Today’s market access agency: 8 things every market access marketer should know

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Today’s market access agency: 8 things every market access marketer should know

By Lauren Elliott and Mecca Scott, Entrée Health

Market access emerged as a crucial commercial function at pharmaceutical manufacturers a little over 20 years ago, followed closely by the creation of specialized market access agencies. With so much changing over the last two decades, the time is right to take a fresh look at how market access agencies support manufacturers today to ensure that expectations are aligned and that unrealized potential doesn’t negatively impact brands.

Knowing what “good” looks like is important when working with a market access agency. To align with today’s market expectations, we’ve compiled a list of important traits to know about market access agencies and what to look for in a partner tasked with ensuring patients have access to therapeutic products.

  • Making market access an essential element in the holistic brand experience drives success. Manufacturers who implement market access strategies in silos, separate from their HCP and patient initiatives, do so at their own peril. Identifying an agency partner that can collaborate across stakeholder audiences to ensure cohesiveness in message and experience can give manufacturers a strategic advantage.
  • Manufacturers can extend their market access teams by picking strong agency partners. The days of transactional, tactical relationships are long gone. Today, market access agencies should work in lockstep with manufacturer teams to drive access strategy. When collaboration and trust are optimized, agencies can create more space for market access teams to focus on their other imperatives.
  • In market access, strategy comes first. Agency partners can provide an understanding of the competitive and regulatory landscapes, teamed with deep payer insights and a good value story, driving everything from program design to creative execution. Manufacturers will benefit from market access agency partners who incorporate strategy in everything they do, applying learned experiences to the brand’s benefit and acting as an additional mastermind on the team.
  • A good story truly matters in market access. Payers are people, too, as we like to say. Agency professionals who really get a brand and understand a product’s value can marry that knowledge with payer insights to craft a narrative that resonates with payers as people and drives formulary placement. Today, a brand story must be influential, compelling, and meaningful for the nuanced individual decision-makers within a payer audience.
  • A unique set of expertise positively impacts market access strategies. Market access is complex and demands a multifaceted knowledge base. Experts in medical information, business strategy, payer narratives, patient support, and distribution working collaboratively with traditional agency professionals in creative, account, and editorial are true difference makers in developing communications strategies that hit the mark with payer audiences.
  • Like most everything else, diversification is good for market access. Agencies that work with multiple manufacturers—small, medium, large—across different therapeutic areas often acquire more practical experience and can apply learnings to non-competitive products. That sets the stage for their work to have the most significant impact on outcomes.
  • When manufacturers don’t know what they don’t know, market access agencies can help. New opportunities and risks appear every day in a rapidly evolving industry like pharma. When an agency is solely focused on market access – living and breathing market access, day in and day out, it can help clients identify new paths to success and prepare for all that is to come.
  • Market access operations help manufacturers do more with less. Market access budgets tend to be smaller than HCP or patient marketing budgets, making an agile, nimble approach to project delivery paramount. Scalability and flexibility in staffing projects and refining work processes often matter more than in other specialties.

The pharmaceutical industry and market access are both evolving rapidly. Manufacturers can elevate their market access agency relationships by asking key questions:

  • How does your team monitor industry trends that may impact our market access strategy?
  • Which specialized professionals, beyond the day-to-day account and creative teams, will be supporting our business?
  • What learnings and experience can you share from analog projects (competitive and non-competitive)?
  • What is your operational approach to our account? How will you staff to meet our needs and stay within budget?
  • Which brand stories resonate best with formulary decision-makers and why? How do different payer audiences – from P&T committees to government agencies to employers – prefer different information to be shared? (As we like to say, if you’ve seen one payer, you’ve seen one payer.)
  • What are payers like as people? How can we best reach them with our message?
  • How often and in what ways do you plan to collaborate with our HCP and patient marketing agencies?
  • What’s one essential consideration for my product that may not be on my radar?

Manufacturers can incorporate streamlined, consistent, and comprehensive global market access strategies throughout the product lifecycle to find future commercial success. Working with a market access agency that’s the right fit for unique products and value stories is a proven way to effectively contribute to that success.

Lauren Elliott, Entree Health Lauren Elliott, SVP, director of client services, Entrée Health, serves as a client lead in delivering the highest quality of strategic excellence in support of various therapeutic areas, payer channels, brand market access strategies, product launches, and patient support programs. Lauren’s passion is creating relationships with her clients. Through strong marketing partnerships, Lauren focuses on driving overall success for her clients’ brands, with the goal of positively impacting patients’ lives.

Mecca Scott, Entree Health

Mecca Scott, SVP, director of business operations, Entrée Health, is a healthcare communications professional specializing in professional, patient, and payer advertising across print and digital channels. She has led clients in all aspects of agency brand management and is known for delivering flawless tactical execution. Skilled at successful agency integration, Mecca is a master at allocating resources effectively and efficiently.