Pharma companies that build a strategy around three components—category leadership in a few product areas, customer-focus and lean operations, position themselves for growth that far outstrips the industry average. [Bain & Company, 2018]
Pharma companies find themselves in a much more challenging environment in recent years. For many, growth has been limited by escalating pricing pressure, fierce competition and higher innovation hurdles. Sales and marketing efforts once comfortably funded by long periods of patent protection are now operating on much leaner budgets; the average period of exclusivity following an innovative product launch to when a competitor enters the class has, according to Bain & Company, plummeted from eight years to four years. This combination of limited growth, struggle to cut costs, and rising customer expectations demands a new commercial excellence strategy. We still need to build new capabilities and find new efficiencies, in order to improve our effectiveness and profits.
A more focused approach
The recent shift to therapeutic areas where the company can specialise is more frequently seen in practice in pharma divestments of whole portfolios or divisions; new acquisitions within growing therapeutic areas; and outsourcing marketing and sales activities of mature products.
Customer Insights enrich communications
It should follow that a narrower focus facilitates the gathering of more meaningful customer insights from a reduced customer list, along with efficiencies in more narrowly targeted sales and marketing plans. But of course, communications based on preferences is only the first step toward higher impact communications and extended relationships which can yield longer-term value.
Companies that excel at managing the customer experience and building customer advocacy can increase their market capitalization by 25% or more. The added benefit of this targeted approach is the elimination of low-value activities that create added cost and complexity. [Bain & Company, 2018]
With the growth in the use of digital channels to reach customers and patients, we can gather a lot of data on behaviours, preferences and experiences. Armed with this data, we can better tailor our communications to select profiles with more relevance and connectedness.
Digital extends reach and impact
With integrated technologies and empowerment to curate content and take action, sales representatives can deliver high-value content more easily and reliably to target customers. Limiting sales representatives to a set of key messages, an associated eDetailer and/or a paper aid, and a target list of customers with an incentivised call rate target limits the extent of their potential interactions and delivery of value. Empowering the sales representative to select how and when to communicate, and to extend the interactions to other relevant channels such as webinars, educational meetings, remote details, website visits, approved email content etc, can enable the relationships to deepen and the representative to be a valuable partner in finding patient solutions.
Not all communication and/or extensions rely on the sales representatives. Many customer experiences and interactions can now be automated using platforms such as HubSpot, Eloqua, MailChimp, Salesforce email studio and more. [See G2Crowd.com for an extensive list by category of marketing automation platforms.] Marketing automation platforms can streamline workflows and measure outcomes of marketing activities. Integration with the CRM can be an added advantage to ensure the multichannel strategy and the customer experience is seamless.
When you put yourself in the customer’s shoes, you can easily imagine the ideal world, one in which pharma marketers truly understand their customers’ needs and interests, tailor communications to address those needs, communicate in the customers’ preferred channels at the frequency they appreciate, and encourage them to engage with the most relevant content and products.
The opportunity to demonstrate a deep understanding of our customers and communicate effectively lies in our ability to gather meaningful insights and translate them into powerful communications. Focusing on our priority customers and business challenges, and extending and enriching our communication across channels allows us to create rich, long-term relationships based on real communication.
Article Contributor: Melanie Brown, Managing Partner
If you are interested in our mobile learning solutions on digital channels, contact Actando.
The Actando Consulting Team