Should pharma outsource their marketing?

Based on the feedback we’re getting from clients pharma marketers need help proving to management that investing in marketing actually does provide an ROI.  However, even when they do get budget approvals it often takes weeks/months of meetings to implement patient focused marketing programs.  Might it be better to outsource their marketing?

Companies have long outsourced creative, right-brain marketing activities, such as advertising and promotion campaigns. But a fundamental change is underway: Increasingly, firms are farming out marketing operations and analytics as well. A Forrester Research survey of 650 B2B marketing executives found that 53% aimed to outsource more than half their marketing activities.

Outsourcing can provide increasing critical left-brain marketing expertise that many companies lack.This is especially true in pharma as the industry continues to lose talented marketers.

A discipline that was once principally creative has become increasingly analytic, as the old workhorses—print and television advertising, and direct mail—become less and less effective. Marketing managers tend to be right-brain creatives with a fondness for mass-marketing campaigns when what’s needed are left-brain number crunchers who zero in on the “market of one.” Today, computer models optimize the allocation of pharmaceutical sales representatives’ time, determining which customers to address and which products to promote to achieve the greatest return.

Although there are some pharma companies that are pushing new boundaries in  marketing one could make a strong argument that pharma marketing does not come close to today’s CPG marketers because pharma organizations are having a hard time in attracting talent and even when they do their hands are often tied by dated medical, legal and regulatory reviews.

By outsourcing their marketing pharma could:

1ne: Hold the agency responsible for quantitative/qualitative goals.

2wo: Rely on the expertise of marketing people who live and breathe marketing.

3hree: Free up overburdened M L R teams.

The challenge, of course, is the pharma organization itself.  Would they be willing to cede control to an outside agency and who gets to sign off on various marketing tactics?  I have already seen some small biotech companies use outside marketing partners to develop and implement their initial marketing and to great success.  Given the sad state of pharma marketing today, it frankly makes sense to outsource all their marketing including HCP marketing.

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