Customer Engagement USA 2023

Oct 2, 2023 - Oct 3, 2023,

North America’s leading Pharma Marketing and Commercial event

Three ways marketing and medical can execute a successful omnichannel rollout

Pharma companies should zero in on commonalities between functions to achieve a genuine customer-centric omnichannel

There is huge appetite for an omnichannel strategy among pharma companies. Yet, it is not entirely clear for some businesses on how to successfully execute it.

While marketing and medical affairs business functions are likely to benefit from omnichannel the most, collaboration avenues are not entirely clear as both teams have different needs, requirements and priorities, noted ValueDo Life Sciences Consulting president and founder Gaurav Kandhari. For example, both teams have different philosophies: while medical affairs zero in on patients and health outcomes, marketing teams focus on commercial success.

Nevertheless, Kandhari emphasized that teamwork between marketing and medical is key for a truly customer-centric omnichannel strategy. And, while there may be differences, there are many, valuable overlaps. At Reuters Events Pharma USA, Kandhari shared three high-level, actionable ways on how both teams can form an alliance to bolster omnichannel success.

Gradual omnichannel launch

One way is for the pharma company to first rollout its omnichannel strategy within the medical team and then use the same framework in the marketing team upon expansion. The initial focus would be on awareness and advocacy. Then, when omnichannel is extended, trial and adoption is looped in.

In this “conservative” approach, medical affairs and medical sales liaisons (MSL) teams will initially drive the omnichannel, Kandhari explained. The advantage of this strategy is that it allows for the omnichannel infrastructure to be built, which opens opportunities to improve personas, harness communication channels and content modulation. Possible tension between medical and marketing functions can be avoided as these teams have different priorities and timelines.

Pharma companies can also start with the marketing team first, with decisions dependent on where the product is in the lifecycle, Kandhari noted. For example, the company can first implement an omnichannel strategy within the marketing team if the product is in the pre-market launch phase where marketing is already underway. Also, if the product is already five years in the market, medical uplift is relatively not as urgent.

Similar framework, different journeys

The second approach involves both marketing and medical teams using the same omnichannel framework, but the customer goes through separate journeys. This is relatively more ambitious in that it brings medical and marketing teams together to build the framework. Kandhari added: “It is a bit of a stretch where we bring medical, marketing, MSL and sales in the same room… to use the same OKR [objective and key results].”

While potentially challenging, it is pragmatic, Kandhari said. For starters, it acknowledges that both teams have different needs and priorities but also maximizes commonality in their customer journeys. Another advantage is that omnichannel is launched as broadly and as early as possible. This approach is ideal for companies with a growth brand and is ready for launch.   

Holistic, customer-centric omnichannel approach

Meanwhile, the third holistic approach is “not for the faint hearted,” Kandhari noted. In this scenario, the omnichannel framework is deeply intertwined between marketing and medical teams and designed for the user to go through a single journey. The medical team would drive awareness and advocacy stages of the omnichannel experience, while marketing would be responsible for commercial aspects. “Now, this is a customer-centric journey,” he added.

To be successful, the pharma company should elucidate what are the separate compliance and regulatory requirements of both teams (particularly on data), while finding ways to integrate. This approach may be attractive for companies with mature brands where the needs of both teams are well understood.

This is a particularly challenging approach to execute and, as such, the company will need to have ambition to pull it off, Kandhari noted. But working together is possible, particularly if marketing knows what regulatory or compliance lines it should not cross in medical affairs, and vice versa, he added.

Indeed, with these three approaches, Kandhari demonstrated that an integrated medical and marketing omnichannel approach is not as difficult as it seems. While both teams have their own priorities, their overlaps can be optimized in a bid to ensure a customer-centric omnichannel rollout.

Customer Engagement USA 2023

Oct 2, 2023 - Oct 3, 2023,

North America’s leading Pharma Marketing and Commercial event