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March 10, 2009


Marketing management is where marketing strategy is formulated and implemented, new products are introduced, and existing-product lifecycles are managed. Until recent years, the marketing function was vertically integrated, meaning that a single-ladder existed for reaching senior positions. It was theoretically possible to begin a career as an entry-level marketing associate, and several decades later, achieve Senior Executive VP of marketing. Some Big Pharma companies are still organised this way.

Yet with Big Pharma companies merging into even-bigger companies, some have opted to organise therapeutic areas and their associated products into separate business units, so that marketing management decisions get made with fewer layers of oversight and with closer contact with customer physicians and targeted patient groups. In this organisational model, therapeutic areas (e.g., oncology drugs, cardiovascular drugs, anti-hypertensives) and the products associated with them become wholly integrated business units. Most big biotech companies have opted to follow the second model, since their more-targeted products are best delivered via smaller organisations.

The main job title in marketing management (consistent throughout the industry) is product manager. A product manager's responsibilities fall into two main categories: management and administration. The product manager must develop and manage the short-term product strategies and marketing plans for assigned products, oversee development of business plans, specify the positioning of a product among its competitors, monitor those competitors' products, acquire both a quantitative and intuitive feel for customer needs, and act as an in-house champion for a product or brand. Administratively, product managers must develop budgets, maintain records of expenses, and manage and develop entry-level support staff (e.g., market research analysts, marketing associates, undergraduate interns and co-op students).

In companies where therapeutic areas and associated products are organised as business units, product managers effectively become mini-CEOs, involved in virtually every aspect of getting a product to market. Product managers should also have substantial communication and negotiation skills, as they are required to interact with professionals from every part of the organisation.


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