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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Is it a commitment issue?

How to manage your strategy in times of doubt

Commitment – it's actually one of the most critical and often understated factors in any campaign. Yet many marketers seem to have commitment issues. This can then have an adverse effect on how the market perceives their product, ultimately impacting on sales. 

It seems that just as a campaign is gaining traction with the target audience, we frequently hear: “the ad is getting old”, “the phone is not ringing,” “customer service doesn't like our new campaign,” “some of the product managers think it's time to tweak our overall message,” and/or simply “I don't like this colour any more”.

The reality is that marketers, and those running the companies they work for, often tend to get bored well before a campaign has had the chance to break through the marketplace clutter and secure a position of prominence in the minds of the audience.

Perhaps it's in our nature. We want variety and the next greatest thing – the new shiny toy. We see what our competitors are doing, the song and dance they are making about a new launch, and want something better. We find ourselves being reactive when, in fact, fighting these urges and staying fully committed to our campaign can be the best way forward to increase market share. It's important to think twice before retreating from a strategy and its tactics that have been well thought out but may be taking time to embed and reap fuller benefits. 

At times of doubt, so long as you have thoroughly researched and planned your adopted strategy, trust your decisions so you can direct all your energy towards making your endeavours a success. This is the first step in effectively trumping those nasty gremlins, 'fear' and 'doubt' along the way.

Don't be tempted into making loosely based decisions. The complex and rapidly evolving nature of the modern marketing landscape means that many more channels and tools are on offer – many of these promising an impressive RoI that is easy to track (and seemingly justify to the Board). 

The reality is, however, that the latest new digital tool is just that – a tool. You don't need to abandon all your plans in the wake of the latest marketing craze, losing faith in your current campaign and upending all your good work to date.

Don't be tempted into making loosely based decisions. You don't need to abandon all your plans in the wake of the latest marketing craze

We're not suggesting that established campaigns shouldn't be refreshed or even re-thought. On-going monitoring of campaigns is critical and you may decide an additional marketing tool can add value at any time, so long as it sits within the strategic goals you have already identified as important. 

The corporate/brand synergy
Over the years, we've worked on many corporate campaigns and those of associated product groups. The successes of the two, and therefore the business as a whole, are always intrinsically linked – if they do not act in synergy, it could seriously hinder your efforts to reach and influence your customers. 

How well have you committed to the components of your company's corporate positioning? How well are the corporate values reflected in your own brand strategy? Stand by the corporate values and integrate them more fully into your product area and it could be the turning point you've been looking for. 

Ultimately, it is as important that your customers buy into the corporate brand as much as they do to your product. If all things are equal between your product and another brand or a generic, you will need your prospects to choose you because of your company's corporate brand attributes. Your product attributes may not be enough to carry it alone. This is why consistency across your messaging is key, and a well-defined strategy is essential for engaging your audience with the right messages. 

Such an approach enables you to sell a wider variety of products to current customers (as they have already bought into your overall corporate brand) and makes it much easier to launch new or updated product lines.

Embedding brand values
Below we've outlined five tips to help you establish an effective campaign from a well-informed strategic base, primed to utilise the best tactics available. However turbulent the market may be, the key components of a successful marketing campaign are omnipresent. Digging deep and showing greater commitment to what is in place and available internally may be all you need to do to grow your product's business.     

1. Knowledge is power
Tap into the market research, communication audits and internal interviews that have helped to drive corporate identity, not just the research in your product area. The benefits to your product will be sizeable.

You'll be astonished by the discoveries you can make if you go back to early and current research, and your product's potential to reflect the corporate identity. Crucially, you'll generate the information you need to plan your own brand strategy ever more effectively.

2. Build a messaging platform
Then ensure that you and your team fully embrace the key corporate messages and how they can relate to your brand. Build a messaging platform for the positioning of your brand within the recognised corporate values, and plan for them to become intrinsically associated with your brand.

Cascade the resulting platform to everyone on your team. Get everyone to buy in and foster a caretaker attitude to the brand values. This consistency of communication will better ensure that your external audiences know exactly what your brand (and the company name) stand for.

4. Allow the creative to evolve 
Accept that any creative approach can get stagnant after a while. When developing your campaign, think about how the creative outputs can continue to evolve in the longer term – within your core strategy and while still retaining the key messages. 

5. Analyse, iterate, repeat
Don't just sit back and watch a campaign progress. Take the data collected, analyse it to see where improvements could be made, and make some iterative modifications. This way, you'll hone in on your optimal tactical plan by concentrating more on the things that are working, and doing less of those that aren't. 

This approach also affords a level of flexibility and streamlining, allowing you to take advantage of any shifts in the market or communication landscape, often before your competition has had a chance to react.

And, finally, stay on course!

Fast Track

  • True commitment to your marketing campaign is an absolute essential to reach your goals 
  • Deviation from core positioning could weaken your relationship with potential audiences. In moments of doubt, dig deep into your research and monitoring insights to ensure that every facet of your existing is fully honed and optimised
  • Batten down on what IS working for your brand and close any gaps in your existing strategy. Diversifying from – and potentially diluting – your brand's core values could be costly budget-wise 
  • Embed your company's corporate equities within your individual brand/therapy area's positioning

Article by
Dr Paul Avery (left) and Murad Sabzall

managing partners at life sciences marketing company Chempetitive Group Europe. They can be contacted at pavery@

21st May 2013

From: Marketing



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