One of the most challenging aspects of this metamorphosis is the sheer speed at which customers' communications needs and behaviors are changing. Both professional and consumer audiences have become much more sophisticated—and much more demanding—about their interface with the industry. Gone are the days when these audiences were relatively passive, waiting for pharma to bring its messages to them. Years of Internet connectivity, wireless technology and direct media have spawned an on-demand mindset in a new generation. The customers have spoken: They want greater flexibility, more individualized information, and more relevance and credibility in pharma-driven communications.
Interactive & Integrated
Global industries, such as automotive and retail, have successfully positioned interactive marketing and the Internet at the core of their overall communications mixes. Pharma has begun to realize the distinct advantages of this model, but many companies still face internal marketing bureaucracies that have siloed their marketing functions into various groups (see "Silos, Silos Everywhere"). Interactive marketing traditionally has been just one more of those silos, largely separated from the brand practice. This environment cannot keep up with the changes taking place in the industry. A complete overhaul of philosophy and vision will have to take place.
It begins by moving the interactive component to the core of the brand marketing strategy. This elevates its strategic role and amplifies the reach and ROI of traditional brand marketing strategies. An interactive core also improves links between consumer and professional communications, and creates a better balance between promotional and educational content. As a result, e-marketing serves to integrate formerly disparate communications channels—such as clinical development, opinion leader interface, conventions and congresses, public relations, and organizational alliances. This has far-reaching implications for the industry at large, since marketing, educational, and collaborative communications extend from Phase II product development across all stages of lifecycle management.
Forming Relationships On Demand
Healthcare professionals are caught between two seemingly incompatible and insurmountable pressures on their practices: managing their time more efficiently in order to improve productivity, and digesting an unprecedented amount of clinical, economic, and regulatory information to improve their practices' quality. Pharma marketers can help them balance these two pressures by moving to a consultative role. Rather than being viewed as an intrusion, industry communications must better align with the needs of the professional audience.