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Engagement strategies

The customer journey and aligning value-based content
Engagement strategies people

Today, brand marketing to healthcare providers (HCPs) requires an approach designed to overcome a number of challenges: limited access, new customer groups, and a focus on patient outcomes. What's more, cost management and newly empowered healthcare consumers have become integral components of the treatment decision mix.

These trends have pushed the life sciences industry to take a customer-centric approach. In an environment where effective customer engagement strategies are critical for success, brands should redirect their attention to these core customer-centric components:

  • Customer journey 
  • Customer knowledge
  • Customer experience.

It is important to note that effective, evolving HCP engagement strategies can benefit large and small brands alike.

Influence HCP perception with every connection
Every customer interaction with a brand influences perception about that brand's value, reflecting a progressive continuum of a deepening relationship. For HCPs, the journey typically includes five stages.

Within each stage, every activity impacts customer attitudes, improves their understanding of clinical facts, and strengthens their emotional linkage to the brand's value proposition. At this decision tipping-point - or 'Moment of Truth' - the HCP takes an action to continue or pause their relationship with the brand as they assess the risk-benefit based on the information presented.

For example, during the awareness phase, a physician may align the brand's clinical profile with his or her treatment experience and seek clinical validation through key opinion leaders (KOL). Assuring that the clinical studies are easily accessible at the point-of-need helps to facilitate a positive brand experience. Consider the HCP's momentary perception when, during this Moment of Truth experience, the HCP receives an email blast about a brand's reimbursement support programme. Both are important components of the brand's value proposition, but the timing of providing the needed content is equally important.

Getting a positive response to each Moment of Truth should not be left to chance. The customer journey must be clearly outlined so that the relevant value proposition components are available when they are needed. To do this, a customer journey map (CJM) must be developed.

The CJM documents the customer's decision-making process, activities he engages in, and scenarios in which the brand's presence is credible. These situations can become touch point opportunities - instances when customer-brand connections deliver value. Each touchpoint within the journey aligns to the brand strategy, details how the brand will deliver against the customer's needs and is measurable.

Find customers who can help the brand grow
Think about the growing responsibilities and accountabilities that physicians face in the new reform environment. Because customer knowledge is broader than treatment algorithms, script-writing patterns and patient profiles, it has become essential for brands to understand the multiple dimensions of the physician, and not just those specific to their brand. The multi-dimensional view extends beyond the physician and into the physician's relationships with everyone who influences the script-writing decisions.

Being a small brand doesn't mean the HCP engagement strategy can't be progressive

Customer knowledge blends historic behaviours, qualitative attitudes, causal relationships among several influence spheres, as well as financial acumen. It also delivers insights about physician behaviour at varying prescribing levels. The goal of this level of analysis is to understand: 

  • How the brand's value proposition meets the needs of each decile group 
  • What aspect of the value proposition influences the Moment of Truth in its decision-making process
  • The investment required in order for the brand to build a relationship with the HCP 
  • The benefits that the brand will receive over the course of the relationship.

Through rigorous analysis, a brand can leverage the characteristics of prescribing physicians, clustering them by stages in the customer journey, and then identifying clusters of physicians who would a) be receptive to key value proposition attributes, and b) have the patient population to deliver financial value back to the brand. 
Traditional data sources are not sufficient to define the decision triggers. For example, longitudinal patient data, combined with clinical notes and other traditional data sources, can reveal disease, category or brand treatment patterns.

At times, this incremental data can be cost-prohibitive. Physician-level qualitative research is an alternative method for gathering the information that delivers accurate views of target physician clusters. Well-designed studies can deliver the kind of actionable insights that optimise customer engagement strategies.

Transform the value proposition into a personalised dialogue 
A personalised dialogue can be created when the customer knowledge process output has identified a focused target group, such as prospective customers and the Moments of Truth that influence their decision-making. Following the customer acquisition sequence, the target group falls into the awareness or consideration stages of the HCP's journey toward a deepening relationship with the brand.

The CJM provides guidance toward content needs. The deeper insight into the specific acquisition target group allows brands to make refinements based upon this specific communication plan.

Therefore, brand-customer interactions can be personalised with reference points specific to the individual physician. For example, the delivery of a clinical study could tie the KOL to the physician's university affiliation. Such small, positive perceptions can make an enormous difference that helps to advance the brand-customer relationship.

Channels are also an important part of journey mapping. For a time, industry discussion leaned toward defined or behavioural preference as a deciding factor in channel selection. With today's budget constraints, more often the decision begins with financial considerations driving the channel model. This approach aligns outreach investment with predicted financial value.

On-demand content availability is another key element of channel strategies, assuring that each component of the brand's value proposition is easily accessible allows physicians to retrieve the information they need, when they need it. Understanding who is pulling what information can then be used to trigger relevant follow-up communications through the appropriate channel.

The journey begins
Technology is the foundation of personalised dialogues. Companies are leveraging campaign management, content management and sales force automation systems to execute personalised communication plans.

Organisationally, the shift from a product-centric to a customer-centric strategy requires a vision and roadmap. The good news is that it is feasible to start small. In fact, focused efforts can be executed through a limited analytic ecosystem and promotional hub environment. Furthermore, being a small brand doesn't mean the HCP engagement strategy can't be progressive. While smaller brands may not be in a position to purchase all of the syndicated data needed to gain deeper customer insights, they can use physician-level qualitative research. Even brands that aren't in a position to develop the 'latest shiny object' can create a relevant conversation that moves a physician from brand awareness to advocacy. 

Article by
Anne Stroup

Vice president of strategy at Alliance Life Sciences. For more information visit

22nd June 2015

From: Marketing



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