Munir Shah, the MD of a large sized Indian pharma MNC was wondering if COVID-19 pandemic can truly transform the pharma industry usually seen as laggards. With India now seen as the potential world leaders in pharmaceutical and biotechnology products, how would industry leaders respond to this change?

He raised this issue during the general body meeting of “Indian Pharma MD’s Guild”. This exclusive Guild has 21 Indian companies which have a F&D and R&D base. These 21 companies contribute close to 65% of revenues of the industry. The MDs or the promoters of these companies had founded this Guild to drive the Indian pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry in the 21st Century. 

During the recent annual online conclave, Munir said: “The new work-from-home culture has blurred the division between work lives and family lives. And this has shifted what everyone values – human touch and bonding at work. Moreover, are our employee’s tech savvy to meet the pharma needs of the 21st century? I am a bit sceptical.” 

Responded Habib, another MD and also the Joint-Secretary of this exclusive Guild: “I see your point, Munir, and this perhaps calls for a change in our leadership styles too. We all look to your thoughts on this, Krishna”.

Krishna, a Harvard alumnus was hired by the Guild as its Secretary-General. Krishna had just retired as the Managing Director of a very large and a successful Pharma MNC operating in India. He was invited to give direction to the 21 members and take this Guild forward. All the 21 members felt that no one could be better than Krishna to handle this enormous task.

Added Narayanan, another member of this Guild: “Today, consumers, which for us also mean patients and doctors, are accustomed to excellent customer experiences from e-commerce sites like Swiggy, Flipkart and Amazon. Pharma online e-commerce sites are increasingly raising their technological standards. Consumers have tasted blood – top class CX. And of course, for our industry, this translates into PDX or Patient-Doctor-Experience. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if patients and doctors also expect the same levels of services from us – and that day isn’t too far off. Make no mistake, when I say services from our industry, I mean world-class PDX”

Krishna was in deep thought. He knew that the 21st Century Leadership in Pharma would require you to respond to the unique challenges which these three stalwarts had posed. And post-Covid 19 was a golden opportunity to show the real power of the Indian pharma to the world. A different kind of leadership would be needed, he said to himself.  

“I may not be able to respond to these questions immediately, but certainly I shall arrange a Zoom meeting where we can meet and discuss this issue at great length”.

Three weeks later Krishna met the 21 odd Guild members again on Zoom.

He said: “Much prior to the coronavirus attack, the writing on the wall was clear. The 21st century would need business approaches which are clearly different from those of the past. But pharma traditionally has been a laggard. On the other hand, patients and doctors will have a significantly higher digital intelligence than ever before. The need is to become a bionic organization and develop bionic leadership.” (1)

“What is a bionic organization and bionic leadership”, asked Habib.

Krishna responded with elan: “Let me first tell you what Richard Hutchinson, the MD and Senior Partner of Boston Consulting Group has to say on a bionic organization. ‘Bionic organizations are organizations that seamlessly link together the talents of digital and technology with humans, machines and AIs with humans, and they do that by being masters of data, of artificial intelligence, and of learning.’ (2) The successful company of the future will blend human and technological capabilities. (2) Leading companies in multiple industries are combining the strengths of humans and technology to create superhuman bionic capabilities.” (1)

“The successful company of the post-Covid age will blend human and technological capabilities, adapting the Bionics Model. Bionic Model involves technology being the focus, bucking traditional leadership styles, and giving more autonomy to its employees and empowering them.” (2)

Asked Munir: “Could you tell us some possible positive outcomes of this bionic model?”


“Of course,” continued Krishna; “A pharma bionic company has to marshal its human potential and its technical capabilities for superior treatment outcome of the patient’s. That should be the central goal. And then, patient-centric approach is inevitable. Patient-centricity is a natural outgrowth of H2H Mindset, so beautifully elaborated by Philip Kotler and his associates. Through patient-centric approach we will not only be able to take PDX to the next level but also personalize it. We can rebuild trust which is missing today. And this is happening across the world”

Habib and Narayanan nodded their heads in agreement. Added Munir: “This means bionic companies will need to strengthen the human enablers. You need to have employees who are design thinkers and adept in technical skills. They need to be flexible, adaptable, and have the willingness to learn continuously. We need experts who have these skills to take this bionic model further”.

“I agree,” said Habib, “but I don’t think we have people within our industry for this. We may have to seek help from outside our industry.”

“Exactly,” said Krishna, “companies which desire to become bionic, will need experts from outside pharma to become the technology enablers. Employees will have to be trained to use AI-powered insights to enable them to take better and faster decisions. That’s exactly how Covid-19 vaccines were developed at such terrific speed. AI-powered insights will enable the bionic company in design thinking, keeping patients’ treatment outcome in the forefront. This will enable delivering innovative products at lower costs, may be even personalized medicines”.

Munir appeared very satisfied.

