A true entrepreneur. Botox. Flonase.
I suspect I am one of the only people I know who does not use Botox. It’s a personal choice, mostly because the idea of injecting Botulinum toxin into my body is a painful thought. However, this post is not about my decision (for today) not to use Botox. Instead, this post is about the clever, smart, and effective entrepreneurs behind Botox, the company now called Allergan, PLC.
Years ago, knowing that their patent would not last beyond 20 years, their team was hard at work thinking of new ways to get people to continue using their product. So along came the migraine- headache relief medicine–BOTOX.
There is clearly something to be learned from this. When they knew the patent would expire they could have said, ‘oh well, it was good while it lasted.’ Instead, they went into action and had their chemists identify other uses for the drug, then sent their marketing team into full gear in order to make it known that their product isn’t simply for cosmetic purposes anymore.
A similar example is GlaxoWellcome (Now GlaxoSmithKline), the developers of Flonase. When they discovered their patent was to expire and open the door to the generics, they maintained their trademark, lowered the price, and continued to sell Flonase over the counter under their own trademark in order to keep the customers who would have gone the generic route. But the real clincher was they marketed it like crazy letting people know Flonase was alive and well. As long as they did not intend to deceive the public, it was not even necessary to mention the company had lost the patent.
The loss of the patent was public knowledge to anyone who did the research. The main point is that they still owned the trademark, and had created good will in the marketplace. Therefore, even without a valid patent, Flonase users, such as myself, continued to buy Flonase at a fraction of the price we had to pay when it was under patent.
While the cost of Flonase is significantly cheaper than it was when under prescription, the company still makes money because it maintained its trademark and had a smart marketing team to guide them. A smart marketing team along with great problem-solving lawyers will do it every time. That was brilliant!
What are some lessons that small business people and entrepreneurs can take away from these two examples?
- First, if your business or plan for a business faces what “appears” to be a closed door, find a way around it. There are almost always other routes one can take when the road ahead seems blocked. Sometimes you may even have to build a new road yourself.
- The second lesson is that if you have a product or service that is becoming stale or dated, work on refreshing it or even re-purposing it. If people are tired of the food in your restaurant, perhaps it’s time to change the menu.
- Lesson number three is that in order to be successful you always need help. You need to surround yourself with the best possible people you can, and truly listen to their input. Again, having a great marketing and legal team on your side always puts you at an advantage over your competition who doesn’t.
As an entrepreneur, you must always remember that the business world is not static, it’s dynamic, and if you aren’t constantly adjusting to new circumstances and trends, and thinking 2 or 3 steps ahead, you will most likely be left behind.
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groups, Google+ Circles.