Choose your own adventure

Did we miss something that will have a major impact on pharma marketing this year? We asked our respondents
to write their own questions and answer them.

2022 will truly be the year of BYOD – Bring Your Own Data.

IOs tracking and cookie deprecation updates have further moved us into an era emphasizing the importance of curating owned data resources, such as CRM lists, to be able to effectively reach target audiences. On the immediate horizon in Q1, Meta will be deprecating granular health audiences, a major tactic in which pharma advertisers reach their audiences on Facebook and Instagram. Advertisers should be prepared to supplement native targeting reach by bringing in data from internal and third-party data sources.
– Alexandra Gilson, VP, paid social, CMI Media Group

How do we adjust to employee requests for office flexibility models?

A major impact of COVID is changing where and how we work. We have restructured our family life, our homes, our management of our kids to accommodate the need to work from home for the first year of the pandemic. After almost two years of ping pong work from home, many have sort of “gotten into a comfortable rhythm.”

Many organizations within our industry are landing at the hybrid office model. This affords employees flexibility to work from home but still leave room to have the important face time that’s needed to keep teams and companies healthy while continuing to drive productivity.

As some companies are dealing with the Great Resignation wave, those offering the hybrid models seem to find that “hybriding” helps with retention, employee satisfaction, and recruiting.

Today, as we compete for top talent, decisions on whether your open position is one that offers work-from-home options can be a deal maker or breaker for highly sought-after talent.
– Sally Lam

What have we learned about the process of drug approval from COVID?

The COVID vaccines are not nearly perfect (no drug is), but we know now that it is possible to streamline our FDA process to get a drug through more quickly than what we are all accustomed to! This is not to downplay the complex process of review and approval to protect patients, but rather to point out the power of driving efficiencies in an incredibly complicated process when certain red tape is removed.

This will likely not happen for a very long time but it’s something that should cause us to pause and ask, “How do we learn from this in order to bring drugs to patients faster?”
– Sally Lam

Adaptability and responsiveness are always important but being able to make adjustments to your strategy on the fly is going to be crucial.

The current state of the world from a health perspective is fickle. COVID cases are rising and falling with variants which is impacting how people are seeking health related information. Are we going to break out of this pandemic and be able to rely on “in person” marketing initiatives to reach our patient and healthcare provider audiences or are we going to experience another year of being creative with how we connect to them through search and our digital properties? We might not be able to predict how things are going to turn out in 2022, but we can be prepared by creating contingency plans for our efforts, closely monitoring performance and being proactive with understanding how our ideal audiences are responding to what is happening in the world. This way we can make big decisions quickly and can still preserve our ability to exceed our goals.
– Franco Maffei

Too much noise!

I believe the major factor impacting pharma marketing is excessive “noise.” This requires strategies to gain access via appropriate channels, cut through the noise and data overload, provide engaging and actionable information that adds real value to the delivery of patient care, and do so in such a way that blocks the competitive noise and shuts out those that stay with the status quo. Being different is not enough – you need to be better at being different by being meaningful, relevant, and credible. This requires a deep understanding of how your customers think, act, and accept the information they see as valuable. No one has “spare time” any more – so why should they listen to you if what you are saying is irrelevant or has no value?
– Neil Matheson

Is the shift to in-house digital content creation here to stay? What will companies need to stay ahead?

Since 2020, life sciences marketers have rapidly shifted to digital engagement, investing in everything needed to produce and manage digital content, including internal studios to maintain faster ways of working. These new capabilities took their place alongside other big investments across technology, data, and operating model redesigns to drive focus, standardization, and scale across brands and channels.

As we enter 2022, marketers are now asking themselves whether they have what they need to create personalized content at speed and deliver more relevant HCP experiences. In rethinking current approaches, many will turn to self-sufficient models that enable local markets while drawing on the strengths of global operations. In doing so, developing the right talent to support these new processes will be essential. Meanwhile, agencies will play an even greater role in bringing brands’ strategic imperatives to life through master campaigns and creative assets.

By transforming their content strategy and foundational elements like digital asset management (DAM), claims libraries, governance, and more, companies will be in a much better position to scale modular content and omnichannel distribution now required for effective engagement.
– Pooja Ojala, VP, commercial content, Veeva Systems

Is humanity and compassion missing from pharma marketing?

