Friday, November 11, 2011

Do You Know The Score?

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Today's guest post comes from at closerlook, inc. He blogs at digital-pharma.tumblr.com and pretty much lives on Twitter (@digital_pharma) if you'd like to reach out.


If I have to explain to you that the pharma industry is huge, both in America and abroad, you are reading the wrong blog. Go type “barrel roll” into Google or something. The rest of us are working here.
If you work in a multinational, multi-billion dollar company, maybe managing a brand (or a small one – let's say it only pulls in ten to twenty million annually), you have access to a million-plus in marketing budget, access to a few hundred reps who connect to a few thousand doctors to talk about a handful of their patients.
How are you keeping all that straight?

Spreadsheets? Okay, sure. Are you spending your day inputting all the info in by hand and hoping whatever formulas you have built in are useful? I hope not.

Let's face it. If you are managing even a tiny brand, there are so many numbers consider that it boggles the mind. How many of those numbers are coming in daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly?
It's not so much the quantity of numbers that's the problem, it’s the fact that they arrive in chunks, at weird frequencies, days and weeks after the event they are tracking occurred. As a brand manager, you're supposed to keep track of all these numbers. And beyond that, you’re supposed to actually know what they all mean and be able to make decisions based on them.

Think of it this way: let's say today is the day you had that idea – that magical “I was in the shower and it just hit me” idea – and you want to implement it. Maybe it's an under-served segment you know would embrace your message, or a great way to pitch your product to reps, or even a great way to reach HCPs at a conference. The question is: even if it was a “set the world on fire” idea, how long is it going to take for you to determine if it really was a great idea?

Days? Weeks? Months? If that conference is two months away (about enough time to re-think your marketing strategy and actually execute it), you're talking three to four months to see if that idea took hold and increased script writing.

The world isn't built on big ideas. It's built on small ideas, executed well and repeated over and over. Democracy isn't so much a big idea as it is millions of people voting every so often. Capitalism isn't a big idea so much as it is billions of people making individual choices for themselves and families and organization every day.

The iPad isn't a big idea, it’s the product of a million little decisions made based on an idea that people want to read more wherever they are. The difference between Starbucks and your local coffee shop isn't the idea (they sell coffee and offer a ’third place’), but in the million little branding and business decisions they make every day.

So maybe your brand isn't a blockbuster (and maybe it is – time is running out to make the most of it!), but success doesn't come because your brand solves a big problem, but because of the million little decisions you make every year.

So how do you determine when your decisions were good ones? I'm betting that you know your annual and quarterly sales, you know your sales by region, and maybe your sales by decile. What else do you know?

How much of understanding and acting on that “what else do you know” question is farmed out to other companies? That’s just going to add lots of time between an idea’s execution and its feedback.
The question becomes: do you know the score? Do you know how all the little micro-scores that make up the big score?

Micro-score? Yeah. Your football team is winning and your quarterback has seven touchdowns. Are the two related? Heck, yeah. The big score on the scoreboard is an outcome of all the micro-scores that happened. Your center didn't score a touchdown, but because he’s protecting the quarterback, the quarterback can score. Eleven people are on the field, each with a vital job to do. When one person blows it, the whole team will feel it very quickly and it won't be long until that one low micro-score is dictating the big score on the board.

So do you know all the micro-scores that make up your annual sales? The reps, the HCPs, the campaigns, the engagements, and the conversions (at any and every level)? A good coach knows that one guy is having a great game, and another guy isn't. A great coach knows all the micro-scores and makes adjustments to make the most of good micro-scores and minimize the effect of bad micro-scores.

Doesn't that seem like a good way to describe your job?

If you are the coach, do you have the information you need every day to make those smart coaching decisions? Do you know when to stop shoveling money into that program because it isn't reaping the benefits? Do you know when to start moving resources to that other campaign because it's moving the needle? If it’s months before you know, the game’s half over before you can make decisions.
So, if you’re ready to be the coach, if you're ready to make decisions, do you know the micro-scores?
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