“Let us now listen to what Miles Everson, John Sviokla and Kelly Barnes have to say on this”, continued Krishna.  “Businesses need to develop their behavior, cognitive, and network capital, so they can create and capture value that competitors can’t erode. Bionic companies can grow without relying on physical assets, or on managing funds and investments. Instead, they can grow by building and linking digitally based platforms”. (3)

“And how would you define a bionic leader,” asked Krishna but continued without waiting for an answer. “Let us listen to once again to what BCG says,” said Krishna. “First, adapt to a Silicon Valley leadership style – setting company goals, translating those goals into work to be done, deploying teams with the right capabilities, aligning the organization, and removing roadblocks. These leaders are much less involved in daily decisions. Rather, they step back to allow speed. They steer the organization by setting goals, adding resources for teams that are succeeding, and redeploying resources when teams finish work or initiatives fail. (4)

“Second, to build and manage a bionic organization the new leadership requires that legacy companies must master leading new types of talent, operating in an agile manner, and ensuring that their organizations build technology to drive outstanding results. The leader’s job now increasingly becomes designing and enabling the organization rather than managing it.” (2)

“The third: In the transition to the bionic company, purpose matters more than ever. Bionic leaders must have a strong sense of purpose, which energizes and aligns the organization around what it is trying to achieve. Leaders must be the purpose champions. The core competitive foundations of bionic leaders – such as value, differentiation, and advantage—are similar to those of traditional companies, but the strategies they use digital first.”

“Digital transformation, especially in India has accelerated rapidly in these 20 months; probably what would have normally taken 20 years has happened in these 20 months. Our sales force is dispersed and burned out. Brand managers and others in sales management teams are engaged day in and day out in meetings with internal and external customers. Webinars have become a pain in the neck. Doctors do not want to attend them anymore unless there is a world-class speaker or an outstanding topic. The online executive presence is very poor – of course, they cannot be blamed. There was no one to guide them. Even the leaders were oblivious of the importance of an online executive presence.”

“Yes,” agreed Munir, “but some self-learning leaders, are adapting and evolving – even thriving – in the face of all these changes and disruption. They even guide and help others. There are a couple of them in my own company.”

Said Krishna, “Great to hear this Munir, and they are then your leaders of tomorrow. They will be the ones who will help other employees to become super-human beings. My submission, spot such leaders within your own firms, nurture them, encourage them, train them using experts from outside our industry. And they will be your CEOs of tomorrow. Encourage them to be Level-5 leaders.” 

The meeting ended in a happy note. Munir Shah was applauded when he said: “Let us embrace the fact that the days of competition are over. The 21st century is the age of co-opetition and not competition. That’s the only way for India to become the true pharmacy of the world. Technology and humans interacting in new ways is at the heart of the new operating model for business—and of creating an effective post-pandemic organization. Thank you so much Krishna for guiding us!”

“Ready, set and go” exclaimed Krishna with a big smile.

References (Harvard Style):

  1. Boston Consulting Group (2020) ‘THE BIONIC COMPANY’ Available at: (Accessed: 29 September 2021)
  2. Boston Consulting Group (2020) ‘’ANATOMY OF THE BIONIC COMPANY’. Available at: (Accessed: 29 September 2021)
  3. Everson M, Sviokla J, and Kelly Barnes K (2018). ‘LEADING A BIONIC TRANSFORMATION’.  Available at: (Accessed 30 September 2021)
  4. Hutchinson R, Aré L, Rose J, and Bailey A (2019). THE BIONIC COMPANY: WINNING THE ‘20s. Available at: )Accessed 29 September 2021)

Pic: Free download courtesy pexels-kampus-production-6684746

Can Padocumers Fast-track Phygital Transformation in Pharma?

Can Padocumers Fast-track Phygital Transformation in Pharma?

The B2C market across the world is drowned in the constant waves of digitalization and innovation. Companies like the Amazons and Spotify’s have disrupted the market.

But pharma has always been a laggard – especially when it comes to digital transformation or more correctly, phygital transformation in the domain of sales and marketing. Pharma needs to take note of what Satya Nadella has said: – “Longevity in business is about the ability to reinvent yourself or invent the future”.

Digital-engagement technologies open up a whole new world for marketing, the exchange of information, and recruitment for trials. Pharmaceutical medical reps, medical-science liaison teams (MSLs), and patient-service teams can inform and influence patients, physicians, and caregivers in person or omni-channels to communicate with their physicians. Patients can use apps and online patient advocacy groups to speak to other ‘patients-like-me’.

Just imagine a situation where the patient of tomorrow is digitally street-smart, but pharma and the doctors aren’t? So pharma has to be vigilant and start delivering top-class PDX – Patient-Doctor Experience.

No matter how padocumer demands change, one thing they always want is an excellent PDX.  Padocumer means patients and doctors as consumers of pharma products.

The modern padocumer experience

The modern padocumer experience will come through patients delight at every stage of the patient journey. It’s all about the patient-centric approach in pharma marketing. Patient-centricity is the natural outgrowth of H2H Marketing proposed by Philip Kotler et al in their book ‘H2H MARKETING – THE GENESIS OF HUMAN-TO-HUMAN MARKETING’.

Digital marketing does not have emotions, neither do products. Humans do. Phygital marketing, a hybrid of physical and digital does have. Pharma leaders are realizing that phygital marketing leveraged by H2H Mindset has a disruptive potential.  Some are still unclear what digital success will look like five years from today.

