Pharmaceutical multichannel marketing, a.k.a. Pharma MCM has a dirty little secret. It’s so powerful that it could change the way Pharmaceutical marketers approach their physician behavioral marketing objectives. What’s the secret? Well, it’s complicated. In order to understand that secret, we must first understand what the crux of that secret is …. That crux, is called a “learning relationship”.
What is a learning relationship? It is a process in which a Pharmaceutical Brand Team experiences an iterative number of non-personal dialogues or information exchanges with a physician or patient and utilize that information in-order customize its products, services and future communications a little more closely to the needs of that physician or patient. The key being that it is an iterative process so in effect the relationship is getting smarter and becoming better at satisfying a particular target audience needs over time.
I wish I could take credit for this revelation, but I cannot. Peppers, Rogers and Pine presented the idea of a learning relationship in the context of leveraging tools to create loyalty in the 1990 version of the Harvard Business Review book, The Quest for Loyalty: Creating Value through Partnership.
So what has precluded Pharmaceutical marketers from adopting a “learning relationship” in their Pharma MCM initiatives? Well, here’s the dirty little secret. A “learning relationship” is actually a core principle in relationship marketing.
So what are the implications for Pharma MCM initiatives?
Relationship marketing has a negative connotation in some organizations. In others, it’s put into a predefined box and the lid is closed, making sure that it is not exposed. However, there are a few organizations continuing to evolve their MCM capabilities and skill sets. Pharmaceutical marketers must overcome the negative to low perception of relationship marketing by enhancing their MCM initiatives. Pharmaceutical marketers have varying business objectives for the MCM initiatives; some are focused on opt-in, some on patient conversion and others on HCP messaging engagement. At the end of the day, to some degree everyone is trying to drive an increase in TRx, or NRx and a ROI.
Pharmaceutical marketers are well versed in how to capture the voice of the customer to create and design marketing initiatives; this skill set can help speed the adoption of this approach.
The essence of a learning relationship is leveraging surveys throughout the engagement with the target audience at predetermined times. The execution of a learning relationship should not be executed more than the user needs, nor should the survey process strain internal resources. To create an effective and efficient learning process within a Pharma MCM initiative, it must be kept simple. There is a variety of ways to set up a learning relationship to deliver value. One such approach is to leverage survey questions to assess if previously delivered content achieved its desired outcome, (awareness, education, adherence, ect.). The outcome presents two engagement opportunities; First, if the original content did not achieve the desired outcome, then delivery of similar content to help achieve that desired goal is warranted. Second, if the original content achieved its’ goal, then presenting new content to add further value is expected. In either case, it taking the appropriate action will demonstrate that the Pharmaceutical marketer is listening to their customer and is engaged. This is the essence of building a relationship.
To create a synergist MCM ecosystem a few nuances must occur.
- Understand customer engagement preferences, frequency and volume,
- Secure preapproved communication content to support engagement,
- Establish a technology infrastructure to facilitate ongoing interactions,
- Incorporate Learning Relationship as a KPI in the MCM analytics process
Can Pharmaceutical marketers evolve their MCM approach to incorporate a learning relationship? It depends. It depends on the culture, openness, appetite for new ideas and the current agenda of those driving the key decisions. And what should happen if these factors align? Pharma MCM leaders will be able to enhance their MCM approaches, drive incremental business impact and more importantly, proclaim they have their own dirty little secret.