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How to prioritise your multichannel marketing

Blue Latitude Health|12th June 2013

This article first appeared on PharmaPhorum.

In these times of increasingly constrained marketing budgets, the argument for effective prioritisation is not just about having to do more with less as a pharma marketer; it’s the fact that there is simply less chance of multichannel marketing (MCM) success if you throw everything at trying to reach a particular group, without first understanding how well you are able to answer their needs and harness their behaviour.

Prioritisation is effective multichannel planning, cognisant of existing and desired organisational capability, and built around your customers: 3 key areas of MCM prioritisation

Prioritisation doesn’t just mean allocating your budget to your most ‘important’ channels; it means mapping your existing channels and capability against the most appropriate audience segments.

The following overview provides a number of inputs and models which can assist with the prioritisation of your MCM as part of your planning process.

1. The ‘right person’

Customer research is a vital input for audience prioritisation. There are three major questions which you want answered, to feed directly into the prioritisation process:

  • What is the role of different groups within my target universe in influencing and determining prescribing behaviour?
  • What are their core information needs professionally (in order to do their job and to reach prescribing judgements)?
  • How do they use different channels to find and assimilate this information?

Expand the scope of your research beyond your traditionally ‘high value’ customers, and you will develop a better understanding of emergent stakeholders and changing dynamics of power/influence.

2. The ‘right channel’

Audience insights gathered from customer research can be mapped onto the diagram below. Customer behaviour across channels can be mapped against your existing provision to show alignment (x-axis); perceived customer value can be tied to a number of different business objectives, such as prescribing power or influence (y-axis):

Customer behaviour across channels

Following insight development, you can plot relevant groups within your target universe onto this matrix to understand the strength of your external engagements. Research and testing is the only way of authentically validating your existing channels against target user behaviour and preference. You might find that your channels would best serve an under-targeted yet strategically useful audience (the ‘Key Influencers’); equally, there could be misalignment in adequately reaching and engaging your highest-value customers at present.

Multichannel Customer Planning vs Customer Value

Once you have understood your target audiences’ preferences for consuming pharma content, and performed high-level prioritisation in the short and longer term, you can map channel CPI against the value of the customer.

Key influencers can be reached by lower-cost channels which might already be in place; user research can tell you where to invest to reach your misaligned audience. For instance, if your product is used in an emergency setting, you could leverage the wider audience of ICU Nurses through the lower-cost channels of web and email to influence relevant specialists, whilst simultaneously building insight and capability to target the same specialists directly.

3. The right ‘message’

Equally, business and customer needs must be aligned when prioritising content development and related messaging – an effective strategy will always locate the common ground. It’s simple in theory, but customer needs are all too often skewed by business priorities and assumptions:

Business needs vs. Customer needs

Apart from product differentiation and customer mobilisation, consistency across channels is a key consideration, and this should also inform your tactical planning: can you deliver properly integrated messaging to your audience across the most appropriate touchpoints to achieve your strategic goals?

The above provides a snapshot of how you can manage the prioritisation of your MCM, and investment in your external channels to engage valuable audience groups in the short and longer term. In order to apply these models with any accuracy, it’s crucial that you have a strong understanding of your internal, as well as external situation. Investment in appropriate research will save you untold frustration and wasted resource further down the line. 

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