Patients are getting engaged

Patients are getting more and more engaged as their Digital Intelligence is getting enhanced every day. Patients will feel empowered by the vast amount of information on health and disease available online, on apps, on social media, microsites of pharmaceutical companies. Patients will have access to fitness wearables. Digital therapeutics (DTx) will deliver medical interventions directly to patients using evidence-based, clinically evaluated software. Patients will themselves take responsibility to treat, manage, and prevent a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders.   

By 2025, patients may be less dependent on their doctors for advice. 

Digital-engagement technologies open a whole new world for pharma marketing, the exchange of information, and recruitment of patients for post-marketing surveillance. The field staff along with brand managers can inform and influence padocumers, and caregivers in person or through omnichannels. Patients can use patient portals for their medical records and to communicate with their doctors. Patient support groups can use apps to communicate with ‘patients-like-me’.

No matter how the padocumers demands change, one thing they always want is excellent PDX. And that is what will accelerate digital transformation in the digital age, or rather, the phygital transformation in the phygital age.

In the SoLoMo times, if the padocumers want to read contents that excite or interest them all they must do is type a few search queries on Google or tomorrow maybe even on Amazon. If pharma can make that process easier, more likely the padocumer will engage herself to your firm or your brand. The padocumer may even become your brand advocate.

Padocomers can thus accelerate phygital transformation and provide a seamless patient journey and Experience.

Credibility and Trust – The Lifeline of a Leader 

“Sir, what is that delicate line differentiating credibility and trust? And which one is more important for a leader?” asked Simone my student and mentee, during a Zoom conversation. Simone was just promoted a couple of months back as the sales manager in the oncology division of a pharmaceutical company.

“Can I respond to the second question first? Both demonstrating credibility and trust are important for a leader. Think logically Simone, how can you earn someone’s trust if you aren’t credible?

“Now Simone, put on your thinking cap and answer: how does one lose credibility as a leader?”  

Simone thought for a while and said: “There are a few things which come to my mind. If you promise someone something and don’t do it, you lose credibility.”

Like an excited fool I barged in. She gave an angry online glance which I deserved: “Yes Simone, sorry for interrupting. Bit I loved your thought. If you can’t keep your promise, don’t make that promise. It will show you in bad light as a leader. You immediately stop being a leader. You are metamorphosed into a manager without any credibility. Simone, tell the other person upfront, and that too immediately, that you cannot do it. In fact, you need not even tell the reasons for that.”

“Can I continue or are you going to stop me again?”. I looked at her sheepishly.

Simone continued: “Next, you need to be believable. You lose your credibility when you fib or bluff.”

This time I just smiled and nodded. Simone felt relieved.

“And finally, display your competence in the position you hold and the tasks you are doing. If you aren’t competent, ask for help. Else, you lose credibility.”

“These are a few things which came to my mind. Would you like to add on to this, Sir?”

“Simone, credibility positions you as a highly dependable leader. You are the source of expertise and information. To build up your credibility, show respect to all. Never be abrasive when you speak. A credible leader does not insult, manipulate, or humiliate anyone publicly or privately. That’s all I would like to say for now. Now tell me how do you build trust? And I promise I will not chip in before you complete.”  

Simone ignored me and continued, “To show your trustworthiness as a leader first be an aggressive listener.”

I was taken aback, but this time I raised my hand. “Yes Sir, you want to ask something?”

“Are you using the right word Simone? Aggressive listener?”

“Yes Sir. Most people are mere passive listeners. As an aggressive listener, you are not just listening to what is being said but also listening to how it is said. You listen with your eyes; you listen with your heart. You are now closely listening to the feelings of the speaker. And this shows your trustworthiness too.”

I gestured to show my pleasure and approval but did not dare to hinder her smooth flow of thoughts.

“Once again, honor your promises, no matter how small they are. You can earn an enviable reputation for dependability, reliability, and trustworthiness. This, in turn, can help you to develop and deepen your professional relationships.”

Simone continued: “The consequences of breaking your promises can be deep and enduring, whether intentional or otherwise. Your peers, your downline and even your bosses will hesitate to ask help from you again. Your bosses may allot important projects to someone else. You may be labelled as ‘Mr. Undependable or Mr. Untrustworthy! There will be a lot of dissatisfaction in the team.”

I was amazed at her responses and gestured at her to continue. “Punctuality also counts in building trust,” said Simone. “Punctuality is also a trust issue. The only way you build up other people’s trust in you is by consistently meeting your commitments — and that starts with being punctual. The person who is always on time is someone others can trust to be as good as their word.”

“Wow Simone,” I said when her eyes gestured, she was through. “I have learnt many things from you today, Simone. “Punctuality shows you value people, and you also value yourself.”

“Let me summarize what I learned from you today, Simone!”

“First, when you are credible and trustworthy, you will be acknowledged as a professional leader and before that, great human being – a trait of an H2H Leader”.

“Second, your followers will find a confidant in you, one to whom can entrust even with personal and intimate matters. And what more personal satisfaction can you get?”

“And last, but not the least, trust and credibility will separate you as a true H2H Leader and not a mere boss.”

