LONDON, November 3rd, 2017 – As leading digital experts and well-known pharma companies like Teva, Roche and Servier try and introduce, in the organizers’ own words, ‘more science to our marketing’, the outcomes of discussions are granted to inspire further digital transformation in life sciences communication strategy. This time everything revolves even more around customer needs and value – because digital is meant to be the means to this particular end. In brief, the trick now is not just to impress, but to help the audience.

The much retweeted phrase from Carsten P. Grandke (Lead – Multichannel Marketing, Teva Germany) may at first sound epically pessimistic, but needs to be taken seriously:

Traditional pharma marketing is broken. Time to start again!

With all the various topics touched upon on stage (efficiency, channel cohesion, new tech, CRM strategies, etc.), the general idea seems to be making pharma communications what they are supposed to be for the customer. It hasn’t really been that long since the industry first experienced the shock of digital disruption; now, however, this initial stage is over and one should see the digital tools as ways to deliver actual value, rather than just innovation for its own sake. In this connection, the extremely right thing to do is to put the customer first when planning the strategy.

Customer centricity – customer experience – customer engagement: the essentials of the great How To

Now, when Carsten Grandke delivered his presentation, he obviously did not mean to declare a problem without a solution; on the contrary, the whole point is to encourage analysis. Consider the ‘golden triangle’ of customer engagement:

  • Doctors (accessible decision makers);
  • Field force;
  • New blockbusters.

Aligning the components of strategy relative to the value proposed is the basis of successful customer engagement. Taking all this to the extreme would mean HCPs themselves scheduling visits with reps to talk about what they have to offer – at the time the doctors need it. After all, customer experience (as was noted on stage) is shaped by expectations from other, non-pharma industries. To us, this means if this ‘general’ level of CX across industries is higher than what life sciences have to offer, the marketer is losing channels to incompetent management.

Carsten P. Grandke (Lead – Multichannel Marketing, Teva Germany) on the challenges of restarting/evolving pharma communications with healthcare practitioners.

7th eyeforpharma Marketing & Customer Innovation summit, London, November 2nd, 2017

These rising benchmarks require an obligatory reaction. The marketer can’t just wrap up the message in a shiny digital package and present it to everyone on their database. Instead, one should use the possibilities of digital to make the message customer-specific. There is no single message for everyone! Moving from customer-generic (read: brand-centric) approach to customer centricity was at the core of the presentation given by Philipp Maerz (COO, Allergopharma). To this, we may add that while some consider ‘tinkering’ with the costly content for the sake of each client risqué, it is not that difficult. Personalizing messages is a reality that tech has already made possible; implementing segment/prescriber group specific messages is the question of corporate behavior, not technical ability.

The true nature of multichannel (is it ‘omni’ yet?)

Another big question discussed has been the multichannel efficacy. While we can apply different terms to this approach, naming it multi-, omni, cross-channel marketing (more variants can and probably will be suggested) – the reality is, these are just stages in the overall evolution. The primitive phase was competing over who shouts louder across the various channels (in panel talks, that one was aptly named ‘Multichannel 1.0’). The more advanced and efficient ways are based on something we have outlined above – customized messages. A brilliant presentation by Betül Susamis Unaran (Global Head of Digital, Ferring Pharmaceuticals) showed how big data, genomics and wearables can transform the customer journey, but also enable profound personalization.

In dealing with multichannel, the common pitfall is failing to assemble the data from different channels into a cohesive picture of customer audience. This, to a certain extent, was asserted by QuintilesIMS (now IQVIA): field force and digital can not stand in isolation, the whole strategy should be holistic. Takeda delivered a similar set of insights in connection with RWD use in breaking the silos.

Of course, MCM is not the silver bullet (the new aphorism by Carsten Grandke) that will solve all problems by simply being, well, out there. After all, it is the message and the people that decide the fate of a multichannel strategy. A good sales rep is a benchmark for the other channels.

In this connection, the ideas presented by Luigi Capani (Head of Business Excellence in Europe, Roche) are especially interesting: in brief, the idea seems to be the new (more flexible) way of audience and information segmentation – plus heavier reliance on follow-ups and CRM-based amplification. This, in turn, suggests a good handle on content to present the message that this particular customer is interested in.

QuintilesIMS (now IQVIA) on orchestrating HCPs engagement.

7th eyeforpharma Marketing & Customer Innovation summit, London, November 2nd, 2017

Guess what? Content is still the…

… King. Did we even need to bring up the notion once again? Totally yes. First of all, this was implied and practically taken for granted throughout the whole event. Secondly, if you sum up the ideas from above:


Need for personalized customer experience


Need for more flexible segmentation


Need to correspond to the benchmarks


=  Need to adapt content at any time while maintaining its quality.


Luigi Capani (Head of Business Excellence in Europe, Roche, on approaches to eDetailing practices.

7th eyeforpharma Marketing & Customer Innovation summit, London, November 2nd, 2017

Once the marketer gets an opportunity to adjust the available content to the customer’s needs, the shift from brand centricity to customer centricity is practically done. The main paradox of brand-centric approach to communication (one that made rep visits and emails so relentlessly boring to HCPs at times) was that the content was unified, and the audience highly heterogenous. In their day-to-day life, the customers are used to skipping the obviously clichéd ads and messages; why should they behave any different when facing pharma? Readjusting content (eDetailers, emails, etc.) is the key to maintaining engagement.

In practice, this means localizing the globally approved content and opening the assets for reuse by affiliates. At the same time, since you would want to keep the message consistent (even when tailored to specific accounts, segments, etc.), there needs to be a way for the whole global-to-local organization to interact while crafting the content. Approvals are vital from this point of view, as well.

Nataliya Andreychuk, CEO, Viseven Group – presenting the Digital Content Factory.

7th eyeforpharma Marketing & Customer Innovation summit, London, November 2nd, 2017

Ruslana Magdych, Global Account DIrector, Viseven Group.

7th eyeforpharma Marketing & Customer Innovation summit, London, November 2nd, 2017

We at Viseven have anticipated and felt these tendencies as keenly as the other participants at the summit; some of these issues have been even more obvious to us because of the whole time spent working on and around content. Our solution to the current challenges allows to handle them starting with content and communications; you can see our powerful content management platform in action right now and consider taking a nimble approach to content for the next year.