POST SUMMARY: To say that 2014 has been a challenging year for pharma would be an understatement. Budget cuts are kicking in and 86% of Rx’s are now generic medications while sales and marketing budgets have hit a dead end. More than that a lot of very talented and good DTC marketing people have left the industry because job satisfaction is a lot more important than a paycheck.
According to Fierce Pharma “in addition to worrying about downsizing their departments, these execs should have been a bit more worried about keeping their best employees around. A recent survey by Randstad Pharma found that more than half of biopharma employees wanted a new job” Half? That’s a very troubling trend.
The hiring process within the pharma industry is more centered on whether someone will “fit in” rather than if someone can actually excel and implement changes that lead to breakthrough marketing. I interviewed with a biotech firm in Cambridge not too long ago and while I may not have been right for the contractor position in eMarketing their lack of basic business courtesy was a turnoff and an indication that people within pharma still have a long way to go to hire good people.
Each of us, both agency people and those working in pharma, have to be the change that we so much need to see. We can ill afford “glory seekers”who like to stroke their personal brands by presenting at pharma conferences. The only measure of success is knowing that we have helped patients make great health choices through our DTC marketing not in some self inflated opinion of our work.
The best agency pitch I ever saw was from Ogilivy One when they came in and simply said “we don’t know enough about your business to propose online solutions, but we can show you some of the things we have done for other clients”. Recently, at a client’s request, I was part of an agency evaluation that included a whole online strategy, even though they didn’t understand the clients’ culture or have access to in depth research with the target audience. Needless to say they didn’t get the business.
I now reach over 70,000 monthly readers with this BLOG and I am humbled but I am writing with my heart and passion for the industry. I would love to work for one company again and develop a digital strategy through implementation again, but too many fear that I’ll rock the boat and won’t be a good gear in their machine. That is the reason that pharma marketing is becoming more irrelevant.
One thing I have learned is that there are a lot of ups and downs within this industry and biotech companies that think they know it all soon realize that they don’t have the people to innovate when the competition finally zeroes in on their products. Those who can look into the future and realize that the organizational tree needs to be shook are the ones who will benefit; those that try and fit in with their two monitors are the ones who are going to play employee merry-go-round.