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4 rules for building agility into your healthcare marketing ecosystem

This blog post has been contributed by John Lawrence, VP Global Consulting, SGK. 

In a recent Pharma IQ survey to assess the future state of packaging, labeling, and supply chain efficiency, 49% of supply chain marketing professionals identified workflow efficiency and speed-to-market as key areas of improvement in their processes. Another 37% of respondents linked their biggest challenge of getting products to market quickly with overcoming regulatory and legal challenges. 

What is the cost of an inefficient marketing ecosystem? 

Specifically, in highly regulated industries such as pharma and life sciences, delays can have significant implications on long-term success, especially when considering that companies that deliver products to market fastest are most likely to win with consumers.

With this in mind, workflow process efficiencies, quality and compliance, innovation, global brand consistency, and accuracy can all be growth drivers. And it could be a costly mistake to ignore these growth drivers in the current environment. 

So how can you avoid costly risks and delays? 

        1. Rethink your patient journey and content strategy.

As patient communities are becoming more invested and proactive in their own health decisions and wellbeing, healthcare and pharma companies are no longer just selling to businesses, clinicians, and healthcare providers. They must also sell directly to patients. 

This means shifting your marketing approach from what was previously product-led communications to patient-led communications. Building patient-centric brand experiences will help to educate these communities on your products, often in advance of treatments whilst simultaneously establishing your brand. Doing so requires understanding human connection and demonstrating empathy, requiring marketers to rethink the patient journey when building content. 

Essentially, we need to understand the journey to enable us to: 

        - Identify top goals

        - Find opportunities to connect

        - Account for each audience

        - Create content that resonates

Once you have a better understanding of your users’ journey, you can define a patient-centric content strategy—one that integrates business, brand, clinical, and patient experiences. 

        2. Build a collaborative digital network.

Healthcare organizations are likely to have a number of different technology systems that store content data. These systems, which likely have been purchased over time, in isolation, by different groups for various reasons, don’t always fit together or “talk” to each other in ways that are useful or efficient. 

The complexity of the healthcare content ecosystem is magnified when you consider the hundreds or maybe thousands of stakeholders across the world. These groups may comprise everyone from manufacturing to marketing to finance to labelers to regulatory functions, and each group has their own needs and sometimes competing objectives.  

An audit of your content systems can help develop the roadmap for building a collaborative digital network, one where these systems—and by extension, your stakeholders—can work together seamlessly. When auditing and integrating these siloed systems, you will better understand the data architecture and gain the transparency, speed, and quality needed to build agility. 

        3. Streamline your ways of working.

Approvals are an important step in the content process because they help mitigate risk. However, an overengineered approval process results in multiple checkpoints across numerous departments. This can be time consuming and can grind even the most efficient processes to a halt whilst encouraging bad behaviors amongst stakeholders. 

Especially now when marketers must move quickly to respond to changes in the marketplace, digital transformation and channel interactions with your end users are becoming more and more important. An overly laborious approval process compromises your agility and hampers your ability to respond quickly as market conditions shift. By implementing more agile ways of working and decision making, you will optimize your marketing ecosystem and build greater opportunities for success through speeding your time to market. 

         4. Establish an effective change management plan.

Effective change management has an important part to play in building agility into your marketing ecosystem.  As you look to change processes, systems, and ways of working, you must win the hearts and minds of your teams as they will be directly impacted. Change is a journey for everyone, and fundamentally, individual change equals organizational change. 

Achieving true transformation of your processes requires an equal focus on project management and people management. Your teams must want to change the way they work, so it’s not enough to just say a change is happening. It is crucial for companies to recognize the importance of engaging employees at every level, across every function, building their desire for the change, and investing in building their individual capabilities. 

Take action. Move fast. Remove barriers. Test and learn. 

If you take a holistic look at your marketing ecosystem, achieving agility and driving speed is well within the grasp of any organization in the pharma sector. 

When facing the challenges of this pandemic, an agile marketing ecosystem will accelerate releasing products market and build marketing resiliency.  In fact, building agility will help you to respond nimbly to any form of disruption—both now and in the future. 

About John Lawrence: John brings 17+ years of experience in brand marketing--both agency and brand side. Operating as a consultant for global, regional, and national organizations, he drives continuous improvement projects from consultancy through to implementation across channels. As a member of the SGK Consulting Team, John has strategically led initiatives for some of the world’s most prominent brand owners to increase their speed-to-market, reduce costs in the marketing supply chain, and better utilize their internal and external resources.

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