What's the challenge?

The biopharmaceutical industry knows it has to reshape its marketing to meet changing customer needs, increasingly restricted access to prescribers and growing financial pressures. The traditional model doesn’t fly anymore. This article discusses the challenges and suggests a way forward, using a tool called Market Contact Audit (MCA®). Pharma marketing needs to move from managing a sales force to delivering a multidimensional, integrated communications plan. However, our experience is that most companies are struggling to know which of the new channels are most effective, how they can compare them with each other and relative to the sales force and how to combine them together to build an effective integrated plan.

Why is there a problem?

The reason that so many managers aren’t satisfied is that the measurement tools being used just aren’t up to the job. Typically they fall in two camps:
  • MODELLING: i.e. mathematics using existing data sources to derive a line of sight from activities to sales
  • PROCESS AUDITING: i.e. tracking a brand’s behavior from strategy through plan to execution in market, to understand if the strategy actually got delivered to customers or not.

Both of these techniques deliver a lot of value to managers, but they don’t provide a complete answer because they leave crucial knowledge gaps. Modelling has two major limitations (even if you buy into the mathematics).

The first is that it doesn’t encourage innovation –in fact it often ignores it. That’s because a model can’t tell you anything about things you haven’t already done (or that might be too small to shift the needle).

So how does this impact managers? It makes life harder for innovators, because they have to fall back on flaky metrics that don’t convince management.

The second is that modelling is inevitably inward looking i.e. what did MY activities achieve among MY customers? Managers will miss competitive threats until it is too late, and fail to see opportunities to engage with customers in the future.

Process audits need less explanation – they are measuring activities, not outcomes.

Any manager knows that if you set your priorities based on this, there is a huge risk that you end up focusing on what you like doing, rather than what works.

Just to be clear, both of these techniques do have a lot to offer for refining and delivering your current execution. They just aren’t the tools to achieve a more integrated and innovative communications program.

What can you do to improve?

We have successfully deployed Market Contact Audit®(MCA®) to help us. It is an approach that is widely used across many industries and has now been validated in Pharmaceuticals, so we know it works. MCA® provides quantitative metrics to help you understand the relative influence of your marketing communications activities, how effectively you are deploying them relative to your competitors and whether budgets are being well spent. This allows you to make more informed decisions to improve performance. After running about 100 studies around the world we can see some patterns emerging that show managers where the opportunities are, and how to avoid making important mistakes. Here are three examples:
Face to face detailing remains critical, particularly in the early stages of a brand’s lifecycle. However, when the rep’s role is reduced to a courtesy call or re-stocking the practice with samples and materials, it is time to re-deploy resources. Companies need to plan smarter, so their most valuable assets aren’t wasted.That’s when looking at new ways to deliver face-to-face coverage, and examining other relationship building techniques are vital. MCA® helped us identify the smartest ways to re-deploy resources and make new connections.
How do we get doctors to engage with us via web-based programs? The answer: support them in being a better professional. We have consistently found that techniques like email (even optin programs) and tele-marketing often are not being used in an effective or efficient way, and they don’t help brands to stand out or build relationships. However, when brands offer programs for continued professional development via the web, or they provide online forums that enable peer-to-peer dialogue, these are valued and bring a lot of benefits to the brands and companies delivering them. MCA® helped us make sense of the digital space, by identifying what makes a difference to our customers
We see good examples of small, innovative pilots that are measurably making a difference i.e. they are helping a brand stand out and be appreciated by doctors. The most effective ones are designed and executed in an integrated way i.e. both contacts and content are combining to produce a valuable customer journey. We also see examples where that isn’t happening! Activities delivered in a fragmented, silo-driven way run the risk of making little or no impact, which is damaging for the marketing team, the innovation program, and the company. MCA® helped us identify when pilot programs are working, so we know where to apply resources to scale up.

For more information, please contact:

Mike Bambrick - mbambrick@brandexperience-group.com

Latin America
Eric Dherte - edherte@brandexperience-group.com