5 MCM Blunders Every Pharmaceutical Marketer Should Avoid

Multichannel marketing, a.k.a MCM,  seems to be all the rage in Pharma these days.  Since it is profit planning season, and countless millions will be invested into this approach, it seems appropriate to highlight the five major blunders that negatively impact campaign performance that ALL Pharmaceutical marketers should avoid.

1.  Incomplete Objectives

MCM campaigns are usually developed with one main objective; increase share of market by making physicians aware of the benefits of a drug which will influence the decision to prescribe it over other competitive products.  While this is a meaningful objective to strive for, it does not take advantage of the opportunity to maximize the impact of the overall effort.  This directive should serve as the overarching theme to a subset of physician-centric behavioral goals, which leads to the next blunder.

2. Avoid a Misguided Segmentation Scheme

The key variable responsible for a successful multichannel marketing campaign is laser precision targeting.  What occurs in some Pharmaceutical companies is that legacy sales mentality takes over and segmentation is based on a call plan.   In others, segmentation schemes or deciles are built based on category sales.  They are developed with the best of intentions, but not understanding who is currently writing the brand and the level of writing is not conducive to achieving the desired behavioral outcome.  In addition, sending marketing communications out in this manner is a waste of money because it is truly not targeted.  Having a basic understanding of who are the best customers, which physicians are convertible and which physicians are at risk not only provides an opportunity to create achievable sub-objectives but ensures the marketing spend is cost efficient and effective.

3.  Inadequate Customer Insights

Physicians are Pharmaceutical companies’ bread and butter, yet very few understand how physicians like to be communicated with to facilitate a deep level of engagement.  Some multichannel campaigns are designed to deliver a series of teaser messages that drive to another destination, typically a digital asset.  This undertaking requires a significant investment and yields suboptimal results.  Understanding which channel Physicians prefer their communications and delivering that experience via their preferred channel is a simple but highly effective approach that maximizes response rates and marketing investment.

4. Fear of incorporating Sales Force as a “communication channel”

It is interesting that everyone agrees that Pharmaceutical Sales Reps are experiencing the same phenomenon as television advertising.  The excessive number of exposures that physicians are being subjected to is resulting in a decrease in engagement.  The challenge with changing this paradigm is when a sales force is removed from the field and the brand instantly sees a decrease in sales, it elicits a knee jerk reaction in which the Brand Team redeploys the “army”.   This blanket deployment hurts a company’s ability to positively impact sales over the long term.  By understanding channel preference and deploying Sales Reps to Physician offices that are interested in seeing Reps will not only result in a stronger bond between the physician, rep and the company in the short term; but, it will establish a competitive barrier to entry and have a long term positive impact on the company’s market share.  None the less, to suggest changing sales force deployment without testing the impact on a statistically significant sample would be short sighted or even irresponsible.  However, by not recognizing and responding to the customer needs could be construed as short-sighted or irresponsible as well.

5. Measurement

One of the biggest challenges Pharmaceutical companies face in executing multichannel marketing campaigns is inaccurate measurement.  Companies that face this challenge are the ones that typically have a misguided segmentation schemes and view the Sales Force as a “separate entity”.  What occurs in these instances and is quite apparent is the lack of organizational structure required to design and effectively execute a multichannel marketing campaign.  This lack of control becomes obvious when the teams attempt to measure the results on the back-end.  A control hold out cell is typically polluted as a result of a local or regional effort that is executed during the campaign.  While everyone has the same goal in mind, the lack of coordination, communication and control results in findings that have limited insights to help shape future efforts.

Reaching the right physicians with the right message through the right channel at the right time is the universal principle behind any multichannel campaign.  Building a highly optimized campaign in a Pharmaceutical company is easier said than done.   Politics, instant gratification and varying levels of understanding in creating a world-class multichannel marketing campaign are the key barriers that every Pharmaceutical marketer faces.  Careers are built by those that take risks and lead by having a strong vision.  While there is no shortage of “mavericks” in Pharma, those that avoid blunders experienced by others will enjoy continued success in their careers.