As the pressures for pharma marketers have expanded over the past year—the Avandia scare, heightened public scrutiny on marketing and an unsure political future—so have their earnings, according to MM&M‘s Career & Salary Survey 2007.

Paychecks for medical marketers across the board have ballooned by over 6.9% during the past 12 months—from $125,054 in 2006 to $133,700 this year.

According to Dina Katz, managing partner of Advent Search Group, a New York-based medical communications executive search firm, not only are pharma marketing salaries going up in most sectors, candidates are asking for more money and perks.

Kevin McGuire principal and founder of Scottsdale, AZ-based executive search firm Imperative Resources says it has become increasingly apparent that the days of finding pharmaceutical marketing job seekers are really and truly over.

“Anybody worth their salt is not looking (for a job),” McGuire acknowledges. “The burden is now on the company, they’ve really got to be able to put together something that’s really going to compel somebody to look at them.”

Firms—from pharmas to meeting planners—are doing all they can, by offering higher salaries, stock options and eco-friendly workplaces to attract and keep top prospects.

According to MM&M‘s Career and Salary Survey 2007, marketers employed by manufacturers in 2007 continued to pull in the highest average salary at $148,998, a sizeable 11.2% increase over last year’s figure of $133,932.

One of the reasons for the continued fattening of paychecks for marketers at manufacturers, according to Ron Williams, senior director of recruitment at AstraZeneca, stems from the underlying battle between pharma companies vying for the best talent.

“As you look at marketing and some of the other disciplines, you can just feel it,” Williams says. “Now, how you find talent and how you go and get it is becoming more of a challenge.”

Sharon Maltagliati, executive recruitment partner at AstraZeneca adds, “I have noticed fierce competition.”

“We all know there’s tremendous marketing talent across any number of therapeutic areas within the pharmaceutical industry,” Maltagliati says. “However, where we have truly noticed competition, fierce competition, would be in the therapeutic areas of cardiovascular, oncology and diabetes.”

Another factor helping drive up manufacturer marketing salaries, according to Jim Topor, director, global staffing at Schering-Plough, is the general difficulty in finding “top pharmaceutical in-line brand marketers, especially people who have experience in global markets.”

“In the last few years, we have seen a greater appetite for top talent,” Topor says. “With that, hiring managers’ expectations of candidates have increased. Requirements that were once ‘nice-to-have,’ often now cross into the “must have’ column. Expectations seem to be higher for the same level of job.”

Thus, the rules of the recruitment game are changing.

“It’s not about senior level talent as much as it is about accomplishments and about the character of the individuals in those roles,” according to AstraZeneca’s Maltagliati.
AstraZeneca’s Williams adds that to get experienced talent, companies are looking at alternate ways to groom candidates.

There are alternative ways to recruit because not everybody is going to get that experienced “gem” that they want, he says.

“I think it’s looking at whether the person has pharma experience and if they don’t, do they have life experience that can easily be transferable over?” Williams explains. “Can they quickly learn about the pharma way? Those are the types of discussions that are happening around recruiting.”

Marketing professionals working for advertising agencies trailed just behind manufacturers in terms of average salary at $139,104 for 2007, a substantial 11% increase over last year’s figure of $125,279, MM&M‘s Career & Salary Survey results show (Fig. 2).
Guy Pedelini, McCann Healthcare Worldwide SVP, director of worldwide human resources, says, “We have seen an increase in salaries for the senior-level people and the middle-management people, who are top performers.”

Salaries have also risen significantly at the 13 companies within the CommonHealth network, according to executive vice president, chief talent officer Susan DiDonato.

As increases in demand for work in highly specialized categories such as oncology come pouring into agencies, the demand for marketers with high science experience has increased dramatically.
“In our market we have niches that are just going to command a higher number,”  DiDonato says.
Imperative Resources’ McGuire explains that agency account people with a high science background either in oncology or hospital anti-infectives are at an advantage when it comes time to talk compensation.

These people can often command a 10% premium, McGuire says.

“I also find there seems to be a much higher demand for people with advanced degrees in science, PharmDs or even MDs or PhDs,” he adds. “I used to be able to get away with (placing) someone who had a liberal arts background and an innate ability to pick up the science. Now it seems a lot more companies really want the advanced degrees and are willing to pay for it.”

At CommonHealth, finding qualified senior copywriters has become a formidable challenge, DiDonato says.

According to Advent Search Group’s Katz, “If somebody is a really good copywriter, especially if they have an advanced degree, they are highly sought after,” she says.

Mid-level movers
Rising agency salaries is one of the ways some medical advertising shops are attempting to hold on to their best mid-level talent.

Unfortunately, among agencies, this is where a good chunk of the movement of personnel continues to be.

McCann’s Pedelini says his network continues to see movement among personnel who are three to five years into their career.

“This is when they have finally gotten some real client-level experience and developed a relationship,” he says. “It’s after you’ve grown that person and you’ve paid them within your salary ranges and suddenly they are more valuable because of that experience to a competitor than they are to you because of your internal range.”

