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  • Episode 34: Greatest Hits: A Look Back on Five of the Best Pharma Launch Secrets Episodes

Greatest Hits: A Look Back on Five of the Best Pharma Launch Secrets Episodes

with Nirmal Vemanna, Peter Marchesini, Karen Batoosingh, AJ Triano, Brian Kaiser and Thomas Engstrom

  • The World of Customer Data Platforms (CDP)
  • The Digital Realm of Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing
  • The Ever-Evolving Landscape of Medical Affairs in the Digital Age
  • Customer Experience and Product Launch in the Pharmaceutical Industry 
  • All About KOLs and DOLs (Key Opinion Leaders and Digital Opinion Leaders)

In this special compilation episode, we will take you back to revisit some of the most enlightening conversations, innovative strategies, and motivating stories since our beginning with Nirmal Vemanna, Senior Product Manager of Pharma at Tealium; Peter Marchesini, Senior Vice President at Indegene; Karen Batoosingh, VP of Medical Communications Strategy and Execution at Anthill Agency; AJ Triano, EVP of Customer Experience Practice at Syneos; Brian Kaiser, Executive Vice President and Head of Strategy at Klick Health and Thomas Engstrom, Global Group Director of Influencer Marketing at Klick Health.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • [ 00:26 ] - Nirmal Vemanna takes us on a deep dive into the world of Customer Data Platforms (CDP).
  • [ 05:19 ] - Peter Marchesini explores the digital realm of pharmaceutical sales and marketing.
  • [ 10:08 ] - Karen Batoosingh ventures into the ever-evolving landscape of Medical Affairs in the digital age.
  • [ 15:50 ] - AJ Triano shifts the focus towards the rapidly changing realm of customer experience and product launch in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • [ 21:42 ] - Brian Kaiser and Thomas Engstrom round us out with their fascinating insights on KOLs and DOLs (Key Opinion Leaders and Digital Opinion Leaders).

If you want to learn more about leading a successful pharma marketing campaign in the US, tune in to this episode of Pharma Launch Secrets, a Podcast by Evermed.

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About the Podcast

Pharma Launch Secrets” is a podcast by Evermed and hosted by CEO Bozidar Jovicevic, where we host direct, actionable conversations with world-leading pharma launch experts and help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and strategies to help you launch your product successfully.

Episode Transcript

Host: Hello and welcome to a special episode of the Pharma Launch Secrets Podcast! Over the past year, we've had the privilege of exploring the fascinating world of pharma launches, engaging with some incredible guests, and learning from their insights. In this compilation episode we'll revisit some of the most insightful conversations, groundbreaking strategies, and inspiring stories since we launched. Let’s dive in. Up first is Nirmal Vemanna, Senior Product Manager of Pharma at Tealium. In this episode we embarked on a deep dive into the world of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs).

