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Back with my journey over the years……
The biggest difference between promoting innovator product and its generics is ‘information’, or lack thereof. There is a large body of information when you take the innovator product to market for the first time, and it keeps on building. Out of this wealth of information, you find ideas and strategies for marketing. The generic products do not create their own information; they borrow the innovator’s information. But they have access only to that part which is already in public domain.
During the 1990s, it was difficult to get clinical articles. The internet had just started and was evolving. I purchased my first desktop in 1994 for home. Two comments from that transaction would show how things have changed. The guy who put together that unbranded desktop said “I have put in the latest hard disc which had become available. It is 1GB. It is so much space, you will not fill it in a life time”. Today, the phone you carry has 256 GB storage. The other comment was “Yesterday I sent an email to Canada and I got the reply in 24 hours. Wow. What a speed?”. Today, we expect and get reply in the next few seconds.
Hoechst had subscription to IDIS (Iowa Drug Information System – developed by Iowa State University, USA). The IDIS scanned over 150 medical journals and supplied these as microfilms. There was a special equipment to read microfilms which were searchable. You could get a reprint of your desired article, and it was just like original reprint. We offered this service selectively to some customers and postgraduate students preparing dissertations. We also read many of these articles and took out ideas for marketing campaigns and for discussion with top customers.
What could we do in CCL in the absence of this kind of support? We still tried to scour the internet and find what we could. I made a “Reading Club” comprising of marketing team, training manager and sales head. Training manager coordinated. He would circulate few relevant articles and then the group would meet every fortnight and discuss these studies. I had always been a firm believer in the power and goodness of knowledge. Knowledge created a tangible difference between getting accepted respectably and just getting accommodated. It was one of the basics we established and followed.
Field work was integral, intensive and very close to my heart. The things happened in the marketplace; and should be taken from there. We as a team started an arduous and huge effort to establish, follow and practice ‘Work Standards’. It was easy to define work standards, but it took time and effort to get these into practice at all levels.
At the top team level, we defined the things we wanted to make mandatory in field work at all levels. We rolled out the idea as a starter. Then we started practicing and preaching these things at all times. It was a running theme in training programs, in discussions and in the field work. The launch of Max team also reinforced it because they were given this set of standards from the beginning. Their implementation was better, and they became sort of living examples.
I wish to acknowledge here that the entire team responded to it positively. As happens normally, some colleagues were more enthusiastic while others caught up later when they saw the value. My appreciation for them is life-long.
I have also learnt that bringing your own team with you is counterintuitive and counterproductive. I never did it and I still remain a staunch opponent to it. It is important to learn to work with the available team.
Only one argument is put forth in favor of moving with the team. The team leader says it would save time and he would become effective quickly.
I shall analyze this argument in the next Blog Post…….