Brand Differentiation

pkbzmfojesqzlwludnf5According to the U.S. Patent office, of all patent applications submitted over the past five years, 99% were for improvements made to existing products (i.e. the third blade in the Gillette Mach3 razor, the twenty-year light bulb, or the new & improved super-hold gel used in Donald Trump’s Hair).

Then there are the ‘innovative disruptors’ (a term created by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Cristensen) that have been created that profoundly alters the boundaries of an existing industry. Think Netflix vs. Blockbuster, Red Bull vs. soft drinks (energy drinks were non-existent prior), and Amazon vs. the world. Not to mention Nike, who dominates the athletic footwear industry with a shocking 62% of US brand share, more than four times the other brands’ combined value. Their logo alone is the world’s 3rd most recognizable image – behind only Santa Claus and McDonald’s.

So what improvements have you made recently to make your customers say “WOW”? If you’re not quite at the ‘innovative disruptor’ stage yet –that’s okay. But you should be on your way and striving to have a clear and substantial difference between you and your competitors.

Recently I was in NYC, walking just a few blocks from Grand Central Station over to Third Avenue. On my way to my (high powered) appointment, I noticed eight different dry cleaners in just a three-block radius! On my way back, I did some further investigating and noticed that each dry cleaner had their own special niche: one was 100% organic, one offered same-day pickup & delivery, one offered free pressing while you wait to get ‘freshened up’ (for members only), and yet another had a plethora of pricing plastered all over their window, so I assumed they were the K-Mart of the bunch. The point is this: each one offered a clear, unique value-proposition to their customers.

So, what does your business do – or what could it dowaaaay differently (better) than your competition? And how do your customers recognize the difference between you and your fiercest competitors?

Key Takeaway: Clarify and improve your difference, your competitive edge – is it clear to all of your employees, and more importantly, is it crystal clear and does it really matter to your customers? If not, Refine your offer. Communicate your value. Create your market attraction. Invest in WOW.

Need help delivering your value-proposition message to your customers? Founder and Creator of The Coelho Group, Michael Coelho has a proven track record (and lots of testimonials) of helping salespeople, managers, and small business owners improve their sales programs, increase customer loyalty, and develop their leadership skills. You can contact Michael at or call him directly at 508 277 5119.


How To Fix Big Pharma

Sauropod dinosaurs

The pharmaceutical industry has clearly been under stress during the past decade. The 12 largest drug makers in the U.S. as a whole has lost nearly 20% of their net worth since 2004[i].

At first glance, the common culprits come into play: R&D pipelines are running dry, blockbuster drugs are losing their patent protection, the average cost of bringing a product to market rose by more than 25% (to more than $1billion since 2010), and lastly, the billions of dollars drug makers have spent on settlements ranging from patient lawsuits from pernicious drug side effects, to pricing fraud charges.

What is rarely mentioned however, is the negative reputation and the growing lack of trust amongst the medical community about the pharmaceutical industry today.

During 2012, the pharmaceutical industry spent over $27 billion on promoting drugs, of which $24 billion was on marketing directly to physicians, with the balance spent on consumers[ii]. It is these very promotional practices and rep ‘reward programs’ that have alienated healthcare professionals. Case in point, in 2013, 40% of doctors’ offices severely limited the number of reps they admit each day, and 25% of hospitals and health institutions have implemented a “no-see” policy for pharmaceutical sales reps.

Today, some would argue that the industry’s reputation is not much better than that of the financial sector or tobacco companies. Yet, it wasn’t long ago that the pharmaceutical industry was considered among the most respected industries in the United States.

Just imagine you’re a physician for a moment. You know your rep’s compensation is affected by how much of her product you prescribe. You know they refer to you as a ‘Tier 1’ targeted physician. You know her company has spent millions of dollars on determining what exact message will influence you the most. Based on all this, how much would you trust the rep?

While sales rep measurements and compensation plans should not be eliminated (my last client firmly stated to me: “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”), there needs to be less micro-measuring of script volume, and more focus on how reps are cultivating long-term advisor relationships with their customers.

Some solutions I recommend on how the pharmaceutical industry should go about building long-term advisor relationships are:

  • Sales Representatives should focus more on treatment options and broader patient health issues, rather than on just prescribing habits with their customers.
  • More in-depth training for representatives in medical issues beyond those directly affecting the medication being sold.
  • Moving away from canned and scripted phrases & visual aids to a more consultative dialogue approach. Believe it or not, there are still some hap-hazard sales managers ‘dinging’ their reps (giving them “did not meet expectations” on evaluation forms) for not ‘closing’ the doctor or not reciting ‘all seven benefits’ of their superior medication.
  • Urging reps, within regulatory guidelines, to comment on competitor products when those products are better for a specific patient type / indication. What a great way to earn trust!
  • Conduct brainstorming sessions with cross-functional teams on how to build trusted relationships with the healthcare community. This may include a pause in influencing  – and a switch to just plain helping; and a pause in measuring – to just doing the right thing.