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Bringing over 20 years of experience advancing marketing efforts at Boehringer Ingelheim, Christopher Price talks with Pharmaceutical Executive and shares how his team is advancing digital content in the face of evolving omnichannel behaviors.
Pharmaceutical Executive: What are some of the transformations in field engagement and marketing you’ve seen across life sciences over the years?
Christopher Price: Over the years, I’ve seen a shift from a multichannel engagement approach to an omnichannel engagement approach. In the omnichannel approach, we are seeing a more customer-centric view.
Our go-to-market (GTM) approach is the way we engage, interact, and partner with our customer through medical, marketing, market access, and sales functions. It also covers all the engagement channels such as face-to-face and the various digital channels that use powerful data and insight tools to inform our personalized communications strategies and tactics.
This is in response to our customers who are demanding that we move away from our tendency of 1:1 customer engagement across the various functions and in anticipation of their ever-evolving needs and expectations for a more holistic and coordinated experience with us.
What drove you to move to fully digital content and virtual scientific congresses during the pandemic?
At Boehringer Ingelheim, we were advancing towards fully digital content. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were several pilots happening across the various franchises focused on interactive visual aids (iVAs). This included Veeva Engage, which allowed us to pivot quickly.
The acceleration of our progress resulted in some franchises moving to a fully digital model and abandoning print resources entirely. This took organizational courage and commitment to move in this direction and enable digital content approaches.
Little did we know that the actions we were taking to move the organization to fully digital was going to be so timely with the COVID-19 pandemic emerging.
As the pandemic was officially upon us in March, the entire organization needed to shift its strategy from in-person interactions to virtual interactions. This included virtual congresses and exhibits.
Prior to March 2020, most local, regional, and national congresses that we attended and exhibited in-person traditionally, moved to a virtual only format. This was especially true in our account-based teams. As the pandemic surged on, this trend continued throughout 2021. We worked collaboratively to develop standards and processes to systematically submit, review, approve, and produce virtual exhibits across the various brands and therapeutic areas.
How are you building a digital-savvy team at Boehringer Ingelheim and setting a technological foundation for growth?
Boehringer Ingelheim, globally has ambitions to position GTM as an integral part of how we will lead the world in customer engagement experience through solutions that will help us to meet the needs of our customers, today, tomorrow and for generations to come.
To ready the organization, we have been working across functions and oceans to expand and enable new capabilities required to execute our efforts. Specifically, in my area of focus of content excellence, we are working as one team to establish an end-to-end content management capability. This will consist of content planning and development to content review, approval, and ultimately production and sharing.
With an evolution of this size and scale, you can imagine there is a great deal of organizational learning and change that needs to take place. This has involved cross-functional collaborative efforts, including marketing teams, agencies, and vendors with depth and subject matter expertise, frequent sharing sessions and learning opportunities to help key stakeholders join us on this digital journey.
What’s next in digital marketing strategy for the company’s respiratory and established brands? How are you paving the way for modular content? What other trends do you see continuing into 2023?
What’s next in digital marketing strategy is very much building on our E2E content management capabilities. Enabling modular content is and will be key to our success of delivering personalized experiences to our customers in a compliant way.
Working with partners like Veeva will help us move from the ‘one size fits all’ approach to content planning and development to a ‘personalized content for all’ approach. In respiratory and established brands, we have shown modular content and personalization works because of the improved customer experience, increased engagement, and brand performance, which has given the organization confidence that scaled properly, can have the same positive impact on our other franchises and functions as well.
Continuing into 2023, I see us continuing to build out our capabilities cross-functionally to enable richer omnichannel experiences. I see opportunities to expand into other therapeutic areas and brands to gain additional insights through experiences with brands at different stages of their product lifecycle.
I am excited about emerging capabilities coming to Veeva Vault PromoMats to help better enable modular content as well as improve the efficiency of the MLR review process such as tier-based MLR review, which should reduce time spent by reviewers and increase speed to market.
Additionally, I expect to see more sophisticated execution of modular content in existing channels and an emergence in newer channels that we have not yet explored. We do not see this as a commercially-centric initiative, we see this as something that will transform how we engage our external experts on the medical side of the business as well and ultimately benefiting the patients we serve.