There is a moment of truth between a doctor and patient when a diagnosis is made and a treatment regimen is determined. It might be a routine ailment with a simple standard of care protocol. Or it could be a complex or difficult diagnosis that leads to referrals, more testing, and life-changing decisions about life style and treatment options.
But in either case, it’s a moment of truth that summons the best analysis from the professional and the most transparency from the patient.
Given how complicated and busy the typical physician’s schedule has become, it’s unlikely that most doctors will have convenient and timely access to the latest in clinical research or knowledge of the newest therapies. There are valuable tools for quick reference of drug interactions, but getting access to relevant content like the pathophysiology or mechanism of action behind a new class of drugs takes more time.
Could pharma be a resource?
Could pharma help HCPs help patients at the moment of truth?
Yes, but only if pharma rethinks its brand and value proposition.
Forcing a new model
The external environmentals that are challenging pharma’s traditional value proposition – lack of access, increasing legal and regulatory limits to marketing, health system consolidation – are forcing senior management to reconsider how brands go to market.
I would suggest that any new market approach must be based on a partnership model with healthcare professionals and not the superficial transactional relationship in which physicians are simply asked to “write more scripts.”
By evolving from simple product promotion to partnership with HCPs, pharma could become a valued resource for rich medical content and support services.
Becoming a practice resource for physicians
When pharma begins to become a strategic practice resource for physicians in addition to its historic role as a research-based product manufacturer, it will earn a welcome place at the healthcare table.
But to become a valued resource and not just a sales and distribution channel for drugs, pharma needs to learn more about those moments of truth between doctors and patients and be in a position to serve up to the physician the content, products and services – branded or unbranded – that they need to either support their diagnosis or inform their treatment recommendations.
So how does pharma change to actually be in a position to offer this kind of value?
A Transformational Strategy for 2016
There are three major commitments that need to be made, and these changes represent a transformational strategy for 2016.
1. Seek first to understand
First of all, anytime there is resolve to change the nature of a relationship, it must start with understanding. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
This process starts with learning what individual HCPs need and when they need it.
Historically, pharma marketing has spent a lot more time and money seeking to be understood than trying to understand their marketplace on an individual physician basis. Experienced sales reps were good at understanding their customers and titrating the sales messages accordingly, but that nuance rarely rolled up to marketing. Now with less physician access due to consolidating practices, there is even less chance this promotional channel can help pharma marketers learn.
But a commitment to listening and learning and responding appropriately requires more than a sentimental assent. There is hard work and investment involved.
Doing it right means every customer touch point needs to be tied to a single customer database to be tracked and measured and analyzed. This will provide a data-driven platform for giving brand teams the insight needed to begin to understand individual physicians and to rethink their segmentation models.
2. Integrate the new value proposition into everything
This new commitment to a new value proposition as a healthcare resource needs to then be integrated into both the brand promise and the customer experience. Whether via personal selling or non-personal promotional channels, the tone, content and strategy all need to be aligned to that new brand.
Because you are now developing an understanding of your customer base at the individual level, you will begin to explore new ways of providing value, whether through new content, patient support apps, access to clinical trials, etc.
Most of the key marketing activities will change, from who you target and what you need to learn to how you develop marketing and content messages and how you measure success. This is a major change management challenge, one that not every pharma company is equipped to handle.
3. Shift to relationship marketing
Finally, we need to manage all physician communications at an individual customer or cohort level rather than as a homogeneous market. This represents a major shift from traditional marketing to relationship marketing.
Building a relationship marketing platform that enables better insight into physicians and how we can help them help patients at their moment of truth provides another important benefit. We can use profiles of our best customers to find other physicians who have been traditionally left behind because it wasn’t “cost effective” to reach them with a sales representative. Relationship marketing actually helps to grow the market for a brand.
Creating an individualized experience based on a customer’s needs, desires and preferences was impossible to do without the power of technology, and this capability is what is separating the large traditional pharma ad agencies from the smaller and nimbler digital agencies.
This is where closerlook comes in
We enable relationship marketing at the enterprise level to better understand a total market at the individual physician level. Then with that understanding we help brand teams design, develop, and deploy personalized digital communication programs for target physicians.
This is the year
I believe that 2016 will be the year in which this transformation from traditional marketing to relationship marketing will begin to become a reality.
Traditional marketing was fundamentally based around determining a single customer archetype and creating advertising to meet that needs of that abstract customer. Market research through focus groups and surveys would create a profile of a “35-year old suburban housewife with two kids…” This would drive the “big idea” that would lead to a large national TV ad buy.
Mad Men advertising is charming
That Mad Men advertising world is charming, but it’s not the world of the future. Remarkably, however, it’s still the world of many pharma ad agencies today. Just recently I had a senior ad executive in my office who proudly proclaimed his global healthcare agency as a “big idea advertising company.”
This isn’t helping!
This model and mentality aren’t helping pharma marketers change to become the new healthcare resource they need to become. There is a major opportunity to disrupt many of the traditional pharma ad agencies that are still married to this old business model., and it’s a disruption that is overdue.
Today, customers of all types, including physicians, are expecting a much more tailored individualized experience rather than the “big” single message. Anything less is just media noise.
This transformation from traditional sales and marketing models to relationship marketing will define the future role of the internal pharma brand marketer as well as her partner agencies. The change will require new capabilities.
Four capabilities of relationship marketing
Relationship marketing covers four primary areas – targeting, insight, messaging, and metrics – and each of these areas is changing.
Targeting is evolving from the traditional single archetypal customer, and in case of the physician, the historical pattern of prescribing behavior to a much more nuanced and action-oriented segment-based targeting model in which we’re actually analyzing and predicting potential revenue from a physician.
This requires new analytical models that pull from a consolidated view of the physician drawn by capturing every sales and marketing touch point from every marketing agency into a single customer database.
The development of customer Insight is moving from the qualitative aggregate behavior profile of an entire universe of prescribers to quantitative analysis at the individual level. This allows us to understand where physicians are on their prescribing journey, or what we consider their “adoption path.”
Rather than simply segmenting physicians into “writers” and “non-writers,” we seek to understand better what our target doctors know or don’t know and then develop specific tactics that provide the right kind of content through the most efficient channel possible.
Messaging is transforming from one homogeneous, all-messages-to-all-customers-through-all-targets campaign strategy to individual targeted messaging based on where physicians are on their awareness and consideration journey. Building product awareness is different than encouraging trial which is different from providing clinical data on patient types, and we need the ability to pinpoint specific messaging to those who need it.
And finally, in terms of Metrics, we are moving from an overall market share ROI report to multi-dimensional measures of realized value of cross-channel campaigns across segments.
This approach to measurement and reporting will change the way brand teams evaluate success, measure value, and think about budgeting. It will transform the way product managers make investment decisions and test their growth strategies.
So in summary, three things
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Recreate your value prop as a health resource for doctors and integrate this new model into both your brand promise and your total customer experience.
- Build the technology and relationship marketing capabilities to manage your resource communications with physicians.
These are the dimensions that need to evolve for pharma to truly become a valued health resource for physicians.
To understand and deliver the resources to help HCPs help patients.
At the moment of truth…