North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Business

May 24, 2010

Business AdVise: Change is still the only certainty in business

NORTH JEFFERSON — “May you live in interesting times,” reads the quote. How true it is to know that we are living in both interesting and changing times that have us emerging from another tumultuous year with the future for many still uncertain.

Previously we have written here on the need to not just change, but to seek it out and embrace it to remain competitive. Change is both necessary and possible, and now is the time to go after it in a strategic manner. It is not just the concept of change, but a metamorphosis on such a large scale that your predecessors may not believe their eyes.

In my primary industry, which is the pharmaceutical sector, there is a fundamental rethinking of market research, the entire industry, and what it now means to be in healthcare. Perhaps the same may be said of your sector, be it banking, retail, information or any number of business types and descriptions.

In the pharmaceutical world, there is discussion of the role of evidence-based medicine and the creation of niche busters, not block busters. For a highly regulated industry such as banking or pharmaceuticals, the need for clear product positioning in the marketplace has never been more important.

According to Jim Kirk of Quintiles, companies need to apply VIGOR to their marketing strategy.  VIGOR is valuable, innovative, global, outstanding and responsive.

Value means being the keeper of product history and data, as well as bringing value and insight to the market. Innovation means breaking with the status and running after new ways of thinking. Global doesn’t mean just emerging markets and geography, but considers the different potential audiences that may play into your market such as regulators, governments and restrictions to business. Outstanding does mean standing out. What makes you truly unique? Lastly, make the strategy responsive to include faster, smarter, resilient, cheaper, or just plain better.

The challenge remains the quest for understanding your customer at a very high level without emotion and in a service mindset. Looking at the pharmaceutical industry, for example, the days of the customer just being the physician are long gone. Now industry marketers must address a plethora of customers in the mix to include insurance coverage, step edits, unemployment coverage, patient access in general to medicine, price and ability to pay, and of course clinical outcomes, to name a few. If you work in a regulated industry, the list is most likely the same with just the names changed a bit. 

The name of the game has always been and continues to be about efficiencies, and a fine balance between what we want and what we can afford. Are you still running the same studies in your industry that yield the same old results with little insight? Here comes that word change again. Change the way you ask the question, collect the data, or assess the outcomes. The bottom line goal is the same: Bring the voice of the customer to life. The ability to understand what the customer is doing, thinking and feeling are the only way to drive him or her to a decision and action.

And remember, take care of your customers, or someone else will.

You can find additional readings on my blog at http://businessadvise4u.blogspot.com. Teresa Vise works for Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals and supports the Fultondale Chamber of Commerce.

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