Managing the pull-through of a successful national brand campaign at the local level is always challenging for a sales force. Consider how much time, energy, and financial resources are contributed to the market research and development of ATU’s (Attitudes, Trial, and Usage figures) for any particular brand – let alone the money spent on Madison Avenue sales swag and potential direct-to-consumer ads running in the evening news and Sunday papers. The numbers are staggering; according to a 2008 report published by the Public Library of Science, $57 billion is spent annually on pharma marketing.
But time and high costs aren’t even half the battle. Often the biggest hurdle for brand campaigns is the failure to align national initiatives with regional strategy. Consider the following common utterance of those in regional positions, from director on down: “This message doesn’t fit with our location, physician demographic or representative skill level.” What’s a sales leader to do when early data points reveal the misalignment between the messaging rollout at the national sales meeting and the first few dashboards that reach her desk? The challenge is clear: she must construct and deploy fully-integrated business tools and resources that are quickly accessible and easily adaptable to ensure appropriate pull-through. The key, though, is to do so ahead of time.
I’ve encountered this challenge first-hand. In the mid-2000’s, as a DM in metro Boston, I experienced a significant change to the formulary status for my expensive but clinically-compelling flagship diabetes product. The conversations we were hosting with providers and institutions needed a makeover and newfound sophistication, which required a greater depth of understanding and insight. There was an immediate need to balance the dynamics of the local marketplace, clinical merit of our product, and comprehension of the ‘cost’ to the physician and his practice going forward. Instead of having a central ‘hub’ to help guide our regional and district efforts, though, we were left to interpret disparate information sources with marketing material aimed at an entirely different message.
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