Pharma marketing is under siege from new types of content and new ways of creating it. Did the marketing strategy priorities shift towards being about content perception or content creation? This is akin to asking who was first – a chicken or an egg. So, the right question would be – how did this duality influence pharma-content vendor relationships?

Let’s take a quick look at the pyramid of pharmamarketing digital needs. We have got 2 pieces of news for agencies: good and … another good news! The top down approach which seems to be a-la-mode right now – with good CX and its subsequent ability to engage stakeholders at its top – is dictating and actually has the work of agencies at its very basis.

pyramid of pharmamarketing digital needs

As we can see, the last and the most fundamental two steps constitute a base for the whole pharma marketing engagement scheme.  This is the kind of marketing pharma needs, and it structures the relationships between pharma customers and their agencies accordingly. The idee fixe for pharma marketing teams is to figure out how with the right content (and a lot of it), a brand can find the right mix of value-added services or beyond-the-pill type of approach, then neatly fit that mix into physician’s workflow and interests. If not, pharma’s customer experience ability will come to a standstill, and therefore, the whole ability to engage stakeholders will be frail. Concerning the agency’s work here, the pyramid reads the following way: good CX -> good customer-pharma relationship -> good pharma-agency relationship. It all boils down to the agency. Thus, the work of the agencies sitting at the very bottom of the whole engagement model presents the key to the agency’s success.

CX packed in Branding sets the tone

In support of the obvious necessity of content vedor’s services, the demands towards their work are now more versatile and individualistic than ever. The rise of ever-available ‘Internet citizen’ customer, who presents pharma marketers a billion of opportunities to be reached through various channels, has become a new reality. With this type of customer came the need to tailor and personalize communications as much as possible. However, it added complications for the produced content to be distinguishable in web space – hence, the recent acute urge for brand awareness. It is predicted that by 2020, the pharmaceutical marketing and sales function will be organized around brands. Brand consistency, as well as the huge volumes of data (which is estimated to double every two years to 2020) in its turn, prompted the need for being picky in content strategy priorities. This way, categorizing and templating approaches were engrained into content production workflows. Was this transition a smooth one for the agencies—marketers relationships?

The recent changes of content workflows have resulted into a diverse mash-up of agencies that all deliver a different level of specialization, value, and expertise. Managing such a wide-ranging network of agencies has obviously come along with challenges. Partially, it’s their own fault: more than a third of organizations (36%) are not effective when it comes to collaborating with brand/agency counterparts to translate a marketing vision into a targeted, cross-channel program.  Moreover, a great majority of both agency CEOs (68%) and brand CMOs (72%) agree that current agency structures, processes, and pace of delivery are not evolving at the same pace as a brand’s needs.

So, in order to deal with different ways of collaborating with agencies across a range of content channels, innumerable methods of measuring their outputs impartially,  as well as the changing digital landscape, transparency, and communication have to remain at the core of the common marketing—agency work ethics. To be able to create the content pharma needs, agencies need to become a built-in gear-wheel of the content creation ecosystem.

Down-top approach to building an ecosystem

But why is it agency who should show the initiative of creating a unified workspace? As the recent surveys show, Action is the most valuable strategic thing demanded in pharma-content vendors dynamics. The agency should strive to be moved from just delivering “stuff” for customers to solving their most significant business problems, serving as both agency and consultant. If an agency helps customers to transform their business, then it can also transform its own business flows. Obviously, as marketing needs keep on expanding, the pharma clients will start having additional companies in the mix, and the agency should keep bringing its partnership perspective into everything it does. By collaborating in a single digital ecosystem, the agency can best deliver for its customers, and ultimately the patients that need these products most. One can go as far as starting to work in spaces like eWizard on their own, and then integrate these practices into their pharma content creation scheme.

agency's role in creating a unified workspace

Sure, it is not an easy task to create a cohesive ecosystem with your customers that would cover the new demands of digital marketing mix without function overlaps, redundancies, or skill gaps. Marketers, in their turn, too spend much of their efforts and time orchestrating their agency ecosystem, trying to manage the many tentacles of content vendors.

In the world of infonoise — remain visible and easily definable

How to stand out in the world of infinite collaboration possibilities? The data show that by far the most important consideration for pharma customers when choosing an agency is efficiency, with 52% of clients reporting speed is something on which they placed the utmost importance. Flexibility comes second, when it comes to processes and methodologies, with 40% of marketing ranking it a five on a five-point scale, and 39% ranking it a four. This indicates a trend that in the past, a variety of agencies with individual expertise might have been preferable, but now, marketers are looking to do things in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible. “In some cases, we’re being forced to just use one agency to do all of those things or as many of those things as possible,” Mike Cvijanovich, director of marketing at Chiesi USA said.

This dictates that agencies and clients both take a holistic account of the customer experience they are executing. So its time to make sure your skills and specialization are visible, clearly definable and versatile. Unsurprisingly, agencies can make it easier to be found and hired with clearly defined roles, skills, and responsibilities at hand. An outlined agency certification is the best indicator available to help big pharma navigate in search of new content production partners. Noone wants their agency to be a passive and executive only member of the content creation tandem. Sure, you can walk the line and keep to the content creation treadmill. But in reality, that’s not what your pharma customers need. But to stay on the picture (and form a solid ground in the digital needs pyramid), content vendors have to be in the proactive position.

It would be of great benefit for agencies to take advantage of pharma’s collaborative attitude to create partnerships that will be paying off for years to come – budgetwise, trustwise and, most importantly – qualitywise. Drop our team of experts a line and find out more about how to build a cohesive system and fill the gaps in content creation practices. Remember: it all boils down to the agency. And here where we can step in and help out.