The Uncertainty Opportunity

A post in Friday's DTC Perspective blog caught my eye, and I have been thinking about it for the past couple of days. What I've been thinking about specifically is the relationship between uncertainty and opportunity. The image I've been using to do this is a feral cat I know.

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A friend of mine has befriended a feral cat. She puts out scraps for it, and has created sort of a nest for it — a moving blanket inside a recycling box, that at least keeps the cat out of the wind and the rain. This animal is truly wild, and looks it — there has obviously never been a brush, for example, anywhere near her coat.

This cat, who my friend has given the completely unusual name of "Sweetie Pie" is especially interesting to watch as she eats. When the scraps are put out, she'll approach them, and then, at least three times, scan around for at least thirty seconds or a minute before finally putting her head down, briefly, to eat. She is clearly checking thoroughly to make sure that there isn't anything lurking out there, like a raccoon or a dog, that will surprise her. Because she's feral, she's developed a set of skills that domesticated cats don't have, and these skills are what have kept her alive for a long time in a pretty rough environment.

Sort of the same thing is happening in DTC. As the post points out:

Planning DTC efforts for the next few years has become an exercise in
multiple scenarios. First, we have the massive health care reform we
are promised by President Obama. Next, the expectation of declining
media rates makes the decision to buy upfront or wait for spot prices a
tough one. Third, the FDA is tinkering with risk disclosure
requirements making creative ads more difficult. Finally, promotional
budgets are getting cut as drug companies look to protect the profit
line.out, there is a lot of uncertainty and risk in the air surrounding DTC right now. Nobody's sure exactly what's going to happen.

The post then goes on to make the point that this uncertainty is an opportunity, in that it will reward pharma marketers who test and research how to reach consumers in different way, and who are forced to figure out how to achieve their results using whatever tools are available. It's sort of the marketers' version of the old Marine Corps slogan "Adapt, Improvise, Overcome".

This is an opportunity in two ways. First, it will just plain make you a better marketer. Business as usual is easy. Business in a dew way requires a lot more thought, work and insight, which you will be able to apply in the future. By creating more options now, you will augment your bag of tricks for later.

Second, and a little more strategically, this kind of adaption is something a lot of marketers can't do. They are too invested in the status qho to change, although they may pay it lip service. If they can't and you can, down the road, guess who wins. You do.

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