CommonHealth’s DiDonato explains that for some mid-level employees, it doesn’t take very much to get them to jump ship.

“Where we are in New Jersey, they are going across the street for an extra $5,000” she says.
“We don’t want that to happen, but sometimes it does due to our proximity to other agencies,” she says. “Their friends are over there. It’s very communal at that point.”

Publishing ‘tailspin’
MM&M‘s Career & Salary Survey shows that salaries in the publishing sector are down considerably from $99,760 in 2006 to $89,534 in 2007, a decrease of over $10,000 or 10.3%—the only sector to show a decline (Fig. 2). 

“As you know this market is in a tailspin right now,” says Ascend Media’s healthcare division president Will Passano. “Luckily we have been very stable.” Passano attributes Ascend Media’s even keel to explain its “good quality sales force.”

“Good salespeople are worth their weight in gold,” Passano says. “When you get good quality people internally and you recruit them, that’s always the most critical thing going forward.”
Elsevier’s director of human resources, Jay Getto, says that contrary to the MM&M Career and Salary Survey’s findings he hasn’t seen salaries go up or down.

“We have been paying competitive overall,” he says.

“What we have been seeing,” Getto adds, “is candidates asking different kinds of questions about the work. People are putting weight on intangible things. Base salary may go down or go up. It doesn’t mean total compensation has changed. People may be putting more weight on how much time out of the office they have as much as the work they have while they are here.”

One of the “intangibles” Getto speaks of is allowing talented workers to work from home or remote locations rather than to lose them to competitors.

“In certain circumstances, we have a remote office worker program,” Getto says. “We have Elsevier employees working in all 50 states and we certainly don’t have offices in all 50 states. That’s driven by the requirements of the position and the requirements of the business. I’d like to think that Elsevier is more progressive in that area than some of our competitors are.”

Meanwhile, Passano refers to Ascend as a company that is location agnostic when it comes to its employees.

“With technology, there is little that we can not do,” he says. “If these employees are good, I’ll take them wherever they are because they just may be in a situation that prevents them from relocating.”

Service suppliers, including medical education firms and medical meetings firms, saw the greatest year-over-year increase among any sector surveyed—an 18% increase in salaries from $119,597 in 2006 to $141,162 in 2007.

One reason may be that new accreditation criteria and an emphasis on quality improvements may be sparking somewhat of a demand for better qualified CME professionals.

According to Advent’s Katz, the higher salaries may also be a direct result of the shortages of qualified medical directors and medical writers in the field.

Location, location, location
The geographical location of a company was once considered a major factor in recruiting top-notch talent. 

Now, with telecommuting becoming an increasingly used and realistic alternative to losing top talent to a competitor, location of a company is becoming less of a factor when it comes to recruiting and hiring the best of the best.

Nineteen percent of MM&M‘s Career and Salary Survey respondents ranked being able to work from home as either No.1 or No.2 in terms of importance at their job.
And many firms are already well on their way to accommodating some of the industry’s most talented medical marketers.

Advent Search Group’s Katz says she works with a client that allows a portion of their medical writers to be home-based.

“They can be very selective because they have been very successful,” she says. “Five years ago this was just unheard of.”

Katz adds that some companies outside of New York City are going as far as to create satellite offices, or are in the process of doing so, to gain access to additional talent.

“Some firms offer flexibility where employees work from home one or two days a week,” she says.

When telecommuting is not an option, larger firms such as pharmaceutical companies tend to offer attractive relocation packages to reign in top-notch marketing prospects.

“We have the good fortune of having our principal locations within a hub of pharmaceutical and marketing activity,” says Schering-Plough’s Topor.

“But when relocation is required, we have programs in place to manage the process. Often, we find that the opportunity presented by the job itself helps us to acquire and retain the top talent we need,” he says.

AstraZeneca’s Maltagliati adds, “We have a great relocation package here, however there are certain roles where geography can become an issue, let’s say in sales. I have not experienced that. It’s not so much about geography or location as it is about personal family dynamics of our employees or our prospective employees.”

The gender gap
MM&M‘s Career and Salary Survey found that a salary gap continues to remain between men and women across the board.

Men earned an average of $149,731 in 2007 while women earned an average of $111,772.

Despite the survey’s findings, the executives we spoke with in the industry said that if a salary gender gap in medical marketing truly does exist, they continue to see little evidence of it.

“I don’t see a gender gap in our business in any way,” says McCann’s Pedelini. “In fact, I have to say most of the senior execs in the McCann operations are women and most are doing very well.”
Schering-Plough’s Topor adds, “We have not seen a difference between salaries paid to men and women.”

CommonHealth’s DiDonato says that a large portion of her agency’s workforce is female and she has not noticed a pay disparity.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a gender gap here. I don’t think it’s an issue anyway, especially since there’s such a glut in the market.”

Data for the MM&M Career & Salary Survey 2007 were collected between July 30 and August 8 using online questionnaires e-mailed to MM&M subscribers. Responses are unique and confidential. For additional insights and data, please refer to the MM&M Career & Salary Survey 2007 Premium Edition, available September 17—see page 53 for details.