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Engaging Simplicity


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Cover article in Pharceutical Marketing Magazine Dec 09

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Engaging Simplicity

  1. 1. insight | strategy | innovation Engaging the Power of Simplicity By Richard Bates, European Pharma lead at Clear What’s the most overused claim in marketing? Probably: “my market is different and unique because.....” It is claimed by marketers in every sector from Financial Services to internet retailers, to hotels. In every sector it is used as a reason why approaches and ideas from other sectors cannot be employed or learnt from directly. Arguably, pharmaceutical marketers have more right to claim this than any other. Given the amount of science and data required to launch and explain each product, the regulatory environment, the mix of different audiences that must be engaged - from patients to physicians and payors – as well as the level of investment required and the diversity of products and indications all combining to make it a daunting environment for marketing. What’s more this complexity is only going to get worse. As the functional differentiation between products gets narrower, regulatory cost reduction pressure on the sector increases and as pharmaceutical companies put greater emphasis on developing ever more sophisticated ‘world class’ marketing processes. However, the real issue is not the level of complexity, but the sector’s inability to create brands that cut through it. That’s why we believe, more than ever, Pharmaceutical marketers need to learn from other sectors where the most successful brands all have one thing in common: the power of Simplicity. The most successful brands grow because they relentlessly pursue simplicity: in their Ideas, Execution and Focus. They cut through the complexity by being more selective and by making difficult choices. The result is that they are leaner and get better returns from their marketing investments. What do we mean by Simplicity? Why is it biotech companies are better able to innovate and be more responsive? One reason may be that complexity is often encouraged by a large Pharmaceutical organisation’s hierarchical culture. In many companies complexity becomes reassuring and comforting. If an idea is complex and needs to be explained by masses of data it must be clever, well thought through, be robust and have taken time and effort to create....No? 1 of 4
  2. 2. insight | strategy | innovation insight | strategy | innovation Simplicity is notthe Power of Simplicity Engaging about “dumbing down”, or skimming over the detail. On the contrary it is about working through the detail to understand what matters. In many ways, it is far harder to achieve than complexity. If you take some of the most The truth is that finding and selling the most motivating benefits is not successful ideas from any field, what shines through is the way something inherently complex has been worked at to make it simple to engage with and understand: Einstein’s law of relativity or the engineering of the Apple iPhone are well worn examples of such beautiful simplicity. Another good example of the power of Simplicity at work would be the Ryanair brand: now the third-largest airline in Europe and the world's largest in terms of international passenger numbers. The idea that directs this brand, and that it communicates at every opportunity is very simple: ‘the lowest cost airline’. It never deviates from its message or from trying to drive down the base cost of flying. Some would argue this is at the expense of all the enjoyment! But that in itself demonstrates the power of simplicity. Ryanair looked at the market and the customers in it, and their needs and frustrations with what existed. It then chose to focus on those customer groups who put value ahead of comfort. Ryanair understands these consumers and doesn’t try to appeal to anyone else. Indeed the brand revels in the fact that not everyone likes it, because that just makes its message and identity stronger. Offering a very different level of service is Ocado. Ocado delivers the gold standard for shopping delivery by focusing on a more up-market customer segment. They have understood their target customers’ needs in detail and identified what kind of service they will pay for. Ocado has then built its brand around the idea of: ‘friendly reliability’. This idea drives everything about Ocado: from their one hour guaranteed delivery window, good customer services delivered by the man in the van or via the phone, reliable regular text updates & customer guarantees, and user-friendly website & phone apps, even colour coded bags - Everything is built with the purpose of delivering this simple idea. Can Simplicity be achieved in Pharma? It may be harder, but we believe it can, and there are examples, of brands that have achieved it already. Cialis and Viagra are both ‘simplicity’ brands and demonstrate that simplicity is not just the privilege of the first treatment to market. Viagra is truly explicit about 2 of 4
  3. 3. insight | strategy | innovation insight | strategy | innovation communicating its core brand idea – especially in markets where advertising standards are less strict! The brand is very male oriented, focusing on those patients who see erectile dysfunction as reducing their masculinity. In contrast to The truth is that finding and selling the most motivating benefits is not Viagra’s brand idea of ‘rediscovering your masculinity’ the Cialis brand is built on the idea of ‘be spontaneous’ recognising that there are patients and couples who miss the spontaneity that is lost due to erectile dysfunction and the existing treatments. Both brands are driven by a very clear and simple brand idea, derived from focusing on one well understood customer target and consistently communicated through everything they do. Whether by default or design Avastin is also a brand that demonstrates the power of Simplicity. At the core of the brand is the idea of ‘progress = success’. As an idea it is one that resonates strongly in all areas of oncology where there is a consistent desire to maximise both the quantity and quality of life patients can enjoy. As a result Physicians have to make calculated choices when it comes to treatment - Weighing up the potential benefits. What they lack is certainty, and in this environment the idea of progress or ‘breaking convention’ gives greater confidence. This idea is maintained via a sustained succession of new trials and indication listings as well as extensive use of real world patient results in their communications and publications. How do you get greater simplicity? There is no process for achieving simplicity. Rather, as we’ve already stated simplicity can be achieved by ensuring the brand has 3 things: 1. Clarity of focus 2. A brutally simple idea at its heart 3. Relentlessly consistent execution Therapy areas are complex and treatments can offer a range of potential benefits, but that’s why Simple brands succeed. Because they stand out clearly, are easy to understand and make the choice easier for customers. Achieving simplicity is dependent on having a clarity of focus. This comes from truly understanding what makes you market and customers tick. What drives customers: both rationally and emotionally, what are their needs, frustrations, fears? You also need to know your competitors as well as they know themselves - not just their data but what space they are trying to own in the therapy area - how they are communicating this and 3 of 4
  4. 4. insight | strategy | innovation insight | strategy | innovation Engaging the Power of Simplicity how this might change. This amounts to having deep market insight. Insight that can inspire the development of your brand idea by identifying truths and tensions in the market and the resulting challenge the brand can address. The truth is that finding and selling the most motivating benefits is not Insight on its own is not enough. Many brands have the insight, the understanding of market dynamics and their competitors but they fail to make choices. Which customers, insights and competitors are important and which can be left alone? It may be a complicated road that leads to the ‘big idea’ that sits at the heart of your brand. But once it has been found, working at it until you have absolute simplicity is essential. The idea needs to be relevant to your chosen customer, to resonate with them, but it also must be something that everyone understands and is inspired by, regardless of who they are. If you can’t write your brand idea on a napkin so that your mum understands it, it’s not simple enough. If you enter any successful brand’s offices and ask the first person “what their brand stands for?” They’ll know, and be able to tell you how it has influenced the part of the operation they work on. Everybody understanding the idea and what the brand is about is just the start point for ensuring consistency of execution. Once the idea has been created everything the brand does must be consistent with that one big anywhere in the world and brands like Coca Cola or Nike stand for the same things. The adverts or where you find the brand may differ but they are always instantly recognisable. Consistency of both tone, and message drives recognition and ensures customers understand what your brand brings to the therapy area. So we believe the pharmaceutical brands that succeed in the future will do so despite the complexity of the market environment, by understanding and engaging the power of Simplicity. 4 of 4