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Continued from last……

The last Key Success Factor I wish to highlight is ‘Innovation’.

Hoechst in late 1980s and 1990s was an extremely innovative company. Being a multinational company, the company had limited opportunity to do innovation in products. However, it remained ahead of others in strategic marketing and organizational efficiency.

  1. Promotional Ideas. We always had abundance of promotional ideas. The discussion was on-the-go and never stopped. Everyone participated and contributed. We had access to new studies, articles and new information. This information became a source for developing new ideas. The discussion was energetic and energizing. There was a lot of intellectual stimulation which touched everyone and triggered innovation. In fact, I never got that kind of intellectually stimulated environment anywhere else. Another factor in developing new promotional ideas was ‘freedom’. I can vouch for it that as District Managers, we did so much work independently by generating local ideas. Our promotion was largely based on new clinical information. During that time a lot of new studies were being published. We picked up useful points from those and used them for promotion of products. The power of knowledge was at its greatest display. Over a period, we set up a bar for ourselves which was higher than competitors. We did have to make continuous effort to match our own standard.
  2. Innovative Strategy. We did new things and we did things differently. In previous blogs I have talked about several activities which were ‘first’ in the industry. In addition to those, we generated and gathered a lot of local clinical data through small scale real-life use of products. It was Post Marketing Surveillance at its best. The products are always used in a large variety of patients, conditions and environments, but the data is lost due to the fact that there is no system for collection. Hoechst innovated and formalized collection of this local data which was later analyzed and presented locally and internationally. The local experience of products gave increased confidence to customers which boosted and sustained business.
  3. Clinical Information. Hoechst did a lot of work in providing clinical studies and articles to doctors. The innovative idea was acquiring IDIS (Iowa Drug Information System). This system was developed by Iowa State University USA. It scanned over 150 international medical journals in various specialties. The articles could be searched and full articles could be retrieved and printed. We talked about this service to doctors and many of them used it by asking for specific articles. Hoechst got a lot of goodwill with this service.
  4. Support to Postgraduate Students. We focused strategically on PG students. They always had clinical attachments with wards but were busy in their studies and were not contacted in routine. We got in touch with them and provided academic services to them, which was their most unmet requirement. They needed literature for writing dissertations and could not get it. It was before internet and getting studies was hard. Our service to PG students facilitated them and created long lasting relations.

It was a marketing and management feat that Hoechst changed orientation, re-launched and launched high-performing brands which became and stayed leaders in their therapeutic class. It took innovation, strategy, application and grit to reach there. The model is replicable and can be adopted by anyone who seeks excellence in achievement.

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