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In December we predicted a wild ride in 2008 for pharmaceutical marketing research. Well, the new year is here, and to get ready this is what I think we need to do.

First and foremost is training. While our professional organizations are attempting to ramp up programs on how to conduct marketing research per se, e.g., training on methodologies, little or no attention is paid to raising trainees' consciousness on how the things we are studying really work. While each of these topics is touched on here and there at various professional conferences, there is no systematic training program that lays a foundation and then updates pharmaceutical marketing researchers on such important issues. 

Second, we continue to spend thousands of hours, on both sides of the table, dealing with the paperwork resulting from the procurement policies that many pharmaceutical companies have implemented. While master service agreements, preferred vendor agreements and agency of record agreements all seem reasonable at face value, we've been wrestling over these documents for too long.  

Finally, we as pharmaceutical marketing researchers have to learn to take a bigger perspective and to look around us just as our consumer marketing research counterparts do. 

As Faith Popcorn (how many remember her?) did a decade ago in Clicking, and Mark Penn just did in Microtrends, we  have to get much better at examining societal trends, even small ones, so  we can work with rather than against them to make our marketing  efforts more efficient.

We'll have to do other things as well, but these are three important places we can start.  Now!

Richard Vanderveer is group CEO, GfK US Healthcare Companies

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