Words by Saskia Pronk
“We are getting more and more restricted access to HCPs”, warns Hannelore Grams, AbbVie’s Global Director Multichannel, Strategy & Execution, at eyeforpharma Marketing London 2018. This, alongside the regulatory ecosystem of the pharmaceutical industry and people’s decreasing attention spans is proving a complex reality for marketers that has provided an imperative to innovate.
Most pharma marketing executives agree that maintaining meaningful lasting relationships is the main driver of their stakeholder engagement strategy, but these relationships can’t be built upon the same platform for every customer. However, personalised communication based on customer actions, habits, and opinions will create more meaningful relationships advises Michael Hubrich, General Manager DACH, Marketo: “Companies spend incredible amounts of money generating content that is useful and worthy, which proves time, effort, and money well spent. But if you deliver that to the wrong person, that’s spam.”
“Electronically you need to understand who’s in front of you and see how people interact”, explains Hubrich. For example, Facebook utilises customers’ digital footprints: research shows a computer model can assess ‘like activity’ to judge someone’s personality more accurately than their friends and family. From adopting digital insights like this Hubrich believes: “You can then do something valuable with your content.”
Personalised communication based on customer actions, habits, and opinions will create more meaningful relationships
With the framework of the solution seemingly already present, what is holding this level of innovation in engagement strategies back? The majority of the audience at eyeforpharma allege internal processes, especially the medical-legal review approval process, which is considered a significant barrier to innovative, fast-paced, digitally-led projects.
Marketers are therefore having to innovate on two levels: how they approach customers and how they approach regulatory processes. Resultantly, more companies are applying unbranded, awareness-based methods to their engagement strategies. On one hand, there is branded content, which is under internal and external approval. While on the other, unbranded, which is curated externally or purchased, for example, via Aptus Health, explains Patrice Baudry, Executive Vice President G3M, LEO Pharma.
“Why would we need to go through [the] same medical-legal approval [process] or make it as stringent for content that we have curated outside? It’s already gone through that”, questions Baudry. Therefore, at LEO Pharma, marketing negotiated with medical-legal colleagues to get unbranded content to market within a one-day turnover, removing 3 or 4 weeks from the process. “As long as we had that seal-of-approval, we were able to say for the non-promotional unbranded content ‘we can get to market faster’ and since that’s the bulk of our campaigns, that’s actually a great leap forward.”
Another method to navigate processes is through providing regulatory colleagues with context. Lois Pavillet, Digital CRM & Multichannel Business Partner at AstraZeneca says: “Content tends to get blocked at the regulatory level because, very often, the context is missing, it’s not about the content.” Pavillet therefore recommends inviting regulatory colleagues to design workshops to give them the bigger picture – albeit not too early in the planning process.
As many marketing departments have determined, to truly champion a new era of digital marketing engagement in order to ameliorate the impact of reduced in-person HCP access, understanding your customer and ensuring communications are relevant is the first step. The next challenge is considering opportunities within the regulatory landscape, such as unbranded content and better communication, to mitigate the sometimes-stultifying impact of internal processes.