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elandas blog

Beer vs. Healthcare Product Marketing: We’re Completely Different, or Are We?

Hayley Bohan

by Hayley Bohan

Today, I’m CMO at elandas, the company that streamlines and accelerates the flow of actionable business data for marketing and sales teams in Pharma, Medical Device and other Life Sciences. But before I ever came to this fiercely competitive industry, I thrived as a marketer working with beverage brand rock stars including Moosehead Breweries, Labatt Canada, and Jim Beam.

Just the other day I was thinking about the obvious contrasts between these highly regulated industries, and it struck me that there are really many similarities between them and winning marketing strategies that apply to both. I decided it would be fun to have a chat with one of elandas’ top advisory board members, Daniel Waits, who is Worldwide Sr. Marketing Manager at BD to gain his insights too. Here’s a look at our conversation.

Hayley: Ok Daniel so in both industries we have multiple stakeholders, and that drives a need to develop individual strategies for different target audiences.

For example, in beer sales, you have bar & restaurant owners and managers, retailers, the government, and of course consumers. In the healthcare world, it gets even more complicated. There are payers, providers, patients, support caregivers, pharmacies, hospital administrators, health care systems, and governmental bodies and each group needs to be understood.

Daniel: That’s exactly right Hayley. In both industries there has to be a systems thinking approach. It’s important to map out those stakeholders and understand the interconnectivity among them. Bring all of the key people together to eliminate silos. Define the desired outcome that everyone wants and do it in one initiative with tactics that are tailored to each stakeholder group.

Hayley: Data is king in both worlds. To be effective in beer marketing, you have got to be able to predict how an initiative is going to affect sales so you can actually have the product available when it happens. Worst thing, and I’ve seen it happen is spending time and money on an awesome campaign and then demand skyrockets and you reap no benefit because you didn’t have the product available to meet the demand. Beer marketers must be able to predict how the market will respond—historical data on sales, competitive campaigns, how the weather affects sales, how elastic their brand is to price discounts, new market entrants, and sales rep input can all help to unlock the mystery.

Daniel: Yes, data is also king in Life Sciences and, strong segmentation helps you to understand whom you are targeting. Life Sciences marketers must have clear data that will assist in forecast assumptions to empower targeted marketing plans. Both industries need ways to analyze and layer data for better decision-making, forecasting and opportunity identification.

Hayley: Let’s talk about innovation. For any company to survive, they need to innovate. For a beer marketer, innovation is constant, a new look, a brand extension, new promotions, new events, new packaging, social campaigns, collector items… you name it. After all, beer is beer – and it’s how you position it and connect with your customers and consumers that will set you apart. Is marketing innovation as critical in Life Sciences?

Daniel: Innovation is crucially important and expected in the healthcare space today. But, it’s key to make sure innovative ideas and strategies are defined by the unmet needs in the market. In healthcare, it’s not always about a “new product” because there are other market access challenges that must be taken into consideration. These can include things such as access, reimbursement, etc.

Hayley: What about the roles competition plays? In beer marketing you can be sure there is always a new brand, or a new twist on an old brand getting ready to enter the space.

Daniel: It is important to understand the competitive landscape that you play in. What is the value of your product or service? Why should customers and end users want to use it versus other products? It is important to define these variables as new products enter the market to help understand what response and tactics can be used when new products enter the market.

Hayley: Any marketer would be remiss not to take into account influencers. In beer, it’s the guy with thousands of Facebook friends, or the beer of choice at the hottest club. For Life Sciences companies, this is a much more complicated thing. Understanding which doctors are influenced by which networks is important, are payers influenced by other payers, how are patients influenced by their doctors, friends and networks. Influence mapping is crucial.

Daniel: Yes, you definitely want to identify the gatekeepers of what it is you want to do. You need to take into account today’s information landscape both internally and externally. For example, in medical device selling and marketing, you need to understand the landscape of hospital administrators, who are the people you really need to connect and communicate with on that level. Also, your relationships with suppliers are also important because they have to love you to want to promote you.

You are going to want to understand how to build your marketing plan around specific un-met needs. And, social blogs and active members in your therapeutic area must be considered. At every stage of development, launches, life-cycle management, you need to ask yourself who are the key influencers that can help drive your strategy.

Hayley: Daniel, I really want to thank you for having this discussion with me today.

Daniel: Always a pleasure Hayley. And now, maybe it’s time for us to actually have that beer.


elandas helps life sciences marketers gain better control over data and processes giving them the power to accelerate sales. See how by checking out our personalized demo.

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Topics: HCP Sales & Marketing, Team Alignment