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Why Experience Still Matters

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” – Mark Twain

Recently, there was a quote from the head of global marketing of SEMRush, an online visibility platform,

“In our field of marketing, experience is a burden… In marketing, if you’re not embracing the rapid changes and constantly refining your vision, you will fail completely. If you were successful in marketing 10 years ago, that does not mean you will be successful now.”

Younger generations can and do teach those more senior in their careers a lot about digital marketing, the use of data analytics, etc. but to carte blanche suggest that experience has become less valuable is flat wrong.

Marketing experience is about so much more than tactical execution. It’s about developing a strategy that’s the foundation for assembling, integrating, and executing those tactics. After exiting my first company, I was approached by David Brennan, then running AstraZeneca’s US organization, about working alongside the Crestor and Nexium teams. Both products, particularly Crestor, were going to face significant competitive challenges. “I want someone who knows how to fly a plane through a thunderstorm.” It’s a role members of my team and I have played a number of times since.

We have to recognize these are disruptive times. Many of the old ways of marketing products just won’t cut it any more. We can’t go back to the simplistic ads like Take Doxidan in the PM for a BM in the AM.

The next time you’re on a flight and experiencing turbulence, I’d like you to think about whether you prefer to rely strictly on the plane’s auto-pilot algorithm to get you where you’re going, or take comfort in knowing there’s a highly experienced pilot in the cockpit in case the unexpected happens?The use of data analytics, real world evidence, and digital media channels will continue to grow. But no computer or data analytics algorithm can replicate the experience and intuition of someone who’s launched 100 new products in terms of understanding how to effectively position a product or how to develop an effective message and getting it out to the right customers at the right time.


Harris Kaplan is Managing Partner of Red Team Associates, a boutique life sciences consultancy, and CEO of Healogix, a life sciences marketing research company. His resume includes work on the introduction of more than 100 new products including drug, biotech, device, and diagnostics. He is a commercial strategist who frequently presents and authors pieces on how the shift from a provider to a payer and patient centric world impacts new product innovation. Harris’ understanding of these seismic shifts in the life sciences landscape has made him a leader in the space and much sought after by clients ranging from startups to large multinationals. Harris excels at helping companies develop their commercial and go-to-market plans in support of new products. He has also been an advisor to multiple venture capital and private equity groups relative to assist their portfolio companies.

Harris’ articles have appeared in In Vivo, Medical Marketing and Media, and Product Management. He has presented at Intellus Worldwide Institute, Windhover’s Therapeutic Area Partnerships, IN3 Device Conference, World Orphan Disease Conference, Life Science Alley, the Biotech Conference at UC Berkley, Pharmaceutical Strategy Conference, and the Drug Information Association. He was also nominated as one of Pharma Voice’s most inspiring people in 2011.

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Harris Kaplan, Managing Partner

Red Team Associates

harris.kaplan@redteamassociates.com

410-215-9595