The Surprising Truths for the 21st Century Branding | 3 Common Myths in Pharma Branding Busted

As a pharma brand manager, you are constantly bombarded with best practices for branding. To help you find truth in the chaos, here are 3 common pharma branding myths and the surprising truths behind them.

Come, let us discover the surprising truths!

Myth #1Digital is the Ultimate in Pharma Branding and Brand managers should become experts in Digital Marketing.

The Surprising Truth – Digital is just an alternate medium of communication – an alternate to print media like medical journals, printed scientific material, books, and many more.

What you require is a strategy for driving digital branding.  Develop a consistent brand strategy to use as a guide for successful growth.

Pharma India should deploy a separate digital marketing team led by the CDE or the Chief Digital Executive

It is almost next to impossible for a brand manager to duplicate as a digital marketer. The skill sets required are different for a brand manager and for a digital marketer.

But it is proper that a brand manager must have full knowledge of the digital marketing and the capabilities which a digital marketer should have. They have to work in tandem. He should be the virtual leader of the digital marketer; even leading the CDE though his influence.

And finally, let me quote David Aaker: Digital investments, like any other use of capital, should only be made when companies are clear on how they will serve the largest purpose. Addressing just the digital possibilities in a siloed view is a surefire way for a business to fall short in today’s reality. It is the combination of instilling a human-focused process with digital capabilities and prowess that sets up a business for customer-centric success.

What he talks about is Phygital Marketing. 

So the truth – It is Phygital which is going to drive pharma marketing in India in the 21st Century. Two separate, but closely aligned, brand management and digital marketing teams are required to drive Phygital.

Myth #2Brand Managers alone are responsible for building powerful pharma brands

The close alliance between the strategy crafting teams and the strategy execution teams has seldom been emphasized. It is next to impossible for a pharma brand manager to build a brand without active support from the sales team in general, and the medical representatives and first-line managers in particular.

The brand manager may craft a Nobel Prize winning strategy but what’s the use of that strategy if it is not executed?

And who is responsible for strategy execution? The sales team, with the first-line manager being accountable.  Why the first-line manager? Because the strategy implementers, the medical representatives, report to the first-line managers!

I hope at least the pharma business schools educate this aspect of strategy crafting to their students.

For superior execution, using the Fair Process (also called the 3 E process) should be adapted to build strategy execution in the strategy. Besides the first-line managers should also be made conscious that are the field extension of the the corporate brand management team, nay, an integral part of the brand management team.

So the Truth – Powerful pharma brands cannot be built without active support and participation by the sales team.

Myth #3 The current Transactional Marketing Model will stay.

The Truth – This myth is spread by those in brand management and sales management teams who do not wish to come out of their comfort zones.

The reality is the awareness of the patients of the disease and treatment is increasing day-after-day; with all information available with Almighty Google. Physicians too are aware of this and very few in future will dare to put their reputation at stake or under the scanner of the National Medical Commission.

Patient-centric marketing will become a fundamental pillar in the future of pharma branding.

No decision about me, without me will soon be the norm; if not today but may be in the next five years. And that’s a certainty. And this will be all along the patient journey; before a diagnosis, at referral and after a diagnosis.

And once the patient-centric marketing is adapted the role of medical representatives will evolve into knowledge workers. The training teams will have to be geared up to keep in tune with the future trends.

So the truth – Transactional Marketing Model will pave way for Patient-centric Marketing Model. And this what Phygital marketing is all about!

Author: Vivek Hattangadi


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