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Why just Good Intentions are often Not Enough

Future of Pharma Promotion

The goal of product promotion in pharma or in fact in any marketing endeavor, is to create a brand image for the product

Brand image is the current view of the customers about a brand. It can be defined as a unique set of associations with in the mind of target customers. It signifies what the brand presently stands for. It is a set of beliefs held out by a specific brand. Brand image is the overall impression in consumer’s mind that is formed from all sources.

In pharma marketing the Doctors’, (being ‘opinion leaders’) impression of the brand image plays an even important role than that of the end users as his prescription decides the purchase decision, and results in a sale. In most of the cases doctors do not has firsthand experience of the brand, although they may have used the molecule under a different name. Therefore it is important to understand major sources influencing the Brand Image of the doctor.

Medical representative’s impression/influence on the doctor
Organization’s impression. (Corporate image)

The advantage of the Medical representative’s impression to the organization is lost as soon as he changes the employment. Therefore the organization should concentrate more on the organizational impression.

Organizations impression

An organization impression is depends on the doctors information and perception about the organization. The most important aspect of it is the quality of the product. Print media promotion should reinforce this aspect. Unfortunately, even when the organization is spending a lot to maintain product/brand quality, poor quality of the print media and brand logo design will negate this impression.

At present, most of the organizations are preparing and using print media as an aid to medical representative, however these aids are changed, as frequently as once in 2 months. This is due to belief that the medical representatives are motivated to make a presentation to the doctors if the print designs are changed every time. Often, due to such frequent changes in promotion material and often strategy, the doctor does not get a clear perception of the brand image the company wishes to project. Also fractioning the budget over multiple cycles leads to compromises and poor quality printed material, thereby damaging corporate image.

Modern Technology

The technology in the field of communication is changing very fast. This is the time modern pharmaceutical brand promotion has to take advantage of the change, by introducing digital printing, Notebooks, Tablets, Internet (promoted only to doctors by registration), power point presentations, e-mail promotions etc. It is a time for the industry, sooner rather than later, to take a twenty-first century approach to meet the marketing challenges. An integrated proprietary software can be designed and take the advantage of speed, frequency, cost effective communication offered by modern technology.

Visualize this scenario. The medical representative before his appointment with the doctor, refers to his laptop, checks the commitments he has made during his last visit. Enters the doctor cabin and greets him. Fulfils his promises by briefing the doctor about his past commitments. He arranges for the audio visual presentation about the ‘Corporate news with brand remainders’, and ‘new brand launch’ on his laptop. Shows him the brand pack. Ask him about any queries he might have. In case he is unable to handle a certain query, he e-mails it to headquarter, along with the doctor’s e-mail ID or mobile number, depending on the urgency, and hands over the samples and the gifts along with print promotion handouts. The doctor’s queries are handled by the respective department at the head quarters.

After completion of visit, the medical representative notes the details of the sample, gifts and handouts on companies’ proprietary software. The details are simultaneously posted and updated at the head office wherein the automatic record of samples, gifts and handouts utilized and balanced available, is updated. He also makes a note of the discussion that took place and the things to follow up in his next visit.

The medical representative also visits the stockiest, and feeds in all the brand wise requirements which are again updated at the head office too. At head office, the brand manager analyzes the data from all over the country along with the past available data for distribution anomalies, sales trends, forecast, and production plan in their respective brands. The brand manager also controls the samples, gifts, and promotional material. The summary of report is submitted to marketing manager along with the highlighted points where urgent attention is required from him.

The medical representative also has to provide information about competitive activities to the head office enabling them to respond, modify or reform the brand strategy.

Such Field Force and Enterprise Resource Management systems are being used by leading companies today but soon this will be a norm rather than an exception

Shrikant Sant Oct 2012

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Future of pharma promotion, Brand image, Print media, Electronic media assistants