Nirmal: Well, the idea behind the CDP is to create and maintain a single comprehensive view of the customer and leverage this view to eliminate any gaps a customer may see in their customer journey and make the journey as seamless as possible. When we say gaps in the customer journey, what are we talking about? If you've ever received an email from, say, a merchant recommending a product that you already purchased at that same merchant's brick-and-mortar store, that's a gap. This gap could have been easily addressed by making the purchase information from the brick-and-mortar store available to all marketing channels, including the email marketing system. So having a CDP helps you address these gaps by making sure the right data is available on the right channel at the right time. So I would say some companies are doing a much better job than others. They're being more agile, being more nimble, while others are being risk averse. Not to mention, they have a fear of tech like CDP kind of co-opting their existing tech stack and we try to explain to them, “No, we're not trying to replace any of the best-in-breed tech you already have.” A CDP is supposed to really sit at the heart of it and then talk to all these systems so they don't have to talk to each other. Because for them to talk to each other in the way you want them to, that would take a lot of time. A CDP is really there to break down the barriers. So the companies that understand that are really able to unlock the value of the data investments they already have by putting the CDP on top of it. The ones who don't, they're still struggling, they want to, but I think they're still stuck in the old school mentality. So before I go on, funny you should mention them ignoring emails and feeling bombarded. That's where something, a technology like a CDP, can come into play. Rather than asking, "Hey, how often would you like to be contacted?" Right? If they specified their email address. By having a CDP in place, we can learn their behavior. If they're ignoring these emails, you said three emails a day. If they're not being opened, we can track that information. Correct. Based on the email open rate. So we're already learning, "Okay, we sent all these emails, they didn't open any of them. Maybe we should back off." So by having tech like CDP in place, we can analyze the data, understand, set up automatic rules to say, "Okay, if this person doesn't open emails, stop sending them emails. Maybe check in with them once a week or so rather than three times a day." So I just wanted to give you that example to add some context. But coming back to your question, yes, the first-party data, as I said, it's huge. At Tealium, my employer, we say first-party data is the connective tissue when it comes to understanding and engaging the target audience. Yeah, it just gives you insights that you couldn't get elsewhere. But obviously, that first-party data alone isn't going to be sufficient. So third-party, trusted third-party providers do play an important role. If you're talking examples, let's say first-party, you have to ask what questions are you trying to answer? Right? For example, what white papers are the HCPs downloading? What kind of product-related content are they most interested in? Are they interested in dosage info? Are they interested in side effects? What product-related videos are they watching? All of this, this is all like first-party data, essentially. It could be data setting in the CRM system. It could be data setting in the pharma company's master data management system. So these are all insights that the pharma company learned from their direct interaction with the HCP. If you're talking patient data, that could be prescription data from a pharmacy. It could be, and it's very necessary to measure script lift. If you're trying to measure the success of your ad campaigns, script lift is important to measure. And the only way you can do that is by using prescription data. And it could be data around product research done by HCPs across different endemic sites, like you mentioned WebMD, Medscape, and what have you. There is a huge network of those sites and any data coming from those sites is important. And they would become third-party data. Another example of third-party data would be professional affiliation data. Where does this HCP work? In what capacity? And their demographic information? What's their geography? What is their specialty? What's their title? Are they an MD? Are they a DO? Are they a PA? Things like that. And even marketing campaign impressions and metrics, companies are placing ads on third-party sites. But how are these ads doing? So campaign impressions and other metrics also are examples of third-party data, I would say. So essentially any data that helps pharma companies create a personalized experience for the HCPs or patients should be treated as a potential data source. And whether it's first-party or third-party, then it's coming up with the strategy to obtain, get your hands on the data.

Host: Next we have Peter Marchesini, Senior Vice President at Indegene. In this episode we embarked on a journey into the digital realm of pharmaceutical sales and marketing. Here’s a clip.

Peter: You can get your messaging to your customers in a lot of ways right now, and in an efficient way in places where they want to receive it. And you could reinforce that with the representative and allow them to go to offices and to physicians that want to see reps. And not all physicians are open to that. So access has changed a great deal in the last five years. Certainly with COVID that has impacted it. The ability to deliver quality, consistent, compliant messaging and other mechanisms has drastically ratcheted up. So, what I view as this combination of rep plus digital being the most effective ways, it will come to organizations having the intestinal fortitude to believe and to let the data and analytics drive the results and not their gut instincts that the representative isn't the only way of doing things. There are other ways of getting your messaging across to them. And most of those are very economical, very timely, and certainly allow for you to get to reach sooner and get to your frequency goal sooner. I think digital can help what I call territory warming. So it could warm up your territory, that is, at a level of understanding of your product. The rep could come in and deliver and answer those questions in a very dynamic way, and then you can follow up with information that may reinforce that messaging in a less expensive… So, we use math here. So if a rep costs you $250 to $300 a call, but you can get to them digitally for 20 bucks, the math is upside right for you. If you're warming them for $20, spending the $250 on the rep and then the 2 or 3 mind is better than a rep having to go back and do a service call with the delivery information. So the economics are always good that way. So that working together, digital on its own, reps on their own will have effect. Digital complementing what a rep or an MSL is doing will always be a, to your word, a force multiplier. Compared to a rep, a rep call equals one. Rep in an office delivering a message is equal to one. What we're able to measure is compared to that effect of that rep call in an office when we did these other tactics, what effect did it have on their prescribing habits with them? And then we give it a percentage 0.1, 0.2. probably nothing over a 0.5 in that, unless you have a really impactful, very well positioned webinar, something along those lines. But you're able to start doing math. You're able to say, "Alright, rep is equal to 1. We sent out an email, they clicked on a banner and they went to our website, that equals another call so that's 2. Then we send them another email, it's 2.1." So you could start doing some math to get to frequency with that. So it allows for you to figure out the right chain of events through data and analytics to say, "When we did this, this, and this, it had the greatest effect. And in this order, it had this effect on this type of physician with them.” So it's very data and analytics driven, the big buzzwords, machine learning and artificial intelligence are all involved in this. But what we want is that it shouldn't be “We have one plan”, we have many, many plans for many, many physicians based on their individual journey. I use the word that you're using, which it really is. Their journey with your brand is important, and we have to find out what's the right combination, and you have to have the right number of assets and the right types of assets, so when they come back in, they're seeing something new. It's not just you create five assets and you're done. This is an ongoing event for you to alter things and to make sure that they're getting new information every time they want to interact with your brand or with your organization. But yes, it's percentages of a call of the impact. And if it has no impact, then it's zero. It's all very measurable now, there's no mystery to this. We're not just doing these five tactics with them. It's well coordinated. There is a journey involved with this, and we're learning all the time. So the next time we come through, we know the right thing to do more than we did when we started all this. So that's the whole idea of omnichannel is that you're getting to these folks in multiple ways, in a way that they want to receive it. And then you're learning as your product goes through with your assets, what's resonating, what's not. And then you're smart enough to make adjustments in frequency, adjustments in content, and adjustments in how the rep is interacting with them as well. So I think it's a much more thoughtful approach than just throwing tactics at people.

