Multichannel pharmaceutical marketing in Italy: 3 mistakes to avoid

The pharmaceutical multichannel can be unclear if you don't know what to avoid.

From Eyeforpharma's Multichannel Marketing Summit London 2014 there is a lot of confusion about what it means to adopt a multichannel marketing model: for some it means putting both Facebook and Twitter in place; for others it means equipping an pharmaceutical sales rep with an iPad; for others multichannel is even allowing the pharmaceutical sales representative to show the doctor a film on the iPad and, at the same time, allow the doctor to ask written questions to an opinion leader bypassing the pharmaceutical sales rep in Italy.

Multichannel is a generic term and as such lends itself to many interpretations. In order to clarify the strategy of a product or service very often it is appropriate to specify what it is or what it does not do. Since the term Multichannel Marketing (MCM) may seem broad in meaning and application in pharmaceuticals I want to clarify my point of view.

#1 Pharmaceutical multichannel is not pure digital

I do not believe that pure digital projects are not effective or cannot handle multiple channels. Not at all. The digital channel is itself a generic term that can be applied to different ways of communicating with the HCP: from email marketing, DEM, promotional actions - with spaces such as banners, billboards, videos - to product minisites, therapeutic thematic channels, and distance learning, to congress reports, professional blogs, native advertising, multi-author blogs. All these media belong to a single channel for the physician, the one that is developed on the Internet.

For this reason, one cannot speak of multichannel models in the correct coordinated adoption. Simultaneously adopting several modes of contact with the physician - both push and pull via the internet - is not the multichannel I often refer to. Only when I combine several communication channels, different in type and semantics, in a coordinated and synergetic way, then I can say I have done true multichannel. Only when I have managed to create in the same area a strong connection between the different actors, such as pharmaceutical sales rep and agents in the pharmacy, then I generate a multichannel.

#2 The pharmacy multichannel cannot act without pharmaceutical sales rep
Very often there is also a strong misunderstanding here: contrary to what one may believe, the MCM always involves the pharmaceutical sales rep in various forms of communication. Often it is even pharmaceutical sales representative driven. The pharmaceutical sales rep in Italy is one of the main channels in the pharmaceutical multichannel, whether in the form of phone-detailing, face-to-face visits or joint models. A MCM project frequently consists of a visit of the pharmaceutical sales rep, followed by an inter-call of the remote sales representative and an email marketing project. This highly efficient working model allows the frontal FSI and the remote FSI to carry messages focused on the same points. The actions carried out by the two types of informants reinforce each other by acting on the same message and the pharmaceutical sales reps exchange views on the behaviour of the doctor and the area, sharing locally and per doctor the tactics to be taken for best success. For those doctors who are more difficult to access face-to-face, it is easier to contact them via the remote colleague, but there are also cases of doctors who do not like the telephone detail contact.

The joint use of the two colleagues, exchanging information and creating the best possible experience for the individual doctor, is the key to shared multichannel internal and external network projects. This requires CRM platforms capable of bringing together information from multiple sources and creating a closed loop marketing across multiple channels.

The pharmaceutical sales rep is also driven in the multichannel when operating remotely, with video calls and video shares, working on digital channels as a place to share scientific material, or, to cite other successful models between frontline pharmaceutical sales reps and pharmacy agents, working on both pharmacies and microbricks in a targeted manner. These synergies are difficult to create: they are based on training, technology, communication models, data sharing, but above all on the corporate culture that must get across the message that each channel adds and does not subtract effort. Hence, better effectiveness and more effort to the physician.

#3 Pharmaceutical multichannel is not single message
Among the many reasons for the complexity of the MCM model in pharmaceuticals is that of message declination. Marketing must adapt to the fact that each channel declines the same message differently. Having different semantics, each communication mode requires that the message, absolutely congruent between the different channels, be adapted to it. It requires an unparalleled productive effort on the part of marketing to produce specific content, both qualitatively and quantitatively, for the multichannel.

Each channel must be fed with its own content. The MCM 'burns' content much faster than each individual channel does: for a one-year pharmaceutical multichannel project, 6 to 12 different contents in different formats may be needed. Although the key message remains unique, the MCM requires this to be declined, revised, adapted. A commercial designed for radio cannot be used on TV or vice versa, just as the same video cannot be created for TV or YouTube.

Learning how to manage MCM is an effort that must be accompanied by those who know how to do it and with scientific creative agency skills. The pharmaceutical multichannel after all is simple: the right content, to the right doctor, at the right time. But getting it wrong is equally simple: using only one channel, with one source of content and the same for everyone.

And you? How do you deal with the complexity of using different channels today? How do you live your experience, as an actor or as a consumer?

Salvatore Ruggiero

Salvatore Ruggiero

Salvatore Ruggiero nasce a Napoli nel 1964, si definisce un imprenditore seriale. Oggi a capo del gruppo Merqurio, di cui è stato anche fondatore. Sposato con Giuseppina, ha due figli e nel tempo libero, tra un'escursione e un'altra, tra un film ed un altro, è alla ricerca della ricetta dei biscotti perfetti.

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