I recently heard about a yearly kickoff meeting for a well-known specialty pharma brand. The goal of the meeting was for the marketing team to lay out the promotional plans for 2012 and to get feedback from managers and field reps. Things progressed fairly smoothly, until the subject of being responsive to customer needs arose. A member of the brand’s marketing team gently admonished the sales people for not listening well enough to their customers.
After this went on for a few minutes, a sales manager fired back, “You guys can’t have it both ways. You say you want us to listen to our customers, but in the same breath you always tell us to bring it back to the product and deliver the message. Well, our messages aren’t what our customers need.”
What’s going on here? Hadn’t the marketing team and agency combed through their data? Hadn’t they developed pages of positionings and messages? Hadn’t they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop and vet them before bundling them all up into a well-executed sales aid? Of course they had done all of those things. They love their product. But you can love a product too much.
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