Host: Karen Batoosingh, VP of Medical Communications Strategy and Execution at Anthill Agency is our next guest. In this episode we ventured into the ever-evolving landscape of Medical Affairs in the digital age.

Karen: I definitely still see content is king in many ways, but that's also because it's my field. But I definitely see the context as really the game, the game changer, right? So are you talking to a person face to face? You need to be able to listen, right? And show that you're listening and you're not just spitting out something you memorized, because that's not very engaging, is it? And if they're pulling on information, you need to understand what's the most digestible way for that doctor to receive that information? Is it an infographic? Is it going to be a sound bite? Is it going to be small insights shared in a bite-size way to fit into their busy schedule, that kind of thing. When Big Pharma talks about multichannel, they talk about emails, and they talk about webinars, and they talk about pushing, you know? Like you talked push and pull before. They talk about pushing out a lot and creating yes, repositories for content where doctors can pull it in a gated kind of way. But what about real dialogue? What about really opening up to an exchange? I'm sure there are probably some regulatory considerations around that, but that is what I think medical affairs should be doing. And that's where I think digital platforms and digital technology is allowing for that. More of a two way conversation or a small group conversation, an exchange in real time. And that's why I think that maybe Pharma doesn't see itself in there. And when they hire a digital person, they probably think... they probably give them a brief, you know? That it's just one way channels that you can measure engagement. This is where it becomes difficult because pharma doesn't really embrace change that quickly. They're usually slow to change. And especially if you're working in siloed parts of the organization. That's where it's actually better if medical affairs was to embrace it, then they could really go full on. Right? So this is where we get into terminology like modular content, right? And Activator and Viva and these different content platforms. And I think where those become really relevant is that they do allow you to work more efficiently. Because as you just said, we're talking about if you want to be customized, it just sounds absolutely impossible, right? It sounds like how in the world can you possibly do that? You couldn't have that kind of content sitting at your fingertips, ready to use. But if you actually embraced the modular content concept, where you have really small, almost like… Well, we're here in Denmark, so I'll call it like Lego, right? Like building blocks of communication. Where each discrete building block is evidence based, is cleared by MLR review and everything. But you can put it together to make a different conversation, right? A different story. It can be a story where a physician is more interested in safety, maybe than they are… Safety in a particular patient population, than they are in competitive efficacy or something like that. There could be many different avenues in which that could go down. And you could use modular content to be able to then construct what it is that physician needs to see in order to answer their questions. And that content can be created in advance, it can be done in those discrete pieces that are able to be mixed and matched to build a conversation that is much more customized to what the physician is asking about. It does require a very different way of looking at content, a different way of creating it, and a different way of also anticipating where the conversation can go. You can also use chatbot functionality here. Chatbot is actually not an open ended conversation in Pharma. It can very much be a conversation flow, right? Close ended. And at the end… So you can try to anticipate putting in front of the physician questions and or answers that are taking them at least 80% of the information they need. And then for that last 20%, you can offer to have a face to face exchange. Do you see what I mean?
You can build a closed loop universe of content and a chatbot conversation, for example, that really answers all the low hanging fruit in terms of questions. But when a physician really wants to go into something more detailed or something more specific or really understand something that maybe is even off label, to understand what the clinical data is behind that, then you can offer them a meeting with an MSL or a medical person. And so what you've done is you've created a situation, a funnel, if you will, using modular content under content built in a chatbot to actually make sure that that exchange, that face to face exchange with an MSL is much more productive. It's much more relevant. And it's actually, guess what? Driven by the Doctor, which is a much more welcoming engagement than having a cold call by an MSL. It's the Doctor who's saying, "Can I have a meeting with you? Can I have a virtual meeting with you? Can I meet you at a congress? Because I'm curious about this and it's not answered in the chatbot."

Host: Next we have AJ Triano, the EVP of Customer Experience Practice at Syneos. In this episode our focus was the ever-evolving landscape of customer experience and product launch in the pharmaceutical industry. Let’s hear from AJ.

AJ: But if we understand the expectations customers have of a good brand experience, full stop, today… That is a significant part of what you've got to do as a brand, no matter what, whether you're launching a pair of shoes or you're launching an injectable diabetes product, right? And that's because as consumers, whether the pharma marketer likes it or not, as consumers, our expectations for what a great brand experience looks like is being set every single day by every other brand we interact with. And many of our experiences have been set at a pretty high bar for what good brand interaction looks like by companies like Amazon and Apple and Disney. That has a real implication. The reality is that media and other non personal promotion tactics are going to increasingly become very important to use to prepare your audience for the more expensive channels like your salesforce. And because today we have very good targeting capabilities, we can actually create a one-to-one experience through things like programmatic media buying, so that you get cost efficient ways to reach very explicitly targeted audiences in a one-to-one way that actually progresses people along the marketing funnel, or along an omnichannel journey. So media is going to, in that broad sense, continue to play a very, very important role of a coordinated component, not just a target and blast, where we're progressing people through. We're seeing this inflection point in the industry right now where the idea of do I understand enough about who I'm trying to reach? Do I have enough data? Do I have enough market research? Do I know enough to do something? There is a pivot right now between the idea of recognizing what is needed to drive a true Omnichannel experience, which is underpinned by data and customer experience principles. True Omnichannel execution is those two things. So we've seen the industry rush in the last five to ten years to the idea of Omnichannel. And then about five years ago, we started seeing some early leads on doing Next Best Action work and pilots. And then comes COVID. And now marketers are forced to embrace the Martech Stack because they can't be in front of their HCPs, right? And if that's the case, and because of context, they're having to just take their existing campaigns in COVID, chop them up into modules, so to speak, and shove them into Martech and execute. The upshot is that we're finally using these very expensive technologies that clients have been paying for for a very long time for their full intent, which is great. The opportunity to get trapped is to bring along to that Omnichannel execution intention the expectations of what it means to know enough about your customer from multichannel world. And what I mean by that is, if you think about the level of research we would do in a multichannel environment, it's… Well, what are the channels? How do I know which channel is appropriate to this particular audience? But then it comes down to saying consistently the same things in all those channels to that audience, right? Whereas customer experience and the promise of Omnichannel means you can be more explicit to the individual at scale. And in that respect, just what we know enough from an Omnichannel market research, it's typical market research, channel preference. That doesn't get you what you need to know to excel an Omnichannel, because that level of research, the traditional classic market research, looks at the general audience. It generalizes everybody to the top line takeaways, and it gets rid of the one-offs and the more interesting opportunities to tailor. It doesn't understand in the key moments that matter the most what's happening for each of those customer types, because it stays general. And as a result, it doesn't allow you to know what type of content is right to serve to which person or person type at what time using your Omnichannel stack. So there's a little bit of paternalism still built into our industry where… And we're all victim to it. We all do it. If I'm pressed by time or pressed by budget, it's really easy to say, you know what, "I did my basic market research, I know enough." Or the end of one conversation trap, "Well, I saw my sales lead in the hallway and he told me about how his regional market lead had a good conversation with a doctor who said their patient had." That's a lot of degrees of separation. And those are great directional cues. They're very important to lean into and look at, but they don't actually serve as the voice of the customer that would help know what is the value proposition of your brand for each of those customer types in those two or three major key moments that matter the most, so that you can show up and actually move the needle. Without that, you're forced to stay at this sort of higher altitude, one size fits all, no matter how much you modularize your content. So that is, I think, a key lesson in the last two years that I would offer to anybody that's about to launch a brand right now is don't fall into that fabric of paternalism thinking, you know enough from basic market research. There's always a way to get a little bit of voice of customer, even if it's fast and furious and on the cheap, in order to inform a little bit of more nuanced direction for launch and you can always iterate on that once you do launch, to progressively build out a more tailored experience, because you don't have to have the whole thing ticked and tight and perfect at launch, right? It is iterative.

Host: Finally, we have two remarkable experts from Klick Health: Brian Kaiser, Executive Vice President and Head of Strategy, and Thomas Engstrom, Global Group Director of Influencer Marketing. Their insights on KOLs and DOLs (Key Opinion Leaders & Digital Opinion Leaders) were fascinating, and well worth a revisit.

Brian: The fact that these digital opinion leaders had these platforms that were growing organically, it just hit pedal… The accelerator pedal got pushed down to the floor in terms of ways in which those platforms could be leveraged to help launch brands communicate with a more digital savvy population. [[Remove this sentence - So effectively, the overlap in that Venn Diagram I mentioned earlier started to expand.]] And so you're starting to see Digital Opinion Leaders become and develop into Key Opinion Leaders. Key Opinion Leaders being those traditionally credible sources. And that overlap, while it may have been minimal at the outset of COVID has certainly started, that overlap has started to expand dramatically.

Thomas: I think influencer marketing, no matter what we're talking about, whether it's HCPs or consumers, it is a very robust process that we encourage our clients to really have close working relationships with their agencies who are executing it with their own MLR teams to really understand what is influencer marketing, what are these individuals doing, and how are they speaking to our product or brand? And then continue kind of that line of sight throughout the whole process. We'll go through initial content creation, the brands and clients will review that content, giving any kind of feedback or adjustments, depending on regulatory concerns. At the end of the day, our number one goal is to make sure that clients are remaining compliant and that anyone that we work with from an influencer capacity is also compliant as well.

Brian: I did not grow up with TikTok at my disposal. I'm coming in looking at this, curious to see how this is going to impact our clients. And one of the things that opened my eyes is the level of rigor and the process involved. People think, Oh, I'm just finding an influencer. And it magically comes together very quickly and without a lot of pre-planning. I think Thomas can walk you through the degree of discipline and rigor that goes into the selection, the contracting, the compliance, everything that goes into activating an influencer program. I think it’s necessary in the healthcare space, but also I think it’s really eye opening to some of the secrets to making influencer marketing actually work for you.

Thomas: Yeah, I'll say, I think, again, we have this term influencer and it is a buzzword. A lot of people see it as a bright, shiny object and they're like, "Oh, I want to do that." And I think that's really amazing. We as marketers get really excited about that because we think it is the future of kind of connecting with peers and consumers. But I think before we dive into that, we really want to take a step back and really understand what our goals are. Why are we looking at activating some of these individuals and what is the purpose? Is it just kind of general awareness? Are we really trying to dig in deep to some more kind of nuanced conversations and having that kind of foundation in terms of, okay, what is the goal? What are we trying to get out of this? That, to Brian's point, has implications on so many steps as we kind of get into the nuts and bolts of this process. So again, really having an understanding of what the goal is, who the target audiences are. And then as we dive into kind of finding these creators, like you mentioned before, there are so many platforms, agencies out there that have access to so many individuals and really understanding who they are as a person, ensuring that they are aligned with the brand, the conversation, the topics. But even more in-depth, understanding who they're speaking to. Understand if it is HCP to HCP, who those people are, where they're located. I think, again, when it comes to influencer marketing, we want to make sure that, yes, the individuals we're working with are aligned with us as a brand and messaging, but almost more importantly, the people that they're communicating with on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, are also within that same cohort. Because at the end of the day, they're on these platforms to have conversations and again, influence other individuals. So it is a really complex process. Again, I think influence marketing people are like, "Yeah, let's do it." And they forget contracting, negotiations, really making sure that pay is fair market value, and that we really are robust in terms of how we're setting up these programs. And when it comes to execution, it's really diving in deep with these individuals to help them understand, again, what we're doing, what we're looking for them to do, whether it is creation of social content, or leveraging them on other platforms or channels as well.

Host: Sadly, that’s all we have time for today. I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the excellent guests we’ve had on the show over the past year, and to all our listeners for your continued support. See you next time!

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