How Challenger Pharma Brands Can Beat Giant Competition

As a challenger pharma brand, you probably feel like David going up against Goliath.

Every week, new articles discuss how crowded the pharma market is. You’re working with a tight budget, no communication team, no sales force and no marketing expertise. The idea of beating a pharma giant – with its well-oiled marketing machines, deep industry connections and omnipresence – is daunting.

The deck feels stacked against you.

Forget the deck. Challenger pharma brands can win despite these challenges. Just ask Dynavax, which received some serious buzz around its HEPLISAV-B, going up against industry giant GlaxoSmithKline’s Engerix-B.

First, find your competitive edge – better efficacy, better price, fewer side effects – and then tackle pharma Goliaths through research and outreach.

Lead with science

Your research and your scientists are your greatest assets for generating interest in your product and establishing a market. But, this research needs to be amplified. You have a critical need to get the word in front of prescribers (and in some cases, consumers).

How? Get out there. Publish findings in industry trades, present at medical meetings, put your scientists and investigators front-and-center talking to physicians. Announce FDA milestones to create news, like Dynavax has done.

Beyond taking advantage of every opportunity to put your research and your experts in the spotlight, you need to do one better: create opportunity. For example, rally medical thought leaders around a disease state, with the end outcome that includes your product or therapy as part of the solution.

Show you mean business

Do you only read medical publications? The answer is (hopefully) no. Neither do prescribers. They’re equally tuned in to business news, which is why articles like this CNBC piece about Dynavax are so valuable.

These outlets have a large reach and a knack for establishing brand credibility. And aside from physicians, they also capture the attention of investors – useful for funding research efforts. High-profile coverage sparks dollar sign-filled dreams and investing in your company starts looking especially enticing.

Plus, if exiting is your endgame, these articles could perk the ears of competitors and larger organizations that may be looking to make an acquisition.

Shares on business-oriented social media sites will help push your news in front of readers (right onto their timelines), as well as generate shares to keep the momentum going.

Build a foundation

Challenger brands need to establish a market, and communication plays a leading role in making it happen.

None of the items mentioned above are high-dollar advertising campaigns. They’re cost-effective methods to get in front of the audiences that can make a difference for your brand.

You can even accelerate this effort. Work with outside support that holds deep industry relationships. They’ll already have their foot in the door, and you’ll benefit with some quick initial attention.

As the head of our Health Practice, I find working with challenger brands to be personally rewarding. We thrive on starting with a company in its infancy, making them successful, and growing right along with them as partners at the table.

Goliaths, bring it on.

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