How to orchestrate true value from customer engagement and achieve brand launch success

Whilst it has been accepted that we need to embrace digital transformation, many companies are held back by the mindset that digital is a brand plan ‘add on’ to traditional reps. This is despite the significant evidence of digital value in both stand-alone marketing and a multichannel approach.

This is a big problem, because it is no longer the right mindset in today’s highly competitive and time pressured launch landscape.

To compound the critical importance of ‘getting it right’, especially when launching new brands, it is clear that pharma is facing a fundamental change in the challenges that must be overcome to ensure success:

* R&D cost vs return continues to decline and there is increased pressure to capitalise on product commercialisation within smaller windows of opportunity

* The rise of speciality medicine (78% of all growth in EU is from speciality medicines) means the customer engagement process is complex, with multidisciplinary stakeholders supporting access decisions that include service issues, as well as the medicine and a much broader set of customers that need to be engaged

* These days, there are fewer resources, customer contact rates are falling, and it is increasingly harder to get quality time with the right customers.

The NHS itself is even publicly committing to embracing digital. In March last year, health secretary Matt Hancock published The Digital Strategy– which has been turned into reality with the launch of the NHSX – and set out seven pillars of change that underpin his vision, covering similarly vital components including infrastructure, skills and data. The policy paper on the Future of Healthcare also outlines the vision for digital, data and technology in health and care and what is needed.

The compelling evidence for the need to change commercial models already exists – the companies that will be successful in the future are those that are embracing the change now. So, what are the right commercial imperatives to be focusing on?

Multichannel’s role in launch excellence

When reviewing the most successful brand launches, we see a common pattern emerging in terms of ‘what good looks like’. Recent research has identified which new chemical entity brand launches over the last four years consistently sat in the top quartile for sales following launch – providing proof of the value of digital. This research focuses on US, EU5 and Japan (as we knew from previous analysis that this was where the majority of the first five-year sales come from) and it came as no surprise to see that all successful brand launches were speciality care products.

This research is shared in detail within IQVIA’s white paper Driving Launch Success, which outlines the correlation found between channel mix, approach and application of strategy. The data clearly shows that all successful launches have a higher volume of digital, 64% higher to be precise, but also they have conviction in their use of digital, consistently maintaining the high volume of digital within the first 12 months following launch.

The research also demonstrates that successful launches deployed a richer set of digital channels. Although it’s worth noting that email still accounts for over 80% of all digital contacts in EU5.

So, the message is clear: successful brand launches encompass the following:

1) Digital is a key component of channel mix

2) Digital is utilised consistently

3) The more digital channels, the better.

This has been the case for the last four years across all launches, so it is no longer a differentiator – it is the customer expectation and a minimum requirement for success. We have increasingly seen leading life sciences organisations delve into the why behind the three factors affecting launch success above.

Orchestrating customer engagement – the value comes from how you execute

The point to focus on is not should you be investing in digital but how to use digital to differentiate your brand.

We see that the most critical foundation for success is ensuring that enough investment is made upfront in developing the organisation mindset and skills. Providing the right technology capabilities is important but without creating an aligned culture through a programme of change management, technology alone is not enough.

With the right foundation of culture and capabilities, companies can concentrate on how to best execute customer engagement by answering the following questions:

* How should brand channel strategy be designed to ensure optimum orchestration?

* How will the right data be collected to fuel downstream customer insights?

* How will operating models be transformed to enable channel excellence? By enabling each of these fundamental building blocks, orchestration will act as an accelerator in achieving commercial transformation and launch success

1). Orchestrating channel mix – right customer, content, channel, frequency and sequence

Moving from strong customer insight to relevant customer engagement is a defining characteristic of competitive edge. Intelligent orchestration of channel interactions can have a far greater impact on customers than just face-to-face calls alone, enabling increased productivity and reach, achieving more for the same spend.

There is a wealth of data now available to support the creation of truly multichannel customer targeting and segmentation, enabling sophisticated predictive analytics models to be created. Fixed time, budget and customer populations are rate-limiting factors that never change, so modelling strategy and tactical deployment of engagement channels to achieve the most impactful use of resources is critical to success.

2) Fuelling customer insights – define, collect, measure and act

HCPs are also consumers, and the environment they live in is driving their expectations in how pharma should interact. Collecting insights is critical in helping companies evolve engagement strategies and content, ensuring they deliver powerful customer experiences.

Successful companies shape point-to-point interactions into orchestrated journeys and ensure loops exist to learn from each interaction in a meaningful way. This enables customer personas to be nurtured and adds relevance to medical, marketing and sales interactions. Success depends on the upfront identification of data to drive the ongoing refinement of KPIs and customer insights, along with the continued proactive use to drive impactful future engagements.

3) Operating models - Plan, implement, analyse, sleep and repeat

Successful companies are increasing investment in curating rich content programmes across channels.

The opportunity presented by new communication channels, and the technology that exists to support them means that more digital content is being produced than ever before. This creates a challenge: the volume of content that needs to be created and approved is increasing, as is the speed with which this needs to happen. With the value of each customer interaction increasing as companies focus on speciality care, capitalising on each opportunity is key.

To have the edge, companies must educate teams in journey-creation best practices and enable agile content creation programmes. These programmes maximise budgets, connect fragmented functional silos and decrease the time to get approved digital content in front of customers.

For a successful brand launch, agility and efficiency to execute channel strategy can give those in the pharma industry the right voice to shout above the crowd.

In conclusion

Previous studies on launch excellence have repeatedly shown that whilst pharmaceutical companies need to launch with more consistent commercial success, in practice they are often very poor at this. The pivot to specialty launch focus and the rapid growth of digital channels for information and communication means that pharmaceutical companies must track a moving target whilst also aiming to hit it harder and more consistently.

The strategic imperatives are clear, now the challenge is to execute them.

Richard Gray is director, Technology Solutions UKI, at IQVIA