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Consulting | Insights and optimisation

Q&A: Pharma – maximise commercial impact with brand optimisation

4 Sep 2023 | By Senior Leadership Team
Pharma can capitalise on the remainder of the year and prep for 2024 by deploying innovative brand tactics now. Mark Ward and Nick Bartlett discuss how.

Hi both. Before we get started, just introduce yourselves to our readers. 

Mark: As Head of Client Solutions, I work with UK and European pharma and healthcare clients to develop and deploy solutions across our brand fostering capabilities, utilising our optimisation and personalised engagement expertise to address brand and company challenges. 

Nick: I’m Nick, Head of Consulting, and I’m a specialist in digital health, data performance and customer experience, leading the very talented team of next generation analysts. 

As 2023 draws to a close, is it too late for pharma companies to make an impact? 

Nick: Typically, at this point in the year, the previous year’s plans are a distant memory, and the achievements and measures of success are there in black and white for us to see. 

Mark: Exactly. And brand plans for next year are, in many cases, finalised and approved. But with that focus on 2024, let’s not forget this year. There is still 25% of the calendar year in front of us – every Friday there’s still 20% of our working week left. There’s still time to make a difference. 

We’re heading towards the final 100 days fast. When we are recruiting new talent, we often ask our people what impact they’ll make in their first 100 days. We expect them to really achieve in that time, so this timeframe has become the clincher. 

Nick: We need to maximise those 100 days, optimise our brands, our portfolios, and our performance, and further help to ensure that those first 100 days of next year are fruitful and rich, too. There is plenty of time. 

What can pharma do to ensure it maximise its commercial impact? 

Nick: It’s time to reconcile activities and achievements to date, review plans and performance. This will help to identify any wins for 2023 and ensure 2024’s plans aren’t filled with strategies and activities that haven’t worked this year. 

With a whole quarter left, there are three factors to focus on to optimise a brand’s commercial potential. 

Brand commercialisation needs to be flexible and agile to the world around it. 

Mark Ward

Can significant changes to BD strategy be made in Q4? 

Mark: It’s never too late, the data doesn’t lie. We’re all swimming in insights and numbers, but too often brand teams don’t get the time to understand that the data is showing them things that they didn’t know this time last year. 

We’re fixated on the final numbers but there are always indicators to the opportunity for short-term, improved performance: you just need to know how and where to look. 

Nick: Agreed, it’s not too late to make a change. Here’s a great example. Recently we saw two webinars added to a client’s 2023 calendar. Budget became available, a data sprint demonstrated where to spend it, and when it went live one event hit 400+ registered delegates within 48 hours

With a conversion rate of over 60% versus the industry average of 35%, plus data showing that 48% of attendees would be more likely to prescribe following an event, this demonstrates the power of the approach. Our data sprint enabled the pivot to change direction and focus on optimisation. 

What are these three key factors to optimising pharma brands? 

Nick: It’s simple: close, plan, and deploy. 

Mark: That’s right. Factor one – close off 2023 well. Too many brands just leave the engine ticking over. Q4 is the NHS’s busiest time. Access is difficult, patient support services are under pressure and we all know this intensifies during the winter. It’s time to dial up the elements that have proven themselves so far this year and make some quick decisions on those that haven’t. 

Next, must be to plan for the real world in 2024. Completing a template and making sure you tick all the boxes is one thing, but if 2021 taught us anything it’s that brand commercialisation needs to be flexible and agile to the world around it. 

Nick: We’re closing 2023 and planning for 2024 – what can we do now, then, to effect change on both periods? 

Mark: Well factor three is ‘deploy’, and here are my tips to deploy well in Q4. 

  • You need a single defined target, 
  • You must have access to budget – we all have some, 
  • You need decision-makers onboard, 
  • Make sure you nail compliance, 
  • Consider repurposing assets for new channels, and 
  • Activate your partners.

It’s time to dial up the elements that have proven themselves so far this year and make some quick decisions on those that haven’t. 

Mark Ward

This is great but put it into context for pharma. Give us some examples. 

Mark: Sure. A recent client had an upcoming Q4 product launch needing an HCP-facing website live ahead of the brand launch at conference. Our teams designed, built and delivered this site to the HCP community within six weeks. 

This allowed the client to engage about the brand at the event and capture consent for ongoing promotional communications afterwards. 

Another client was made aware of time-critical marketing information about a product at short notice and needed to get communicate this information fast. Our digital team created a branded mailer in less than 24 hours, marketed it to our consented database of around 12,500 HCPs, and the client quickly saw a spike in both weekly and monthly sales. 

Nick: We’re in a great position that we know which tactics to dial up or down and have learnt to prepare for those known unknowns. And this benefits our clients. With a strategic review, you can be confident that you understand your environment and are executing on the possible. 

What about agile resources? 

Mark: Agility pays dividends. When it comes to customer-facing teams, we have supported clients to add short-term and hotspot resource, bringing in available specialists to add real value, as well as strong networks and positive access making an impact to grow the client brand. 

Nick: Agility is critical now, it’s time to jump in and execute or realign budget to things that make success happen. 

Make those quick decisions, based on insight, that can ensure you can end 2023 in great shape, demonstrate flexibility in your approach, and not be afraid to admit that not everything you thought or expected became a reality.… 

What are the key takeaways for pharma? 

Mark: There is still time to close 2023 with impact while planning for 2024. You can kick the sales line and align your strategy with the reality to switch up your tactics. And you might uncover some gold for 2024, too. 

Nick: Absolutely. It’s not too late to engage your HCPs, boost your consented data, and deploy immediate talent for maximum return. 

Watch the Pf Media and Uniphar brand optimisation webinar on demand. 

Connect with Mark Ward on LinkedIn 

Connect with Nick Bartlett on LinkedIn