Five Things Pharma Must Have For Great Digital Strategy
A survey of global Pharma marketers by COUCH in 2014 indicated that 92% of Pharma marketers were unsatisfied with their company’s digital implementation. The survey also indicated that the biggest lacunas were in the areas of expertise, creativity, and innovation. As marketing in digital channels is considered as agile, many Pharma marketers fall short of identifying a clear path to their key customers, the doctors. Even if the discussions on many forums indicate that the focus of Pharma marketers is tilting towards the patients as a primary customer, Pharma can never ignore the importance of the physicians in the field. Especially in the country like India, where socioeconomic parameters still suggest that doctors drive the healthcare delivery, Pharma’s digital strategy needs to be leveraged on the marketing their brand to the doctors.
Though the Pharma and Healthcare are the late entrants in the technology adoption, customer and market pressures are rapidly demanding this adoption. As mentioned in the previous article titled, Strategy, Not Technology Drives Digital Transformation in Pharma Marketing, it is clear that technologies are not the solution. The technologies need to be incorporated along with the workflow that is driven by clear strategy. The criticality of strategy is undoubted, but what are the 5 key points that Pharma companies need to include when designing and implementing the digital strategy?
Here they are:
- Efficient Digital Partner: Pharma companies are not IT companies. In other words, Pharma companies’ core competency is not building or managing the infrastructure for Information Technology. While moving to digital channels Pharma companies need to implement “pull” (by customer) mechanism, not a “push” (by Pharma) mechanism as digital channels behave a lot differently than traditional marketing channels. The digital path is not as direct as traditional marketing and Pharma needs a partner that does not only understand but masters the digital channels. IT-driven digital marketing partner is efficient way to enter the domain of digital marketing. However, while doing so Pharma needs to select a professional and efficient vendor that has implemented the strategy effectively.
- Presence on Professional Apps: The communication technology has changed in a great deal how doctors and patients communicate. Due to regulatory guidelines, a big chunk of techno-savvy doctors is moving to more secure communications with professional apps where they share their clinical insights, opinions, and views more securely. Tools and communication targeted at doctors who are connected with the mobile devices must be an essential part of digital strategy. Pharma must appear on these professional apps. Pharma can bring clinical insights on the table and understand the reactions from the professionals to gauge how they can tailor their moves ahead in the digital domain.
- Collaboration with Digital KOLs: Like traditional KOLs, digital KOLs have emerged as a key influencer in healthcare and medical field. Highly interactive communication through digital KOLs is about to be the norm of the healthcare field. In the previous article titled “Pharma and Rise of Digital KOLs” we have gone to lengths to describe how digital KOLs are shaping the sector. Even if the Pharma wishes to focus on the patients more than the doctors, they cannot yield the same results. This is because physicians are uniquely qualified and best situated to assist patients almost all the clinical situations. Physicians highly rely on and influenced by the experts in their field and that is why Pharma’s digital strategy must include collaboration with digital KOLs. To leave the digital KOLs out of the loop would be one of the greatest marketing flaws Pharma can have.
- Effective use of Social Media: In the last decade, social media has emerged as a frontline tool to spread awareness, communicate and engage with each other. Undoubtedly, social media is taking over traditional ways of communication. It is important that Pharma understands that social media behaves entirely different than traditional media and many laws of traditional media do not apply to social media. Moreover, social media instantly puts everyone in a fish-bowl ready to be analyzed, criticized, praised and judged immediately. While patient-centric marketing activities can be done on common social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, it is very limited. Professional communication cannot take place on these common social media platforms and requires secured, verified and guarded platform. Docplexus is one such platform where more than 1,50,000 Indian doctors routinely carry out their professional communication within themselves and with Pharma companies. The digital strategy for any Pharma company must include the strategy to effectively use the social media.
- Insights from Big data: Pharma marketers must start utilizing the huge, open data that is present on the web. The data needs to be effectively analyzed to understand the pain-points and sweet-spots. Only a great data can help Pharma marketers understand the ever changing dynamics of the digital ecosystem. Considering a use of a social media which can provide a great analytical understanding form with technology is the best tool in Pharma marketers’ box.