Key Pharma Marketing Priorities for 2017

03.03.17   |  

The February issue of Med Ad News contains a special feature: “Agenda 2017 – Growing Up“.  In this feature Med Ad News posed what they consider critical questions for 2017 to certain key individuals within the pharma industry.

The Stem CEO and Founder Gregg Fisher was queried on two issues. Please see below for which two, and his responses:


What can pharma brands do to step up their interactive game?

Gregg Fisher: 

The world of marketing has rapidly begun to accept “content marketing” as a marketing discipline that can establish relevant connections with customers through valuable content, and in so doing, deepen engagement with brands. The shift to “content marketing” in pharma has been far slower (hence the relative lack of compelling pharma content), but the promise remains great.

There are several fundamental changes that pharma brands must make to step up their interactive games. Chief among these is to develop integrated content strategies that span the full customer journey and cut across internal functions (e.g., commercial and medical) and channels. Brands must stop planning content in company silos or for discrete tactics in isolation. And they must think beyond pure product-specific content to support the full spectrum of customer needs. With such an integrated view of the customer journey, content managers will see the big picture and a plan a robust mix of content that is tailored to particular channels and customer moments.

Next, pharma brands must diversify their use of content formats. Many brands are pleased with a few static web pages when the content opportunity is much broader, including animations, slide shows, infographics, videos, white papers among others. Developing content formats creates engagement value for customers while enabling a brand to maximize exposure of its key messages over time and across content platforms (email, social media, web, events, etc).

Another imperative is the need for pharma brands to evolve their review processes to mirror the digital world we live in. Many MLR teams insist on all reviewing all content elements in their channel context. This is inefficient and creates a dis-incentive to produce more and varied content. Instead, MLR processes must be evolved to enable content elements to be approved for re-use across different channel contexts.

This is but a partial list of many changes that are needed in the discipline of “Content Excellence,” which is arguably one of the most important marketing opportunities in pharma.


What skills or offerings are brand managers going to expect from marketing agency partners in 2017 that they might not have expected in 2015 or 2016? Why so? What other changes might be brewing in the agency world?

Gregg Fisher: 

In 2017 and beyond, to maximize business impact, pharma marketing programs will increasingly be planned and executed as integrated customer experiences, versus isolated tactics. As a consequence, brand managers will place greater value on firms that can a) plan cross-channel customer engagement strategies and b) effectively manage implementation. Most brand managers simply don’t have the time to master all channels and technologies, nor do they have the bandwidth to stitch them together into compelling experiences.

In this environment, customer engagement planning and program orchestration skills will be paramount. On the planning side, managers will seek talent that is commercially focused, offers deep customer insights, and is proficient in channel and content strategy. On the execution side, they will seek talent that can integrate a wide array of internal and external groups to deliver a successful solution.

This shift will favor a new breed of consultancy with core competence in strategy and program management and the capability to integrate talent across a wide array of specialties to satisfy client demands. (The Stem’s “networked consulting” model is one example of such a firm). Meanwhile, traditional agencies that are heavily focused on selling ad campaigns that maximize the billability of in-house talent will be an increased disadvantage in this environment.

Category: Customer Experience, Digital Transformation, Healthcare Provider (HCP) Engagement, Patient Engagement & Support, Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology

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