Practical Perspectives


Milan Faces

Is Differentiation a Lost Art?

Pharmaceutical marketing is a sea of sameness in which clever key messages, celebrity spokespeople and p-values do not compensate for poorly differentiated products. Do marketers and their agencies simply fail to understand their customers, or do they really believe that the science will sell itself? I concede that one major difficulty in differentiating an Rx brand is that the product itself fundamentally doesn’t change during its brief patent-protected life. Uses may expand, formulations may be tweaked, new data may be generated, and patient support programs may be created—but it’s the same medicine with the same properties it had on launch

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Dunking a basketball

Boost Career Success with a Better ‘Inside Game’

Over the past few weeks we’ve received more calls than ever from brand leaders, CoE leaders, and other managers and executives, all with the same problem: They’re trying to get things done within their organization, but they’re running into internal roadblocks, apathy and bureaucracy that stalls their projects and hinders their success. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Across the industry, it’s getting harder for marketers and team leaders to get buy-in and internal support from colleagues within their own company. And when that happens, it can seriously jeopardize a team’s success and a manager’s career. Yet we know

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Road to the Future

Aftermath: BioPharma’s Brave New World

It has been difficult for many lately to focus on the next day, let alone the next week. However, if your work involves helping healthcare companies plan for the future, as mine does, creating 2021 scenarios is foundational for advising clients. Below are some possible futures and considerations for healthcare that may force the biopharma industry to change course in some fundamental areas. I hesitate to call them ‘predictions,’ because as of today they’re only half formed but still worth exploring. Creating future scenarios is foundational for advising clients. Since there’s no precedent, it’s difficult to predict what the US

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Build Your Creativity System

Build Your Creativity System

Despite Hollywood mythology, real-life creativity doesn’t usually happen randomly in a surprise flash of brilliance. Let’s take a look at some ways to dramatically boost our creativity each day. Even those with true natural talent often use these tips to increase the quantity and quality of their ideas, as they regularly feed their minds and souls with inspiration to solve important problems. How do they do this? Well, many design a simple system that helps them continuously discover, collect, connect and synthesize new ideas that they can apply to the problems on which they’re working. In order to summon creativity

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Social Media Logos

How Much Content Is Too Much for Your Brand?

Content strategy came into fashion in Marketing circles nearly a decade ago, driven mainly by a need to ‘fill the pipes’ created by the multitude of new digital and social platforms. Agencies and consultancies soon began to pitch it as a complex, expensive and essential gap to fill, and they were happy to oblige. To me, ‘content strategy’ initially was just a modern euphemism for ‘editorial plan’ – but it has since transformed into something else. An editorial plan or calendar lays out which content we must develop, for whom, and in which channels it must be delivered (by when)

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Secrets to Product Mgt

3 Secrets of Product Management

The craft of product management continuously changes. I’ve invested over 25 years in new product development and product management roles at several multinational biopharmaceutical and medical device companies. My responsibilities included blockbuster biologics, small-molecule cardiovascular drugs, digital therapeutics, and many things in between — yet across this diverse portfolio there are fundamental concepts that remain constant. In my current role as President of the biopharma Marketing agency, Health Accelerators, we coach many product managers on how to do their job more effectively, more strategically, to have more fun and continuously learn while doing it. No matter the product or category,

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Marketing Funnel vs. Cylinder

Is the Marketing Funnel Still Relevant?

A few Marketing concepts have weathered the past few decades pretty well. However, it may be time to give the ‘Marketing funnel’ a fresh look and see if it’s still relevant in our mobile-social-digital-data world. Before precisely-addressable channels like the internet, email, SMS and digital cable – there were primarily mass media like broadcast TV, terrestrial radio and print publications. The Funnel Is Inefficient I’ve worked in product management roles in which I spent upwards of $100M per year to buy broadcast TV media that provided a base level of brand awareness that we needed to stay competitive with peers.

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Do less, get more done

Do Less. Get More Done.

We spend hours each week speaking with pharmaceutical executives and managers on their way up the career ladder. Our conversations often focus on the work they are doing, and how to do it better. We don’t claim the title of “coach,” however several of us have been in this industry for a long time and have had significant roles in building companies and brands, so it appears we qualify as reasonable sounding boards or shoulders to cry on, depending on the person and topic of the moment. After more of these conversations than we can count, we’ve started to see

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Amsterdam Canal with Tour Boat on Fall Day

Selling the Value of New Technologies

The airline industry does a masterful job of selling travelers on the destination, not the actual bundle of services its companies provide in getting you there and back. Their evocative communications show sundrenched beaches, iconic architecture and carefree vacationers having the time of their lives and creating lasting memories together. I took the photo above during a business trip to Amsterdam in 2017, and it reminds me of the picturesque Sunday afternoon walk I was able to squeeze in among a week of meetings. Not surprisingly, I didn’t photograph the security line at the airport on a Saturday night, waiting

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System that uses gears

Why You Need a Marketing System

One of the strangest concepts to me when I started in biopharma marketing is that of the POA, or Plan of Action, which many brand teams that focus on healthcare professionals (HCPs) and the Sales team refresh every six months or so. And by “refresh” I mean throw out all of the plans, insights, programs and creative assets and start over. Every six months, year after year. One reason for this is the belief that the target audience (primarily doctors) doesn’t change much over time, therefore the messages need to change regularly to stay fresh, relevant and somehow different to

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