Being a marketer in a field that is set to hit $1.17 trillion by 2021 can rapidly become stressful.
Dealing with significant budgets, a highly competitive market, a tough industry reputation and complex regulations… That’s the daily life of a pharma marketer.
Making products stand out or justifying a ROI aren’t easy tasks in such a challenging environment. Especially when we consider that brand loyalty doesn’t really exist in that market.
And as if the life of pharma marketers wasn’t difficult enough, most teams have another challenge to add to their burden: time. Or rather, the lack of time due to bottlenecks and an inefficient organization within the company.
The good news is: There are many ways to improve the situation of your pharma marketing team.
We’ve gathered 6 time saving techniques that will tip the scales when it comes to the success of pharma marketers.
Reduce the number of agencies you’re working with
We get it, your pharma marketing team has already plenty of work trying to stand out in front of empowered patients and hard-to-reach physicians.
But do you really need to externalize marketing activities to so many different agencies?
Let’s take the example of a digital campaign: if you’re having one agency for your content, another one for design purposes and a third one for digital media buying, you’re more likely going to face miscommunication and your marketing team is probably spending too much time on coordination.
And at the end, this might be doing more harm than good to your team.
Instead, try to find agencies covering several needs. And if this doesn’t seem possible, or if you don’t want to cut an agency loose, ask that agency to find partners that can bid together on offers!
You can negotiate a single point of contact for both agencies.
That way, your marketing team will save a lot of time on coordination, and having to talk with one agency only will considerably reduce the risks of miscommunication!
Use a digital assistant for easy information retrieval
Market researches, brand plans, disease-related content or training documents are essential for your marketing team. Whether it is for a product launch, product training or just to answer some customer query, the information should be easy to find.
Data is power, especially for an industry where “patient experience” is becoming the number one element of marketing strategies.
But that power is often lost due to the difficulty for marketers to find the information they need. In fact, according to a report by McKinsey, more than 30% of time is wasted at work… looking for information!
There are plenty of reasons behind that struggle to find relevant in-house data. It can be a lack of transparency, bottlenecks, data silos, disconnected information or dependencies…
You name it.
And often, those obstacles lead to the marketers not being willing to look for the information in the first place! And it’s understandable.
Data access is the first issue. But let’s address the elephant in the room. Even when a marketer manages to find the right dashboard or spreadsheet, she still needs to spend time trying to understand and draw inputs from that raw data. And often she will end up reaching out to the owner of that document anyway.
The key here is to provide your marketing team with a fast and simple way to find the info they need, whenever they need it.
A way to do so is to invest in a multi-platform digital assistant such as Ariya. This tool has been developed especially to help marketing teams to find the information they need, using natural language. You ask, it answers.
Local vs global teams
This tip is mostly for international companies, with separate marketing teams in the headquarters and locally.
To save time and avoid double work, it’s important that you have a clear split of responsibilities between local and global teams.
In a few words: what should be done globally, and what must rather be done locally?
For example, if your company is present in 5 countries, what is your web strategy going to be? Should you go for a single multilanguage “.com” domain, or for 5 local domains?
And if you end up with 5 local domains, who is going to be responsible for the content? Is the global marketing team in charge of the whole content plan, or is each local marketing team taking care of its own content?
And this doesn’t only apply to digital marketing. Let’s say your company organizes a congress in France. Who’s going to be in charge of the organization? Is it going to be the French team or the global team? And if this is an international event, should it be a joint effort?
All those questions seem rather logical, but decisions are often taken spontaneously and not well communicated, when they should be taken way upstream. And this situation easily creates some confusion across the different marketing teams of the company.
Foster synergy between brands
Once again, this might be obvious, but ask around and you will be surprised how difficult it can be for a marketer to get information on other brands from the same pharma company.
During a new brand launch, for example, boundaries between projects and brands are often preventing marketers from learning from the mistakes and experiences of previously launched brands.
By fostering a synergy between brands and making the information easily accessible to marketers, you’re not only going to save your marketers a lot of time, but you’re also giving them the possibility to reuse successful strategies and previously gathered data such as market studies, competition analysis or customer reports.
Less meetings, but more structure
Don’t understand us wrong, meetings can be positive as they allow all-level employees to communicate, brainstorm, and align.
The issue we’re trying to highlight here is the lack of structure of these meetings.
In a survey conducted by Harvard, in 2017, 65% of surveyed senior managers admitted that meetings keep them from completing their own work, while 71% agree on how inefficient and unproductive meetings are.
And when we know that, on average, companies are holding 8 meetings per week (across all employee types and company size), it’s easy to see how time consuming and unproductive it can get for marketers (well, for everybody, actually).
The goal of this article isn’t to explain how to throw productive meetings, but just to remind you of a few basic rules that can save you a lot of time.
Meeting organisers should start by clearly defining in advance the objective of each meeting, and the topics to be discussed, as well as making sure the right persons are invited to the meeting. Whenever possible, documents should be sent (and read) in advance.
Then, once the meeting takes place, less time will be spent giving context or reflecting on things that could have been prepared in advance.
Also, if the information is shared smartly across departments, couldn’t the need for meetings be reduced? Our point is that meetings are often organized to make sure everybody is on the same page, and as we explained above, easy access to in-house data plays a big role in that matter.
Work hand in hand with healthcare professionals
Marketing drugs to physicians is hard.
As thoroughly explained in this article by Digital Authority, physicians are not easy to find, their attention is difficult to catch, they expect rationalized marketing and marketers have to come up with clever marketing approaches to stand out. Even more so during the COVID pandemic.
Yes, physicians are clever, and they are dealing with consumer health on a daily basis. They take their job very seriously and have little spare time to deal with marketers.
There isn’t much space for trial and error in the pharma industry and having a healthcare professional from your target group close to you might be the missing card in your marketing team’s hand.
And we’re not talking about asking some physician friends for information when needed. By being close, we mean having a healthcare professional on payroll, whom your team can work hand in hand with.
Let’s say your team is building a digital strategy targeted at dentists. They have tools to study the market and target group, but a strategy based solely on analytics is time consuming and not 100% reliable. Wouldn’t it be much faster and reliable to understand where dentists really consume digital information, through the inputs of a dentist himself?
Sometimes, you do have a market study made with your target group, but the communication ends there.
The same goes with Google and other search engines. To reach a target group, your marketers first need to understand how that target searches for specific information on those search engines. If not planned properly, your team will spend hundreds of dollars advertising on keywords that are actually missing the target. Once again, working with a physician from your target group will help your team understand what his peers are really looking for.
This relationship will ensure that your marketers understand the needs of the other physicians from your target groups, and this will also considerably reduce the time spent in discussions between non-physicians about what physicians prefer.