Enter big data
And pharma is not going to escape this shift unscathed. Deeper customer insight is forcing pharma marketers to re-articulate marketing goals, re-consider crucial touch points, channels, and connections, and most importantly redefine customer experiences. While still not the norm, there are a few prime examples of brave, data-driven ideas creating value and relevance for both the customer and the brand.
A recent example is AstraZeneca's Customer Driven Initiative designed to supplement sales force efforts to increase the quality and quantity of physician interactions. With physician access becoming an industry-wide challenge, the goal was to deliver on-demand, rep-like services through physician-preferred touch points whenever and wherever they needed them.
Digitas Health explored physician needs and preferences through custom and syndicated research; analyzed physician-rep interactions; evaluated search and online activity; and identified content, tools, and resources that could be delivered to the physicians in a non-personal setting. In-bound call centers were supplemented with a centralized and shared suite of services and technologies, including e-sampling, e-detailing, and custom content—made possible through strategic partners like Medscape, MDLinx, MedManage and Epocrates—to ensure a continuously evolving and current value proposition.
Creativity lay in ensuring seamless connectivity between brand-specific content and the centralized, shared content, providing an integrated, customer-centric experience across multiple brands, audiences, and channels. The foundation of this service is a technology infrastructure that is adaptable and responsive to support changing physician and brand needs and leverages data and analytics to drive optimization and accountability.
The result for AstraZeneca was a customer-driven initiative that continues to surpass industry norms for physician participation and engagement, while delivering centralized efficiencies and business impact.
Another example is where we put data at the heart of a very successful behavior modification program for a smoking cessation therapy. The step-by-step approach started with a questionnaire revealing the smoking habits that increase the urge to smoke. This data allowed us to build a year of support that delivered tips, tools, and a personalized "quit strategy" to combat the desire to pick up that cigarette.
This rich, surround-sound program connects across multiple channels and uses data to define the content of each communication; help progress trackers pin-point where each patient is in their journey; and celebrate the successes along the way. Along that journey, relevant content is delivered every day for the first five weeks and then weekly for the rest of the year to help patients alter behavior to achieve goals that otherwise might be unattainable.
The idea of using data in this fluid, "live" way to create dynamic content changes the creative process. It forces you to imagine beyond the 60-second commercial and into the 52-week year; to stop thinking like traditional marketers and more like publishers.
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It's important to align brands to the customer, not the other way around. The objective is to facilitate the mutual exchange of value. But our customers are not in the business of serving up their requirements to us on a silver platter. It's up to us to garner a deep understanding about the category, the competition, our brand reality, our customers' cultural biases, media consumption, and the human reality to uncover the underlying customer needs, challenges, and motivations.
Master the tools
Search engines, social media, and other consumer-controlled engagements allow for deeper insights into consumers' thoughts, motivations, and behaviors. Interactive touch points like mobile devices, smartphones, and digital destinations give consumers access to more on-demand information, offering opportunities for marketers to track these interactions in real time, enabling them to understand and influence their audiences at a broader and deeper level than ever before. An enabling infrastructure and processes lets marketers capture, synthesize, and disseminate customer interactions, pathways, and journeys, in addition to analyzing synergies and alignment with brand goals to inform the creative process.
Merge left and right brain
It is not an alien concept that structured thinking can fuel the creative process. The biggest impediment to this mind-meld is conversion of dashboards and walls of numbers into insights that create the "aha" moments and give fuel to ideas that are generous and generative—enabled by a team structure that encourages multi-disciplinary collaboration.
Let the ideas flow
And flow they must. The days of replicating the same old message across every channel are long gone. Today, creatives must think about context to keep their message relevant and timely. We need to think about the customer first and ask ourselves the same question every time we create a touch point: What is the human need that we are going to answer as a brand? And the thing that helps us do this—keep our thinking and our work fluid—is data.
Graham Mills is Executive Creative Director at Digitas Health. He can be reached at email@example.com
Mukarram Bhatty is Senior Vice President Strategy at Digitas Health. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org