“And can I add one last word Simone? Credibility and Trust is the Lifeline of a Leader If you aren’t seen as being trustworthy or credible, let me tell upfront to such persons: Please retire from public life.”

“Your final line is really very powerful Sir”, said Simone, “I shall remember this conversation lifelong. And finally, for you Sir,” she said with a naughty child-like smile, “Do you recall any promise or a deadline which you haven’t met?” and she burst out laughing. 

I got her message. I had promised to meet her at Mumbai in person on 31st July to celebrate her promotion. And today is 13th October. “Why the hell did you make that promise Vivek? Will Simone ever trust you in future?” I asked myself.   

What is HUBRIS?

What is HUBRIS?

It means EXTREME PRIDE. It is overbearing pride and arrogance.

A person with HUBRIS, often offensively boasts of his own competence, values, accomplishments, or capabilities.

He often does so because he is in a position of power.

I wish I could put these words in RED and BOLD? Why?

Because it signals DANGER to an individual!

Hubris can bring about the downfall of a leader; in fact, such a person is not a true leader but possibly a mere manager.

A true leader is humble – humility is the mark of a good leader!

Humility has nothing to do with being meek, weak, or indecisive.

On the other hand, it displays true power

Having a lowly opinion of oneself or being timid is not humility – It is a sign of weak leadership.

Resolve to work on your own humility and you will begin to notice and appreciate its power all around you.

Never underestimate anyone.

Like JRD Tata: Strong leadership begins with humility!

He truly had an H2H Mindset

Responsibilities and Accountability at Various Levels of Brand Management

Responsibilities and Accountability at Various Levels of Brand Management


The classical structure of the hierarchy is a tried and tested method of running a business. Although today many companies are moving towards flat organizations, at least in the pharma industry it is very, very rare. In fact, I have yet to see one.

With the head of the organization at the top, defined layers of management, and a mass of junior workers at the bottom, everyone knows who they’re accountable to and what is expected of them; or at least they are expected to know. A reality check will reveal that ambiguity exists in the responsibilities and ambiguities.

This is how I look at a typical pharma brand management team in India. There are four key levels in the hierarchy:

  • Level 1 – Brand Executive, Assistant Brand Manager, Brand Manager or Sr. Brand Manager
  • Level 2 – Group Brand Manager, Assistant Marketing Manager
  • Level 3 – Marketing Manager, Assistant General Manager (Marketing), Deputy General Manager (Marketing)
  • Level 4 – General Manager (Marketing), Vice-President (Marketing) or Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

Responsibilities at Level-1

In very simple language, at Level-1 your role will be that of basic learning and understanding the job of a brand manager.

Often you may be seen the handyman in the brand management team. Become one and with a smile on your face. You may be asked to perform research on competition in the market, developing campaigns and marketing strategies. At times it could even be frustrating. You may be asked to do a lot of work like extracting data from the retail shop audit reports (like AWACS or IQVIA) or from prescription audits like CMarc or SMSRC. You may not be asked to interpret it as this will be done by those at Level-2 or Level-3.

But surely, a proactive person at this level will try to interpret it and find solutions. You will be sending signals that you have capabilities and even leadership skills for the future.

Often your creativity and even great ideas may get stifled. You may even wonder whether you are in the right profession.

What should you do at Level-1?

The freshly-minted B-school graduates are very enthusiastic first-time marketers. They want to change the company. Indeed they want to change the world. They want to sprint before they learn to walk.

Many new people at Level-1 want to focus on strategy right away, losing track of the fact that at the current level, theirs is a “doing” role. You will be executing programs, analyzing results, and learning how to handle projects. While doing this, you can send signals you are capable of thinking and leading in the future.

A little later, you may be asked to handle a few minor brands in the portfolio.

If you organize the executive duties into ‘productivity management’ and ‘creativity management’ at this level, you may have to spend 90% of your time in ‘productivity management’ and very little in ‘creativity management’. This would include planning assets utilization, helping your seniors in digging out material for medico-marketing tools, and a few more.

What can separate the average Level-1 person from the great ones? The best seem to figure out the right thing to do and then make it happen. Fight through your exasperation and irritation. It can be the foundation and discipline you will use throughout your career.

Accountability at Level 1

As a learner, you may not be held accountable for any tasks. Freshers should consider this as an extension of the learning in their B-schools. Learn, learn and learn so that once you are promoted you may start performing like an accomplished brand manager.

Responsibilities at Level-2

 At this level, you still have to execute, but along with your first direct report. It could be a brand executive or an assistant brand manager.

Here is your challenge now to take on your first opportunity as a manager, or rather a leader of people.

 The success factor for you at this level is to learn to take ownership of your brand or brands. You need to provide the strategic direction, continue to work the system, learn to handle pressure, and get the most out of your direct report.

 How you can be successful at Level-2?

 Do not even mistakenly believe your role is only about managing others. This is the right time in your career to transit from ‘do-er’ to ‘owner’. Yes, you may certainly get your first chance to manage someone at Level-1, but make sure that effort is not a distraction from your opportunity to continue to learn and grow.

 What should you do at Level-2?

 Take ownership of your brand. As you progress in your career, this is a crucial step for you. Some may struggle with the transition from being the helper to now being the brand owner or rather the Brand-CEO.

