As seen in June 2011 Med Ad News
"When you ask a group of pharmaceutical brand managers what regional marketing is, you’re likely to get an interesting set of answers. Invariably, you’re also going to find a pattern of misconceptions. For example, confusion between local marketing and regional marketing abounds, and the thought that, “My brand agency can or already does this,” is common. The greatest errors involving regional marketing are in misunderstanding its benefits.
So what is regional marketing? In a nutshell, regional marketing is a targeted allocation of resources to markets (or districts) for the greatest return on investment. It is a strategy that relies on understanding regional variability and, specifically, how to harness it in order to maximize results.
The regional marketing approach consists of grouping similar markets based on common drivers and then developing marketing strategies utilizing the key market drivers. With regional marketing, local differences are what help to determine how to effectively direct available resources. The overall objective of regional marketing is to drive product performance and improve ROI through efficient resource deployment and allocation. Other advantages may include reduced program waste and improved productivity for the marketing and sales teams.
What follows are the ten most compelling reasons a pharmaceutical brand could need regional marketing.
Variability in the brand’s performance
The biggest reason a pharmaceutical company should consider regional marketing is if it experiences unexplained variations in performance from the weakest market/district to the strongest market/district. Consider this scenario: one brand is growing 10 percent in a specific market and down as much – or more – in another. Such an imbalance in performance is a clue that regional marketing could make sense.
Variability in the “6 Ps”
If a noticeable difference exists in the drivers that have been shown to impact product performance – also known as the “6 Ps” – then a pharmaceutical marketer should consider testing regional marketing. The 6 Ps are Payer (the entity that ultimately pays the bills); Provider (the systems of care that help patients); Prescriber (the healthcare professionals who write prescriptions); Population (the patient demographics in specific markets); Product (the performance of the branded and generic competitors); and Place (both the activity level of the sales team and any legislative issues that might affect the brands).
Unique marketplace needs
Regional marketing can provide a solution to unique needs. A formal evaluation can provide a platform upon which to drive market share based on the specific needs of a regional audience. Customer feedback from focus groups may be differing in various metropolitan statistical areas. Or maybe regular requests are coming from the field and sales leadership for custom tools to meet the challenges that are unique to their regions. These are red flags that shouldn’t be ignored. A regional marketing strategy can help address special market needs while assuring the national brand strategy is maintained.
Limited access to physicians
The current market is flooded with sales representatives all vying for the same limited amount of physician time. Due to increased patient loads and constraints placed upon them by managed care, physicians have little time tospend with representatives. Regional tactics can offer a way to cut through the sales representative clutter. Provide physicians with specific answers to their specific patient needs based upon regional challenges and an organization’s sales representatives immediately add value to the practice rather than just push detail aids. Non-personal regional promotional tactics are also a way to maintain regular contact with lower-volume physicians.
Too many speaker programs
The market for speaker programs has changed drastically in recent years. Attendance is not only lower than it used to be, but the same small group that attends one program is probably attending those of the competition. Additionally, national key opinion leaders just don’t have the power to influence the prescribing habits of physicians on a local level. A better solution is to identify the local influencers in a specific region and focus efforts on them. Regional tactics focusing on these highly influential prescribers – a brand’s true KOLs – will have a greater impact on the general prescribing audience. Provide physicians with an innovative alternative to the over-done dinner program and a brand will stand out above the others in physicians’ minds.
A need for innovation
Are some regions underperforming despite a national brand plan? Is a new product launch ahead? Is a key competitor going generic? In any of these situations, pressures exist to grow market share and provide ideas for increasing a brand’s performance. While a willingness may exist to try something new and innovative, the team may not know where to start or what to do. The advice: begin with an in-depth regional assessment to determine the specific marketing opportunity.
A reduction in budget
Is a budget cut in the near future? Perhaps it is difficult to identify real needs in the face of squeaky-wheel markets that are simply more vocal about what they want. Too often a warehouse full of unused sales tools are under-utilized in the field, leading to low levels of enthusiasm and engagement. Solve this issue by providing each region with customized business planning support. Implementing innovative regional plans will help the field best use available tools. Rather than reinvent the wheel, use regional marketing to revitalize current programs and customize implementation.
Many brands face the challenge of several markets disproportionately representing a large portion of their market share. This can be a good thing if a pharmaceutical company is winning in those markets, but falling behind in any of these regions will have a large – and negative – impact on overall product share. Developing customized tactics for each region based on local needs can be an expensive endeavor that may not necessarily result in increased market share. However, working with experts to develop a regional marketing plan can help identify true regional needs that will result in continued growth of market share.
A regionally structured market
Our ever-changing environment is driving more companies to move toward a regional field structure. This can lead to uncertainty. How does a brand best use its tactics and programs while also remaining scalable, cost-effective, and consistent with an overall brand direction? When regional field contacts have the ability to make marketing decisions, funds are sometimes not used at all or are not used in the most cost-effective way to help drive brand performance. In addition, it is common that the various regions are not communicating effectively with each other, resulting in duplication of efforts and unnecessary spending.
Regional marketers can help solve this problem by providing customized solutions that meet the needs of each region while assuring that a brand’s national goals are incorporated into daily business decisions. In addition, these solutions can help facilitate communication between regions, leading to a more cohesive marketing effort that still allows for regional variability.
While new prescriptions are an important part of market share, it is crucial to maintain total prescriptions in order to continue brand growth. Adherence is a continuing problem for many drugs, and regional marketing can help appeal to the specific patient population that exists in a market. National campaigns that focus on one or two demographics will not appeal to a varied, nationwide patient base. By developing targeted materials that appeal to the specific demographics in each region, a marketer can address the concerns and needs of these specific patient populations.
For example, a patient with diabetes who lives in Harlem, New York, is not facing the same challenges as a patient with diabetes living in Delaware, Ohio. Each has specific needs that may not be addressed through national tactics. This may result in poor adherence and decreased total prescriptions. Using customized regional marketing to develop market-specific messaging that will appeal to specific patient groups will help educate these groups about the importance of adherence.
Regional marketing can be just what a pharmaceutical organization needs to grow its market share in a difficult – or any – market condition. By understanding market variations and the key drivers behind these variations, brand marketers can enhance a marketing plan with regional strategy, plan development, and deployment – leading to an increase in a brand’s overall sales performance."