Moving up the marketing maturity curve - Copied Test

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - July/August 2013

Given the profound changes in the pharmaceutical commercial model, sales and marketing must deliver integrated customer experiences across channels and adapt through real-time insights

Limited physician access through personal promotion, together with more empowered and informed audiences, continues to pressure the industry to engage customers more effectively. The advent of IDNs (Integrated Delivery Networks) and ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) is also making commercial teams rethink how best to deliver value beyond traditional personal selling.

As a result, marketing is undergoing a wide-scale transformation to enable individual customer-driven interactions, automated cross-channel campaign management, and rapid feedback loops. The current transformation also affects how sales is incorporated into overall marketing delivery. Systems and processes that treat non-personal and personal promotion plans as loosely connected, parallel activities are no longer workable. Healthcare marketers are challenged to bridge that gap with what technology now makes possible, converging to deliver comprehensive management of campaigns, customer experience and optimization.

Key capabilities are necessary to make this shift happen:

  • Data for all personal and non-personal activities integrated by customer
  • Campaign management serving as “air traffic control” to direct all tactics, including sales calls
  • Real-time insights/analytics.

Many companies are leveraging cloud-based tools that provide flexibility to integrate new vendors, data, and features quickly into the marketing process. This, combined with digital tools such as iPads in the hands of the reps, is enabling a new kind of flexibility in the commercial model.

Making the leap: three-step process to change

Appature developed a Marketing Maturity Curve to help organizations make sense of the new environment, evaluate what’s appropriate for a particular product given the market situation, and understand the decisions necessary to advance up the Curve.

STEP 1: Take stock of your current approach to marketing

The Marketing Maturity Diagnostic helps marketers see quickly where they are in terms of needs, capabilities, and gaps, and bolsters the case for taking action. The diagnostic helps marketers analyze each brand across four categories: customer data & segmentation; customer experience; marketing analytics; and marketing technology.

Customer data & segmentation

  • Levels of granularity for customer definition
  • Frequency of data use to refine/reassess segments
  • Degree of integration of customer data sources

Customer experience

  • How the brand team plans and executes campaigns

Marketing analytics

  • Access to data/reports and timing
  • Timeframe for analysis and optimization decisions
  • Basis for future marketing investment decisions

Marketing technology

  • Use of marketing tools and systems—e.g., 360 customer database, campaign management and execution, centralized reporting
  • Integration with other company systems—e.g., sales force automation, call center, finance, market research
  • Location of marketing tools/systems.

STEP 2: Evaluate the fit to the market situation

The self-assessment gives marketers a general idea where they locate along the Marketing Maturity Curve’s multidimensional approach. Is the brand suited to traditional tactic-driven marketing? Does it represent a foundation for a new approach in development? Has true customer-centric marketing been achieved? Have marketers advanced to the stage of insight-driven informed marketing?

Keep in mind that the most advanced stage is not necessarily the best choice. Calibrate the approach to each brand, fine-tuning it using real-world and real-time information wherever possible.

These four stages form the basis of the Marketing Maturity rating:

Stage 1. Tactic-driven marketing

This traditional approach involves creating and deploying tactics to a broad target audience, with limited coordination of tactics or use of technology and little or no access to information about what’s working and what isn’t. It is well suited to brands with low ROI pressure, a less complicated customer base, less need for customer engagement, and an established market base.

Stage 2. Foundation development

Brands in this category use tactic-driven marketing while doing initial groundwork for advancing up the Marketing Maturity Curve, putting in place operational investments to enable a future state of more insight-driven marketing. This stage fits with brands under ROI pressure or serving a more complex customer in a more complex media landscape.

This is a necessary stage, providing the “plumbing” for future changes, but no intrinsic business value. Many companies get stuck here, caught in a vortex of data collection and system building, often taking on large “on-premise” (not cloud-based) infrastructure that move slowly. Brands at this stage are in peril unless marketers develop clear, time-bound plans for moving to Stage 3.

Stage 3. Customer-centric marketing

Brands in this stage are beginning to truly organize campaigns around the customer. Marketing campaigns for these brands are executed across channels and provide at least some effectiveness information for more informed decision-making. Brand marketers have developed close partnerships with IT and/or external providers, and are beginning to leverage technology to deliver on their goals. Multiple channels are used to create a coherent customer “journey.” At this stage marketers still may lack 24/7 access to campaign data and continuity in the customer journey, and encounter gaps during the loyalty phase.

