Fixing the Disjointed World of Marketing Operations

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - May/June 2011

A supply chain perspective on marketing operations can reduce cost and complexity while improving results

The pharmaceutical industry has been very good at driving down costs on manufacturing and the marketing strategy, but it is behind in evaluating the processes that actually execute campaigns—and is missing out on key ways to eliminate waste and cut costs. At Archway, we’ve observed the changes the pharmaceutical industry has undergone in the past few years, identified the special marketing operations challenges pharmaceutical companies face, and will share what marketers can do to streamline their marketing execution programs and finally shed unnecessary costs.

Even through the consolidation of companies, and reorganizations of sales forces, the pharmaceutical marketing supply chain has largely stayed the same—fragmented. With many mom-and-pop shops handling fulfillment of marketing materials and boutique shops handling sample distribution, efficiencies are being missed in the supply chain—leaving valuable dollars on the table that could be applied to marketing strategy. Other industries have consolidated their marketing supply chain to provide marketing materials and samples from a single source. The pharmaceutical industry has stuck to what has worked in the past, but how much longer will the status quo be viable?

Consolidating samples and marketing materials isn’t that simple. The pharmaceutical market is highly complex, and requires specialized handling requirements, climate control, security, version control and a highly controlled chain of command. Materials and literature can become obsolete very quickly, so a high level of demand planning and a print-on-demand solution also needs to be integrated into marketing operations.

With all of these moving pieces in combination with a disjointed and under evaluated supply chain, how do you begin to bring discipline to the process? How do we close the supply chain loop?

Executing the strategy

To begin to evaluate the marketing supply chain, companies need to get executive sponsorship. With many pharmaceutical companies managing anywhere from three to 10 vendors, there are too many touch points to evaluate without some kind of executive sponsorship. The next step is to construct a roadmap or overview of current processes. This roadmap will help pinpoint redundancies and wasted effort.

An updated marketing supply chain could take many forms, but any version should include two key principles:

1. Strive for visibility, so that events and patterns in one part of the supply chain are communicated to other parts.

2. Look for scale and flexibility, by employing providers that can scale along with you, and leverage purchasing power while flexing with your business.

As we’ve assessed many top pharmaceutical companies over the past few years, we’ve discovered significant waste where processes were built around filling a gap, not optimizing a process. This is a trend that spans across many industries, but in such a highly regulated industry like pharma, it is surprising how many companies are limited by this perspective. The pharma industry deserves better.


Mike Moroz is the President of Archway Marketing Services, Inc. where he is responsible for the company’s growth, innovation and the delivery of customized solutions and service to Fortune 1000 clients, including fulfillment services, printing, consumer promotions, business intelligence and decision support tools. Archway recently acquired Corporate Services Inc. (CSI) to further build upon its pharmaceutical capabilities.

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