Multichannel Marketing: Something Old

Zuzanna Fimińska speaks to Tim White, Global Director and Head of Customer Interaction at Lundbeck about the digital distractions that can come from multichannel marketing and how the customer HAS to be the focus of every multichannel approach.

“Multichannel marketing is marketing. It's not something that is new.  Of course it's a new term, but it's something that we use every single day, leveraging different channels of communication, understanding how our customers interact with each channel, and then tailoring our approach accordingly.”

“Sometimes multichannel marketing gets confused with digital marketing and people say: 'Oh this is a new way, this is digital marketing,' but multichannel marketing includes ‘multiple channels’ from sales force to digital, to congress and events, and any other commercial engagements that you have,” he added. “Your strategy requires you to know who your customers are, where the key discussions are taking place and what are the relevant aspects of those discussions.”

Building brand loyalty is key. Traditionally, in pharma, this was done on the micro-brand, on the level of an individual product. Multichannel marketing can also do this on a macro-brand or ‘company level’ by creating positive associations and interactions with the company. For example, “at Lundbeck we are highly committed to improving the quality of life for people suffering from brain diseases, this is something that we are proud of and certainly want to stand behind and support using all channels.”

Digital is such a natural fit to the mental health space

When digital is key

Although multichannel marketing is not just digital marketing there are specific therapeutic areas in which digital channels can have a much more valuable impact. White explains: “Mental health and brain diseases are much more digital native therapeutic areas than any that I have worked with in the past.  Be it for physicians or patients, the ability to make an impact using digital in mental health is certainly a great opportunity. Mental health is an area where there are quite a volume of discussions in the online channels amongst patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.  I suppose that the stigmas attached with many brain diseases have encouraged these individuals to utilize the online channels to engage and learn without having to necessarily be out in the public.”

While building awareness is a big part of catering to patients with mental health issues, especially when it comes to information about different treatment options available to people with particular conditions, there are also online services that companies can offer as there's more willingness to engage from both patients and caregivers.


Patient engagement is difficult to quantify, and any revenues that it generates are challenging to demonstrate, but it's not just a problem of multichannel marketing as many other more traditional approaches to pharma commercialization don't come with easy-to-calculate ROIs either.

“Congresses, for example, are a traditional channel with challenges to determine ROI. What we bought into with congresses is that they are great customer interactions. Essentially, this is where many of our valuable customers are, and if we can provide them with a great experience where they get great scientific value from us and from our partners then that is of commercial value. In the multichannel space we talk about these same positive interactions with patients, physicians, caretakers, and other stakeholders. That to me is key, if we can engage at this level, the ROI will follow.”

Trust issues

While the concept of a multichannel strategy that engages and educates patients, HCPs, and other stakeholders sounds promising, the question of public trust in pharma remains. It would be difficult to expect people to participate in a dialogue with an organization that they historically have perceived with skepticism, and sometimes even suspicion.

“Working in this space, you certainly have to be aware of the stigma attached to our industry. The one benefit that I have is that Lundbeck is often very well regarded in the pharmaceutical industry by nearly all of our stakeholders, often being named as one of the most patient-centric organizations. We need to build off of this trust in the multiple channels.  Using them appropriately will provide a level of transparency that our stakeholders can trust and understand, and this, in turn, will return to much more quality engagements.”

What's the hold-up?

Multichannel marketing appears to be a natural next step for pharma, but not all companies embrace it, despite the fact that, in many recent reports, senior leadership appears to recognize it as a top priority.

“I think the challenge is in the middle management of organizations. When you look at middle management, its often people that have generally been successful at what they've done early in their career, yet inherently they're not the ones who grew up in this new multichannel world. So sometimes those are the people who have not quite bought in. The problem is if they don't buy in then their organizations won’t build the proper capabilities to compete in this new world.”

Tim White will be presenting a Lundbeck case study on how the company has created an all-encompassing customer interaction strategy at this year’s Multichannel Marketing EU Summit in London. For more information on the presentation or to find out more about other innovations in marketing, visit the official website.