Want Customer-Centric Marketing? Start by Integrating Sales and Marketing


Pete Mehr, Ph.D., Principal


The gap between where pharmaceutical companies are and how they're trying to engage customers and what customers want, that gap is starting to get bigger and bigger.

Customers now have an opportunity to get information when they want, how they want, so they can customize the content and receive it when they want to drive their patient decisions. Now, that's a significant change for pharmaceutical companies.

So now you had sales force, direct-to-consumer advertising and a whole host of other marketing channels, all developed independently—so what started to happen is, as more and more money was put into those channels, physicians were getting peppered with all kinds of messages in an uncoordinated way, [and] customers are saying, “That's too much, you're spamming me. It's too much contact, too much information.” And what they're demanding now is more of an integrated approach.

So pharma now has an opportunity to take these channels, these individual channels that they've developed, and to start to integrate them—sales and marketing—to deliver an integrated customer experience.

What is the biggest challenge in integrating sales and marketing?

One area of focus is developing the specific capabilities to do it. So think of technology solutions, think of analytics. When you're starting to design integrated campaigns, then you need different data. Data has to connect across tactics at the customer level. The way you would analyze that data is different, the way you design promotion campaigns is different.

Pharmaceutical companies have grown up really fine-tuning and enhancing and optimizing individual promotion channels. Structures in these companies [are that] you have people in charge of channels, people in charge of tactics.

Now, to do it from a customer-centric way requires different changes in processes, different changes in organization structure, [and] different changes in how to go about doing things, including supporting agencies. That change in the culture and the process, that change is much more difficult.

What have been the approaches to implementing customer-centric marketing—and what have been the results?

There are the three general approaches that companies take. The first approach is a pilot approach. And in this approach, what companies are doing is saying, “We've developed some capabilities, we think we have some idea of how this is going to unfold, but we want to do it on a small scale. We want to implement on a small scale.”

The second approach is a roadmap approach. And for companies who take this approach, what they're really thinking about is they want to do customer-centric marketing but they're really not sure what all of the steps are needed to achieve that objective. The roadmap approach will tell them that.

The third approach is what we call the Big Bang approach. In this approach, companies are all in. They've invested in some capabilities, their mindset is that they're going in this direction, and they want to get there fast. So what they do is they launch customer-centric marketing on a big scale and then scale it up even bigger.

The level of engagement on the customer-centric campaign is significantly higher. We're seeing things around 60%, 65% for engagement on customer-centric marketing campaigns, relative to 10% on traditional campaigns.

From an ROI perspective, the initial customer-centric marketing campaigns deliver usually at least a 2 to 1 advantage over traditional. And then that gap expands and enhances and gets bigger as more and more customer information is learned and used to design promotion campaigns.