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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Pharma marketers' blog: How to get your tactical mix right in the new normal

Optimising your promotional effectiveness and ultimate customer experiences

In this month’s blog I’d like to focus on getting the mix of tactics right in the new normal, whether you’re brand planning for 2022 or reviewing your current tactical mix to optimise your promotional effectiveness and ultimate customer experiences.

You may be facing challenges to your budgets, questions on the rationale for your tactical mix and also internal field-based teams may be struggling with how to manage their time, new systems, building new capabilities and deciding how and when to interact with their doctors digitally or with an in-person meeting.

One of the most frequent questions I hear when working with global and local brand teams at the moment is how much of a ‘bounce back’ will there be from digital channels to face-to-face meetings, events and activities. There is some great research being published across the industry on channel utilisation across the US, UK, EU4 and other major healthcare markets, showing a range of return to face-to-face interactions.

Of course, the picture is still evolving country by country during these pandemic times, depending on the vaccination rates, status of lockdown and progress of new variants. And similarly, we are seeing significant differences across physician speciality types: there are quite different preferences emerging across psychiatrists, respiratory specialists, oncologists and cardiologists, to name but a few.

And let’s not forget patient preference: there are some patients who value the speed and flexibility of a digital doctor’s appointment and then some who are not comfortable explaining the full range of symptoms they are experiencing or bringing up more sensitive issues in a phone or video call with their doctor.

A great place to start is to carefully assess your current tactical mix – by customer segment, by channel, by strategic priority, across functions and then versus your operational promotional effectiveness metrics. This is a great activity to do as a cross-functional brand team with some good supporting analysis, in order to reach some evidence-based conclusions and to support future decisions.

It’s also worth checking the dates and plans for key medical or patient congresses in the coming months, as some are intending to return to the full face-to-face model and others are maintaining a strong set of virtual presentations and activities. If you dialled down your company/brand presence in certain industry events last year, you may want to give them a ‘burst’ in the coming months or year.

Analysis of the most effective promotional campaigns favours a concentrated ‘burst’ of activity, often relating to a key milestone, congress or season; this has been shown to be much more impactful than regular, consistent events or outputs.

As you consider your tactical mix, it’s worth building a digital board of ideas as a team over a timeline – three, six or 12 months – to capture the team’s ideas and input (or a series of flipchart posters if you are planning your tactics together back in the office!).

Some key things to consider when creating or revising your tactics:

  • How to leverage the current high impact, high performance tactics – keep doing these
  • Which content will you have available, and when, to translate into interesting, shareable, interactive content that can be used across different channels?
  • How can you repurpose existing content or tactics that are still relevant but ‘flip’ them in some way using a new technique or channel?
  • Timing – when is the best time of day for an email or webinar to take place? When are the best dates for events or meetings?
  • What are the best channels to use for each target customer segment? Are you clear on how each segment’s channel usage and preferences have changed in the last year?
  • Do you have the resources (financial and people) to design, deliver and measure all your tactics? If not, you may need to take some tough decisions to delete or defer
  • What will the competition be doing in the coming months or year? Do you have a good sense of their tactical mix and how to do something better and different? (Easier said than done, I do realise...)

It’s an exciting time for innovation and creativity in our tactical mixes across the industry, as we navigate a mix of digital and face-to-face interactions at different paces across physician speciality groups and countries. I’m going to be watching the industry marketing awards carefully this year to see who some of the winning teams and brands are.

Stephanie Hall is MD of the award-winning brand planning healthcare consultancy Uptake Strategies

1st July 2021

From: Marketing

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