Brand Positioning In Today’s Turbulent Environment

Over the past few years budget cuts, layoffs and mergers in the pharmaceutical industry have increased pressure on marketers. Today, pharmaceutical marketers are expected to accomplish more with fewer personnel and less financial support than in better times. These cutbacks directly affect your ability to reach target audience practitioners and persuade them to prescribe your brand; and then persuade the patient to fill that prescription.

Today, a surprisingly high percentage of prescriptions go unfilled*. The right marketing response to these challenging times is to evaluate the impact of every promotional dollar you spend. Every dollar in your budget must work as hard as it can to win the marketing battle for share of mind. Where do you begin?

A great place to start is with the premise that every message you communicate in every media should be derived from your brand’s positioning.  Ask the hard questions: Is your brand positioning strong and differentiating? Does it define the optimal target?  Does it define a customer need your brand is attempting to resolve? Does it communicate the clear direction that your tactical partners need to make every element of your promotion – including social media – work harder? If not, then look to your positioning as the best place to start.

Ambiguity in positioning is not an option. Positioning has to be precise. Ambiguity blurs the intention of the positioning and decreases the effectiveness of your overall promotional budget. All team members and tactical partners involved with your brand need to understand specifically for what patient segment your brand is intended and to be able to precisely identify target audience prescribers as well as exactly what drives the prescribing decision. Do they understand the emotional context surrounding the prescribing event?  When they consider what medicine to prescribe, why choose yours?

Correct answers to these questions 1) Minimize the chance that your true targets will mistakenly think you are talking to someone else, and 2) Diminish the likelihood of spending against less valuable customers.

A clear and well-defined positioning measures the clarity of all messages and tactics. By comparing what is being communicated through each vehicle to the refined brand positioning, it is easier to determine if each of these components is on target and provides a means to eliminate those which do not.

You are not alone in needing to reconsider your brand’s positioning.  Every day millions of promotional dollars are wasted in print and electronic media because weak, unfocused brand positioning guided the design of their campaigns.  And some of your competitors will respond to the economic downturn simply by cutting the volume of promotion.  The result:  smaller, but still poorly developed campaigns.

Win by thinking differently!  The brands which will show the greatest success throughout this difficult economy will also have small, but harder-working budgets than their competitors’.

To derive greater efficiency from your promotional budget ensure that your Rx product’s positioning and proof points are clear and precise with all the detail necessary for a well-differentiated brand.

Although your communications accurately reflected your brand positioning and proof points when they were created, a significant change in perspective due to the economic environment has likely impacted prescriber and patient perceptions. Course corrections may be necessary. Major changes could be warranted. It is far better to understand how your customers have changed, and how you need to adapt your brand messaging, than to waste scarce promotional dollars on a low impact brand campaign.

*E Zuckerman, U MD School of Pharmacy J Am Geriatrics Soc online 9/24/12

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