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Data is Now the Key to Marketing


Neil Gleghorn, looks at the upsurge of technology and metric-driven marketing operations in the strictly regulated pharmaceutical industries.

Neil Gleghorn, looks at the upsurge of technology and metric-driven marketing operations in the strictly regulated pharmaceutical industries.

The pharmaceutical industry is faced with the enormous challenge of developing marketing strategies for both digital platforms and print in a highly regulated environment. The internet and other digital delivery mechanisms have increased the burden to create on-target messaging that can be closely tracked, where companies are already under pressure to accelerate time-to-market and reduce expenses.

It is not a picture of despondency. The use of measureable metrics and other analytical data, now available in real-time, enables companies to look closely at the success of campaigns against spend. In a rapidly changing industry landscape, the need to measure data has become paramount as evidence of marketing success.

Senior management is no longer happy with flow charts and presentations. Metrics enable them to dig deeper and see the bigger picture. The door has opened to a new era of ‘marketing operations’, created out of the need for a more transparent and accountable view of marketing and driven by marketing technology.

Suddenly we have job titles - from digital strategists to online marketing directors - that previously didn’t exist. At the same time companies have invested in digital analytics tools can be used by this new generation of marketing operations professionals to make processes more efficient and provide greater transparency into the marketing department’s actions.

The end result is that marketing has become much more accountable and measurable to companies. At the same time there is an organic link between the need to achieve consistency and capability in product marketing through branding, design and labeling.

The guise of marketing operations has not, however, killed creativity. Creative function is still key, welded to consistent, repeatable processes and measurement metrics through the supply chain that provides companies with a granular, highly detailed overview of what strategy is working where and why. Data is crucial to this shift in focus, fuelled by the consumer’s increasingly savvy use of digital tools and services to access information online.

But all this doesn’t come without its pitfalls. As we struggle to be more data driven across a plethora of communications channels, it is easy to become discordant with messaging.

This is not a new risk in highly regulated industries. When customers note the chemical ingredients label on a pharma product, it is paramount it is the same on all your messaging, be it print or digital. The need to achieve efficient and consistent marketing operations is always linked to strict auditing and compliance regulations.

Alongside the organic growth of marketing, global regulation and legislation changes are radically affecting the market environment. Driven by a need to hone the measurement of marketing activities and the increase in global regulation/compliance, marketing professionals need to check for consistency and efficiency in their processes, as much as their colleagues have been doing in product labeling for some time.

Packaging and labeling continually look to save time, avoid duplication, share reliable data for localized product, whilst logging a full audit trail of changes to aid transparency, consistency and auditability, whilst locking down the approvals process to ensure accountability and security. There is no reason why marketing can’t follow the same tried and tested road.

In real terms all this means any product claims you make in your marketing collateral can be defended and sourced to, say, the US Federal and Drug Administration or any other external third party.

Remember: Data is key from the start

Multi-nationals have long been looking to obtain this level of control. The big problem is that companies have opted for so-called ‘point’ solutions – a mix of one or two products eg Asset database, Excel and increasingly SharePoint. Unfortunately, this isn’t adequate. It does not integrate and have the established depth and trust a dedicated labeling and artwork management solution offers.

The key is to search out powerful, responsive software that uses a data-centric approach to labeling creation and management, which can save on time and cost, as well as increasing up accuracy, transparency and compliance. Why? Because it works form a single, authorized instance housing all of the latest authorized labeling assets. This enables the department to automatically track all related translations, so that the company can confidently and efficiently reuse approved labeling components as required.

So the message is loud and clear. Marketing teams in regulated industry organizations need to use a data-centric approach to support the effective introduction of a marketing operations oriented, data-driven regime. This will allow the same quantifiable benefits that their colleagues in Q&A or Regulatory Affairs have been using.

This really is a huge step forward for marketing teams in regulated industries, who will finally have access to market-proven tools to measure and use data in the bright new world of marketing operations. And the great news is everyone benefits.

Neil Gleghorn is CEO of artwork management firm Kallik.



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