Shift From Product Driven Marketing l Our products never stand alone. We operate within a complex ecosystem made up of many, many actors and environments, of which the patient is one, and our product is another.
As an industry, we have until recently, taken a product centred approach to our business model. We have predominantly focused on the innovation and development of products and the marketing the features and benefits to aligned segments.
Product driven businesses are usually very internally focused; where as customer driven business are usually very externally focused. Product-based marketing strategies focus mostly on the product offerings rather than any particular customer. While segmentation enables targeted marketing, customers do not always stay inside the boundaries of the specific segments.
A customer driven business seeks to understand the marketplace first and the customers’ problems, then sets out to create solutions to solve those problems.
I propose Pharma might actually be a hybrid. However, a scientific focus is not really looking for a holistic solution in the complex environment we live, with all sorts of non-scientific factors affecting the patient outcomes, the economic equation and societal impact.
The Shift Needed from Product Driven Marketing
The ageing population, increasing chronic diseases and struggling healthcare budgets are only a few of the major reasons for change. The technology revolution has put knowledge in the general public’s hands and enabled connectivity between stakeholders.
Plus it has enhanced and quickened the diagnostic and treatment processes. Decisions are no longer solely made on the science based features and benefits alone. They not always made solely by prescribers or even pharmacists either. Decisions are now based upon a raft of interrelated complexities such as access, price, delivery, quotas, and patient brand preferences etc.
A shift from a product driven marketing perspective to a broader ‘solutions mindset’, will require a more holistic view of the ecosystem – with the patient at the centre, a view of all the actors, the interactions and influencers affecting the outcomes identified and mapped. Fear not, the product can remain a significant player within this broader context; however, a cross-functional approach with external partnerships will probably be necessary.
Solving Problems With Customer Driven Marketing
A customer driven business with a ‘solutions mindset’ will be an agile one.
The operational activities will be reshaped and it will be all about the customer:
- the products and services
- the modes and means of engagement
- the value-added benefits of the solution (the synergistic being greater than the individual parts) and
- the consistency of the customer experience - as the customer transverses across the business(es) and the various touchpoints.
As described by marketing thought leader, Gerard A Dada: “a solution is a complete offering what will solve a customer problem”:
- A complete offering means it must include all the products, services, parts, training and any other element a customer needs to solve a problem. In many cases it will require including partner offerings.
- Will solve implies the company is standing behind the complete solution. It has tested it, and provides customer service and a guarantee for the solution as a whole and not only for its individual components.
- Customer in 'customer problem' implies solutions need to be defined by customers, independently of how the company is organized, how the products are defined or what are the company priorities.
- Customer Problem requires us to understand why customers buy our products, what is the intent, what are the complete requirements and the alternatives being considered.
Your Product Driven Marketing Transformation
This is definitely a long-term game, in need of a shift in mindset, and a commitment from the top on new ways of doing business. It will help to get this mindset into the DNA of the company culture through inspiration and engagement. We must fundamentally believe that this will bring longer-term success.
The shift from a product-driven approach to a patient-centric approach requires deep and lasting change in the habits, attitudes, beliefs, values and all of the other assumptions that collectively add up to “the way we do things around here.” Because Pharma’s traditional business model has been successful for decades and in place for so long, the culture associated with it is deeply entrenched and particularly resistant to such sweeping change. Moreover, cultural transformation must be pursued on three levels concurrently: the personal, the team, and the organizational. [2014 Heidrick&Struggles - an article on the transition to patient centricity by Senn Delaney]
To drive a long term shift, consider the following short list:
- Customer driven leadership
- New organization cross-functional structures
- An innovation driven culture
- New customer facing capabilities
- New back end capabilities
- Patient Journey Mapping & Immersion
- Insight driven solution development; and
- Aligned goals, budgets and incentives
Which means, keeping the old ship sailing while you build the new one.
What Can Be Done Today?
A small step in the right direction can be the implementation of an insight-driven marketing strategy, beginning with a holistic view of the patient journey.
The patient journey can be used as a fundamental driver of change. Engage in real immersion into the patient’s journey, even before diagnosis and treatment, to the ongoing treatment and lifestyle events. Capture all the moments, the emptions, the environments, the administration pathways, and the interactions in public spaces and inside the medical facilities.
There are many hidden actors in every journey whom have been ignored or deemed ‘not relevant’ within the window of diagnosis and prescribing, which are now very relevant to the ‘solutions mindset’.
“…crawl into the skin of your customer and go with her as she goes about her day, always asking the question as she does something: why did she do it that way?” [Clay Christensen, Harvard Business School, 2011]
Look, feel and see the patient experience.
In a customer-driven marketing approach, visions start from outside the company, particularly in the marketplace where the patients are. Being customer driven is about solving problems holistically through insight-drive solutions.
Jennifer Grech is an experienced Customer Excellence professional, with over 10 years experience working on the transformation of pharma marketing and sales, and a member of the Actando consulting team
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To go further: How to Transform from Product Centric to Customer Centric