 You will have to make the project list. You can come up with the strategies that set up the need for the projects.

Avoid a ‘telling voice’. Instead, use an ‘asking voice’. Prior to taking any decision, ask probing questions, as many as possible. Recall the 5-W’s and 1-H? Understand what those at Level-3 or Level-4 want and know from them. Once you feel comfortable have their expertise recognized. But never forget that Level-3 or Level-4 have only been recommended. But it is you who have taken the final decision.

 When managing at Level-3 and Level-4, be careful you don’t ask your boss what you should do. A great Level-3 or Level-4 leader will want you to tell them what you want to do, and may even debate with you. But never forget that you are the Brand-CEO.

 At Level-2, you become the steward of the strategy. Craft strategies that allow you to steer, control, inspire and manage the various functions and agencies that support your brand. Never forget the power of the ‘3-Es’. Embed strategy execution in your strategy. Keep everyone aligned.

At this level, you need to spend more time than before in creativity and innovation.

 Accountability at Level-2

 You will now be accountable for

1.   Brand share (prescription audit) and market share (retail-shop audit) as planned in the brand plan.

2.   Growth as planned in the brand audit.

3.   The P&L as planned. Point to note, many forward-looking CEO’s may even permit a planned loss to nurture a brand.

Responsibilities at Level-3

At this level, you look after a core business unit team. It is more about leading than about doing. The great challenge for you is to nurture and support the greatness of your team! Energize every team member to perform at their absolute best.

Your priorities change – from brand management skills into becoming a coach and guide to become a leader. Set a consistently high standard for your team and bring out the best in them.Keep your people in the foreground. People come first. Bring a brand vision to the role, and put the spotlight on your team. Have an open-door system so that you are approachable at any time. Lead the process and the numbers to ensure your people can focus on delivering the best – at the highest standard.

At this level you need to strike a balance between productivity management and creativity & innovation. At this level you may to spend over 50% of your time in creativity and innovation.

What should you do at Level-3?

Be accountable for the core business unit team.

As a leader, your goal is to help your team member complete tasks at the highest standards. Your team should align with the corporate’s overarching strategic goals. To achieve this, you must clearly articulate what those strategic goals are. In a crystal clear way, let the team know the specific work and processes that will be required of your team to reach them.

By becoming an effective communicator, you’ll remove ambiguity and ensure everyone is aligned and working toward the same goals.

Sharpen your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is your ability to manage your emotions, as well as those in your team. A well-developed level of emotional intelligence is the hallmark of strong leaders. You need to have a keen sense of self-awareness, empathy, and other social skills is someone who can energize and influence others. This is an important quality for Level-3 people to exhibit.

Openness goes hand-in-hand with both emotional intelligence and effective communication. It’s important that your members feel comfortable approaching you when they have questions or concerns, or when they need clarification on what’s expected of them.

However tempting it might be for you to micromanage your team, doing so can will be disastrous to the morale of your team.

You need to learn and know how to delegate responsibilities to your team. This involves understanding who’s best suited to complete a particular task. Make sure your team has the required resources to be successful and the members feel empowered to make their own decisions.

You will also be responsible for knit sales and the marketing teams.  

Accountability at Level-3

1.   At this level you will be accountable the marketing budget.

2.   The P&L of your team.

3.   The performance of marketing campaigns.

4.   Having the right people in right place.

Responsibilities at Level-4

As you move up to the Vice President of Marketing or Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), you will have to make some seismic shifts.

What is it that counts? Confidence or competence? Your people will be smart enough to distinguish between the two. The most powerful combination is competence, confidence and charisma together in one package.

Confidence is your own thinking on how good you are at something. Confidence may lead you to take rash risks. Someone who displays confidence, or a charming personality, can mask incompetence in his job.

So your responsibility will be to display competence i.e. your ability to do something efficiently and effectively.  If you are competent, you will act with caution when there are potential risks ahead. Your team members may not be misled by your charming and charismatic personality. Adopt the 5,5 leadership approach where you will strike a fine balance between your concern for the relationship and your concern for performance.

Again at this level, you have to invest a great deal of time in creativity and innovation, much more than anyone else. And that’s how you lead your firm to the next level.

What should you do at Level-4?

You will now be the spokesperson for marketing to every function within your organization and every external forum. You need to realize that the smarter your people are, the better will be the performance and results.

Consistently have at the back of your mind that anything and everything you do is through the greatness of other people. Your people will always come first. Put your team under the spotlight Be an approachable leader, Focus on delivering what needs to happen. Invest in your people and you will see the difference.

Display humility but at the same show professional determination and firmness. Take blame for poor performance, but give full credit to your team when you succeed. Set high standards to build eternal brands – brands that last. Do not settle for anything else.

Be a leader who leads with all of your body parts: your brain, your heart, your soul, and your gut! 

Accountability at Level-4

1.   You will be accountable for the effective overall marketing management of the firm.

2.   For strategic policies including merger and acquisition of brands.

3.   Implement a system of checks and balances that ensures your team members’ voices are being heard.

4.   Finally as Peter Drucker wrote: “The purpose of a business is to create a customer,” similarly that of a CMO is to create loyal customers who become the advocates of the brands or of the firm.

