to Fundamental #1 above…

 Start where they are   

  • Keep in mind that physicians’ expertise is in patient care, professional marketers excel in marketing.  Effective practice marketing starts the beginner at the beginning and advances them as tolerated.

 Respect boundaries   

  • At all times the doctor-patient relationship is a two person ‘only’ relationship.  Professional marketers can provide guidance, examples, recommendations, support and encouragement, but never patient care.

 Differentiate and collaborate   

  • The same methods and measurement models may be used in commercial and physician marketing programs; however, the objectives of the programs will differ based on the audience. Both parties will benefit by learning from each other.

 Teach and release   

  • When teaching and training the physician and staff on marketing practices take the opportunity to develop program champions and practice trainers. Success from doing/failing/learning/redoing will more likely encourage the practice to be self sustaining in their marketing efforts. 

 Applaud and move backstage   

  • Support the physician with information, analysis, recommendations and additional opportunities and then let the physician and practice staff take center stage with the program and the patients.

 Learn and adapt   

  • Each practice will experience their program differently than the next. Take notes, ask questions, and adapt the master program to incorporate the best and most innovative elements gleaned from the individual experiences.

 Healthcare companies can play a role in practice marketing by teaching the practice personnel new skills.  Teaching physicians to cast their net for a larger target audience will result in greater demand.   

Note:  There are defined regulations and restrictions that companies must adhere to with regard to practice marketing programs; the specifics of these are not covered in this post.  Y68BQHEBG7DJ

 (c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

 

  

 

The velocity of revenue is a direct result of the speed of confidence February 2, 2010

Filed under: DTC,Lisa,Market Planning,Physician Preparation — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 11:16 pm
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Image credit: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

New products released into the market have cleared many hurdles. Clearance from the FDA indicates that the product meets safety and efficacy requirements. This milestone in a product life cycle typically follows extended research, development, design, testing, and refinement phases. Companies that have invested and toiled over the development challenges in anticipation of a market release are understandably eager to realize revenueAs much and as soon, as possible.

To that end, planning discussions turn to training, distribution and marketing. This is frequently the point in time when the acceleration question is raised.

How fast can we ramp up sales?

Should we do DTC advertising to increase demand?

What kind of promotions can we offer to encourage volume purchases?

I believe these questions are premature. Ideally, DTC advertising and promotional programs are part of marketing strategy that includes market development and preparation. They are most effective when conditions for market adoption of a new product have been optimized.

The best time to advertise to patients and consumers, introduce promotions to encourage purchases and increase sales activities, is when physicians have reached a state of confidence with a new product. Confidence represents the final stage in customer adoption of new technology.

New product introduction requires physician training. The three stages of adoption are defined by the state of accomplishment the physician achieves during training on a procedure with a new product.

Stage one – Capable
The physician understands the product concept and purpose. They can successfully deploy the product with support of a trainer. Use of the product is occasional.

Stage two – Competent
The physician correctly performs the procedure using the product with limited training support. The physician is proficient performing the procedure and use of the product is intermittent.

Stage three – Confident
The physician has mastered the procedure and product use. No support is required.

Confidence occurs after the physician has enough positive experience and good patient outcomes with the product. The confident stage is also recognizable beyond performing the procedure without support. Two hallmarks signal the physician has reached a state of confidence.

1. The physician routinely incorporates the product in their treatment regime.
2. The physician proactively discusses the product with patients in which treatment including the use of the product is appropriate.

When physicians reach this stage, DTC advertising and promotional programs are good strategies to employ. The physician has been appropriately supported by the company and is well prepared for new patients investigating the advertised procedure. The questions regarding increasing revenues should first center on the physician and accelerating their state of confidence. The best time to do advertising and promotional programs is when the market is optimized with confident customers.

Comments welcome.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? January 23, 2010

Filed under: Lisa,Market Planning — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 6:57 pm
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Image credit: Matt Windsor/Threadless.com

In an earlier post I outlined criteria useful in determining if your product is ready for a DTC campaign. The first of which is ‘the product/procedure is widely available through providers’. Most of our healthcare is delivered to us through the physician [provider], and as needed, the physician refers us to another provider, or another healthcare service. When we are sick or hurt we go see a doctor.

If our symptoms are tolerable, or we feel like it will pass and we are not yet at death’s doorstep, we may delay calling the doctor. We may first consult family or friends. We may do an internet search to try and match our symptoms to something described on a reliable site. However, if the symptoms persist, and our armchair doctoring fails – we go to the doctor. It is common and proper to defer to the expert and for health and wellness concerns, it is the doctor we should consult, they are supposed to know what to do for us.

We do not typically turn on the TV, or flip through a magazine or even tune the radio, seeking an advertisement about that which ails us.

Therefore, it is a logical conclusion that before broadcasting product availability to consumers, the doctor should be made aware of the product, the application and the appropriate patient for whom the product is best suited. In the medical device field, this awareness may also include product use training so that the doctor is prepared to treat the patient. The next likely questions might be ‘how many doctors must be aware and prepared?’ and ‘how fast can this happen?’

The answer to the first question is likely answered in the company business plan. The number of doctors that require preparation equals the number of doctors who serve patients with the healthcare issue for which the product is labeled. This is especially true if the healthcare concern is rare, and physicians who treat patients with the concern are few in number. This is also true if a goal of the company is to achieve a standard of care declaration that references the product.

However, the real number is that which represents a significant enough population of physicians to serve the patients in a timely manner, to which you direct advertising. To determine how many, who they are and where they are requires a clear understanding of the specialty, patient referral patterns, and regulatory and reimbursement environments. Defining these market aspects is fundamental to establishing good marketing strategy.

Solid marketing strategy supports well coordinated marketing planning. Planning before spending will more likely result in the laying of a golden egg.

How fast can this happen? Stay tuned for that post.

Comments welcome.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting


 

 
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