PMCQ U Presents: Pharmaceutical Idol!
My fourth semester at PMCQ U raised some tough questions. Like, what am I going to do with my life after graduation? Who is that cute red-haired girl in the second row? (you know who you are… call me, okay?). And… what is the best strategy for becoming a pharmaceutical marketing superstar?
Okay, I didn’t ask that last question until I saw it on the invitation, but it’s a good one. Judging by this year’s overflowing attendance, it’s a question many pharma pros are pondering.
First, we met the esteemed Pharmaceutical Idol judges: Clare Lord, Senior Partner at Tamarind Healthcare Communications, Enza Cignarella, Senior Medical Communications Manager at Pfizer, and Terry O'Shea, Business Director at Sudler & Hennessey. A tough panel faced with the tough decisions. After each performer, the audience voted electronically on which star-power secret was the one that will take a marketer to the top of the pharmaceutical charts. Then it was the judges’ turn to weigh in, raising the most burning question of the morning: which one is Simon Cowell?
In his talk about transitioning from sales to marketing, the energetic Patrick Gushue, president of Pangaea Development and Training, woke us up with an enthusiastic and challenging pep talk. He first polled the class to find out “who used to carry the bag.” And a large number of students admitted they had. In fact, Patrick revealed that 80% of pharma marketers had been reps at one time. He characterized being a sales rep as loners out there just “getting it done,” which made reps pretty good candidates for product managers. Patrick outlined the three key things to keep in mind when you finally get that PM job: 1) I don’t know anything; 2) My opinion doesn’t count; and 3) My job is translation. The audience selected point number 3 as the most important lesson, believing that the PM’s most important role is as the go-between who “gets it done.”
Next up: Anne Searles, president of the Institute for Business Technology, admitted that she has a techno-contrarian view of superstardom. Her job is helping professionals work smarter and offered her definition of a pharmaceutical idol as a head office superstar that can get everything done in the time allotted for less money than they planned. How do you do that? It’s simple: handle your technology without becoming a “techno weenie.” In other words, don’t let the technology rule you. More importantly, Anne provided her big five techniques to make you a star: 1) Act nice. Learn some cell phone and email etiquette (please); 2) Look good. Get organised and make sure your workspace shows it; 3) Lose your bling. No, not the jewellery. Turn off the “you’ve got email” alert bling so you won’t be distracted by the latest joke, chain email, gossip or occasional work-related message, and concentrate on the tasks in hand; 4) Six clicks. Those are the sounds of your mouse and the turning of pages. Quit checking and rechecking your emails, messages and to-do lists, and staring thinking and working like a leader. Look at only the five days ahead. Plan your meetings instead of just scheduling them. Simple, right? 5) Unchoose. Forget about multi-tasking and create a “don’t do” list instead. If major corporations can sell-off big chunks of their assets, we can start focusing on what really matters. Because success lies in what remains undone. Which was the best star-making point? The audience believed we should act nice, while the judges chose to unchoose.
Gaétan Huneault’s presentation on product lifecycle management focused on three key messages. First, plan early, preferably during new product development. This is the time to develop the strategies that address all of the key moments in a pharmaceutical product’s life: initial pick-up, the moment the product peaks and, just as importantly, the product’s life extension. Second, use demographics as a strategic tool to better understand and better segment your target audience. When you know your audience, you know how to develop your clinical programs and your marketing strategies. Third, be creative and innovative with your product’s lifecycle extension strategies. Learn from case studies, don’t be afraid to switch early and don’t hesitate to consider more than one strategy at a time. Idol judges and audience were unanimous, everyone thinking that planning early was the key to being a superstar marketer.
Dr. Mike Atkinson, professor of psychology from Western University closed the morning with an important lesson. Dr. Mike’s expertise is in how to engage an audience with winning presentations. Covering everything from setting the stage to body language to involving your audience, the good professor revealed many solid guides and backed them up with indisputable facts. His top five included thinking in 10-minute chunks, remembering that presentations are performance. And don’t forget that your audience’s attention decreases with time, so make your point and do it early. Put 70% of your material in the first 10 minutes. He warned that if your audience isn’t learning, it’s not them, you’re not teaching. And for you PowerPoint enthusiasts out there, three little words you must never ever forget: less is more! Finally, the next time you make a presentation, be yourself. The judges were evenly split on not-learning-not-teaching, less is more, and be yourself, while the audience wholeheartedly agreed that, when it comes to presentations, less is more. Now if everyone would only do as they say.
By Rich Hammond