Taking personalized marketing to the next level in 2021

By David Laros, VP of digital strategy, analytics and insights for Beghou Consulting

Happy New Year! Out with the old. In with the new. Wait. Is that always true? Or should we keep some of the old that is valuable, modify the old when it could be better, and incorporate the new, as times change?

 What has changed? Fewer patients being treated in the office, new patient starts, therapy changes, sales rep office visits, and less overall rep access. More telemedicine, tele-detailing, rep-triggered non-personal promotion, digital promotion, and customized promotion. Less promotional response from sales details. More promotional response from digital promotion. Of course, the timing and magnitude of these changes is not evenly distributed among doctors, patients, health systems, therapeutic categories, or geographies.

What has not changed? Health care professionals want the best therapies for their patients. Patients and caregivers want the best for themselves and loved ones. Pharmaceutical companies desire patients receive the best medicine for their unique situations. Marketing and sales professionals have demanding goals to achieve. Further, sales reps are best positioned to understand each of their customers’ wants and needs. Therefore, they remain a pharma company’s most valuable promotional channel. 

David Laros

Today, digital promotion continues to grow in both volume and value. And it’s no longer “non-personal” in nature. Instead, digital promotional is increasingly customized to the individual customer. Enter personalized marketing. 

To succeed with personalized marketing, pharmaceutical companies must commit to it at the enterprise level and embrace the necessary enabling analytics, processes and platforms. Companies achieve the best results when marketing and sales together embrace the need to communicate with customers in a manner that blends local knowledge with data-driven insights – and is tailored to each individual. Companies must involve all strategic stakeholders in defining this more adaptable, collaborative, and holistic engagement model that features a more coordinated and customer-centric approach to promotion. This approach should include tailored customer outreach in line with each customer’s propensity to engage with different channels as well as their responsiveness to different messages.

How can pharmaceutical companies develop this enterprise commitment to personalized marketing in 2021? We see four keys to success:

1. Improve understanding of the evolving situation

Recall, the timing and magnitude of changes affecting doctors, patients, health systems, therapeutic categories, and geographies varies. Therefore, it’s important to identify the best ways to improve customer access and engagement in each unique situation. The key here is to seek granular analytics using the situationally appropriate discipline (e.g., statistics, data mining, machine learning, geographic information systems, etc.). This effort can result in more tailored outreach, improved adherence and an increase in the number of new therapy starts, switches, and add-ons.

2. Measure more frequently

In such a dynamic environment, measuring promotional response based on historical time frames is no longer optimal. Companies should instead develop market mix models that generate results two to four times a year in order to capture shifts in customer response and preferences. Structured integration of quarterly test-versus-control measurement allows companies to generate more granular and actionable insights, and keep their promotion as relevant as possible.

Additionally, to optimize promotion, companies should engage in customized and predictive analysis, not general analysis. Assessing national- and specialty-level engagement and message preferences fails to capture the nuances in today’s dynamic marketplace. Companies should instead seek to uncover insights related to each brand’s specific situation and position in the marketplace. 

3. Improve agility in promotional messaging, planning and execution

Companies need a high level of agility if they hope to effectively apply the insights they’ve uncovered from their analytics efforts. For example, shorter, more situationally appropriate call plans rooted in the latest data and market information will guide the sales force to greater productivity. Commercial leaders should give sales reps regular updates on their customers’ promotional preferences. Sales reps should provide information based on local knowledge that commercial leaders incorporate into customer planning and analytics efforts. Marketers, digital planners and sales reps should all incorporate these insights into customized promotional plans designed to move HCPs from therapy awareness to education to trial and adoption. It’s important to adopt an omnichannel perspective that includes the full array of channels, tactics and messages – but only apply those that are appropriate for each individual customer.

4. Deploy a “customer hub” and short-term activity planning and management system

Marketing, sales, digital planners, and commercial analytics and operations teams should all have access to a single customer-centric system for unified and comprehensive planning and execution management. Ideally, this technology tool would facilitate personalized marketing by triggering rep activity based on analytics-derived recommendations.

The success of this true closed-loop tool is enhanced when it is jointly used by all commercial teams but owned by an independent and unbiased party that is responsible for supporting all commercial functions and the coordination of the consolidated profile of each customer. Promotion efforts will be most effective when these commercial functions work in concert to utilize customer-centric insights that are based on local knowledge and propensity, preference, and response analytics. These teams can then work together to put these insights into action and conduct advanced promotional planning, identify next best action activities, and/or develop promotional journey campaigns.

Ensuring commercial success in a dynamic environment

The pace of change isn’t slowing. The marketing mix will not be the same for each brand and each situation, but an enterprise-level embrace of personalized marketing offers a path toward commercial success in this dynamic environment.