What Keeps Marketing Plans Relevant?

Deeply understanding a target market’s needs, be it physicians or patients, is central to any brand marketing plan. Yet having fast access to market intelligence so it remains meaningful is often surprisingly hard to do.

Why is that? Pharmaceutical companies know the value of methodologically rigorous underpinnings to brand marketing—more than many vertical sectors. The typical pharma company commissions several big research projects annually, with 20 or 30 questions across multiple brands and audiences, plus smaller projects. Yet physician and patient preferences can change with each breaking news cycle. That means the research that took several months to obtain may be behind the market.

Shift From Document to Dialogue

Technology is shifting market research into an entirely new realm. Mobile phones coupled with cloud computing, sophisticated data algorithms—and the rise of physician “crowds” online—are providing an unprecedented ability to establish a genuine dialogue with audiences, get feedback super-fast and build it right into the market plan.

The plan then moves from an annual document that defines Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), into a dialogue between company and target audiences with an immediacy that has never before been available. This dialogue provides fresh insights into audience needs/wants and can be re-tested and adjusted in an ongoing way, in a matter of hours.

For example, when a large pharmaceutical company launched a drug into a highly competitive market, its newly trained sales representatives started detailing their physicians using a new selling tool as directed by the marketing plan. After the first week, the team was not producing the numbers that managers expected. Clear communication around the product’s mechanism of action (MOA) was viewed as key to adoption and ability to acquire competitive market share.

As a result, the pharmaceutical company queried their target prescribers who had already been detailed about the drug, quickly understood the issues in the use of the selling tool, and were able to make adjustments in sales rep training processes and physician messaging. The pharma company then repeated the process so that it knew the adjusted positioning of the drug’s MOA was having an impact—and it had a metric on sales team effectiveness.

Agile insights are particularly important when timely business decisions hang in the balance. Another example: A large pharmaceutical company was days away from finalizing a major acquisition that was a critical component of its strategic marketing plan when key opinion leaders flagged a minor side effect they believed negatively impacted the utilization of the compound. The company’s board became reluctant to finalize the acquisition, but a deadline loomed. The pharma company queried 100 high-prescribing MDs treating patients in that therapeutic space. Within three hours, the company had market data showing that the side effect in question would have minimal impact on physician prescribing behavior, and therefore could make a fully informed decision.

By leveraging rapid, on-demand insights early and especially often, pharma teams are able to assure prescriber engagement in the marketing plan—ultimately streamlining time to revenue and hopefully assuring time to care results.


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