In a digital world, marketing looks different
Pharma have traditionally left distance between their traditional marketing activities and digital marketing activities. Recent trends, however, have shown that there is no difference between digital marketing and marketing – it is all just marketing.
This is a good thing. As we have seen in the aftermath of COVID-19, the traditional share-of-voice model with huge sales forces visiting doctors has its limitations. In a world where information is available with the click of a finger, where patients are turning from objects to subjects in healthcare, and where data finally has the potential to drive decision-making, this model might become decreasingly fit for purpose.
Further fuelling this trend is the shift of decision-making power in healthcare away from the individual doctor and towards institutions and payers, and the evolution of customer expectations on the experience they have with pharma. Altogether, this combination of digital transformation of the sector, changing power balance, and importance of experience over product creates new levels of complexity for pharma marketing.
To handle this complexity, the commercial organisation needs to evolve and become more agile.
Agile being a bit of a buzzword at the moment, let us make it clear from the outset. Agile with a capital ‘A’ as in Scrum, Kanban, post-its, and daily stand-ups, is not the same as, and not enough on its own to achieve, organisational agility.
In this article, we will show you how to create a marketing function that is truly agile.
A marketing function that is driven by digital looks different from the marketing pharma is used to. Five elements differ:
- Speed. The ability to produce and deploy marketing messages in a digital world is much faster than in an analogue one. By the time, a paper pamphlet has been designed, printed, and physically distributed, a digital article will already have been published, read, and forgotten.
- Adaptability. The ability to personalise content in a digital world allows you to cater to a wide range of customer needs in a cost-efficient way that would not be possible when leveraging analogue channels.
- Adjacency. The internet has offset the traditional information asymmetry and information is now very easily accessed, which is particularly relevant for pharma.
- Scale. Very important in other sectors such as retail and FMCG, the scale of digital marketing is potentially huge. For pharma, the potential of digital in this sense has often been framed as a more cost-efficient alternative to big sales forces.
- Precision. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, digital allows you to measure performance, impact and customer behaviour which allows you to test and learn in a way that would make David Ogilvy dance with joy.
'Hacking Marketing' by Scott Brinker describes five key differences: