The next-lowest piece of fruit for healthcare marketers is the much-discussed but often overlooked “multichannel” marketing (MCM) approach. Recently, Eye for Pharma put up a report on MCM and provided a sneak peak on some of the issues tackled in it.
Previously when looking for “multichannel” information we’ve run across studies, typically sponsored by digital marketing vendors, that essentially took the approach that email-to-website or social-to-website constituted a multichannel approach. This isn’t how actual marketers look at MCM, however. Marketers take the target consumer’s view of MCM and know that it is all of the “real-world” media (TV, radio, print, out of home) and the integration of those channels to one another and to the myriad digital channels (DA, SEM, social, email, websites, etc.).
This isn’t a new imperative, healthcare marketers have been talking MCM for years, but even now things break down. Just recently someone came to me to take a look for social mentions of a brand to see if we could detect when the TV ad campaign started. My first questions were:
- What hashtag was on the ad?
- Where did it tell the user to go for more information?
- Was there any digital media in field at the same time?
The response was unfortunately too common in healthcare marketing:
- No hashtag
- The doctor and nowhere else
- Unsure, there was no coordination
It turns out we didn’t even know the TV ad was going live until after it was in market and someone at the client wanted to check social chatter. When marketers operate piecemeal and keep their different vendors in the dark about activities the opportunities for MCM are all but eliminated. No wonder that Accenture found that “83% of pharma sales and marketing executives intend to increase digital and multichannel interactions.”
When Eye for Pharma created their study they worked with 10 major pharmaceutical manufacturers and found some evidence of a skills issue in the marketing departments. This wasn’t as telling as the business priorities under which the marketers were operating, however:
When reduced costs are your number one focus, you can end up making decisions that cause downstream issues without meaning to. The next two priorities make sense from an MCM perspective, however. The key here is that focusing only on digital won’t get a firm to true MCM–all of the media vendors need to be in the room during planning so that MCM can be baked in right from the beginning.
When asked what the challenges to MCM were, marketers highlighted some themes we hear a lot:
Based on the challenges, you can almost hear the conversation between the marketers and the senior management, including the CMO:
Marketer: We’ve been getting up to speed and we need to try some tighter integration in our media for true multichannel marketing so our customers have a consistent view of us.
CMO: Go for it, why are you talking to me?
Marketer: It will cost more so we need to boost our budgets a bit.
CMO: Why will it cost more to slap a URL on the TV ad?
Marketer: It’s a bit more involved than that.
CMO: Well, come back when you can show me that you’ll get 2x or higher ROI on the extra funds you want to use.
So, step one is to bake MCM in at the planning stage. Hopefully in 2014 planning for 2015 activities we’ll see higher levels of integration. All it takes is some openness between the client and all the vendors. Contact us to get the Klick take on how different vendors can learn to cooperate and make MCM a reality.