Sep 30 2017

Can I start my own pharmaceutical marketing company? If so, what can I expect from it? #pharma #executive #search

#pharmaceutical marketing companies


Yes you can, it s entirely possible, in fact a good friend of mine just did it a few months ago. However, he d been in the field for almost ten years, and his partners had been in it even longer.

The problem is getting clients. Once you have one client you re good, but that first one is really tough to land.

Pharma companies are huge and even their smallest products are enormously expensive to develop, so while they spend a lot on marketing and advertising there s a lot riding on the success of those efforts. So getting your foot in the door is going to be tough.

Traditionally the way it s worked is that you go work for a pharma ad agency (or in the marketing department of a pharma company – but you make a lot fewer contacts this way) for a while until you have the experience and contacts to go out on your own and start your own shop. That can take a long time – over a decade, most likely.

Alternatively you can try to own one small component of marketing (say CRM development, some component of website design, etc.) and get some experience with non-pharma clients and then try to work your way into the world of pharma.

This second approach is tough for two reasons. First is that you won t have any understanding of the regulatory environment that pharma marketing lives in. All branded communications for pharma products are regulated by OPDP, a division of the FDA that ensures promotional material complies with their regulatory structure. OPDP has been known to issue fines in the billions to companies that have egregiously flaunted their rules, so companies want to make sure they re compliant. All pharma companies have internal regulatory/medical/legal teams for this, but they will want to know that you have at least a baseline level of experience so that they re not redoing all of your work, and the guidelines are often not intuitive – there s no substitute for experience.

The second problem is that you likely won t have any contacts in the industry. Because of the nature of pharma marketing there isn t a lot of crossover between pharma and other sectors, so getting experience in consumer packaged goods or B2B marketing likely won t yield you any useful contacts in pharma, and new business leads are very much driven by personal relationships in this field.

Sorry if this comes off as overly pessimistic, but the pharma marketing agency world is not particularly startup-friendly. Without some fairly significant prior experience, or at least partnering up with someone or some people who have the required experience, it s going to be almost impossible for you to get off the ground.

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Do you want to? Probably Not.

Do you have a background in Pharma? If not, then run away and thank me later šŸ™‚

I have worked Pharma clients before and imagine the deepest darkest breaches of hell, and then multiply it by 100, and then add a few monthly letters from the FDA, add a hundred lawyers, maybe some sulfuric acid to pour into your eyes because it dulls the pain of listening to the lawyers tell you why you can t do with your marketing.

Then imagine completing your project finally and sitting down with a nice cold one and you turn on the TV to relax and instead you see a new bill that passed saying you can t do what you just spent 8 months working on.

Alright, now let me tell you what you should get into instead.

It is just like Pharma, only without as many lawyers (you still have a few), and the FDA.

Its called Nutraceuticals and its much easier to get into as a startup, plus there is a lot less regulation. You still deal with some regulation, but its a lot less.

Basically Nutraceuticals are natural supplement products. Depending on the exact area that you go into within it, you can have some or no FDA regulation. I can t really talk about my clients much, but I can say that two of them have absolutely no FDA regulation (for now). This makes everything much easier and more fun, but its still very similar.

Also, Nutraceuticals have great markups (aka big marketing budgets), and they are one of the hottest growing verticals right now. Check it out!

Written 89w ago View Upvotes Not for Reproduction Answer requested by 1 person

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