The Brand Promotion Gauntlet - Pharmaceutical Executive


The Brand Promotion Gauntlet

Pharmaceutical Executive

Simple is an Overperformer

Simplicity, in everything from marketing plans to creative campaigns, is always going to help you perform better than complexity. Here are some benefits of simple:

Simplicity, in everything from marketing plans to creative campaigns, is always going to help you perform better than complexity. Here are some benefits of simple:

Simple delivers clarity. A product story needs to be explained quickly and easily because prescribers don't have the time to dig for data and decode the benefits. One staggeringly clear, instantly understandable claim always has the edge over 10 data points in terms of making it easy to see why your brand is better than the other guy's.

Simple is easier to sell. We all know that sales reps can find 40 seconds (if they are lucky) to talk with their physician customers. A clear message, a quick story, and the sales call is over. Clutter those precious moments with too much information and the opportunity is wasted.

Simple leads to relevance. We need to make our point quickly for the audience. If we force our audience to plow through a ton of data, analytics, comparisons, and context before we reach the key insights, the relevance will be buried. Marketers can easily overthink and overexplain the data.

Simple enables big ideas. The simpler, shorter, and clearer the message is, the larger, more open, and more exciting the creative exploration can be. Creative teams love simple ideas because they allow them to focus. And in today's environment, simplicity is a must in order for ideas to be able to adapt to multiple channels.

Simple is memorable. The human brain can remember only three or four points with any consistency. While data may bring the point home, clarity keeps the message upfront.

Simple delivers "Ah ha" moments. We all know those moments of truth when the physician's eyes light up, her head turns, and she actually looks at you for a moment. You have just connected the dots for your customer. An unmet need has just found its answer. We call that the "point of impact."

Enemies of Simple are Everywhere

In today's risk-averse environment, the enemies of simple are not only everywhere, but are actually paid and incentivized to add complexity to your brand. It's like the Western gunfighter standing alone in the middle of the street knowing that his enemies are hiding everywhere—on the roof, around the corner, behind the water trough. Even the horse waiting patiently, pawing the ground shouldn't be trusted.

So who are the enemies, you ask? Corporations, for starters, which by their nature are risk averse. They want to protect their shareholders and customers. So the job of in-house medical counsel, regulatory reviewers, and attorneys is to make sure that all possible risk is minimized—which often leads to overexplaining, over justifying, and overcomplicating information.

We know we don't have to say much about the roles the FDA and its Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC) play. It's obvious—they get to make their own rules. But between the need for fair balance, black box restrictions, and Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) programs, we often end up with communication that's not only complicated, but a little lopsided as well.

Then there are the members of the commercialization team, which we could call "frenemies." They are all on the same team, but each with their own territory to protect. Each can add a bit of information or depth, making sure that all possible issues are covered. A series of, "Oh, just one more thing," turns simple into forgettable. With good intent, the various departments want to be sure that all possible product attributes are listed and all details available so that every customer need, benefit, and want that the product can fulfill is made obvious. Compromise happens and complexity ensues. So team members they may be, but friends of simple they are not.


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