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How to stop worrying and learn to love the data.
Let's face it and let's be brave about it: the balance of power has shifted permanently from the marketers to the marketed. The budgets necessary for shout-and-be-heard marketing are no longer feasible. Marketers no longer have the luxury of captive audiences sitting in front of their TVs for hours on end, hanging on every word of the advertising copy. To make matters worse, technology continues to drive rapid proliferation and fragmentation of channels and information sources, resulting in a pool of resources, content, answers, and options for HCPs and patients to pick and choose from. HCPs and patients have much more control over what they see and where they see it, and they confirm the validity and reliability of what they see and hear through discussions with others like them, before making a choice.
The role of marketing must shift from attracting attention to delivering value. We must embrace the belief that confident, empowered customers (both patients and healthcare professionals) are the key to driving business success. We must enable relevant, valuable, and meaningful customer experiences that facilitate our customers' healthcare journeys—journeys that are no longer linear and isolated by channels. Our customers can touch our brands anywhere, at any time, and flow in and out of the brand experience at will. Creativity in this consumer controlled digital age goes beyond compelling creative design reproduced in every channel. It demands orchestration of multi-channel customer experiences and deserves ideas that are generous and generative without arbitrary channel boundaries.
Enter big data
Today, more than ever, data gives us almost live intelligence about where people are, who they are, what they are doing and, most importantly, what they are looking for. From data-driven personalization engines fueling the
experience to the reinvention of entire industries giving rise to the likes of Netflix (and the demise of Blockbuster as we knew it), the power of the consumer, and the data that helps marketers tap into this power, have forever transformed marketing and the creative big idea.
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.
When you see data being employed like this, you realize that it is not a big, ugly, scary monster out to undermine your every creative thought and idea. It is the knowledge, insight, and wisdom marketers need to create relevance and be responsive to the needs, challenges, motivations, and passions of our audiences. Pharma's legacy systems, infrastructures, and conceptions of marketing design and execution are struggling to cope with this mass of data.
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 protected]
Mukarram Bhatty is Senior Vice President Strategy at Digitas Health. He can be reached at [email protected]