Strategy & Management

Multichannel Excellence: The Competitive Factor for Pharma

30.07.2014 -

Proving Marketing's Value - The global pharmaceutical industry continues to evolve from the blockbuster era to the outcome era.

This shift entails many changes. Just to name a few: changes in R&D strategies, limited increase of the effectiveness of the classical sales-force setup, or changing information needs and behavior of physicians. To keep pace, pharmaceutical marketing has to adapt to the need for more sophisticated communication of benefit proof. Physician-access limitations are affecting how companies can market their drugs today and in the future. Pharma marketing must shift from simply attracting attention to providing value.

Historically, pharma bet on the traditional sales rep/share-of-voice models, relying on brand-centric promotion strategies. But today - it has been addressed so many times it has almost become a cliché - pharma needs to become customer-centric. Only, customer-centric marketing must not be mistaken for simply installing digital channels in addition to traditional ones. Customer-centric multichannel marketing is a value-added approach, focusing on delivering customized messages via integrated channels to meet the needs of individual physicians.

Before the magic of multichannel excellence (MCEx) can unfold and bear tangible results, the industry needs to further embrace the multichannel mindset. The key premise of multichannel marketing is about reaching physicians through their preferred channels, exploiting their receptiveness in a way that influences them as much as possible.

To give physicians what they want on an individual level, how they want it and when they want it, significantly increases the chances that they will respond. Efficiency and influence are considerably increased when switching from a broad, unspecified, uncoordinated multichannel mix to a customized, integrated channel selection and next-best offers.

The next-best offer reflects a customer-centric marketing paradigm that coordinates a company's specific product requirements and business objectives with the needs, preferences and behaviors of individual physicians. The preference and receptiveness for a next-best offer vary depending on the current state of mind and interactions.

Magic of Multichannel Excellence

What exactly is the magic of multichannel excellence? The three C's of multichannel excellence: customer insights, channel orchestration and campaigns.

Clearly multichannel management in the pharmaceutical industry hasn't reached its full potential by far. But what would excellent multichannel marketing look like?

Camelot's multichannel excellence approach means efficiently serving physicians with highly customized messages tailored to their current needs and receptiveness through a preference-based mix of channels.

Thus, multichannel excellence is first about the identification of customer characteristics and preferences. It then has to focus on the development of predictive models to identify their current status (state of mind) and to anticipate needs and behavioral changes. All this finally leads to the provision of valuable next-best offers for individual physicians and ultimately establishes a dialogue within an integrated channel mix.

Customer Insights

Doctors differ in their personal preferences, be it their particular preferred channel for information search and processing behavior, channel selection and use, their preferred mode and intensity of communication, etc. Other factors such as specialization, level of disease understanding, practice setting or patient demographics also influence physicians' preferences for interaction.

Pharma needs to know what sort of information is important to which physicians and needs to figure out the circumstances that might trigger a change in (prescribing) behavior. All these characteristics are essential components to determine the next-best offer.

Fortunately, most channels allow feedback on behavior, acceptance and preferences. Consequently ideal multichannel management enables a bidirectional data exchange between pharma and physicians and offers third-party feedback on relevant physicians' activities. Not many companies collect these physician data yet and even fewer are able to derive a next-best offer based on the available insights. As every good conversation starts with good listening, pharma first needs to develop a deep understanding of its customers.

Thus, a common understanding of doctors' needs, preferences and receptiveness requires new, sophisticated ways of deriving and using data. On the basis of physician information, which should be, of course, compliantly collected, analytics/predictive models can apply tactical business rules to select the optimum channels, offers and messages for individual physicians.

Channel Orchestration

To effectively coordinate and execute multichannel marketing, channel integration is an imperative. This integration of all channels and all customer interactions inevitably requires new organizational structures.

A look at companies' operational multichannel management shows that responsibility for a consistent and individual customer experience (content and timing) does not lie with only one, exclusive coordinator for every physician. This lack of a dedicated champion or coordinator seems to be a significant stumbling block.

When setting out for multichannel excellence, a company needs to implement clear governance and ownership over each physician account. And it needs to invest in IT resources that track physician profiles and journeys, next-best offers and interactions. In tandem, this will allow companies to realize a coordinated approach - from an overarching functional coordination of channel selection to the coordination of medical, legal, marketing content approval to the timing of the next-best offer or the management of third parties.


The goal of multichannel excellence is turning insights into a relevant dialogue. The more relevant and engaging the communication, the more likely doctors are to read and respond. Sending physicians on such an engaging journey and continuously delivering a story of consistent, valuable content sure is a challenge.

Campaigns are designed to achieve a specific purpose and to tell one coherent story, whether it is raising awareness for an upcoming launch, increasing physician knowledge about a disease state, triggering prescribing to grow market share, etc. Each piece of information needs to be tailored to the channel.

Once a campaign is launched, the channel/communication mix for each physician can be optimized using intelligent business rules based on conveyed and observed preferences and needs. Such incremental learning allows multichannel marketing to be more targeted than ever before and to become smarter about how to connect to physicians. Eventually, excellent multichannel marketing is directing physicians toward a status of loyalty via customized next-best offers.

Furthermore, companies must avoid bombarding customers with untargeted offers or even inconsistent messages, leading to a poor experience for customers and worst case to a cut off in engagement.

Camelot has performed a survey collecting the assessment from relevant executives, showing that pharma marketers are well aware of the magic of multichannel excellence. Nevertheless there are essential hurdles for fully and successfully implementing MCEx as it requires a complex transformation of strategy, organization, processes and IT systems. As with any large transformation, success is not easily achieved. Implementing multichannel excellence means facing many and varied challenges. But it is time to take action.

Order a free copy of the Camelot study on multichannel excellence here!

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