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December 8, 2014

The healthcare landscape has transformed rapidly in this technology-led, customer-controlled world and the discipline of marketing must evolve with it to stay relevant to the needs, motivations, challenges and behaviors of its audiences. We must flip the paradigm from one of gaining the consumer’s attention to one that reflects understanding of today’s empowered consumer and healthcare professional (HCP), and the healthcare journeys they experience.

To be relevant, a brand must immerse itself contextually at critical junctures across the healthcare journeys and deliver relevant and meaningful value across a multichannel landscape without arbitrary channel boundaries. The path to success in this customer-empowered and controlled world is in some ways quite simple. It is through the creation of tangible value for our audiences that we change mindsets, perceptions and intent, and create preference for our brands. This preference turns into proactive demand in the physician’s office, which in turn translates to more scripts. Each channel, program, campaign and tactic must work in concert toward this goal. Managing success, therefore, must follow this same path and begin with a common definition and understanding of success.

Step 1: Define success and set goals
Define the required shift in audience mindset, intent and behavior: Achieving financial outcomes through marketing is about changing customer mindsets. You must first establish specific goals for specific perceptions, intent and behavior that are necessary precursors to an active patient-HCP dialogue. Establish complementary patient and HCP goals that allow you to track the behavioral shifts and lifts. Keep in mind that it’s not only through primary market research that customer intent and behavior can be tracked; for instance, customer intent is quite visible in the volume and sentiment of social dialogue and search behavior.

Forecast the expected financial outcomes: Sales forecasts based on a direct selling model are meaningless in the world of DTC marketing. You must identify optimal touch-point and content consumption paths that are most likely to elicit behaviors that precede a script, to predict future outcomes with reasonable accuracy. This leads to more reasonable and relevant goals for the incremental contribution of DTC and HCP marketing.

Establish tactical objectives and goals: Ideally, by this time you would have configured a multi-touchpoint marketing campaign, programs and tactics to encourage the desired shift in consumer behavior. Each of these initiatives must have its own objective and KPIs (Key Performance Indicator); KPIs that are completely aligned with the overall marketing and customer impact objectives, complementary to each other to ensure multichannel synergies, and are actionable. These KPIs can be about reach, awareness, engagement and/or action.

Step 2: Establish data needs, feeds and warehousing
The next step is ensuring a mechanism to capture, transform, integrate and warehouse the right data. Data that can not only tell you how you are doing against your goals, but also why. The biggest challenge here might be breaking down the knowledge and intelligence silos that are prevalent in healthcare.

Step 3: Analyze, synthesize and disseminate insight
This is where an integrated, cross-channel, multi-audience approach is critical to truly understanding the interplay of various tactics and campaigns in driving desirable behavior. Leading indicators like interactions and source to destination analyses can give you early warnings of any tactical or operational issues and insight into what to tweak to get back on track. Don’t just distribute pretty charts that leave the “so what” question unanswered.

At the same time, ensure there is a contemporary mechanism in place to answer the inevitable ROI question. You should consider a “triangulation” approach to get to the answer; traditional econometric models are getting harder and harder to configure as the market and media landscape continues to disrupt old paradigms. But this is a topic for another day.

Step 4: Create a continuous optimization loop to revitalize communications and reconfigure strategy
Optimization of media tactics and placements is a real-time activity. Content can be energized on a monthly or quarterly basis. But, most importantly strategy must be informed in sync with the changing market environment, or at the very minimum every brand-planning cycle.

To summarize, in order to optimally manage brand success in today’s market, you must first clearly define success and then establish financial, customer and communications goals. All along, collect and analyze the right data to establish how you are doing and why, disseminate insight, and ensure a continuous optimization loop that allows for timely alterations in tactics and ongoing relevancy of your strategy. Rinse and repeat.

Mukarram Bhatty