These responsibilities and accountabilities are drawn from my own experiences of 32 years of hands-on experience in brand management. This is not the final verdict but a broad guideline to clear the ambiguities of many in pharma marketing and sales teams. This will also depend a lot on a firm’s culture and the mindset of the entrepreneur.

I am open to suggestions and criticism from the readers. In fact, I will welcome dissent.  

Where are you on the Phygital Maturity Curve?

Where are you on the Phygital Maturity Curve?

Developed by Vivek Hattangadi

What is the Phygital Maturity Curve? When you are in the phygital transformation mode, do you know how well you are progressing?

Keep at the back of your mind that digital is merely a medium. What you need is a digital strategy blended with a strong human touch. This is what I define a phygital. Phygital marketing involves merging the worlds (and words) of both physical and digital experiences.

Surprisingly, a Fierce Pharma survey concludes that even in pandemic times, doctors want certain sensory aspects of the real-life.

Very often, doctors associate the faces of the pharma reps with their brands. And when you put a face to a brand, it increases credibility. Physical meetings have the personal touch which digital mediums do not offer. Visits from pharma reps build a strong rapport with the doctor and when done right, you nurture brand loyal or at least close to brand-loyal doctors for a long time.

Here are a few golden thoughts of Philip Kotler in “Marketing 4.0”!

  • “We believe that the technology convergence will ultimately lead to the convergence between digital marketing and traditional marketing.””
  • “In a high-tech world, people long for high-touch.”
  • “Help customers on a human level through various stages of the buying process and lifecycle.”

At every platform, in every, article, in every book, Philip Kotler implies the power of the phygital approach.    

Digital and phygital are strategic; not tactical.

While writing this blog, I have started on the premise that no process is perfect; no organization is perfect. There is always room to improve.

The phygital maturity model or curve shows how capable you or your firm are while striving for continuous self-improvement. (Please see the figure.)

Phygital in pharma is in a stage of transformation. Everyone wants to go digital. But digital transformation is much more than implementing more and better technologies. Let me reiterate; it is aligning people, culture and the tasks. And hence the phygital touch.

Before you can know where you are on the phygital maturity curve, you should know where you want to go. And for that, ask yourself two questions:

1.  Where are you are?

2.  Why are you here?

And that will lead you to know where you stand in phygital maturity.  

Let us see the various stages of digital transformation.

·      The Starting Stage – Awareness

·      The Developing Stage – Mobilization

·      The Maturing Stage – Trust

The Starting Stage – Awareness

At this stage, there is very little awareness amongst the employees of the firm of the potential of phygital. There is a lurking fear that digital will take away jobs. This delays the adoption process. You discuss the patient-centric approach in marketing. And this is virtually impossible without phygital intervention.

Ad hoc and infrequent phygital initiatives do exist. Senior leaders are minimally involved. Most decisions are taken by the traditional hierarchy.

Individual people are communicating working to build phygital awareness.

The Developing Stage – Mobilization

Now the vision, a compelling vision, is defined for the phygital transformation.

This vision touches the Human-to-Human Mindset. You start mobilising everyone in the phygital approach.

You start training the field so that they evolve from pharma reps to knowledge workers where they execute the patient-centred strategies. You reinforce the importance and their new roles. You will describe it as very rich. You will rise much above the ‘Please prescribe doctor’ or ‘Doctor, just one prescription per day’ role.

Senior managers from all the functions also get involved in product development. The employees stop working in silos. All have only one vision: “Superior patient treatment outcome”.

They assume leadership for phygital strategy execution.  All in the firm have autonomy and are proactive.

The Maturing Stage – Trust

Phygital is now considered as a strategic asset for the firm. Phygital is embedded in work practices.

H2H Marketing and its natural offshoot, the patient-centric approach get internalized with all the functions in the firm – whether R&D, F&D, HR, Finance and more – not just Marketing and Sales.  

Leadership is open and participatory with decentralized decision-making. partners and other external people are connected virtually.

Strategic principles in the phygital approach are based on openness and trust – the foundation of H2H Mindset.

The thrust is now on customer-based brand equity with the ultimate aim of making doctors and patients your brand advocates.

This will reduce the marketing costs and can now be redeployed to develop people and enhance their salaries above the industry average.

Where are you on the Phygital Maturity Curve? You keep on plotting periodically and see your progress.  

And never forget: Phygital Transformation is an iterative process! The iterative process is the practice of building, refining, and improving a process, project, product, or initiative. Firms that use the iterative development process create, test, and revise – they’re perpetually and constructively dissatisfied

Want to Write Good Medico-Marketing Copywriting? Don’t Read This!

Want to Write Good Medico-Marketing Copywriting? Don’t Read This!

Isn’t this a shocker? Learned from David Ogilvy. Your headline is the ticket on the meat. And that’s where a pharma brand manager spends time.  

In the pharma industry, copywriters are also called as medico-marketing writers. While in the western and countries, this job is done by specialized and trained professional copywriters, in India and Bangladesh, brand managers are responsible for medico-marketing writers

Brand managers, therefore, need to produce engaging copy, clear text for different channels such as leave-behind literature, websites, medical print ads, and more.

