Oftentimes in pharma, developing and then executing on a strategic brand goal is like playing a game of telephone: The message gets interpreted—or misinterpreted—by several different teams or vendors all acting independently of each other. The result? An effort that’s disjointed and inefficient, and oftentimes misaligned with the initial strategic objective—in effect, a botched message.


With brand strategy being interpreted and executed on in silos—or left out of certain teams’ processes altogether—customer engagement suffers. Engagement tactics get passed from one part of the organization to the next without anyone looking holistically at the customer engagement process or taking customer preferences into account. In fact, 55% of healthcare professionals report receiving pharma outreach efforts that fall outside of their preferred methods of communication, according to ZS’s 2018 AffinityMonitor research. Moreover, recent ZS research on point-of-care marketing shows that 51% of patients find that the content served up to them in a doctor’s office is irrelevant for their condition, and only 16% said that in-office messages were relevant and led them to take action.


We can do better. Many pharma organizations are starting to use new operating models that aim to break down organizational silos, creating hybrid teams that work together to streamline processes and ensure that each step in the customer engagement process is well-thought-out and clearly linked to brand strategy. And these companies are only scratching the surface of what’s possible. An operating model that links a company’s strategic objectives to its engagement plans—and that’s supported by technology—could lead to improved patient outcomes and opportunities for innovation.


However, these new operating models aren’t built overnight. Here’s how companies can get started:


1. Reach across department boundaries. Breaking down silos starts with over-communication. Oftentimes, leaders exclude certain people or groups from key brand meetings to avoid issues with internal politics, but the complexity of today’s customer engagement efforts requires a more holistic, all-hands-on-deck approach.


2. Streamline and automate. With engagement tactics often being handed off from one department to another, look for ways to streamline and even automate certain activities—such as automatically generating ad codes or metadata for your content pieces—which could reduce manual effort and lead to fewer miscommunications.


3. Don’t lose sight of customer needs. As companies define KPIs, deliver reports and generate insights, they need to maintain visibility into the broader, brand-level strategic objectives. Ensuring that each step in the customer engagement process—from planning to execution—ties back to these overarching objectives and customer need is key to continued success.


Realizing brand strategies starts with one individual having a broader vision for integrating the process within the organization. From there, companies can start putting the right structures and tools in place to be more thoughtful of who they’re engaging, and how and when to best engage them. An integrated, holistic approach will ensure that each customer interaction will become increasingly more seamless, relevant and meaningful, and lead to the most important metric of all: improved patient outcomes.