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Are You Crowdsourcing Your Brand Strategy?

CrowdsourcingAccording to Wikipedia, crowdsourcing is a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people. The most common type of crowdsourcing assignment that you might be familiar with is running a logo design contest. This is where you share a common creative brief with a diverse, distributed set of graphic designers that provide potential solutions for payment.

At ROF, we are starting to see pharmaceutical and biotechnology marketers embrace crowdsourcing with their most sensitive element – strategy. The approach boils down to gaining input on the brand strategy from all corners of the organization and deriving the final strategy based on this ‘disciplined’ approach.

However, the disadvantages of this approach are many, including*:

  1. Poor quality feedback – unlike the logo design example where you’re soliciting feedback from trained graphic designers, the respondents are not necessarily trained or well practiced in developing strategy
  2. Popularity Misleads – the number of votes cast for a particular strategy has nothing to do with whether or not it’s the most impactful for the brand
  3. Wrong Direction – amateur strategists too often lack the nuisances of the marketing and regulatory environment to provide thoughtful direction
  4. Derailment – by soliciting feedback, you automatically put yourself on the hook to provide a detailed response and frequent updates to those providing input, ultimately derailing or delaying the process
  5. Disengagement by Best Talent – high performers, well-versed in strategy development and steeped in market dynamics may withdraw from participation in a popularity contest requiring no credentials for participation

Crowdsourcing your strategy may certainly seem fast, appear to be cheap, and feel quantitative, however the results yield a bloated, unfocused strategy derived from group-think, not marketing science.

*Crowdsourcing: 9 Hidden Disadvantages of Crowdsourcing as a Method of Generating a Great New Business Name by Marcia Yudkin

The Potential Perils of Over-Relying on Expert Advice — A Visionary Tale

Today’s brand director launching the next big advance in science too often circulates exclusively among rarified air. What I mean is that their views about the market, prescribers, and patients are almost exclusively shaped by the 4-6 key opinion leaders (KOL) who specialize in their target market. Over reliance on KOL input to shape your clinical and promotional plans is fraught with danger. Let me give you a case study to illustrate.

A company provided unfettered access to leading KOLs in the field for a new product in advance of full-scale roll out. Each KOL was provided a concierge from the home office to ensure the expert was detailed on the product through and through . . . plus each expert had 24-hours access for help in using the product.

Here was the product feedback from experts verbatim:

“An utter disappointment and abysmal failure”
“I’m genuinely baffled by why we might need it”
” . . . great it is not”
“My god, am I underwhelmed”

As it turns out, the problem here was not really the product. It was actually that the “experts” who took part in this controlled test were constrained by their own realities. They were not able to think of what could be possible with this new product, only what currently was possible. Thankfully, the company had the courage and foresight to recognize this limitation and they launched anyway.

The product you ask? Apple iPad2.

*Adpated from David Pogue article appearing in NYTimes on March 9, 2011.

Setting the Strategic Lens for Segmentation

There is an epidemic in our industry of unusable segmentation models. While it’s easy to point fingers, we’ve found it more productive to first ask, ‘What is the business objective you’re trying to achieve with segmentation?’ The underlying business objective should drive the selection of methodology and type of analysis employed.

We recently sat down with a client who had been struggling for some time to apply a market segmentation to their brand. A little insightful digging revealed the problem—the brand’s strategic objectives were completely focused on driving adherence, while the segmentation model was focused on garnering acquisition. A little more digging—turns out there were a fair number of retention-related variables collected in the original study. So with some additional cross-tabs, re-profiling of the existing segments, and a presentation in a digestible format the brand team now had a segmentation solution their vendor partners could put into action.

Does your segmentation story have such a happy ending?

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