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How can pharma develop a more customer-centric approach?

Business pressures and customer needs will force pharma to focus on multichannel marketing in the next few years

How can pharma develop a more customer-centric approach?The latest Across Health 2014 Multichannel Barometer survey predicts that business pressures and customer needs will force pharma to focus on multichannel marketing in the next few years, as many other industries have already done.

For many pharma companies multichannel marketing still means 'email marketing', and digital is viewed in isolation to the rest of the sales and marketing mix. However, it is essential to engage with doctors through all the digital channels they use, including professional communities, message boards and blogs, and to integrate this with other sales and marketing activity.

Looking at non-related industries that have a track record in digital innovation can help pharma to benchmark its offering and be realistic about what it can achieve. For example, in the retail industry, the global luxury fashion house, Burberry, is 'blurring the lines between the physical and digital world' with the use of cutting edge social marketing technology in a bid to deepen connections with everyone who touches its brand.     

Burberry is using 'The Salesforce Marketing Cloud' - the world's only unified social marketing suite – to provide a seamless link between its bricks and mortar stores, catwalk shows and digital channels, including social media. This enables customers to enjoy a unified experience of the brand, wherever and however they access it, and maximises sales opportunities for the company. 

For example, Burberry has opened a store of the future where visitors can opt to 'check in' on a mobile app that enables staff to access their basic digital profile, plus information on their recent Burberry purchases and relevant social media activity, thus enabling them to provide a personalised customer experience. 

I believe the pharma industry's continued reliance on its own websites, which were identified by the Across Health Report as the 'most popular tactic', is largely responsible for its difficulties in engaging with doctors online, since experience shows that doctors prefer to access information from pharma companies in a trusted third party environment and few visit their websites.  

The ultimate expression of great marketing and sales is getting involved in a great community of your customers. By meeting them in their own environment, you can find out what they want and define how to build the content that they need. 

To be more customer-centric, pharma also needs to involve the customer earlier and more frequently. For example, conducting research ahead of a sales and marketing campaign is essential to find out what customers prefer, and getting doctors involved at this stage is a great way to engage with them and begin to build loyalty for a brand. 

In essence pharma needs to remember that every interaction with every doctor, through every channel, has an impact on the reputation of its brand; and developing a trusted, customer-centric reputation really is the Holy Grail for pharma since it reduces sales costs and massively increases sales effectiveness.

Article by
Dr Tim Ringrose, CEO of M3 Europe

For more information on M3, the global provider of technology services in healthcare, and its new European Division which includes www.doctors.,, and www.networksinhealth .com, please call Tim Ringrose on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Tim.

18th August 2014

From: Marketing, Healthcare



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