One hears the term “customer-centric” mentioned frequently among marketers and their agencies, and many companies make public commitments to this principle. If your customers are primarily physicians, how do you craft a customer-centric plan in the post-digital era? And how do you achieve a customer-centric approach while at the same time meeting quarterly business goals?

To start, make an assessment of where your brand resides in your customers’ minds using two criteria: interest and permission. You can map this out using a simple chart with “Interest” on the horizontal axis and “Permission” on the vertical axis. Is your product launching first to market with a novel mechanism and stellar data? If so, interest will be high. Is your product in a portfolio franchise with a long track record and sterling reputation? If so, permission will be high. Assessing where you are at the outset will set a baseline and help you map out your long-term strategy. Later on, you can tie Key Performance Indicators to these same criteria and correlate them with other objective measures to see how well your customer-centric approach is working.

The Value Exchange

A key next step is to think about the customer value exchange, or what CRM experts often refer to as the “value proposition.” What do you have to give your customers that will persuade them to give you their attention now, and later, their trust? To determine the appropriate value prop, you have to thoroughly understand your customer, not just in terms of their attitudes and behaviors related to your product and the disease, but also in terms of their communication habits, channel preferences, and personal tastes. Third-party market research is fine for a start but to understand your customers more deeply, you may need to go further. Four ways to do this include:
• Conduct ethnographic research to fully understand the “day in the life” of your customer. Ethnographic research distinguishes between what people say they do and what they actually do. With a physician audience, as with many others, the gap can be quite wide.
• Create a workshop with a multidisciplinary panel of care experts, including KOLs, community HCPs, nurses, payers, caregivers, patient activists and patients. Conduct a group discussion and smaller breakout sessions focused on patient unmet needs and challenge the group to gather insights and potential solutions to feed into your digital plan.
• Conduct two or three physician focus groups, giving each group the task of assembling a pharmaceutical product online communication plan that they would pay attention to, using flashcards to represent the various channels and solutions available to them.
• Sponsor an advisory board on Sermo. Participants can be gathered from your own target list.

Services vs. Information

As you seek to develop online relationships with your customers, one way to accelerate progress is to change mind-set from pushing information to providing services. Almost any valuable information you have can be bundled into a digital service that is customer-centric, rather than company-centric. In addition, think about where you’re engaging your customer. Are you demanding that they come only to your properties, or are you also meeting them in channels that they frequent and trust? Consider the following ways to shift the mind-set and move your marketing mix from beyond Brand 101 to Brand One-on-One:

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