Strong Strategic Brand Positioning is pivotal to commercial success. Done right, it will add many millions to your bottom line. However, if you put faith into standard industry data, odds are you will not take advantage of the opportunities that will maximize commercial potential or establish a steep trajectory for growth.
And, its not your fault, this is the marketing environment that exists in our industry as a whole. For years marketing gurus Trout & Ries have told us that to be effective our brand’s positioning must be simple, singular focused and relevant.
For our industry that is half the battle, but what hasn’t received much attention is the importance of predictive testing between your top priority positioning ideas to determine which will have the strongest impact on prescribing. Moreover, little thought has been given to brand positioning as a process which marketers can use to understand the implications of multiple positioning strategies so they can select the one that’s best for their brand.
In our industry positioning strategy is a largely creative exercise with little or no quantitative consideration given to where that positioning will lead (validation). Used like this (sub-optimally), its no surprise that 99% of Rx brand positionings deliver mediocre results.
Consider this: IMS Health published a series of white papers on Launch Excellence. Their study of 1,250 new chemical entities covering 17 therapeutic categories in the 8 major markets totaling over 10,000 launches. It was all about gaining Rx brand trajectory at launch (Read: capturing prescriptions and share). The result: <1% of launches met IMS’ standard of excellence. Given the intelligence and resources in this industry, the percentages should have been much higher.
Picture the graph of brand trajectory with most brands hugging the baseline. The visual looked as though over 9,990 of the launches studied just loved to hug the baseline. The point: this isn’t just random companies with lackluster launches; practically everybody in the industry is launching sub-optimally. Why would you want to do that? More importantly, what can you do about it?
To optimize Rx brand positioning, one has to test the merits of multiple high-value options. Being ‘creative’ doesn’t necessarily equal maximized prescriptions. The strategy behind the creative is what provides data-driven direction for your agency and other communication partners. Focusing everyone’s efforts on a strategy we know with confidence will drive prescriptions is critical.
Today, when your Rx positioning workshop is over, your statistical odds of having a winning positioning are 50:50. This is an armchair exercise, which doesn’t give you the answers you need. You simply don’t know which will influence prescribing the most. The cost of being wrong is very expensive, potentially billions with a capital B. And don’t you find it unusual that after all the market research data you review in developing your marketing plan, that practically zero data is devoted to validation of your brand’s positioning? What if you knew it worked, or didn’t when you still had time to make course corrections?
Maybe this is just us, but considering that you’re about to determine the future of a product with nearly a billion dollars in sunk costs on the basis of a coin toss, I would think that further consideration is in order.
Revisit the Premise
Let’s revisit the premise of brand positioning. What if, instead of a creative exercise, brand positioning was a process? By that we mean a rigorous means of determining which strategic option will perform best in the marketplace. After all, the positioning should state how your brand is DIFFERENT from the competition, right?
Why not redefine brand positioning as a PROCESS designed to INFORM your Team about the impact of a specific concept (better yet – multiple positioning options) on prescribing behavior? Wouldn’t that be a game-changer!
Brand Positioning Is Predictive of Prescribing
This is the Ah-Ha insight. Creating multiple positioning options provides the opportunity for course corrections as the process moves forward. The optimal positioning would be selected by the Core Team to achieve the desired brand adoption (trajectory) in all key markets.
The brand positioning process also answers the six mission-critical marketing questions leading to a successful launch program.
First. What are my target audience prescribers attitudes and perceptions about the disease state and existing therapeutic options? What are the associated emotions?
Second. How to best communicate my new brand to healthcare providers, patients and payers in the most compelling manner?
Third. Every brand has many features, advantages and benefits. Which ones are most important to each target audiences? How does this change by segment, indication or by country?
Fourth. How does my brand stack up against normative industry data?
Fifth. What are the barriers to success? What must be accomplished to overcome / manage them?
Finally – very important – how will HCPs prescribe the brand? For what segments? What will be the impact on the competition? Will the positioning my team selects attract the right patient populations / discourage the segments we do not want?
The result: a data-driven brand story for use in briefing senior management as well as a creative brief to focus all communications and marketing partners.
This is the proper use of brand positioning to optimize prescribing and help pharmaceutical marketers reach their ultimate brand objective: capture the most
prescriptions. Our process takes the confidence level of your brand strategy from 50% to >95%. This is real marketing excellence.
AVOID Armchair Strategy – A Recipe For Disaster
Anything short of quantitative validation is armchair strategy. Armchair strategy is a big reason brands underperform. Your goal is prescriptions. By validating brand positioning you ‘look before you leap’ so your brand will deliver the numbers of prescriptions your profit plan demands. This is even more important if you are repositioning, optimizing a marketed brand or preparing for additional indications.
Why Consider OptiBrand?
Our proprietary quantitative validation approach has been molded and evolved over a decade with input from acclaimed scholars and statisticians. In short, we have the tools to ensure your Rx brand is earning the most it possibly can.