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Life sciences companies are always looking for ways to enhance their Healthcare Provider (HCP) engagement and optimize their investments in digital channels. Some medical marketing teams have progressed beyond multichannel engagement, where the same marketing messages are distributed across various platforms, to omnichannel engagement, which involves providing tailored content for different channels and aligning it to the defined HCP journey. This approach can help to improve the HCP experience and increase prescriptions. As a result, many pharma companies are either already investing in or considering investing in omnichannel engagement.

Recently, marketing teams have been utilizing digital channels to creatively animate clinical data with dynamic graphics, showcase patient stories through emotional videos, and receive real-time feedback from healthcare professionals via online portals. However, as we strive for omnichannel engagement to enhance sales performance, it is apparent that there is so much room for improvement in matching content to the appropriate channel. Consider two approaches to content channel optimization:

Content-Centric Approach: Categorizing content and selecting digital channels that best communicate your message

This approach of course assumes you have done your homework and developed rich content based on insights from patient and HCP-centric market research. If you have not, well, that is another topic (#brandstrategy)! So, you classify your amazing content and then move onto channel selection. This is a logical activity to increase the engagement opportunities of your clinical study presentations, patient stories, emotive vignettes, care journeys, etc. But in my observation, selecting a channel that best enhances the content is not always conducive to considering HCP needs. Recently, I visited an HCP who had printed an A4-sized screenshot of a treatment protocol graphic from a Pharma portal, laminated it, and hung it near her desk. The graphic was so helpful to the point where the HCP wanted to refer to it often, but it was buried in a presentation online and difficult to access. It is great to see such initiative on her part, but clearly the channel choice is far from ideal.

Channel-Centric Approach: Selecting digital channels according to their rich features and developing content

This approach is particularly tempting when marketing teams have invested in a new channel as part of a buzzworthy digital initiative. The digital channel can and often does help your company to stand out among the competition in the eyes of your HCPs. In fact, in survey after survey, HCPs indicate their increasing preference for digital channels and expect Pharma to deliver. The challenge with this approach is that it, like the content-centric approach, risks ignoring how the HCP will use the channel. I have observed so many first contact calls taking place in busy, loud hospital corridors with bemused HCP trying to follow the rich infographics and patient videos on a Rep’s iPad. The visuals in the portal are excellent and the HCP can access it later, on their “own time,” and discover its many features and content. But we must question if this was a quality interaction with an HCP new to your product. To ensure optimal engagement with HCPs, a more comprehensive, HCP-centric strategy is critical to consider the context surrounding the channel’s use.

Consider intended HCP behavior change

Admittedly, the two approaches described above are extreme, and the reality is much more nuanced. But they highlight a tendency in omnichannel engagement rollouts to favor digital at the risk of neglecting your target HCP’s needs.

A better approach is HCP-centric, meaning that you consider the behavior change you expect your content to trigger and the way your target HCP will use your channel. This approach allows us to be more methodical in our channel selection to optimize performance.

To select the best channel, the first step is to take your content – based on insights and carefully considered along the HCP journey – and reflect on its intended purpose.

Are you trying to teach your target HCP something completely new?

Are you trying to expand their knowledge?

Are you trying to get the HCP to commit to something?

Some channels are more adapted to conveying new information and others are better for seeking and confirming agreement on an action. Interactive features are less important and even distracting when you are trying to process completely new information. But when seeking a commitment, feedback is critical.

Another HCP-centric consideration is the use behavior surrounding the channel.

How will the HCP access the channel?

Where will the HCP access the channel?

How much time will the HCP need to use the channel?

Will the HCP need to access the channel frequently?

Will the HCP need to transfer the information to a patient? A colleague?

Will the HCP need to provide feedback, ask questions, and receive responses?

Does feedback need to be in real time?

By challenging your channel selections according to HCP needs and use behavior, you can ensure that the channels will work in the right context. Of course, the above questions must be asked per HCP target. If you are targeting both specialists in hospitals and GPs in private practice, responses will vary by target and your omnichannel engagement will be tailored accordingly.