So whom should we learn from? Obviously from the best copywriters in the world. But before we do that, let us know the nuances between copywriting and content writing.

Copywriting and content writing

While copywriting is to sell your brand to your doctors, content writing often informs, educates, and may even entertain the readers.

The main aim of copywriting is to persuade a doctor to prescribe your brand. Content writing, on the other hand, keeps them informed about your brand and maybe even educate them.

Copywriters write headlines, taglines, and slogans, Content writers write for websites, microsites, blogs, social media, e-mails newsletters, and white papers. For instance, what you are reading now is content writing.

Learning from well-known copywriters

Undoubtedly, the greatest copywriter I know is David Ogilvy. What does he say in his book “Ogilvy on Advertising”?

“Your role is to sell, don’t let anything distract you from the sole purpose of advertising.”

“If you (medico-marketing writers for we in pharma) don’t start doing your homework, you won’t have a chance in hell to produce advertising that’s successful and that sells.”

“Write great headlines and you’ll have successfully invested 80% of your money. On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Let us learn from a few more copywriters who are in the Hall of Fame.

John Caples says that one of the most frequent reasons for unsuccessful copywriting is that advertisers are full of their own accomplishments. They forget to tell why you should buy or why doctors should prescribe your brand.

Do not write “World’s best pain relief product”. Instead, write “Brings smiles on millions of patients who have pain”.

Now let us listen to Eugene Schwartz. He says ‘Write with your ears”. The essential step – in turning an item into an ad, is turning yourself into a listener. You listen to two ways: first with your ears, and then with your eyes. You hear everything you can about the product, and then you read everything you can about the product.

Lazy ears produce bad ads. Sharpen them.

I also admire Joe Sugarman. He writes that when people perceive general statements as puffery or typical advertising babble, those statements are at best discounted or accepted with some doubts. By contrast, statements with specific facts can generate strong credibility.

Don’t write “Anti-spasmodic used by millions of pediatricians in the world”. Instead, write 7548 pediatricians in India have used this anti-spasmodic in infants and have seen a smile on their mother’s face”.

What is the lesson we can learn from Claude Hopkins? Although born in the 19th century, he is followed by copywriters even in the 21st century. He says “express briefly, clearly and convincingly”.

Don’t write “Install our hospital app to really alleviate the stress and pain of getting admitted to our hospital” Instead write “Our app helps to get emergency patients admitted to hospital in flat 30 seconds”.

Many of us are following Victor Schwab unknowingly. He writes in his book “How to Write a Good Advertisement: A short course in copywriting”, about the five steps in writing a good copy. And the last but important step is the “call for action”.

When a medical representative tells a doctor “Please prescribe today so that your next patient gets immediate pain relief”, he is following Victor Schwab.

And one of the greatest copywriters from India was Bal Mundkur, the last great advertising nawab, as Economic Times describes him. He once said: “A copywriter must know everything there is to know about the product: how it is made, what are its special attributes and features, the market it is to play in, who are the likely competitors. Only then will the copywriter be able to transform the product into a brand.”

And who well this fits in the Bangladesh and India, where we market branded generics and nothing much to differentiate say between famotidine of Torrent Pharma or of Sun Pharma. 

Developing copywriting skills is a continuous never-ending process. One skill you need to apply in abundance is the power of emotions. Like David Ogilvy says, “stuff your conscious mind with information so you always have plenty of material to work with”. Digging deep into valuable sources of information will enable you to confidently state key facts, form stronger opinions, and offer better solutions in your writing is the best lesson I learned from David Ogilvy.

Vivek Hattangadi

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Status is onlineVivek HattangadiChief Mentor – The EnablersPublished • 3d140 articles

H2H Marketing in Action – The Year 1995

H2H Marketing in Action – The Year 1995

Design Thinking, the Third Pillar of H2H Marketing!

1.  Product Manager: Thought Leader – Arun Prasad (Intas Pharma, now the 7th largest company in India, now moving ahead to be the top 5) was given the task to introduce a new product

2.  Challenge: The 6th Brand and all competing brands in strips of 2 tablets

3.  Product: Seczol DS containing Secnidazole 1 gm in a tablet

4.  Dose: 2 tablets (i.e. 2 grams stat i.e. together) as suggested by the originator company for the best treatment outcome.

5.  The tablets are too big. Patients had difficulty in swallowing.

6.  Patients took 1 tablet on Day 1 and 1 tablet on Day 2

7.  Doctors invariably prescribed one tablet on Day 1 and one tablet on Day 2.

8.  Result: Desired efficacy compromised – Doctors said secnidazole wasn’t giving the desired treatment outcome

9. Brainstorming and Integrative Thinking – The F&D Team was deeply involved in the brainstorming session and in integrative thinking

 10.  Outcome of integrative thinking: A new idea never thought of before. The F&D Team delivered the prototype and the final product delivered

11.  Two tablets in a single pouch (See the image). Patients and doctors knew both tablets have to be taken together!

12. Tagline: Just 2 tablets of Seczol together – and that’s all. People loved to verbalize again and again.

13. Final outcome: The 6th brand introduced went on to become the No. 2 Brand in the category

Content Creation for Pharma Digital Marketers and Brand Managers

Content Creation for Pharma Digital Marketers and Brand Managers

In this era where we are all evolving into homo digitalis, pharma brand managers must look beyond traditional forms of promoting brands.

