What I learned as a brand manager about winning support

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Successful brands get buy-in from key stakeholders
Successful brands get buy-in from key stakeholders

Award-winning brand manager shares his thoughts on gaining support.

When asked to describe the biggest challenge faced in relaunching his brand, Jason Menzo, former Associate Director of Marketing at Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Inc., stated that gaining buy-in was mandatory for his success. Relaunched in 2010, Menzo's brand posted an impressive 58% increase in sales in the first 6 months, compared the previous year, with the same promotional spend and sales force size.

Menzo recommends that you solicit buy-in from these 3 key groups:

1. Senior management, especially when it controls the purse strings.

You want senior management to understand the rationale behind your launch decisions and to support those decisions. It's critical that people in senior management understand why you are positioning the brand in a certain way and that they support that positioning, since you don't want them altering the key messages weeks before launch!

2. The sales force needs to embrace the key messages, whether you are launching a new brand or relaunching an existing product.

It's essential that the sales force support your decisions, as the reps will be the primary contact with healthcare professionals. Their enthusiasm will be contagious.

If you haven't already done so, Menzo recommends forming an advisory panel composed of key sales force opinion leaders. Have this group weigh in on your brand's key messages. Then, take their recommendations and craft a stronger message.

3. Meet with the regulatory team right from the beginning. Menzo cautions against waiting until the last minute to submit a sales aid or website that needs immediate approval. If you foster early dialogue and gain buy-in to the product's positioning and key messages, your efforts should lead to a smoother internal approval process.

Developing mutual trust and a good working relationship is critical in today's social media environment. As companies explore the best ways to reach patients and interact with healthcare professionals, you may need your regulatory team to “suspend” its normal review process in favor of a quick response. This is easier to achieve when a good relationship has been established and you have the regulatory team's buy-in.

Advocating for your brand

When you have the support of senior management, the sales force, and the regulatory team, your brand, Menzo believes, is bound to succeed. As Menzo says, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When these 3 groups support your initiatives, your brand will have the momentum to succeed.”

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