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What does success look like in pharma marketing?

03/08/17 07:30
COUCH Medcomms



Has pharma marketing gone astray? In this complex and highly demanding space, there’s evidence that not enough emphasis is placed on the training and mentoring of marketers, often leaving them battling with outdated data sets and methods. While sales teams are often well funded, the fundamental importance of strategic marketing seems to get lost in the mix.

The result of this is a ineffective marketing strategy, with the end effect being that brands miss available opportunities and fail to achieve their full potential. In some companies, utilising the specific skill sets of marketers and providing skill development training along with in-depth industry knowledge is often missing.

Success depends on the concerted efforts of both sales and marketing teams. Where there’s a disconnect, either in resources, training, clear end goals or success measurement, there are missed opportunities. 

A starting point for pharma companies looking to improve their return on marketing investment is to examine how both new and experienced marketers are supported.

Balance this against how the marketing department is funded compared to other departments within the company, and the calibre of external marketers the company attracts.

Positioning for good pharma marketing

What should be the strategy for sound pharma positioning in the market? It should be informed by insights into the following:

  • Competitors
  • Patients
  • HCPs
  • KOLs and DOLs
  • Major stakeholders
  • Access

Pulling together and analysing the information from diverse and complex data sets in order to create a detailed and balanced overview is a skilled undertaking. But the end result is a more specific and clear approach to marketing, which correctly segments targets and offers distinct differentiation.

Marketers need to understand the ‘why’ behind marketing activities, incorporate strategic and specific thinking that enables thinking beyond traditional timelines and outside of marketing templates. Ticking boxes may look good on paper, but in the real, competitive world, originality with a sound reasoning process and understanding of the driving rationale, is more valuable.

Marketing team development

Drawing up plans to appraise and develop skills within the pharma marketing team is critical to success. Measurement of achievement however, takes more than understanding what success looks like. It also takes understanding where efforts fall short, because without the counterbalance there’s no real benchmark for excellence. 

Taking into account the needs of each individual marketer allows for the development of personalised support, training and mentoring that meets everyone at their own level. Pharma business development maps should clearly indicate what good marketing looks like and what the not-so-good looks like. Ideally, you’ll map the steps in between the extremes and in so doing, create a structure that leads marketers from one level to the next.

Just as sales teams are monitored for results and achievement, so too should the marketing team. Individuals need to understand not only the ‘why’ behind specific strategies, but where their own skillset fits within the demands and what are their strengths and weaknesses. There should be opportunities for them to improve and develop their strengths.

The plan

Define and set out core marketing elements for your company, identifying key areas such as strategies, implementation, insights and how you measure performance. With key groupings identified, look at which capabilities marketers need to accomplish the goals of each group. Avoid being internally focused and repeating past marketing history by looking at external industries and expert views. Keep things as simple as possible.

Over complication is a barrier to a clear view, leading to confused methods and inconclusive results.

Creating your own best practice benchmarks means you can assess individual competencies and identify development and training needs. From the point of understanding exactly where marketing skills fall short, it’s possible to develop training and mentoring programmes that actually lead to more accurate and successful marketing. Ideally, training should come from someone with deep marketing and coaching knowledge, and be backed by SMART objectives. Brand relevance is importance, as is avoiding hypothetical scenarios which are hard for marketers to relate to.

Meeting marketing demands

Marketing is complex and highly specialised, demanding specific skills and competencies. It takes investment and time to develop these skills, but without them, brands miss marketing opportunities by focussing too much on internal operations.

Redirect the focus back to the needs of individual marketers with training or mentoring that’s relevant to the individual, the brand and the job in hand, and as marketer skills improve, more success will follow.


Brand Strategy Pharma


Topics: Brand Strategy, Pharma Marketing

COUCH Medcomms

At the risk of sounding too pretentious, at COUCH we consider ourselves storytellers first and foremost. And we are passionate in championing this approach to medical communications.

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