Is pharma under-using multichannel marketing?

Check the website of any marketing agency these days, and you’re likely to see at least one mention of "multichannel" or "omnichannel" marketing.

As an industry pro, you're probably familiar with these concepts, but here's a breakdown in case you haven't had your coffee yet.

Multi-channel marketing tells the same story across several marketing channels. Customers might see video ads, banner ads, emails, and physical mailings that all tell the same story.

Omnichannel marketing goes one step further. Instead of looking at campaigns in terms of channels, an omnichannel strategy thinks of each customer as a single, unified set of behaviors across multiple channels.

These two strategies represent a key next step for pharma marketers. You might be using them already. Yet some pharmaceutical reps are reluctant to adopt new processes, wary of pouring money into the latest buzzword without getting justifiable returns.

Both perspectives are accurate — but we don't think they conflict. In this post, we'll discuss how Watson Clark approaches multichannel and omnichannel pharma marketing.

Pharma marketing demands diverse strategies

It used to be that pharma companies marketed their drugs mostly through one-on-one meetings between sales reps and healthcare practitioners (HCPs).

When the industry grew too big for office meetings to carry, pharma turned to other channels: magazine ads, TV ads, and later, the internet.

What they missed was that keeping each campaign boxed off in its own channel would inevitably diminish returns. They were adapting to new media, but they weren’t doing anything truly revolutionary — just the same old things in more places.

That’s where the shift in focus to omnichannel comes in. A doctor will display the same reading habits on many different journal sites, as well as public news sites and even social media. With the wide array of channels that make up the modern medical landscape, it makes sense to start with the customer, and deduce from available information what they actually want to see.

Omnichannel marketing is especially relevant in a post-Covid world, given the advantage that customer-focused data collection grants the users of digital marketing channels. To reach someone you can't be in the same room with, you have to focus your narrative squarely at their wants and needs.

Reluctance to commit

Pharma is still a rapidly growing industry, so why shift strategies now? Because it’s a good investment. The future of pharma marketing uses technology to achieve more engagement for less invested.

That said, pharma is also a field that rewards tried-and-true marketing methods. We've heard a lot of objections to the need for more diverse channels, so we thought we'd address two of the worthiest ones here.

  • Omnichannel marketing is just a passing fad. We agree that it's a bad idea to leap aboard new trends without vetting them first. However, omnichannel marketing has been thoroughly field-tested by pioneers like Amazon. It might look like the Amazon business model can't be applied to HCP marketing, but no matter the field, customers like to see that companies have paid attention to their personal stories.
  • Omnichannel marketing requires a prohibitive amount of new technology. A valid concern, but one that can be circumvented by partnering with firms like Watson Clark that have already built out the necessary stacks. This option is open to both pharma companies and larger advertising agencies.

How can I diversify my marketing strategy?

Omnichannel marketing requires access to artificial intelligence, next-level automations, and a massive database of customer information. The barrier to entry is high, so omnichannel marketing hasn’t yet fully penetrated the pharma market.

Working with a qualified firm can get you over many of the starting hurdles. If you’re convinced omnichannel is the right approach to market your treatment, get in touch with Watson Clark today.