Jeff Burke, MicroMass Communications

June 3, 2010

Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-06-03-2010, Volume 0, Issue 0

The monolithic dictates out of marketing and agency headquarters in New York and London-and the way they are forced on local marketing efforts-work to undermine adoption at the local level

There are a few essential constructs corporate marketing should provide, such as brand guidelines, drug and treatment information, and behavioral insights (core behavioral constructs are universal to the human condition). Once provided, marketers should turn to local agencies in each market to create messaging, mediums and innovations that leverage the unique elements of that market/culture.

Jeff Burkel

To best manage this decentralized marketing model, pharma marketers should select a lead agency that can identify and orchestrate the best capabilities in each country/region. Relying solely on network partners (who may or may not have an appreciation of pharma marketing) is convenient for the holding company and corporate accounting, but rarely provides the best match in every market. This approach may cost more to execute initially, but ultimately provides a better return on marketing spend through increased sales, market share and product adoption.

Company behavior

To maximize perceived value, marketers need to understand value as it relates to each local market. Frequently, it is not unusual to learn that quality or superlative attributes are less compelling than delivery or how the company behaves.

For example, in some markets how the brand engages in a relationship with the physician goes beyond the physician's relationship with the drug. Support of fellowships, research grants, etc., can raise the profile of brands and companies as much as drug reputation.

Physician education builds trust

In Latin America, pharmas often pay to bring physicians to professional association meetings when they cannot afford to attend on their own. This demonstration of investing in physicians' education builds trust and strengthens the relationship between the brand and the physician, a positive association that can enhance perceived value of that brand's product.

Culturally appropriate communications, such as making it easier for patients to admit they don't understand something about their medication, allow patients to "save face" in cultures where it is shameful to admit confusion.

Using behavioral constructs in a cultural frame of reference creates communications that are more relevant and valuable to the patient and increases the effectiveness of the behavior change the brand is driving.

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