Archive for January, 2013

On Getting Nimble

As pharmaceutical companies attempt to become more nimble and decisive, senior leadership will need timely access to relevant data, insight and recommendations. Brands can no longer wait months for campaign activity reports or ROI analysis. Senior product managers feel the pressure to make mid-game go/no go decisions and to reallocate marketing budgets even before a campaign is complete. This urgency requires a level of real-time access to data, ad agency transparency and partner collaboration that is still uncommon in this industry.

big data delugeThe attention that “big data” has been getting is warranted, but to date, most of the large data sets still reside in their respective marketing silos. The coming year will begin to see integration of marketing and response data across agencies, data partners, and internal IT, offering product managers and their bosses a real-time insight sandbox. This will require a new reporting framework that will increase transparency and accountability both internally and externally and give managers the ability to make smarter and more timely investment decisions.

Think this is a discretionary, nice-to-have capability? Think again. The music has changed. The reality of health care reform has set into motion a myriad of changes that will have a major impact on pharma, especially for those companies not nimble enough to dance to the new soundtrack.

Pharma’s Tahrir Square

tahrir_squareOur work has taught us many lessons, but probably none as important as the impact of relationship marketing on a pharmaceutical company’s organization and culture.

Taking Baby Steps
Relationship marketing often starts simply as the coordination of tactics or customization of emails based on customer profiles. These activities are important baby steps towards building a strategic orientation that determines how an organization and its various functional silos and vendor partners work together to serve physicians.

In this new world of relationship marketing, every promotional tactic, whether direct or through an agency, becomes a measurable touch point that can be captured and analyzed. Soon the brand begins to recognize the value of embracing open, cross-sharing of customer insight. Soon people can start to get a little crazy.

The Dysfunction of Disconnected Data
While some level of data capture is likely happening already among individual marketing programs or within the sales force, seldom is all this data brought together into one dataset for a true single view of the customer that is made available to the entire sales and marketing organization. Financial, technology or regulatory limitations are often blamed for disparate and disconnected data sources, but generally this dysfunction is more the result of competing fiefdoms among departments and ad agencies.

A strategic approach to relationship marketing requires a cultural transformation, and this change must begin at the top of the organization. It requires a sincere commitment by senior leadership to an “open systems” view towards the capturing, analyzing, and internal syndication of customer insight.

Culture Spring Without the Chaos of Tahrir Square
For many traditional hierarchical companies, this definition of relationship marketing amounts to a cultural revolution. If handled well, it can be a “Culture Spring” without the chaos of Tahrir Square. The “democratization of insight” promises a sales and marketing organization that is truly aligned around relationships and that becomes increasingly smarter about how it engages with its best customers.

All for one, one for all.