Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

WTDW your PH.D. - Marketing

Back here I started this discussion, and then it branched out to pages talking about individual bits. Here is some discussion of Marketing. Here I pointed to this blog talking all about marketing in the life science arena. I agree with a lot that is written over there.

So - Marketing.

These people set prices of products. They pick colors that the product should be. They have to know the ENTIRE field and all the competitors and how much they cost. There are different levels to this, in that there is a differance between the head of marketing an entire product line and the product manager for an individual product in north america. Different companies of different sizes will have different levels of the marketing organization. The largest (Think ABI) has product managers by individual territories.

An example of this is that there will be someone who only worries about pricing and tactical responses for sequencing reagents in the United Kingdom. In Foster city there is someone who worries about the strategic direction overall of sequencing reagents (and for this line, worry is the right word....). The UK person will, likely indirectly, report to this person in Foster City (CA, USA). They may or may not actually know each other.

At a smaller company, there is likely just one marketing group at HQ, and they are in charge of as much of the world as the company sells to. Likely divisions have "Directors" coving broad product ranges and "Product managers" covering individual products or sub-sets of the product ranges the director they report to covers.

At the bigger company, the junior people will likely have less of a strategic view of what is going on, and will probably be entirely focussed on the tactical (day to day) responses to the market they are looking at. This includes things like "how much discount are sales authorized to give" and "where should we advertise locally" and "how much are our competitors selling for here". This information will be fed back in to the global machine and they may or may not have visibility in to what happens next. In between them and the top will be regional managers or country managers who will have progressivly more strategic visions vs tactical vision. The top person better be totally strategic (or else they are a micro-manager, and that is an all different problem...)

the smaller company, the product managers will have great visibility in to the strategy around their products. They will be deeply involved with all levels of it.

Things that marketing cover;
  • Product launch.
    • When? time of year matters. Summer in Europe, not a good idea. Christmas day, also not so good. Those are the easy ones...
    • At what price? Subject to the information and company size above, someone has to set the sale price.
    • In what form? Is it one big kit? do you sell the components of the kit seperatly? Only as a bundle?
  • Advertising
    • How much? i.e. targetted or wide spread?
    • Of what form? On-line only? Print only?
  • Product mix
    • When you launch the new do you phase out the old?
    • How do you phase it out?
    • OK, we have these 3 things, what makes this complete? (phrased differently, what else will people use with this?)
    • When do you 'kill' a product?
  • What do Customers want?
    • They catch abuse for this, but unless you inside of it you can't comprehend how much is known and how much thought goes in to this. Yes, everyone makes big stupid errors, but they really try not to. The other test is how fast do they recover from those errors?
    • This translates in to "What products do we make next"
    • ...and also in to "How much money would that product make us?"
the last point there is a big one. You have to figure out and understand how much a product that may not exist yet is going to make. You compare to other products, look at how many people work on this stuff....and then as I best I can tell you guess. BUT - there is a lot riding on that guess. Plans will be made. Priorities will be set for how fast things get through to manufacturing vs other things. It is a big deal. I don't fully get it yet.

So, a marketing person is likely to read this and say "You moron, we also do yada, yada and yada." Your right. They do. I work closely with them and these are the things that come to mind right now on a saturday night. I will probably revisit this entry (and in fact all of these entries) and edit it over time...

For the fresh Ph.D., you maybe can go straight in to a product manager role, but our company isn't the company you would do it. Mostly we look for people coming from the Application Scientist role, tech services, or sales. Basically, they have to have some business experience. Fresh scientists still think like scientists, and that is not a healthy business outlook.

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