Raman Sehgal, Founder & Global President of ramarketing and best-selling author of The Floundering Founder tells Business Matters about the secrets to his success.
What products or services do you provide?
Approaching every client’s needs on an individual basis, we provide bespoke marketing solutions to help ambitious companies excel in the pharma and biotech sector. Right through from research and strategy – helping clients find true differentiation and stand out in a global marketplace – to implementation of digital, design, PR and content tactics to drive awareness, engagement and conversion, we provide a fully integrated approach.
What type of businesses do you work with?
We support companies in the global life sciences market that play a key role in getting new treatments to the patients who need them.
The journey from molecule to market in drug development is never simple, with many moving parts involved. We are experts in supporting the businesses involved in the supply chain throughout the journey to market, whether they are handling the manufacturing of drugs, conducting clinical trials, providing the right technology to drug developers or something else entirely.
Many of our clients were, in fact, involved in the supply of the COVID vaccines.
What problem does your company solve?
A lot of organisations in the life sciences industry need support positioning and differentiating their business, reaching new buyers and entering into new markets. Thousands of companies connect the healthcare industry, all doing their part to design, develop and manufacture new products. Our job is to help connect some of those companies to one another.
What is your USP?
We find that a USP is typically something businesses obsess over internally, as opposed to something that actually plays an important role in the customer’s journey. After all, choosing one supplier over another is never down to one thing alone; it requires consideration of various criteria which will rank differently in terms of importance to each customer. Instead, we focus on morphing our offering around the specific needs of each individual client or prospect.
However, when it comes to our clients, we find that three core things delight them and give us an edge over the competition.
First and foremost, we believe that the way we live and breathe our values marks us out. We really care about what we do and the clients we serve. Our attitude is simple – be genuine, do the right thing and create fantastic output – and it is felt by all our clients.
Secondly, we are more than simply a marketing agency; we are also a partner who can support your commercial goals. Not simply interested in the success of campaigns, but also deeply concerned with the growth of our clients, we’ve helped over 100 companies globally to gain commercial results.
Finally, our focused expertise in life sciences means that we can offer our clients support unlike any other. We live and breathe this sector. Supporting pharma and biotech companies in the outsourcing space has been our core specialism since day one – it is all we know and all we do.
What are your company values? Have you ever had them challenged and if so how have you dealt with it?
Our values are to be kind and genuine, to really care and to have a go. They make us an entrepreneurial, scrappy and uniquely personable specialist agency.
The biggest challenge to values comes when you have a talented team member that simply does not live the values. Ignoring this tends to lead to long term pain for both the individual and the business, because there is a good chance that you are simply not the right fit for each other. It’s best to recognise the issue and deal with it in an empathetic manner sooner rather than later.
It can, at times, be tricky to balance values with other organisational demands. When you lead a business, for instance, you can’t tell everyone everything due to confidentiality concerns, and it’s difficult to protect the perception of being genuine in these situations. We live by the motto ‘be better than yesterday’, so we always strive to learn from these situations and improve application of our values each and every day.
How do you ensure that you recruit a team that reflects your company values?
We hire based on values over skills. We recognise that while skills are, undoubtedly, important, they can be taught, while no amount of time or money can buy the right attitude.
Every single new recruit goes through a process with multiple steps, one of which is a values-based interview. In this session, we focus on getting to know the candidate on a more personal level and delving into their values and attitude. Far from being a rigid, tick-box exercise, this part of the process is about encouraging organic conversation, making everyone feel comfortable and free to bring their whole selves.
Are you happy to offer a hybrid working model of home/office post-covid?
Absolutely. Embracing home and remote working has not only given our staff a fantastic opportunity to balance their work and personal lives in entirely new ways, it has also enabled us to recruit from a wider pool of talent when we are searching for the right people to join our ranks.
Flexibility is key for a global business like ours. Long gone as the days where 9-5 office work was considered the best approach, for either business or staff. Happy, healthy staff produce the best output for our clients, and flexibility is part of ensuring that staff thrive.
Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?
We find that, for effective customer relationships, it’s important to be one step ahead, be consciously proactive and never give customers the need to chase you. Recognise and deal with issues quickly and efficiently – don’t allow them to fester.
When it comes to managing suppliers, the key is to treat them like partners and a highly valued extension of your team. This relationship is mutually beneficial, and means that they’re there for you without hesitation when you really need them.
Any finance or cash-flow tips for new businesses starting out?
Make sure that you are making money every single month, where possible. If you’re not, look at what’s coming in and going out and break any bad habits right away, whether it’s creeping overhead expenses, having more employees than the revenue justifies, not having enough business, having the wrong types of business or pricing your services wrongly. Identify the barriers to making money regularly and change them immediately.. Don’t allow them to become more of a problem down the line.
Separate your money. Take anything that will be owed as tax or that you have earmarked for business savings away from the day-to-day running pot. Always ‘over-save’, just in case. Really work on developing a frugal and thrifty mindset and instilling this mindset into the business. Having said that, go big where you need to go big and in the areas where you will get the greatest return on your investment. For me, areas like staff welfare fall into this category, because the return is so valuable.
I would recommend the book, Profit First, which is a great resource on this topic.
If you could ask one thing of the government to change for businesses what would it be?
We would like to see recognition and support for the companies that approached the COVID-19 crisis differently and continued to grow, offer consistent employment and pay tax without accessing government funding schemes. We think that these organisations should see benefits in the future, for example by being given immunity to the tax hikes put in place to repay the deficit. The pandemic was disastrous for many firms, and the help offered by the government was crucial, but I don’t believe that the businesses who kept their people in work and continued to invest have been sufficiently recognised or, in fact, recognised at all.
What is your attitude towards your competitors?
Competition is healthy, and my approach is to be friendly, kind and positive to all my competitors. I have learned so much from spending time with them and, in fact, have even found opportunities for alliances and referral partnerships. Decide right now that you’ll be kind and open to everyone in your space. It’ll be a small change that will provide endless rewards as you grow bigger and bigger.
Be competitive, by all means, but funnel that energy into the right areas. I have seen people get so obsessed with competitors that it draws time, resources and focus from their clients. Let any obsession with the competition go – the world is a big place, and there is enough business to go around. Channel that competitive spirit into improving your business, galvanising your team and supercharging your output.
Any thoughts on the future of your company and your dreams?
We aim to continue growing rapidly, every year, and developing a truly global presence, with offices across the globe, in order to become recognised as the world’s leading agency in our space. We strive to continually sharpen our craft to serve our clients with the best, most innovative and up to date solutions while, internally, creating a working environment where people never want to leave.