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Nexxus Blog

Managing the Marketing Gap

22 Jul 2015

Marketing in every industry is undergoing a radical transformation, with technology, data, and new skills and processes enabling customer-driven interactions, automated cross-channel campaign management, and rapid feedback loops. The speed and extent of this change has created a gap between what is currently possible in customer-centric marketing and the readiness of many Life Sciences brands to make full use of those capabilities.

The Imperative for Change for Life Sciences Marketers

The pressure on Life Sciences marketers has never been greater. In place of one or two trusted information sources, customers may now consult hundreds. Both physicians and patients are more self-directed and discriminating. In addition to changing customer dynamics, marketers also face greater financial pressure to demonstrate performance, a more conservative regulatory environment, and significant political uncertainty. In short, marketers are being asked to do more with less money, in an environment of greater complexity.

This is also a time of phenomenal opportunity for Life Sciences marketers. There is more data available to help them identify needs, design relevant customer interactions, and sequence activities for maximum effect. They have flexible technology tools to enable the marketing process – tools that can radically improve marketers’ view into all of their marketing efforts and provide the means to both optimize their tactics and communicate real value to management. And there is an opportunity for professional growth and learning that is unparalleled in the last 20 years of our industry.

Other industries have been on this journey for a long time—and some of the results have been impressive. A 2003 Harvard Business Review case study titled Optimal Marketing describes how Samsung transformed its marketing approach to be insight-driven, fact-based and organized around data. The results were game-changing for the company. In the decade following the article’s publication:

- Samsung went from a mostly unknown OEM supplier of electronics to one of the world’s best known, fastest growing companies.

- According to a study by Interbrand, Samsung’s brand value grew 30 percent in a single year while Sony’s decreased 7 percent. It gained widespread name recognition and became the other major player (in addition to Apple) in the smart phone and tablet markets.

- Revenue increased 25 percent year-over-year and net income more than doubled.

- Samsung’s stock price increased more than 7 times while Sony’s declined by more than half.

What does the change look like?

To address market changes, marketing is evolving to be more customer-centric, integrated across channels, and insight-driven to deliver measurable performance. For Life Sciences organizations, this means the sophistication of their marketing capabilities must increase for them to remain competitive. The steps along this journey involve first bringing together all relevant customer information, then integrating channels to shape the customer experience, and finally learning to leverage data to achieve optimal and demonstrable performance.

Life Sciences marketers who lag in this journey face significant risks to their brands, while those who embrace it have a tremendous opportunity to increase their impact, grow their skills, and outperform their competition.

The three-step process to create your change plan

The change that Life Sciences marketers must help their companies undergo requires three steps:

1. Take stock of your current approach to marketing

Before you can create a roadmap for the future, you first have to know where you are now. The IMS Health whitepaper Managing the Marketing Gap contains a Marketing Maturity Diagnostic to help you establish a baseline for your marketing approach across four categories: Customer Information & Segmentation; Customer Experience; Marketing Analytics; and Marketing Technology. After you complete the Diagnostic, your total score will serve as a baseline to help you determine gaps, develop action plans, and track progress.

2. Assess the gap between your current marketing status and your desired market situation

Your total score for each brand indicates your current position on the Marketing Maturity Curve (Figure 1). There are four stages along the Curve, ranging from tactic-driven to insight-driven (or informed) marketing. This assessment can help you identify opportunities for growth in your marketing capabilities, especially in light of what is possible with new technology and other advances. In looking at these scores, however, keep in mind that the most advanced stage is not necessarily the best choice for each brand. Your market situation is really the key factor for determining the right fit.

Figure 1: Marketing Maturity Curve

3. Establish an action plan to close the gap and move rapidly up the Marketing Maturity Curve

Three interconnected components are essential for achieving insight-driven marketing: skills for working with data, new operational processes, and marketing technology. None of these components will be fully effective without the others in place.

The evolving commercial model for Life Sciences must be enabled by new marketing technology, operational processes, and skills in the strategic use of information assets. Business pressures demand that Life Sciences marketers rapidly increase the sophistication of their marketing efforts, which will require capabilities that in many cases are not yet in place within the industry.

Marketers, along with the commercial operations and analytics teams that enable them, have an opportunity to lead this transformation, one that can radically change how they meet the needs of their customers while ensuring strong performance and showing management that they are good stewards of their marketing budgets.