Oh those days of corporate bliss! While few of today’s digital marketers can actually confirm being active several (3-4) decades ago, we’re all still under the impression. Speaking of the epoch and the mentality that comes in one package, it’s the one-size-fits-all (-and-don’t-forget-the-mass-bulk) method of doing business. It used to be fashionable to adhere to consumer standards; now, in the era of content that’s purchased and offered for promotion, we’re sometimes bearing the traces of that feeling.

Particularly in life sciences communications, pharma-to-HCPs, where content is more substantial than the purely “viral” DTC bits, the question of content bulk/amount to quality ratio has risen very sharply. This was something most of us felt throughout 2017, and we have all the reasons to suspect it’ll still be there in 2018, as well. As doctors are pretty much receptive to the platforms and channels that pharma has to offer (eDetailing, remote calls, emailing, apps, VR, webinars, you name it) – they still yearn a lot for content that’s about their practice, not about a product. What should a smart marketer do?

Growing the bulk of digital assets produced? That is exactly what’s happening. At the same time, with the explosion of content, any miscoordination between global HQ and local affiliates becomes all too evident. Brand consistency and content quality have started to meddle with reputation, so, naturally, this problem has been addressed.

Powerful platforms for global digital assets management, like the now famous Veeva Vault, have solved the problem with handling the approved assets for many an enterprise. Now, is there are way to plug content development into these global environment?

And, even more crucially, what exactly will “content development” mean in the year to come?

Why content reuse is becoming the new norm

Okay, agencies, don’t get this wrong: creating content from scratch is unavoidable at times. It is. However, the new tendency that the large content management systems and platforms have encouraged is when a company already has some assets (already approved by the global office) and requests either building new content from these or modifying them to adjust to a market segment. Which is understandable – basically the reasons for content reuse are the same as those behind Veeva’s success, namely:

  • Managing the sheer amount of content that will perhaps suffice to please everyone in the audience (the marketer’s equivalent of creating a single, reusable external style sheet for multiple web pages, if you will)
  • Compliance to strict brand consistency rules – earlier, we have already mentioned how the global offices’ “grip” on local creativity has tightened recently
  • The very particular essence of life sciences content, where medical, legal, scientific information has to be combined with good storytelling and emotional adequacy – and still bring value to the decision maker (wherein “value” is defined differently by many accounts)
  • Finally, the doctors : channels equation – each professional will have their own preferences as to the channel, and the message, of course, should be transmitted accordingly, be it via email, online meeting or F2F presentation. For EU, this is further complicated by GDPR to be enforced in May. In terms of content, this means a lot of small adaptations and adjustments.

All of these require a common ground for content suppliers, managers and approvers. While most marketers in B2B sphere now agree that content is a business asset, only 46% are confident in their strategy of using it as such. Tech is still a concern to many. Not that the existing platforms lack anything – it’s mostly a question of scalability. Doing things on an ad-hoc basis is no longer the main approach (22% respondents still operate in this way, though) – what’s more surprising is that 69% companies admit they do have tools in place but still have a lot of manual work to do.

Reducing this manual work is becoming a priority now, and content production is no exception. Why waste time explaining things anew to an agency, struggling for adherence to branding conventions and norms, and waiting for things to be built from scratch when there already are starting points? As of the time of this writing, content templates are used in at least some form by 72% enterprises, making this tactic more important statistically than the much praised user-generated content approach.

In the case with life sciences, where interactive content for eDetailing has already become the (almost) dominant form, the rise of templates has been somewhat delayed – but not for long; we will explain why.

The potential of global asset management

So using content templates, on the one hand, and huge corporate cloud-based universes like Veeva, on the other. What’s on the management side now? We can see how these systems thrive; what is happening behind the curtains?

Perhaps the most concise answer is given by Veeva themselves, where they define the Vault as

Single source of truth across the enterprise.
As in this video, for example.

Providing a shortcut to use globally approved digital assets to regional departments and managers has been quite beneficial; in fact, when these learn to use the system properly and expand upon the existing content, modifying it and then handing in for another approval – this fosters local initiative while keeping a watchful eye on it.

Local initiative is still important, even with the rising global control. After all, we’re no longer in the one-size-fits-all-chic era, and personalization/localization matters immensely. Marketers are starting to notice that local managers have fuller perspective on what exactly need to be localized or personalized.

Meanwhile, when surveyed, 72% admit less than ½ of their marketing staff plays the principal role in content today. This is mostly due to the unwillingness to “get their hand dirty” with code, design, HTML, CSS, etc. At the same time, 76% (note the similar numbers!) say they are planning to leverage in-house talents in content creation in the two years to come. Which translates to: “give them a tool to work with, them who know their customer”.

The Digital Content Factory approach

So here we have it: there are awesome systems for managing the already approved and existing digital assets – but plugging in development is a harder nut to crack. It’s symptomatic that 45% marketers say they have tools for content marketing, but don’t use them to their full capacity. With eDetailing and apps, for example, and especially, with “zero-footprint” presentations for remote interactions – there needs to be the way to integrate coding, design, legal and medical expertise even tighter into the processes that already flow in systems like Vault.

This is why we named this missing solution the Digital Content Factory – it is centered around creating and reusing content in all aspects. The keywords here are creating and reusing. In general, the whole system – DCF and, say, Veeva Vault – is meant to function like communicating vessels: whatever gets crafted in DCF environment automatically passes to Vault for validation and approval through integration, and whatever there is in the Vault can be easily edited in the DCF.

What makes the Digital Content Factory possible in its core is the eWizard platform for editing/reusing/creating interactive HTML5 content. It is already integrated with major systems (including, of course, Veeva), so that the flow of content from the “development pole” to “management pole” is uninterrupted. In this way, the principles of DCF approach are:

  1. Templating – even for the most complicated interactive content types, and with great flexibility when needed (and only when needed).
  2. Expertise at hand when needed (including medical, legal, translation/localization, design, coding, etc.).
  3. Integration – implementing in practice the idea of communicating vessels for reducing manual processes to the bare minimum.

This is why content reuse is actually possible and desirable in life sciences communications – and here was just a brief description of how this tactic can be implemented. You can find more information here, but as for implementation and rollout, individual strategies should be used for each company, don’t hesitate to contact our specialists – and kickstart content supply processes to use the full potential of your system.