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Building a persona is key to engagement in pharma marketing, study suggests


By Laurie Fullerton, Freelance Writer

May 13, 2016 | 3 min read

In the pharmaceutical industry, the current practice of engagement is fragmented as pharma marketing has long followed a “push” model, focusing most on the decision makers to take action. Marketers in this industry are not equipped with a deeper understanding of the customer's full life context or needs, constraints or desires in the same way that consumer marketers are and therefore struggle to reach their target.

pharmaceutical marketing

A recent study suggests that pharma marketers face a complex situation because of demands that are often tied to regulated and stringent message approval. Pharma marketers are conditioned to tread carefully with measured responses. The study suggest that an engagement strategy must prioritize patient health while also being agile and responsive to its approach.

pharmaceutical marketing

Marketers can consider using appropriate channels and relevant content for sparking discourse and developing relationships as a patient progress through treatment as an example. Although it is not feasible to develop targeting opportunities for each individual patient, micro-segmentation and targeting by developing personas is key.

The study suggests that developing personas can clarify for the pharma marketers what problems they are solving and for whom. Serving a persona is about providing a solution where you know one is needed, so to segment, target and solve as a marketing strategy shows an intention to serve rather than convince the customer.

The study states that pharma marketers must break down the challenges and influences a person faces. One area is to include the right content where patients and physicians alike seek relevant information via the right channel, format and frequency of interaction, consistency and cadence and finally access. Once marketers understand the problem faced by a patient, they can design a solution to it. Because content marketing can be hugely beneficial in pharma marketing, building a common message that overcomes specific challenges like compliance, patient confidentiality, data restraints, and government regulation needs both a strong digital marketing team and being fully onboard with regulatory compliance. Finding a regulator who can turnaround content and cut approval times from a month to days is a huge advantage.

Although pharma companies tend to simply track commercial outcomes, like doctor discussions or download of online patient guidelines, the digital era where engagement is key means that by developing personas to understand behaviors, needs, motivations and emotions of patients and healthcare providers, pharma brands can ultimately reach the buyer persona on a more personal level, the study suggests.

The same study, released by Google, McKinsey & Co and the Wharton School of Pennsylvania, found that nearly two thirds of consumers surveyed (59 per cent) expected the same level of service from their health provider that they receive from major retail companies such as Amazon.

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