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Dear Pharma Veterans. I am starting this series of Blogs to share my learning about Pharma Business in Pakistan. It will be a series spread over several parts covering the entire spectrum of Pharma business.

Pharma Business – Marketing

In order to become successful, every business has to showcase itself so that the prospective customer can see, review and choose. This is Marketing at its simplest. The street vendors who sold commodities by walking along streets would call out what they were selling. They would invent catchy slogans and USPs (Unique Selling Proposals) about their products to attract customers. They were all-in-one. They promoted, they distributed, and they sold. And they kept on coming up with innovative ideas.

As the businesses became bigger and complex and more sophisticated, great amount of necessary and not-so-necessary ideas, projections, tools and documentation came in. There are two ways in which we can dissect Marketing; organic and functional.

Organic element of Marketing shall always start with ANALYSIS.

Analysis is based on information, feedback, surveys, trends and expectations. In Pharma, analysis is done on:

  • Market data – be it from IMS (now IQVIA), own surveys, market research etc.
  • Customer feedback – be it about your products, competitors, clinical preferences, patient experiences etc.
  • Therapeutic Applications – be they already in vogue or added new due to new research
  • Clinical studies – particularly relevant for newer molecules. In the first few years, many clinical studies are conducted which add new indications, new precautions etc.
  • Previous marketing plans – if the product has been on the market for some time
  • Previous promotional activities – if any

Popular tools for Analysis are SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and PEST (Political, Economic, Social, Technological).

Next step is developing STRATEGY.

‘What is Strategy’ by Michael Porter changed the concept of strategy fundamentally. ‘Five Forces Model’, also by Porter, is a great tool for developing strategy. Much can be said about strategy, but the summary is that Strategy is critical in Marketing.


Tactical Plan is the execution arm of strategy. What will be done? When will be done? How will be done? Who will do what? How much it will cost? These are some questions which must be answered in order to design tactical plan. Strategy is the guideline; tactical plan is the roadmap to follow.

Next is the PROMOTION.

Promotion is to introduce the product to market and customers. A larger team is required for promotion. Promotion would need some materials. Banners, flexes, folders, drop-cards, giveaways and gifts etc. are promotional materials.


Distribution is to take the product to marketplace physically and place it in relevant outlets so that the customers can buy it.

Final, is FEEDBACK.

Feedback comes from sales team. It should have information about market acceptability, trends, customer comments.

Pharma employs a large number of marketers; from entry level to directors. However, Pharma Marketing leaves much to be desired. I see many young marketers focusing on designing folders and packs, because they are asked to do so. They have no inkling about strategy. Promotional materials such as folders, drop cards, displays and gifts are designed in isolation; based on aesthetics primarily. This is a huge waste of talent, now and in future. If the orientation is started from ANALYSIS and taken up to STRATEGY, TACTICS, and PROMOTION, it will give them a sound basis for the rest of their career.

Another common problem put forth is the deal-making which marketers believe, is killing the marketing. Is it really so? We shall see in the next part.


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