Sanofi-Aventis VP touts value of CRM

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In an ever-changing marketplace, pharma marketers must always be working on ways to foster patient relationships, according to the marketing VP behind Sanofi-Aventis' blockbuster Ambien CR.

"We are so far behind other industries but the good news is that CRM can change marketing practices," said Corinne Le Goff, VP CNS marketing, Ambien CR/Rilutek, Sanofi-Aventis.
According to Le Goff, a truly balanced marketing plan should include a mass-marketing and CRM budget, since CRM is the only way marketers can really start a dialogue.

"Avoiding CRM would be a big mistake," Le Goff said. "Our goal is to educate patients. We need to understand patient attitudes and beliefs. The impact of CRM provides an opportunity to create brand loyalty. To gain a competitive advantage over other brands and increase revenue, you must increase brand awareness."
Le Goff's remarks came during the Center for Business Intelligence's ninth annual Customer Relationship Management for the Bio/Pharmaceutical Industry conference held in Brooklyn, NY in mid-October.

Le Goff explained that Sanofi-Aventis is placing customer insight as a "key driver" of its marketing efforts over the next few years.

"Mass advertising is not the way to do it," Le Goff said. "With Ambien CR, we had existing DRTV, print incentives, Web initiatives. We built a database and work just got started to convert handraisers into patients and identify different segments."

Most importantly, pharma marketers need to talk directly to the customer.

"It's a threat to our revenues and to our health. We need to understand customer value and do it better than our competition."

For Sanofi-Aventis, that means communicating across brands.

"We need to understand cross branding," Le Goff said.

Le Goff joined Sanofi-Aventis' CNS group in September 2002 as head of new product commercialization for the CNS portfolio.

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