Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly attracted to the idea of replacing the current multichannel marketing focus with an omnichannel marketing approach. But the industry is struggling to break out of its own silos, overcome the inertia, and adopt a fully integrated promotional strategy. Despite these challenges, advanced companies have started to break the mold to uncover competitive advantages.
Omnichannel marketing is gaining traction within the pharmaceutical industry as a concept, replacing the current dominant multichannel marketing approach. The omnichannel model is attractive as it promises to help orchestrate and optimize all marketing efforts across channels and multiple stakeholders simultaneously, while delivering a more honest view of promotional ROI and helping to reduce marketing waste.
However, the prospect of shifting to omnichannel can appear overwhelming at the onset. Nevertheless, pharmaceutical organizations that are prepared to make the shift will have the opportunity to generate unprecedented benefits for their brands and for their customers (patients, healthcare professionals, and payers).
Why is the shift towards omnichannel marketing seemingly so difficult?
There are several reasons why pharmaceutical companies are struggling to make the shift towards a full omnichannel approach.
The framework of multichannel marketing is so ingrained in the mindset of many organizations and brand marketers that inertia is understandable. The traditional model has been used with moderate success for decades. Whether supporting a newly launching brand or continued support for a mature brand, the mantra has been: “We've always done it this way”.
- As the approach is deeply ingrained, brand health and KPIs are rooted in the multichannel approach.
- The current multichannel marketing model largely mirrors the fragmented nature of organizations today.
- Agency services also reflect this fragmentation.
Cognizant of these circumstances, we find ourselves in situations where the traditional approach and supporting measurement framework are designed to reward on success metrics that are based on outdated thinking. Breaking things apart to bond them together again takes effort and diligence, and many teams do not have the time or resources necessary to do so.
Why have cracks in the multichannel model begun to appear?
Despite the ingrained nature of the multichannel model, cracks in this approach are becoming more and more visible.
With the multichannel approach, channel impact or return on investment are viewed on a channel-by-channel basis, and operate under the assumption that a channel or tactic is solely responsible for the new patient start.
Increasingly marketers acknowledge that there is a disconnect between these KPIs and the business reality – causing them to ask how they can bridge the gap.
How can pharma move towards the omnichannel approach?
Adopting an omnichannel marketing approach requires a fundamental shift in how marketers simultaneously orchestrate and execute their promotional strategies across media channels and address the needs of multiple stakeholders – consumer, healthcare professionals, and payers.
Conceptually, pharma companies concur that the omnichannel model is the future, and they agree that the interplay of channels and audiences is the best way to understand overall impact and optimize accordingly. However, many conversations stop prior to the execution phase, when in reality, it will take stakeholders with influence across all brands to share the omnichannel vision and gain consensus.
Here are some ways that advanced pharmaceutical companies have started to move successfully towards the omnichannel model:
- Leadership: It often comes down to sponsorship from a person or team in a position of authority to create the needed buy-in across the organization. Organizations need the right leader with the right vision, as well as empowered stakeholders to drive change.
- Resources: Change agents are not enough. Those driving this change also need to have the resources, time, and budget to do so.
- Pilots: In the event that the steps need to be more incremental in nature before organizational buy-in can be obtained, it may make sense to work with IQVIA on a pilot brand. However, the pilot approach can be challenging as an ideal brand must be selected. Investment in multiple channels and multiple audiences is a must as the proof of concept needs to show how things work in concert rather than in silos.
Omnichannel marketing is the future
The omnichannel marketing approach is the model of the future for pharmaceutical brands and organizations. The path to broad adoption will be difficult as it requires a breakdown of organizational siloes and mindsets. However, the rewards are compelling, and companies will reap the benefits for their own organizations, while also delivering better results for all of their customers. Click here to learn how to start making smarter marketing decisions.