Growing your biotech brand
Using the analogy of good planting can help with the care and cultivation of your brand.
For suburbanites like me, early spring presents an opportunity to ditch the shovel and salt crystals for seed spreaders and fertilizer in an all-out effort to win Best Lawn of the Neighborhood.
Last Sunday, during my latest trip to Home Depot (seems to be once or twice a week in the springtime), as I toiled over the decision to purchase the latest EZ or Smart-start grass seed, I began to grasp similarities between growing grass and building a biotech brand. The comparison for you as a biotech brand manager is uncanny.
1. Test the soil–get a keen understanding of the soil’s PH, the amount of sun the ground gets, what type of grass already exists (if any), and the dampness of the soil.
To begin building brands, you need to know your therapeutic marketplace–such as key prescribers, referral patterns, the competitive environment, unmet needs, patient demographics and usage data.
Unless you have a firm understanding of all marketplace elements, strategy can be ill-defined, product positioning flawed, and forecasts grossly over- or understated.
Once you have a solid understanding of your soil (marketplace), you can begin to fertilize your unique turf environment.
2. Fertilize the grounds–apply the ideal balance of disease-fighting elements and grass-fortifying nutrients.
You need to lay the appropriate foundation for the launch or continued growth of your brand. To achieve commercialization goals, you must ensure you are providing the best environment for your product.
Fertilization can take the form of an annual brand plan or even the proper alignment of teams and resources. It may also be something as important as preparing the marketplace with disease-state information to gain initial corporate or product awareness before launch.
Now that the groundwork is complete, you are ready to plant seeds in your newly primed environment.
3. Plant with only the best seed–for small areas, spread by hand; for large plots, use a spreader.
Once the product has been approved by the FDA and you can begin promoting your product, it is time for you to put the product (seeds) into the hands of the sales representatives.
And, depending on the size of the sales force and the areas that need to be covered, messages will need to be either personally delivered (by hand) or conveyed via a multitude of non-physical promotions (spreader).
Once the seeds are planted, continue to nurture the product in order to foster growth and ensure continued usage in the therapeutic category.
4. Cultivate–promote germination and the development of strong roots.
In this time of me-too and fourth-to-market products, when drugs certainly do not “sell themselves,” distinguish your drug from its competitors.
Through strong marketing efforts, provide optimal conditions for the brand (seeds) and use bold messaging and branding to nurture this differentiation in the mind of the physician. Through this unique branding you will be able to successfully introduce the product, influence the physician at the time of script, and cultivate a relationship with physicians in your effort to make your product their brand of choice.
As your product begins to flourish above ground, and strengthen beneath, keep looking after your brand to secure sustained growth with key prescribers.
5. Maintain–water, mow, weed, and water some more.
Continuous review of brand objectives, sales forecasts, and market segments will help to ensure that your product maintains or increases its market share.
Consistently communicating with key opinion leaders, high-decile physicians, and community doctors—whether through sales rep interactions, attitude and usage surveys, or ad boards—is time-consuming but necessary when you are faced with increased competition.
Building a successful biotech brand is a process: one that is not always as linear or as straight-forward as is growing grass. By using this analogy, however, you can at least ensure that you are considering all stages—from testing to maintenance.