Pharma marketers: keeping abreast of new technologies

Rebecca Aris interviews Murat Tanoren

Boehringer Ingelheim

As our Marketing Excellence month continues, we speak with Murat Tanoren, marketing manager of Boehringer Ingelheim, on what he has learned throughout his career and how he thinks marketers can keep abreast of new technologies.

Murat Tanoren works as the marketing manager at Boehringer Ingelheim in the disease areas of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.

His has extensive experience in pharmaceutical marketing and has developed several award-winning marketing projects, including an innovative symposium format that utilised 3d hologram technology. Here he shares what he’s learned from his successes, and how pharma marketers can keep abreast of emerging technologies whilst remaining customer centric.

Interview summary

RA: Murat, you’re the marketing manager of respiratory, urology and neurology lines at Boehringer Ingelheim (BI), could you please tell me how you became to be in this role.

MT: I started my pharma career with Pfizer Turkey in 2003, where I worked in various functions. During my marketing tenure, I was lucky to launch three products, re-launch one product, and develop several medico-marketing initiatives. I then joined Public Affairs leadership team as Market Access Manager first and Corporate Partnership Coordinator later, where I led the development of new business models mainly in partnership with the Ministry of Health (on smoking cessation) and telecom companies. My last assignment was a regional role for the Caucasus and Central Asia before joining BI Turkey. As of April 2012, I am working as the marketing manager for CVM (CV and metabolic).

RA: What differences have you noted in marketing across the different therapeutic areas you work in?

MT: Hospital anti-infectives is a business led by tenders, where key account management and OL relations are critical. The cardiovascular market is all about competition, a mix of mass marketing, micro-segmentation and targeting is necessary while disease awareness, diagnosis and treatment are also important leverage points. The respiratory market is a mix of both. However, strategy development and execution through proper positioning, key initiatives and performance indicators are the basics for all markets.

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“…we developed an innovative symposium format utilising 3d hologram technology…”

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RA: You’ve developed several award-winning marketing projects, what have you learnt from these successes?

MT: One has to start with the end in mind. Once strategy is crystal clear, i.e. choices are made and it is accepted that not all can be done with the resources available, then the successful outcome can be envisioned. The rest is about leading through with the brand team and of course, right third party partners. For instance, in order to launch an ARB successfully in the hypertension market, we had to maximize awareness in the target segment and shine out in the plethora of competitive messages. Therefore, we developed an innovative symposium format utilising 3d hologram technology for the first time in the Turkish pharma market, which resulted in record-breaking attendances.

RA: How do you think marketers can stay abreast of new technologies?

MT: In the pharma 3.0 environment, it is crucial to become personally involved with trends such as social media and mobile technologies. It is always a good idea to set up Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn personal accounts and start interacting with important people in the pharma marketing domain. In addition, the Y generation team members should be encouraged to share new ideas and concepts. Finally, it is important to work with agencies that have substiantial experience with these new technologies.

RA: How important is it to understand how customers use new technologies?

MT: Being customer-centric is taunted as the motto in many organisations, pharma and non-pharma, yet it is easier said than done. Several methods could be employed to find out how customers use these technologies. Field visits are important to observe the customer perspective first hand, advisory boards are important to get the perspective of the experts and there are many research studies available out there.

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“In the pharma 3.0 environment, it is crucial to become personally involved with trends such as social media and mobile technologies.”

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For instance, nearly two-thirds of doctors in Turkey own or use a smartphone for professional purposes, and just over one third use a tablet at work, according to a new study by Manhattan Research. Key findings include:

• Sixty four per cent of online physicians own or use a smartphone for professional purposes and 35 per cent own or use a tablet for professional purposes.

• Online physicians in Turkey access the Internet throughout the workday – 60 per cent go online between patient consultations, most often to use drug reference databases and government resources.

• Twenty three per cent of physicians surveyed said they participate in pharma online promotional programmes and 59 per cent said they would be interested in doing so.

RA: What skills do you think the pharma marketer of tomorrow need?

MT: We need new “ring masters” now, a new breed of digital savvy marketers that also possess the high co-ordinating skills of the traditional brand manager. It is more important to acknowledge the need to evolve first and work on the mind set before diving into digital initiatives.

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“…nearly two-thirds of doctors in Turkey own or use a smartphone for professional purposes…”

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RA: And finally, what do you think is next for pharma and social media?

MT: I am looking forward to see how pharma integrates social media in gamification initiatives, to make healthcare costs sustainable and to drive behavioural change in order to ensure holistic disease management. It will be interesting to see whether non-traditional entrants such as retailers, IT companies, telecom and FMCG companies will have an impact as they are actively moving into the health arena.

RA: Thank you for your time.

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About the interviewee:

Murat Tanoren is the marketing manager for CVM (cardiovascular and metabolic) at Boehringer Ingelheim Turkey. Formerly, he was the marketing manager for the rest of the portfolio, respiratory, urology and neurology lines.

Prior to BI, he worked for Pfizer Turkey in various functions. During his marketing tenure, he launched three products, re-launched one product, and developed several award-winning marketing projects, and took a regional role for the Caucasus and Central Asia.

He also worked in the Public Affairs team as Market Access Manager and Corporate Partnership Coordinator, where he developed new business models in partnership with the Ministry of Health (on smoking cessation), telecom companies, academic institutions and NGO’s.

Murat holds a BSc (High Honors) in Industrial Engineering from Bogazici University, Istanbul and MSc (with Distinction) in Engineering Business Management from the University of Warwick. Word-of-mouth marketing has been his main interest since 2005, which evolved into social media over the years. He is a member of the Turkish Medical Informatics Association and Futurists Association as well as being an avid scuba diver.

What skills do you think the pharma marketer of tomorrow needs?