Today, it is vital that you must get noticed.

And how do you get noticed widely in the shortest possible time?

By crafting a digital marketing strategy and getting it implemented.

If your brand has a strong online presence, it will help you attract new padocumers* and increase their loyalty.

And how do begin or strengthen your online presence?

Creating valuable content that can help you, and the padocumers.

And how do you do that?

Create rich contents which match what the padocumers need.

These three tips may help.

  1. Content should be entertaining

.Your main goal is to engage your padocumers and get them interested in what you are sharing. You can create content that can make the padocumers laugh and amuse themselves.

Who says doctors cannot laugh? Use humor in your contents. Not the Bollywood slapstick comedy, but subtle and higher form of humor which you read in the works of Mark Twain or P. G. Wodehouse.

You can excite them. You can shock them. You can wow them!

Content creation in the form of a story can help you further.

Telling a story that will stand out amongst the hundreds of other pieces of content available on the internet and mobile apps is not an easy feat. It’s a skill you need to develop.

Intrusive marketing is a sin says Seth Godin. Use Permission Marketing, which he says is a technique where consumers themselves decide whether or not to permit companies to market to them.

When your contents are able to pull the padocumers towards you, getting permission wouldn’t be a hassle.

2. Content should not just be entertaining, it should be educative

Educative contents build trust.

What can the padocumers learn from your content? Padocumers generally look on the internet for information that has answers to their questions. 

Questions are a critical component of educative content.

For instance, when I visit the Almighty Google, I literally type the question I have in my mind. Then Almighty Google leads me to a place where I find my answer.

The same is true in content writing. Answering questions which the padocumers are likely to ask will lead them to your content in the internet space.

So if you desire to go higher in SEO, you must answer the question which padocumers may ask. Ultimately you may be recognized as a thought-leader in your industry.

3. Empower your padocumers, especially the patients

What is patient empowerment? World Health Organization defines it as process through which people gain greater control over decisions and actions affecting their health.

Padocumers, especially the patients will always be in need of empowerment, inspiration and motivation to make it through their patient journey successfully.

If your brand can make that promise and fulfill it then that will make it more valuable in their journey.

For patients, especially those with chronic disease, it is critical that they and their caregivers are empowered to be their own advocates.

Your content should be educative so patients feel empowered.

In conclusion, good content is the cornerstone of an effective online brand campaign. 

Using the three tips, you can establish yourself and your firm as trustworthy experts in your field. 

The content you create should be edutaining and empower the patients.

Your RODI will increase.

In fact, providing high-quality content is one of the most important things you can do to attract padocumers and create interest in your brand and your firm.

*Padocumers = Patients and doctors who are consumers and customers of pharmaceutical products

The Boring Vivek Hattangadi…

The Boring Vivek Hattangadi…

Have you ever spoken at an online webucational program?

In April 2020, I spoke at my first online webucational program on Zoom conducted by my friend Ravikumar Angadi.

I was not just a little nervous but very, very, very nervous.

That fateful day came. My mouth was dry.

I did not even know then that slide presentations were possible on Zoom, That was the level of my DQ.

I wasn’t able to figure out why my voice was not audible to the audience.

I could distinctly hear experts in the audience sneering at me.

Would I be able to keep the audience’s attention in such a milieu?

I somehow completed that program using voice recording.

I had noticed in many previous webinars the audience was getting tired.

Perhaps they’d even sneak out to watch some other event.

Some speakers keep rambling on and on.

Many panelists in panel discussions swayed away from the main subject and spoke irelevantly.

I could sense the audience were checking their phones, and fidgeting in their chairs or sofas at home.

Many webinars later, I decided to find a way engage the audience.


Dr. Swati Sinha and Dr. Satish Gupta my online mentors suggested polls and questions on the chatbox.

I asked questions.

It turned out I could keep the audience’s attention by applying these techniques.

But then a 45-minute program went on to be one and a half hours.

I distinctly remember that a private one and half program on a subject on brand management stretched for three and a half hours.

Some people praised me for my energy levels, stamina and endurance.

But did I think of the audience?

No; not at all.

Although I am still trying to find newer ways to engage the audience and to free them from boring monologues, I have decided in the future I shall use these four techniques.

1. I shall maintain time discipline – come what may. Maybe I shall break potentially longer sessions into more frequent but shorter webucational programs.

2. I shall empathize with my audience at the beginning of the talk, and I shall tell them how my talk would be useful to them

3. I shall remain focused – I shall know exactly what people should remember from my program.

4. At the end of the talk, I shall remind my audience how implementing my ideas would make their professional and even personal life better

Frankly, I’m not a gifted speaker.

But writing has helped me.

I’m now confident enough to communicate my ideas with flair.

I feel connected to audiences across South & Southeast Asia and the Middle East countries.

Please join me in my coming webucational programs and see the difference.

Warm regards,

Vivek Hattangadi