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Why your multichannel strategy isn't delivering results

Guest Blogger | 17th October 2013

Spending on digital marketingThis post was written for Blue Latitude Health by Marketing Consultant and Pitch Coach Mark Walmsley.

Pharma are investing in developing multichannel strategies now more than ever before. The hope is to better engage with different healthcare stakeholders, and ultimately improve sales. However, companies are finding that their strategies don’t deliver the results promised by this new approach to customer engagement.

From our experience, there are three reasons that stand out as to why multichannel strategies fail. By taking a closer look at these three challenges, you can find out how to avoid them, so that you are better able to deliver value and return on investment to your organisation.

Lack of customer-centricity

‘Customer-centricity is the key to success for pharma’ – this is the mantra we’ve heard at conferences and amongst marketers over the past few years. However, this doesn’t seem to happen in practice. A common mistake during the development of a multichannel strategy is for marketers to envelope their business need in a wrapper of a customer need, deluding themselves into thinking that this is what is meant by ‘customer-centricity’. This behaviour creates distance from the customer and tends to shift the focus to business objectives instead of those of your customer.

Ultimately, your multichannel strategy should be customer-centric if it is to be successful. By giving customers what they need, you’ll achieve better engagement. To ensure you don’t lose focus on the customer, undertake customer research to uncover these needs, and then map out your customer journeys. This will help you to understand contextual needs, and allow you to really think from the customer’s perspective, at each stage of their journey.

Working in silos

Your internal teams are your invisible customers, who play a crucial role in the delivery of an effective multichannel strategy. We often see that within pharma companies, core multichannel functions, like Marketing, Medical, Sales, and Business Technology, are working within silos. This lack of cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing is part of the reason why multichannel strategies fail.

A more cohesive way of working is required in order to deliver your strategy more effectively. By bringing together a cross-functional team, problems are likely to be identified earlier in the strategy development process, rather than becoming a stumbling block at implementation. This team can then work towards creating a robust multichannel strategy and plans that benefit from expertise from multiple functions and shared understanding of potential barriers to success. Putting in processes for various functions to regularly communicate with each other and share best practice is the key to reducing cost burdens and getting rid of inefficient practices that sap resources and dilute your deliverables.

Senior leadership buy-in

Commitment from senior leadership is needed to set your multichannel strategy off on the right course and secure long-term investment. Without it, you may not be able to invest in developing multichannel understanding and capability through training, and ensure you can build the infrastructure needed to support multichannel activities. Senior management must believe in your multichannel vision, and understand the value it will bring to your organisation.

This can be achieved by:

  • Outlining the multichannel journey, key milestones and the investment needed to deliver your long-term strategy
  • Keeping them regularly updated with the progress of your project, from strategy through to implementation
  • Sharing case studies of what’s worked and what hasn’t inside and outside of the industry
  • Testing your approach and then demonstrating the results.

Becoming more customer-centric, creating more cross-functional collaboration, and securing senior leadership buy-in are just three ways you can start saving your multichannel strategy from failure.

Find out more about our work in multichannel strategy and planning below.

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