Digital technologies & analytics as top strategic priority in 2013 for pharma

AccenturestudyMaybe the gap between consumer packaged good marketers and pharma marketers is finally closing. According to a new Accenture Report  “the sales and marketing models of today need to be reshaped in order to be successful in today’s “new normal.  Reducing costs, mastering multichannel marketing and improving digital effectiveness are the top strategic priorities for pharmaceutical sales and marketing executives.”

Accenture says, There is a customer engagement revolution in motion in the Life Sciences industry as it faces life in the “new normal” after the peak of the patent cliff1. The industry is in an era where targeting specific populations and improving patient outcomes is critical for specialty products and where reaching more customers in rapidly developing markets is paramount for growth. This revolution is requiring companies to rethink how they can reach patients, payers, providers and governments in both mature and emerging markets—at speed, at the right price and with the right information for each target audience. This is a significant change from the “feet on the street,” single message selling model that worked well for blockbuster drugs in mature healthcare markets.

And I think I finally found out why agency people are reporting that pharma is spending more in digital marketing. According to the report

The use of third-party service providers is a relatively common practice in the industry that will continue to increase.

  • 77 percent of executives report already using third-party service providers to augment their sales and marketing activities.
  • 37 percent of these executives report they intend to increase their usage of third-party service providers in sales and marketing in 2013.
  • To manage the increased use of digital interactions, 66 percent intend to use third-party providers, 16 percent intend to build in-house capabilities while 12 percent intend to do both. Four percent were unsure of plans.

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The real challenge is can third parties really provide the best analytics and digital marketing strategy as someone who actually works within the brand team/company?  It has been my experience that too many pharma companies treat third parties as vendors and don’t always share every bit of important information. Even more important outside agencies need to understand the dynamics, including the corporate politics, within the organization.  Employees who don’t understand digital marketing and want to hold onto more “glamorous” channels like TV may fight the shift in dollars to analytics and digital marketing. Still this is great news for pharma which has a reputation of coming late to the party.

Now that the dollars are being allocated can pharma find people who can look at all these analytics and turn them into actionable insights and more importantly act on these insights before they are history ?  More importantly it will require pharma to invest and build capabilities at a time when dollars are hard to come by.

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