The genuine nature of a patient outreach caring call is not to be underestimated. Authentic patient caring is a catalyst for confidence building and a path for patient action to happen. It’s a consistent commitment to seeing, hearing, and responding to the patient in every way they need.

Empathy works. Empathy works in pharma marketing. While seemingly simple, it is a choreographed dance that begins and ends with listening. The integrity of the execution of empathetic listening is a fundamental starting point.

Pharma companies, brands, and the industry as a whole, stands at an inflection point. It is the moment where the endless disruptions impacting all of us translate into finally making the most exciting, human, and compassionate aspect of science. Making medicines for better, longer lives is about humanity, not just the regulatory handcuffs.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share other people’s feelings. According to the analytical literature review on the concept of empathy, it’s a core concept of behavioral and person-centered approaches, and facilitates the development of a therapeutic relationship. What this tells us is that establishing human rapport builds relationships that can trigger lasting change.
– Michael Oleksiw

Rare disease therapeutics are proliferating quickly. How will rare disease marketing change?

Ties to advocacy groups, developing patient relationships, and establishing a trusted presence in rare communities remain as important as ever. That said, digital video, connected TV, OTT, and addressable continue to proliferate – and media strategies are becoming highly sophisticated. Digital video in the rare space is on the rise. It’s relatively cheap. It’s targeted. It’s personalized. We can start to have new and different conversations about where and how to reach patients living with rare diseases.
– Susan Perlbachs

Shared decision making

I think shared decision making is going to continue to make strides. As patients take a more active and proactive approach to their health, more decisions are going to be in their hands than in the hands of HCPs than ever before. Health information is also more readily available for patients, so they can become more educated and make informed decisions. The challenge becomes filtering a lot of the information available.
– Sandy Sexton

That’s so meta

In 2021, we all saw Facebook change its name to Meta, implying that the future will be a metaverse blending real world and virtual world experiences into a personalized journey. And while the general reaction from consumers was a resounding “meh!”, the concept still merits a closer examination. Specifically, for life sciences and healthcare, the concept of integrated virtual and real world interactions between healthcare professionals and patients is something that will evolve over time. During the two years of the pandemic, we saw telemedicine expand rapidly as persons were unable to visit offices in person. Within the next few years, the telemedicine visits will include biometrics and the integration of more sophisticated haptic devices that can be used to simulate real world physical actions in a virtual platform. Remember the movie Ready Player One? Or if you prefer dystopian, The Matrix? Well, we are a long way from a fully immersive experience, but on a more limited basis, virtual physical inspection using the higher quality mobile phone cameras (imagine your eye exam by your phone) will continue to innovate. Omnichannel marketing will take on an entirely new paradigm, incorporating your social profile with your physical location and geofencing for retailers and others within a virtual environment. Watching something on a computer, or television or watch or phone continues to merge, and the next logical step is to provide the “virtual you” into this experience. Some healthcare providers are starting to develop physical therapy profiles for patients within the virtual world, and telemed firms like Teledoc, are adding concierge and customer service avatars. Coupled with climate change and other limiting physical factors, the metaverse may be an attractive way for patients to reach healthcare professionals, and would also permit lower operating costs with smaller physical real estate to support. We don’t think this is something to expect in 2022, but foundational elements are becoming available. Watch for improved microservices architectures to allow IoT devices to communicate more effectively, and a continued push to offer value based services such as remote medical monitoring and preventative care and wellness, and watch for improved Virtual Reality experiences that includes omnichannel advertising and new types of CTAs. Again, these will be at the “bleeding edge” in 2022, but within the next four or five years, your virtual experience could even extend to autonomous transportation. Imaging getting in a subway car, or your Tesla, and being surrounded by personalized advertisements based on your interests, all triggered simply wearing a pair of glasses.
– Ken Winell, chief technology officer, Greater Than One

Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection (available in iOS15)

While not a default feature, uptake of this feature will inhibit email marketers’ ability to link email actions to opted-in users. While Apple is not the only ESP out there, it’s a significant player, so marketers need to be mindful of implications this will have on customer journey mapping and trigger-based marketing.
– Kate Zwizanski