If the brand has a competitive market, complex customer base, sophisticated multi-channel campaign or faces financial pressure to deliver efficiently, keep reading. The brand belongs in Stage 4.

Stage 4. Insight-driven, informed marketing

Marketers whose brands reach this level on the Marketing Maturity Curve have achieved real transformation. Their capabilities to use real-time information to drive marketing campaigns enable them to deliver high-value, personalized experiences for their customers, be more informed in their optimization decisions, make changes while campaigns are still ongoing, and exhibit more agility.

This is the new “holy grail.” Marketers and operations leaders who understand and can implement this transformation will be ahead of the curve for the brand, the company, and their own careers.

If marketers and operations teams fit this description, they are truly leveraging information to personalize the customer experience, partner with sales, create multiple unique experiences for the customer, optimize campaigns mid-stream, and use cloud-based tools to develop insights in real time.

STEP 3: Create a plan to move up the curve

Three interconnected components—skills, processes, and technology—are essential to implement meaningful insight-driven marketing that integrates all personal and non-personal channels.

Skills: Understanding data, tearing down walls

Technology alone isn’t enough to achieve Marketing Maturity. In today’s increasingly data-rich world, marketing departments need data scientists, mathematicians, IT professionals, financial analysts, and others to work with the information. This requires building new internal skills and strategic partnerships with external experts.

Structures also have to change. Goodbye channel-specific and functional silos, hello intra- and inter-departmental collaboration. This means ensuring the skills to build coalitions across functions and put in place governance processes.

Greater speed, new procedures

Marketing, sales, operations teams, and management across functions will need to re-orient around widespread use of analytics and rapid, insight-driven decisionmaking in order to drive higher revenue and business success.

New technology is only part of the equation. Marketing and operations leaders are also being challenged to:

  • Develop policies and procedures for deploying multi-channel campaigns
  • Train medical/regulatory/legal teams in how to deal with the new, business-rule driven, automated campaigns
  • Estimate and make the case for the additional resources that may be needed
  • Encourage and enable A/B testing for campaigns.

Marketing technology: making the shift

Technology is the hub from which teams manage customer information, customer communications, and campaign outcomes. It contributes to Marketing Maturity in three ways:

  • Integrating customer data helps marketers deeply understand their customers across virtually limitless variables.
  • Automating marketing campaigns enables personalization, greater responsiveness, continuity, and coordination.
  • Advanced analytics engines provide real-time performance insights by campaign, channel, or even individual customer.

Marketers who know they need to ramp up their capabilities often hit a brick wall when it comes to figuring out how to compare specific product features and functionality of various solutions. This is a difficult, and critical, decision that can significantly impact costs and effectiveness.

Our white paper* provides a ready-made guide for making comparisons across IT platforms. Some of these criteria are subjective, but many of them are concrete, objective measures of the sophistication of the system to be deployed. For example:

  • Does the solution provide a single view of relevant customer profile data in one, easily accessed location?
  • Can the solution handle both in-bound and out-bound messaging from/to customers?
  • Does the solution include automated response mechanisms based on triggers and customer behaviors?
  • Are reports available in both standard and customizable forms?
  • Is there 24x7, multi-platform (desktop, browser, mobile device) access to campaign data?

One of the key decisions will be what kind of technology solution works best for specific market situations—whether to build an on-premise IT solution or go with cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. Cloud-based solutions are designed for fast implementation, are flexible to scale, and provide broad access to users through the web. There is no hardware to procure, and software upgrades happen centrally and frequently.

Another factor in selecting technology is the extent to which each platform is integrated. Does it deliver customer database, campaign management, campaign analytics, and delivery channels as one seamless platform, or do discrete solutions have to be connected? Can it be effectively connected with sales force automation? The assessment form outlines a number of parameters that have implications for speed, cost, and usability.

Meeting the challenge

Changes in skills, processes, and technology are all required to meet the new, more sophisticated insight-driven demands of today’s life sciences marketplace. The Appature Marketing Maturity Curve and the accompanying diagnostic tools, assessments, and planning support can help marketing, sales, and their operations teams make sense of the new environment, understand what they need to do, and make the decisions necessary to move up the Curve.


Bob Harrell leads marketing efforts for IMS-Appature, including online and non-personal promotion, sales enablement, and thought leadership. During his 20+ years in the pharmaceutical industry, Bob held top positions in digital, database and relationship marketing on both the manufacturer and agency side, including Merck, Astra Merck, AstraZeneca and Rosetta Marketing. Prior to joining Appature, Bob was Director of Integrated Marketing for Shire.

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