Looking back at the past few months, there’s no doubt that Covid-19 has only intensified the need and desire to go digital, also in the pharmaceutical industry. Meeting physically has become more difficult, if not impossible. This has prompted a dramatic increase in the number of pharma companies reaching out to the same target group, via the same digital channels, to create a personal, but now digital dialogue.
This raises 2 relevant questions:
- Are you, and are your colleagues around you, as ready as your customers for this new digital situation?
- How do you stand out in that customer experience battle to effectively reach your target physicians?
1. HCPs are in the driving seat, even more than before
HCPs are increasingly brushing up their digital credentials. Just like you and me, they are also consumers who use Netflix, buy things online, etc. And, due to Covid-19, they have also been forced to use Teams or Zoom to attend meetings or conferences, while some have adopted telemedicine or other remote solutions. More than ever, HCPs are being overwhelmed by new offers, information, potential opportunities… and not only from pharmaceutical companies.
This affects their attitudes towards information, and means that they get more of a say when it comes to selecting what to read, when it suits them.
As a healthcare marketer, this is the target group you’re facing. It has never been more necessary to create a qualitative digital dialogue with them. But the bar has been raised: their expectations of what constitutes a valuable digital experience are significantly higher than it was a year ago.
2. It’s not only about digital technologies
It’s no longer enough to make your brand message digitally available, you also need to ask yourself: why would they open that digital door for your sales reps? And how can you, as a marketer, support your organization in creating better digital interactions with your target group?
To make a success of this approach, we need to start from the idea that marketing is not only about digital technologies. The big watch out in this pandemic is that we might be focusing too much on the technological aspect. It’s a risk to think you’ve succeeded just by implementing a new technology. In fact, that’s only 2% of the job, 98% is still about adapting your daily processes and facilitating change.
To be customer-centric, it is crucial not to put all the focus on the digital technologies, but to keep in mind that everything starts and ends with understanding people: not just your colleagues from other departments, but also your target physicians and your patients. You need to understand who they are, how they interact… by listening to their needs & expectations. This is an essential step in creating digital experiences that can make them change their behavior to your advantage. Only when this is all within your grasp can the right technology be added to the mix to enable better solutions.
3. Creating engaging digital customer experiences
To enhance your digital engagement, it is therefore important to look for answers to the following questions:
- Why are your target physicians doing what they are doing today, and are they willing to change their behavior?
- How do we create easy and efficient digital solutions that will open their eyes and ears, given the limited time available to them?
- How to make them change? Maybe they believe in what you’re offering, but they don’t feel confident or they don’t have the skills required to execute the change.
If you work on these points, you can start creating engaging digital experiences for your target physicians. But how do you make this work in practice?
4. Steps towards more customer engagement
In today’s ever-changing environment, it is crucial to adopt an agile way of working: be ready to constantly learn and adapt, and to accept that failure will be part of your learning journey. On your path towards more engaged digital dialogues with your HCPs, these 4 steps can help you:
- Discover and learn
- Define strategies and prioritize
- Design valuable solutions
- Implement and drive engagement
You can use these 4 steps for short & longer tasks, whether it’s your tactical planning process or the localization of a global social campaign – the fundamental process remains the same and can help you create better solutions for your organization or your target physicians. And even more important: it also avoids the risk of rushing headlong into operational execution mode. Let’s take a closer look at the 4 areas:
1. Discover and learn
Empathize with your customers, and learn from them. You can do this by using different tools, like a customer journey map and social listening. Try to discover what moments matter most in the connection between your sales reps, their target physicians and their patients.
In one of our projects, it became clear that too much focus was given to the specialist physicians, while it was actually the nurse who was communicating most with the patient when they had doubts about the treatment. If you zoom in on this, you might discover new opportunities.
2. Define strategies and prioritize
You can then translate these learnings into marketing strategies and prioritize these according to impact and feasibility for your organization. Make choices about what target group to focus on, and what digital propositions to develop. To do this, you can start for example by mapping your target groups and their digital media consumption, and decide who to go for, who to put on hold, and who to forget in the short term.
3. Design valuable solutions
Keep your target customer constantly in mind while designing your solutions. Will your target group be convinced, and do they have the capabilities and capacity to take on and work with your solutions?
When talking about digital content creation, consider developing modular content. This means offering them the right content matching the current phase of their journey.
4. Implement and drive engagement
Create a digital ecosystem and select the relevant channels for known as well as unknown customers. The more known customers you have the better, as it’s easier to steer them towards areas that are relevant to them, via nurture flows for example.
Remember to define clear KPIs and to measure, because this is the best way to generate new insights that can help you to further improve your solutions.
And last but not least: do not underestimate the importance of change management. Invest in training your sales & medical repos in both digital hard skills and soft sale skills for use in digital meetings, so they feel comfortable strengthening their relation via digital channels.
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