How many times have you heard pharma companies have to switch to digital communication? That they have to engage customers with digital dialogue and become customer-centric? Now, have you done anything with this? No, really, is your company digital or is it just a bolt-on to its business model? If digital is still not a complete approach to your company, you certainly should familiarize yourself with what I’m going to tell you.
There are a few factors that make traditional marketing expenses. Today’s marketing in the pharma industry should be personalized to be effective.
Today, everyone along the pharma value chain (...) has a digital "self" that is generally far more open to sharing in cyberspace than in the real world [source]
It is a very long and expensive process to get to know your customers in a traditional way. It often requires engaging Key Opinion Leaders in meetings with representatives and increases costs. The number of customers is still growing and it becomes very hard for representatives to keep in contact with them. So what to do then? There’s no other way than to adopt digital solutions to empower representatives. And as mentioned in Time for Pharma to Dive into Digital, even partial adoption of digital can reduce promotional costs by between 20 and 50%. [source]
There’s one more important thing. Customers are becoming very aware of their needs and they actively look for services to fulfill them. Nowadays, almost everyone is online, and it is very important for pharma to understand that customers’ expectations and behaviors were shaped by the other sectors. They search for information on the Internet, and pharma needs to accept that it’s not going to change anytime soon. So the big challenge for the industry is to be where the customers are – in the digital world.
One of the greatest advantages of digital solutions is the automation of communication, which eases representatives’ work, and saves their time – automated communication sends an adjusted message to the particular client at the right time. Today’s reps have so many clients who can take care of more clients, with less effort. Another big advantage of digital solutions is they allow for tracking user’s activity and interests, so your company gets insights at almost no cost.
It’s not so difficult to become digital if a company follows a few basic rules. First, digital must become a guiding principle in the company. The entire organization has to be engaged in the process of transformation and it should be supported by the management. Employees need to understand why the transformation is so important to the company and use technology in everyday work. It’s a task for leaders to understand the digital world, make sure the company needs to be a part of this dialogue and to lead the company into the new territory. The second rule is that the company needs to act fast, as technologies and regulations change rapidly. It is very important to be agile and react to these changes and to manage risk. The third rule says it’s necessary to observe competitors as well as outside-pharma industry organizations, as they are a great source of insights (and the same time a source of threats). Now, if your company is ready for transformation there’s one more essential rule – never settle for one thing. Experiment, but remember about the scale of these experiments – they should be large enough to be memorized and easy to adapt to the whole organization. Small pilots are often a waste of time, not only because they quickly get forgotten, but also because they don’t bring any spectacular effects.
Digital life cycles are very short, often measured in months. Organizations need to be agile – experimenting, adapting, and moving on – and this can be a real problem for many pharma companies [source]
Digitalization surely is a trend but one thing is obvious – not following this trend might be expensive and bring a lot of trouble for companies. So it’s time to decide what to do with this fact and how to build a proper strategy.
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