The Brand Promotion Gauntlet

Mar 01, 2011

Like the Western gunfighter approaching a duel, it's the better strategy that wins the battle, not necessarily the fastest draw to market. It's simple: Have a good plan and stick to it. (Getty Images / Comstock)
It began with a simple marketing idea. It was the perfect opportunity. The customer (the specialist physician) had an unmet need and the product (after years of development and testing) solved it. What could be simpler? This was going to be a terrific product to market. No competition on the horizon. The product would grow into a successful, market-leading, profitable brand. Nothing could go wrong.

Or so they thought.

Little did they know that the enemies of simple were lurking around every corner, ready and waiting to leap out and add a barrier here, a turn of phrase there, and an extra bit of explanation everywhere.

So a perfectly simple, easy-to-communicate idea, for a product that clearly granted an important unmet need, became buried under a clutter of complexity, from regulatory requirements, to corporate policies, to "helpful" additions from management—the residue of dozens of compromises.

The result? A so-so launch, a perplexed sales force ("There's got to be a benefit buried in here somewhere"), a confused prescriber, and a mediocre sales performance. What followed was predictable: Product messages were changed, the sales force retrained, the brand team switched, and finally the budget reduced and the brand marginalized.

How could this have happened to such a promising opportunity? To a clear winner? Unfortunately, it happens quite frequently. Keeping things simple can be a very complex business. Especially in the pharmaceutical marketplace.

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