Marketing and sales strategies in the pharmaceutical industry are put to the test by digital upheavals: New communication channels make it possible to address healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients more individually than ever before. Tailor-made communication increases sales opportunities and thus contributes directly to company success – a suitable strategy and selection of communication channels to healthcare professionals, patients and sick funds are therefore essential for pharmaceutical companies. This goes hand in hand with the adaptation of business structures, processes, systems and capabilities in order to optimally anchor the new opportunities in their own organization.
Successful multichannel strategies are based on two pillars: the cost-optimal balance of the channel mix and the alignment of multichannel management with the information needs of healthcare professionals and patients. The approach is measured on the basis of quantitative analyses and optimized continuously. This interaction enables pharmaceutical companies to build an effective closed loop marketing approach.
For an optimal design and implementation of multichannel campaigns, a strategy must be defined that gives multichannel managers of a pharmaceutical company the desired direction. The multichannel strategy can be defined for individual products, product bundles, or entire portfolios.
Due to limited resources, it is often a question of prioritization which strategic goals are to be pursued through multichannel marketing. Are all or selective target groups addressed? Does the company want to position itself as a scientific or commercial partner? Is the patient or the healthcare professional at the centre of multichannel marketing activities? Should healthcare professionals be informed via innovative and digital or traditional channels?
On the one hand it is crucial that the multichannel strategy supports the overall corporate strategy and on the other hand that sufficient budget is made available by the company management to ensure both necessary human and systemic resources for effective multichannel management.
The first step in the concrete design of multichannel marketing campaigns is a detailed understanding of customer groups or customer archetypes. When segmenting their target groups, many pharmaceutical companies are increasingly using behavioral-based segmentation criteria (e.g. channel preferences, content preferences) in addition to traditional potential-based criteria (e.g. prescription potential).
A detailed understanding of the customer journey is also required for a target group-specific approach in order to understand at which sequences of the journey decisions for or against a therapy are made and what aspects drive these decisions. It is also important to identify how and through which channels target groups can best be reached, even if time constraints mean that healthcare professionals have less and less opportunity for a traditional sales force call.
Based on insights from the potential- and behavioral-based customer segments as well as from the customer journey analysis, the right messages can be conveyed to specific target groups via the right channels in the right frequencies and sequences. While many pharmaceutical companies today are using as many channels as possible, the right mix of non-digital, but above all digital channels, is a critical success factor in positioning the company optimally in the age of digital health.
The availability of concrete content, messages and materials is an important factor which must be juxtaposed with the content preferences of the respective customer archetype in order to legitimize a contact or appointment. Is the healthcare professional scientifically (e.g. information on primary clinical trial data) or pragmatically (e.g. practice-oriented description of side effects) oriented? Communicating content that optimally matches the preferences of the customer archetype increases the probability of future contact points.
The success of the multichannel campaigns is finally evaluated by continuous performance management and closed loop marketing. The Big Data Channel Impact framework developed by Homburg & Partner uses statistical methods to quantify which messages via which channels had the highest impact on a physician’s prescription behavior or attitude towards a product (adoption ladder). These findings are transparently communicated to the functions involved and can be optimally used in an iterative process to design new and advanced multichannel campaigns and allocate future budgets.
Crucial for the success of multichannel management is the definition of an agile and cross-functional operating model with efficient sizing and a clear role model which clearly assigns responsibilities for individual activities of the end-to-end process “multichannel management” to specific functions and persons. In this operating model, more and more pharmaceutical companies are relying on a dedicated and central multichannel management function that coordinates all multichannel activities cross-functionally, for example in the areas of marketing, sales, market access, events & congresses or business intelligence.
The functions are empowered for efficient and effective multichannel management by providing the required IT infrastructure and regular training. Additionally it is possible to include an operationalized version of the strategic multichannel management objectives in the incentivization system of the employees involved.
Up-to-date and transparent performance data is a key building block of every successful multichannel strategy. But how can pharmaceutical companies gain transparency on each individual channel’s value contribution? Which data points and sources are needed to achieve this goal?
Big data-driven performance measurement of individual sales channels represents a practical method to identify value contribution per channel. This way, pharmaceutical companies gain optimum transparency about which elements of their multichannel initiatives contribute most to their corporate success – and how future budget can be allocated in the most effective manner.
Ultimately, successful multichannel marketing for pharmaceutical companies is always based on winning synergies: an interplay of successful online and offline channels, a mixture of ideal content for healthcare professionals and patients and a combination of effective marketing practice with analytical methods that make both success and risks clearly visible. A closed-loop marketing system represents the blueprint for this mixture.
You would like to learn more about the potentials that multichannel management can unleash for your business? Contact our responsible Christian Zuberer right away – by using the contact form or directly per phone or e-mail!