‘Tis that time again when the calendar is down to just one page. A lot of us who talk and write for a living use this season of giving for one of two purposes—we either look back or we look ahead. Looking back is too easy; even I can tell you that the Yankees did not win the World Series. A really neat trick is telling you who will win the 2012 fall classic. So, we choose to use this time to take a look forward and consider what might keep us up at night in 2012. Here are a few quick thoughts.

1. Watch out for that last step, it’s a doozy – That cliff you see in front of you, it’s not the coast of Scotland, it’s an expiring patent. Some of the biggest grossing medications in the last decade are going generic, and this means big changes for those of us who market them. We are all going to be expected to do more with less. This translates to marketing teams facing bigger challenges with smaller budgets. These folks need our help, but often do not see it, until its too late. Make them see it.

2. For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world – When I see this quote, a modern image that comes to mind is of pharmacists, because they are emerging as key decision makers in thousands of patient lives. Pharmacists see medications and then see their prices—what they sometimes do not see are the differences between 3 or 4 drugs that they may believe are equal. If we believe our product will serve patients better, we need to target pharmacists aggressively, because they often have the patient’s ear, and their opinions matter.

3. Dancing with the right partner – I never understood why some of my more seasoned colleagues were not as excited as me every time we got an RFP. The answer was, I learned, that they were much better at reading the tea leaves, and they knew what was worth (or not worth) pursuing. What I learned was that “just because you got invited to the dance does not mean you are going to dance.” So how do you decide if it’s time to throw your hat into the ring? Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:

  • How did they hear about you? – If no one at your agency knows anyone of importance with that brand or the parent company, stay away, you are an interloper.
  • Are they too big for you? – I think we all like to believe in the fairytale, that the little agency that could was able to bring a billion dollar therapy to market. Big pharma likes to hire big agencies, because they are more comfortable wrapping themselves in the security provided by a big bureaucracy. Deal with it and move on.
  • Take a good look in the mirror. Do you have the experience to help? – We all think that there is no challenge we cannot overcome, but that thought may be a little self-serving. The question we should be asking is do they think we can help them? If you have not succeeded in a space that they can personally relate to, it might be better to pass.

So we have come to another years end. Hopefully, it has been one filled with personal and professional success, and that you can find some time to reflect on your good fortune while remembering those who might be less fortunate. Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2012.