Going Against the Wind, Implementing Innovative Pharma Marketing
Pharma marketing in India soon will have to deal with a lot of shake-up due to Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices Act (UCPMP Act). The Secretary of Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) in his interview on April 19, 2016 said “After 7-8 meetings with various organizations in Pharma sector we have arrived at UCPMP guidelines. We hope to implement them soon and will make them mandatory for all Pharma companies”. The compulsion of implementation of UCPMP will change the landscape of Pharma marketing practices in India. Only those who can adapt and find other innovative and ethical solutions of Pharma marketing will succeed in the future.
Having said that, Pharma marketing still quite behind in implementing innovative ideas. In previous articles, Clueless Spray and Pray Pharma Marketing Is Dead, and Strategy, Not Technology Drives Digital Transformation in Pharma Marketing, some of the Pharma’s most important problems have been discussed.
Challenges in Encouraging Innovation in Pharma marketing
A huge number of competitors is one of the biggest challenges Pharma marketers in India are facing. The target audience, doctors, have a massive range of brands they can choose from. Getting doctors to ethically advocate one brand has become nearly impossible for Pharma marketers. The doctors are simply not “wow”ed with the majority of Pharma marketing initiatives, forcing Pharma marketers to continue with age-old practices that soon will get legally deemed as ‘unethical’. The time is critical now and Pharma leaders need to find the “Purple Cow” for their marketing initiatives.
Global studies and Consultancy firm reports from The W. Edward Deming Institute (named after greatest management philosopher of all times and who is behind Japan’s Rise after WWII), Deloitte and KPMG Consulting have attributed the lag in innovation to the top leadership and the culture in the Pharma companies. Going one step ahead, Deming Institute had said that about 94% of the problems majority faced by organizations are due to inability of organization and especially top managers to encourage the innovation. This is quite alarming. And should make us think, who should drive the innovation in Pharma marketing, a marketer running the individual campaigns or the leaders at the top?
The answer to this question is quite obvious. Only leaders at the top have experience, vision, and most importantly authority required to drive the innovation in Pharma marketing. It is the time now to roll out the change that can encourage innovation.
Why Do Top Managers need to Get Involved?
Top managers possess power, mandate and most importantly are likely to be in synergy with the vision of the organization, compared to the marketers on the lower echelons in the marketing department. The role of the top managers is to develop the strategy and empower their subordinates to achieve the strategic goals. Unfortunately many top managers get involved in day-to-day supervision which takes up a lot of their time, leaving negligible time for them to think out of the box. Top managers need to transform themselves from “managers” to “leaders” in order to foster innovation in all areas including marketing.
- To drive away the fear: Marketers are conditioned to please people around them and organization. In order to do so, they routinely engage in previously tried marketing initiatives. The fear of failing to do so holds the majority of marketers from trying new things. Over the time, many marketing initiatives are copied by other Pharma companies leaving no edge. Leaders must encourage marketers to take risks with innovative ideas. The support from the top is the biggest driver that can encourage marketers to take risks those bring rewards.
- To drive Out of the Box thinking: Top leaders have expertise and insights about the business needs. Equipped with the global vision they are also in the best position to assess the impact of marketing activities that might work and change they can bring in an overall strategy. With the global perspective, they need to be in the driving seat and empower the marketers to optimize innovative marketing ideas.
- To give the power to innovation: Any change, may that be in strategy or activity, requires a power to overcome the internal and external resistance that can obstruct the idea. New ideas often have to pass through scrutiny. The fear of scrutiny about the new idea which has never been tried before kills the idea before it can be tested. The biggest nightmare of a marketer is to face this scrutiny when he/she himself does not complete knowledge of the consequences. Instead of premature criticism top leaders need to support new ideas, at least until the ideas come to reality.
The Best Leaders Can Encourage Innovation in Pharma Marketing
- Give up Static Inertia, Be an Example: Out of the box thinking is only possible when leaders free themselves up to listening and reading about new ideas. Managers who only believe that set parameters are best to encourage innovation may even be ignoring the reality of marketing. Marketing always needs fresh ideas which only start pouring once you get into the habit of trying new ideas. Leaders must lose this static inertia and must open themselves to new ideas. Once leaders set the example, subordinates are also inclined to think out of the box.
- Bell the cat yourself: Top leaders need to step up and should ‘bell the cat’ of uncertainty and fear. Leaders need to show that they can get over the uncertainty by analyzing the effects of any new idea, learning from them, and by taking steps to improve the outcomes. Leaders who demonstrate these initiatives receive support from both bosses and subordinates.
- Refuse to settle for mediocrity: New marketing ideas may not always be great at the beginning. Leaders must provide their feedback to the marketers which can improve the targeting, content, and outcomes. Time to time feedback compels marketers to think ahead and formulate the marketing strategy in a much better way. Positive constructive criticism without punishments garners confidence in marketing personnel to think outside the box.
- Share and Explain the Outcomes with other Leaders: Sometimes marketing professionals and top managers tend not to share the outcomes of new marketing initiatives anticipating criticism and scrutiny that may hamper their reputation. However, it is important that leaders share outcomes in black and white with others in the organization. It is highly likely that a good brain-storming session can further help optimizing the idea. With the help of analytics and digital marketing initiatives, explaining the success and failure is much simpler than ever before. Proper analysis backed with data is the best driver for innovation.
How Can Docplexus Assist in Innovation in Pharma Marketing?
The world is going digital but the majority of the Pharma companies are still lagging behind in adopting digital channels for their marketing activities. As UCPMP Act gets further ahead, most Pharma companies will have to change their marketing strategy and find innovative ways to ethically reach out to doctors. Docplexus, a community of 1,50,000+ doctors offers best opportunity to implement novel digital marketing ideas.
In the last two years, we have studied about many problems that block Pharma companies from marketing their products to the doctors. We learned new digital marketing strategy based on the content marketing offers the best opportunity to Pharma companies to meaningfully connect with doctors. The transition from traditional marketing to new innovative marketing is filled with many hurdles. Docplexus helps Pharma companies by helping them in this transition backed by content marketing and strong analytical data.
We also help Pharma companies by educating about the dynamics of doctors’ interactions and how they can leverage these interactions to achieve their marketing goals. The interactions on various types of content such as articles, patient cases, drug updates, KOL interviews can help Pharma companies to understand the mindset of the doctors.
With these insights, we also help leaders in Pharma companies to devise a strategy to engage with doctors that keep doctors interested. We also assist Pharma for the navigation in this maze of digital marketing. Depending on specific needs we can help tailor the strategy that has the best reach to the doctors.