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From selling molecules to creating experiences

#AnimalHealth, #BuyerInsight, #Forecast

Part 2 of 5 in our Animal Health Challenger series.

The animal health industry has been a molecule-driven industry. Revenue is based on the latest “magic bullet” that drives product sales and increases the value of our stock prices. The challenge we face, though, is that we live in a world of me-too products and generics. With this product-centric approach to marketing, we’re only as good as our latest molecule—or at least until someone else’s latest molecule trumps ours.

With this product-centric approach to marketing, we’re only as good as our latest molecule…

Industry watchdogs and government regulators further compound these challenges to our marketing efforts. So even if we have a good product, it can be hard to make claims that illustrate the true innovation of our products.

In short, a good product isn’t good enough anymore.

Now align that with the customer’s perspective. Today’s customers, with their expectations set by Google and Apple, aren’t willing to accept compromises. They expect exceptional service and great experiences. What makes those experiences distinctive could be something like an informative and content-rich website, an incredibly responsive help line, or a seamless ordering system. Or, more likely, it’s a combination of many things that makes the customer recognize the experience, not necessarily the products, as being superior. What constitutes the best product is now less technical and more contextual.

As marketers, we need to set the bar higher for ourselves. I recall a conversation with one animal health professional who offered this summary of what constitutes good enough: “I haven’t heard any complaints, so it must be a good product.” Let’s be honest: in this case, silence probably isn’t golden. In fact, it probably suggests mediocrity.

To elevate our marketing ambitions, we need to help our customers succeed.

The fact is that marketing is less about the molecule and more about the customer. To elevate our marketing ambitions, we need to help our customers succeed. That could include helping them to use our products effectively and efficiently. But more likely, it will need to be a broader experience, one that’s built on how our customers define their successes.

Consider the business-savvy clinic owner/veterinarian. Her definition of success is likely defined by client retention and the adoption of premium health-care services. A technician, though, may be more focused on efficiency and concepts like palatability. Each of these individuals may play a role in the buying decision (as we discussed in a previous post on the evolving nature of animal health purchases) so they are, by definition, our customers. Yet the experience we create for each of them will need to be vastly different.

We need to remember that our customers want to do their jobs successfully. We need to understand the context in which they perform these jobs. We need to uncover the perspectives and motivations that they bring to work every day and that play a role in their definition of success.

Equipped with this insight—an understanding of the differences that make a difference™—we can create experiences that enable them to succeed on their own terms. Because, at the end of the day, our job is to make their lives better.

It’s never been a more exciting—or more difficult—time to be an animal health marketer. If you’re interested in continuing the conversation, please contact me at or via LinkedIn.