Under Pressure - Pharmaceutical Executive


Under Pressure

Pharmaceutical Executive

Blurring the Lines

Looking beyond the boundaries that separate different kinds of promotion is one way marketers can move toward more integrated messaging. Devereux sees a future in which DTC and professional promotion are blended using online programs that facilitate physician/patient dialogue, reps are armed with interactive messaging tools, and marketing silos merge to allow a more efficient, coordinated effort. "Even today, there's the person who runs professional promotion, the person who runs direct-to-consumer, the person who runs CRM, the person who runs Web initiatives," says Devereux. "In the best case scenarios, they work as a well-oiled, integrated machine—but they all still have their own budgets and goals."

Despite the slow pace of change, this is an exciting time in the industry. Even though the need for new marketing models has become more apparent, in a competitive arena it can be risky to be the first one to tinker with a model that's worked for years. "I'm not sure anybody ever got fired for bringing forward a marketing plan that emphasized direct-to-consumer advertising and the use of field sales reps to drive physician prescribing," says Grant. "But that's changing, and with those options less available than they've been in the past, marketers are asking, 'Where can I make up some of the impact on sales?'"

Current troubles might present just the opportunity pharma needs to shake things up. The trick will be to find the right balance between frugality and investment. "It's a very thin line between efficient marketing and insufficient marketing," says Devereux. "If we become too efficient, we won't be able to create those truly unique, memorable, breakthrough communication events. We get lost in the media bombardment."

Susan Vargas is a freelance writer for Pharmaceutical Executive and Pharmaceutical Representative magazines. She can be reached at


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