At Trapezie we encourage you to embrace the digital era and be creative with the new opportunities to engage and communicate with HCPs. But be sure to make your strategy work for your product performance and your target HCPs’ needs by selecting the best digital channels to your content’s intended purpose.

If you are a manager, you have a lot to stress about in 2022. Supply chains are disrupted, costs are increasing, budgets are cut, the geopolitical environment is uncertain, and your customer’s behavior is changing. Now more than ever you need your team to be ready to address challenges of today.

The problem is employee engagement is at an all-time low as many people contemplate changing jobs. If you are fortunate, your organization is equipped to woo talent with flexible work locations and schedules, more time off and sabbatical leave, and higher pay and bonuses. For many managers, however, their organization lacks the budget for higher compensation or the appropriate context to accommodate flexible work arrangements. Using such levers might also be out of your control.

The good news is there are small exercises you can do to have a big impact on employee engagement. Here are three that you can try starting Monday and repeat weekly.

Exercise 1: Have a conversation with each team member about their passions.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review shares findings of an ADP Research Institute survey of 50,000 employees to identify predictors of retention, engagement, and resilience. The strongest predictors were not about pay or work location but rather if a respondent was excited to come to work every day in the previous week and if they felt that they used their strengths every day. [i]

These findings serve as an excellent template to reframe your weekly check-ins with team members. Are you excited to come to work, and are you using your strengths? First, the conversation itself is an opportunity for the individual to feel heard and thereby engaged. Second, it is an opportunity for you to assess the level of engagement of your team as a whole and where you need to intervene. Third, it is an opportunity to be more inclusive and discover hidden profiles and talents.

Exercise 2: Schedule time for original thinking about how to address customer needs.

For many managers, especially those in marketing or strategy, this sounds obvious. But routine and urgent demands too often stifle innovation, and scheduling dedicated time for creative thinking is necessary to refocus. For teams that are not directly engaged with the customer, a customer reorientation activity becomes even more enriching to hear fresh ideas.

Regardless of your team’s function, this exercise can have an immediate, positive impact on engagement. As a manager, you can ensure that all team members are included. Even on fiercely customer-focused teams, giving everyone the time and permission to share can reaffirm each person’s value and contribution to the team’s mission.

If you did your homework in exercise 1, you probably discovered that the customer is the main source of excitement and passion for your people. Such an exercise, thus, reenforces the team’s sense of collective mission and an individual team member’s purpose. For those who are disconnected from the customer due their function or nature of work, they can even discover a new love for the work they do.

Exercise 3: Create a challenge.

In exercise 1, you discovered the passions and perceived strengths of your team. In exercise 2, you encouraged every team member to think creatively about their customer’s needs. Now, to further drive engagement, come up with a challenge with an achievable yet ambitious goal.

In coming up with a challenge, try to incorporate findings from exercises 1 and 2. Also, to ensure that you are driving engagement, keep in mind the following key success factors. First, give your team discretion in how they work and permission to experiment, fail, and reiterate. Second, recognize collective progress towards the goal. Third, debrief, highlighting how individual team members used their strengths. Done correctly, the exercise will not only increase engagement on your team but also foster a climate for innovative thinking that will enhance your team’s performance and add value to your customer.

Strengthening team collaboration is key to engagement

Managers should recognize the uniqueness and value each team member brings to their organization, but it is no accident that these engagement exercises also serve to reenforce inclusive collaboration. As it turns out, employees really like working on teams. In a 2019 ADP Research Institute Study, workers who felt that they were part of a team were 2.7 times as likely as others to be fully engaged and three times as likely to be highly resilient.[i] Strong, cohesive teams then can be a strategic imperative to achieve the high engagement and high performance necessary to overcome the challenges of 2022. Experiment and have fun!

[i] Buckingham, Marcus. “Designing work that people love.” Harvard Business Review, vol. 100, no. 3, May-June 2022, p 73.

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