How do recent events impact resource allocation across channels?
Determining the marketing mix and resource allocation is a continuous challenge for Pharma marketers. The COVID-19 disruption has forced most companies into a ‘digital first’ or 'digital-only' approach, which is nevertheless (hopefully) aligned to the customer needs and preferences. In this changing environment, many marketers find it challenging to know how to optimally allocate resources across more channels, within the same or reduced budget amounts.
Even if it is not our choice, emerging customer engagement models are providing us with an opportunity to reimagine the marketing mix and resource allocation across channels. Will we dare to try new communication platforms and methods? Will we learn to consistently use new data sources to inform our decisions, and to adapt our approach as we go? Now that we can no longer rely on “business as usual”, or “the way we have always done things”, are we ready to seize this opportunity to learn and change?
What prevents us from changing is often fear of failure. We may not know in advance what will work well in each channel and may not even be clear on what is already providing good returns. Increased pressure on budgets and headcount make us risk-averse, at a time we need to dare to try – and dare to fail. Knowing our competitors are, like us, learning how to adapt to this changing environment, this could be our best opportunity to experiment, to fail fast, and change according to the data we collect.
For this we need clear understandable data, dashboards to view and analyse the data, and competencies to make data-driven decisions. If you do not already know how, learn which data will help you make strategic and tactical decisions, such as how to measure the impact of activities per channel. Collect and review that data and be prepared to modify your tactics on a regular basis based on the data.
A good starting point to make effective resource allocation decisions is to find existing reliable sources of data across brands and markets already available in your organisation, including the CRM, the salesforce and market research. Then look at what you need to add: Google Analytics, digital behavioural data, or social listening, according to which of the above can answer your business questions. Whether you need a broader view or need to drill down into specific personas, learn what is likely to work well, and what is already achieving the desired results through frequent review and analysis, and update your cross-channel resource allocation accordingly.
Select only a few key metrics to follow that guide you to collect useful data to support your resource allocation decisions, and determine whether you can collect it economically. These metrics should truly inform you, preferably in real-time, what is working and what is not. Use the data to tweak your strategy in response to your customers’ behaviour in your selected channels.
In future articles, we will discuss various methods of experimentation such as A/B testing, algorithms which propose changes to allocation based on performance, enhanced customisation by persona over time, and the use of predictive algorithms to support initial and ongoing decisions.
Channel Mix Challenge
Back to our channel mix challenge: how should we decide on the allocation of our limited resources? Whereas shifting to ‘digital-only’ may be alluring, offering a lower resource burden and the potential for a greater reach, it may not always be the best option. Whatever you decide, be sure to consider the customer experience and the best alignment to your customer personas and aligned value proposition. It has been said that no one saves their way to prosperity: for us, this means first provide value to attract and engage the customer in selected channel activities, and then seek economies. Enhancing the customer experience and communicating well your value proposition should be the priorities, and is proven to drive sales and protect against competitors
In the midst of all this digital transition, let’s not forget that human interaction remains a highly valuable channel to promote products and solutions and to improve patient outcomes. As we evolve from a traditional resource optimisation methodology for the rep channel to something that considers a hybrid of reps and additional channels, clear and understandable data will be the foundation of good decision-making.
Article Contributor: Melanie Brown, Managing Partner
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The Actando Consulting Team