Jay Bigelow is president of MicroMass Communications, the company that pioneered applying behavioral science to insights-based relationship marketing. The agency’s business model is based on the belief that understanding the critical factors influencing individual behavior — and creating dialogues addressing those factors through all communications channels — is the best way of changing behavior and building enduring relationships between customers and brands. Steward of the company’s patent-pending predictive modeling process, Bigelow has led many successful campaigns based on behavioral insights, notably in the areas of building patient adherence, compliance, persistence and loyalty. MicroMass is headquartered in Cary, N.C., with a second office in Morristown, N.J. The company’s growing roster of pharmaceutical clients includes Merck, Novartis, Salix, Shire, Akrimax and Auxilium. Reach Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.micromass.com.
In my opinion, there is no one best combination of channels. And yes, the type of drug being promoted does influence the mix of channels, although there are other considerations as well.
When we do connection planning (the art and science of figuring out the best way of reaching a target audience) our first step is to get inside the head of our intended customers. Where they are mentally is as important to know as how to reach them physically. Mindset determines receptivity to what’s being communicated as well as the best way to frame the content for maximum impact (we call that content in context). It also informs when the customer might be most open to receiving information and who would have the greatest impact in delivering the information. Behavioral science overlaid with good connection planning is how we select the best mix of channels for relationship marketing initiatives.
For example: One of our clients has a hyperphosphatemia product that is critical for dialysis patients. We knew through basic research that these patients spend several hours over multiple days each week inside dialysis clinics. The significant behavioral insight we uncovered was the depth and trust of the relationship built between dialysis patients and renal dietitians. With that “aha” we discovered an ideal place (both physically and mentally) to activate a meaningful conversation around successful treatments and long-term management of hyperphosphatemia. This effort is primarily an off-line one based on reach and demographics parameters.
Of course, cost also needs to enter into the channel mix/planning process. Ideally, a well-thought-out audience segmentation strategy will include a predictor of monetary value (i.e. lifetime value - both current and future). Again, by leveraging behavioral science we are able to identify appropriate segments, predict which segments are more likely to increase in value, and isolate which channels offer the best way to engage each segment. For example, we know that as a general rule women are more engaged in the healthcare system than men and more willing to join (opt into) a support network. So for one of our clients with a product used for children, we’ve had great success engaging moms through online communities.
In summary, while the best combination of channels is strongly influenced by the brand, it is equally and vitally important to identify - through behavioral insights - the best way of engaging those customers in a meaningful dialogue with the brand.