Leading Relationship Marketing for Viagra

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Lita Sands looks at relationship marketing as this wonderful blend of science and humanities.

Lita Sands, director and team leader of relationship marketing, Pfizer.

"I love the quantitative nature of it," says Ms. Sands, director and team leader of relationship marketing at Pfizer. "And I also love how you get to see people think. There's an operational aspect to it, like running a factory, and there's a creative element in wondering how to get people stimulated."

Beyond traditional advertising
So far, Ms. Sands has done a terrific job at both aspects, helping to take Pfizer's myriad consumer products to a level beyond traditional advertising. Better still, she's seen relationship marketing in action now from three different perspectives.

First it was in financial services at Prudential, where she helped tailor direct-marketing programs unique to each sales agent. Next, in telecommunications, she helped AT&T Corp. develop segmentation in the marketplace to better connect to customers.

At Pfizer, Ms. Sands has been instrumental in helping develop one of the most unique relationship marketing platforms in the pharmaceutical industry with the company's most well-known brand, Viagra. Pfizer introduced a plan that gives patients a seventh prescription free with every six.

Holding its share
Although briefly staggered by the introduction of two new erectile dysfunction prescription drugs, Viagra has held its own with an 85% share of the marketplace.

"Like all good companies, Pfizer has recognized that general advertising only gets you so far, especially in this industry where it can be hard to understand and even more complex to carry out," says Ms. Sands, 38. "So Pfizer kind of centralized this group. We're focused on two things. We partner with the brand groups to come up with compelling programs, and we look to streamline and evolve our learning."

Ms. Sands says relationship marketing has been different for each of the marketers she has worked for, but the pharmaceutical industry has changed her thinking in some ways.

"What's been easy is there's this huge gap to fill. Even something as simple as giving somebody a user manual for their drug helps immensely," she says. "What's been more difficult has been understanding what to market to whom. But by building a greater awareness in the marketplace, you get an idea of what the consumer wants."

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