Digital Messaging: Approach for Pharmaceutical Brand Marketers
Covid & Rigid Minds
The future will be of those brand managers and marketers who are capable of bringing sharper thought processes to the table than before especially when it comes to digital. Those who can understand the balance between targeting and hyper-targeting with personalized content of brand messaging are going to flourish. This was even needed in the pre-COVID era but seldom done. That's when COVID slowed the work but accelerated the need to change.
Behold! By being personalized I didn't mean that a doctor's name or his/her photograph appearing on a PDF or on a video or in an email (nor even the legendary "a name on a pen"). Come out of it. In 2020 no sooner the sales promotion got grounded due to lockdown, a tsunami of webinars, and WhatsApp messages flooded often irritating the doctors than engaging them.
In this pandemic, those who were agile tweaked their orientation temporarily & a few in the scene even renovated to newer hooks to keep their business cycle running. From my experience of talking to friends in the industry, Indian pharma had a slightly different problem. In most of the cases what mid-level managers resonated with was, "those who were decision-makers were not digitally savvy and those who were digitally savvy were not decision-makers."
Somehow, by desire or by force, many marketing teams in Indian pharma has started to experiment with what is now commonly used as "phygital" by some experts. However, the on-ground implementation of this hybrid, in reality, is not as simple as amalgamating the word "phygital" with physical & digital.
New Skills for Pharma marketers
In one of my 2020 pieces titled "The 5Cs for the New Normal", I had penned my thoughts on the possible new skills becoming the basic necessity for pharmaceutical marketers in digital progression. That wasn't long ago. With 2nd wave in full swing now, we are seeing these 5Cs are emerging as the need since the first lockdown.
Well, print ads have been my all-time favourite & the first of the 5Cs was content.
Creating good digital ads with sharp messaging and targeting is the most basic of content. The simplest example, you often see the ads of same shoes or same wristwatch reappearing on most of the sites you browse after a day or two that you had searched on Google. That is a form of personalized ad content. "How the hell does it know I need these shoes or that wristwatch?" You might have exclaimed when experienced that first time. Well, this and even "geotagging" ads are old techs now.
Don't burn the fingers and funds: Set the objectives clear.
"What more can we do in digital, our boss wants us to explore all forms of digital spaces," said a group brand manager of a mid-size company in a casual conversation recently.
The tech world is changing faster than being adapted. We in pharma need to adapt to it faster. Not just beyond the oblivion of communication, but the scope in "brand messaging" is very vast & interesting if we explore. Marketers need to be sure that the digitalization of brand marketing never starts by choosing from the available plethora of digital services and platforms.
You will end up burning fingers and funds, gaining nothing.
It should always start with the core objective of the brand. What do you want to achieve with your brand? First set your objectives clear. Digital is only a medium to augment your efforts to achieve that objective. Not everything in digital is required for every brand. I would also say, not necessary that every time a brand requires a digital intervention.
Even operationally, my outlook is that marketers should always study the therapy behaviour, patient journey, doctors' insight, a pharmacist orientation, even your own sales rep's limitations to implement.
Once you understand the journeys with clarity, bring in technology/digital to reduce and ease that journey. I bet it will be quickly accepted.
But you have to be consistent as on digital, brand building doesn't happen overnight. You need to think about forming layers of content curated to occupy the doctors' minds to build an impression.
Instead of clinging to many things, young marketers should learn to disown what is not relevant. Be it data, digital, or direction. Traditionally, the roti, kapada, makaan of pharma promotions were probably visual aids, samples, and inputs. Digital content is now the 4th one for promotions.
Know where to start & with what, also when to stop. So better be sharp.
HCPs & Hyper-targeted Digital Ads
Let me stick my guns on the very basics of digital ads and outreach. Suppose, a brand manager wants only the male gynaecologists of Hyderabad city to see a brand ad-1 and only female gynecologists from Pune to see brand ad-2 while browsing his/her usual way. It's possible sitting at home.
Take your visual aid, for example, the traditionally accepted rule of "one size fits all" has already died but some are still trying to squeeze the last remaining drops from the concept with different photos and changes in indications. Today, what we need to reorient is that we can now have completely different brand messaging to different doctors based on his or her experience, speciality, age, sex, degree, interests, etc. Earlier a few good marketers first checked the dummy visual aid communication, messaging, and positioning in the pilot with 5 to 10 doctors before finalizing it. A few marketers still practice it.
Digital gives you a free hand to experiment with the brand content within a short span with your targeted doctors. Based on the responses you can quickly change/reorient to what is needed in no time. More so, this comes at 1/10th of the cost & time of physical piloting.
Yes, digital if planned well, costs much lesser than physical. However, some serious data churning is necessary to see how we can use it to augment the efforts of the sales team.
Core Pointers: ALC
A future health index study commissioned by Philips in France, the USA, Germany, China, and Singapore had some interesting insights. Where 60% of younger healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the survey considered that AI the digital health technology is likely to improve their work satisfaction compared with 39% who felt that telehealth would have the most impact. The latest research revealed that COVID19 has reversed these predictions, with 61% now favoring telehealth over AI (53%). So, the innate insight could be HCPs not only reorienting themselves to technology but also agile towards the mode of human connectivity.
When you plan digital content, you have the option of both carpet bombing and precise targeting too. Marketer just needs to leverage well differentiating brands relative to it.
The objective should be to make the ads that are ALC.
- Click inducing
In part 2 of this piece, I will try to share my few thoughts on how to leverage ALC for brand managers to orient themselves in creating digital ad content.
Neuroscience says what happens is LIFO (Last In-First Out) because old habits die hard. Even if several regions across the globe are coming out of lockdown, people have a hindrance to venture out. This has opened up a big room for digital to penetrate.