Cloud-based campaign management tools have certainly become all the rage among pharmaceutical companies, and why not? These tools are easy to deploy and use, enable marketing automation capabilities and allow marketers to design complex campaigns tailored to customer needs and preferences. Yet given the power of these new tools, it’s interesting to see that many pharmaceutical companies are still developing and deploying marketing campaigns the same way they always have, meaning that the power and promise of these new tools are not being realized. What gives?
Let’s start by understanding a few key facts about cloud-based campaign management tools:
- These tools were originally developed to meet the needs of other industries, including consumer package goods, retail, financial services, travel and entertainment, etc., where the key decision maker is the consumer and there is no gatekeeper.
- Other industries have a well-established marketing process, which makes the plug-and-play aspect of deploying these tools attractive.
- Other industries can develop content quickly to engage consumers based upon the latest available insight.
- Customer 360 databases already exist in other industries, so connecting the cloud-based campaign tool is straightforward and enables the tool to use any attribute captured in the 360 database for campaign selection criteria.
This is why companies selling cloud-based campaign management tools focus on selling the tool and require their clients to send them the data and establish the process to use the tool.
All of this sounds tempting to pharmaceutical companies that have started to invest in developing marketing capabilities to engage both HCPs and consumers. Indeed, in an attempt to fast-track the development of marketing capabilities, many pharmaceutical companies have bought cloud-based campaign tools. However, pharmaceutical companies have run into several challenges with cloud-based campaign tools:
- Unable to plug and play. The pharmaceutical industry has a well-established sales process, and has only recently begun to enhance marketing capabilities and processes. The result: Many pharmaceutical companies struggle with how to use the tool. Worse, these tools are plugged into the existing brand or tactic siloed approach to deploying marketing tactics, which greatly reduces the value these tools provide.
- No customer engagement data to load into the tool. While pharmaceutical companies are improving their data collection processes and starting to build customer 360 databases, many still don’t have strong procedures to capture and validate customer engagement data, especially outside the United States.
- Limitations on content development. Due to established medical or legal review processes, pharmaceutical companies are not able to produce content quickly and must work within strict regulations on content development. This greatly reduces the value of the tool’s marketing automation capabilities.
- Marketing and sales integration. The most important, and most expensive, promotion channel is the sales force. Cloud-based campaign management tools were developed to drive marketing automation with no linkage to sales forces, since other industries either don’t have sales forces or their sales forces have a smaller role than in the pharmaceutical industry. However, this connection is critically important for HCP promotion. While cloud-based campaign management tools can share files with sales force automation (SFA) tools, this is yet another process that needs to be managed by the pharmaceutical companies when using these tools.
The net result of this is that we have seen pharmaceutical companies purchase cloud-based campaign management tools without understanding the full implications of how to deploy and fully leverage these tools. This leads to companies questioning the cost or value of these tools.
What to do?
Recognize that the tool is not the answer; it’s an enabler. It’s like a tire on a car: It’s necessary, but in and of itself, it won’t get you where you need to go. We recommend that pharmaceutical companies:
- Develop a full understanding of the existing marketing process, which is typically a brand or tactic siloed approach
- Develop a view of what the marketing process should look like, which we recommend has the following characteristics:
- Customer focused, not tactic focused
- Typically a centralized, standardized campaign function
- Integrates sales force promotion process with marketing
- Captures and leverages customer preferences
- Seamless process that links sophisticated analytics, customer strategy, tactical promotion plan and technology
- Understand the gaps between the two views.
- Start to fill in the gaps and build the new marketing process.
By developing this gap approach, pharmaceutical companies will begin to realize all the components and interdependencies of the marketing process. This will highlight what needs to be in place before a cloud-based campaign management tool can be used effectively. By following this approach, pharmaceutical companies will be in position to realize the value that these tools can provide.