Making the most of your remaining communications budget

Mark Walmsley, Consulting Director, pharmaphorum connect

It’s often in Q4 that marketing and communications professionals realise that they are in danger of losing un-used budgets.

There are a number of projects you can start and pay for now that will provide lasting value well into next year. pharmaphorum connect’s Consulting Director Mark Walmsley describes seven such projects below.

1. Content strategy workshop

Most pharma professionals agree that high-quality content, in multiple formats, is key to meaningful customer engagement. However, few believe their organisation has the capacity – or sometimes the capability – to sustain the development and publication of enough high-quality content.

A content strategy workshop is an ideal forum in which to explore these challenges, assess the options for external support and put in place processes and systems for commissioning and developing the required content next year.

We have a free framework called TOPIC designed for use as the agenda for this workshop. Ask for a copy.

2. Social media workshop

It has been said that the ROI of social media is to “still be in business in 5 years’ time”. That might well be true but many senior and budget-holding executives remain highly-sceptical about its value.

That is hardly surprising when they see an infographic commissioned, pushed through regulatory approval, published on Twitter … and then liked twice and shared once!

Part of the problem is that those responsible for social media management are often stretched so thinly across multiple therapy areas, brands and social media channels that their efforts fail to achieve acceptable levels of impact. As a result, investment is reduced and around it goes again.

One solution is to prioritise and focus on one therapy area, one audience segment, one social media channel and one messaging theme and stick to that until acceptable levels of engagement have been achieved and sustained.

Then, take the case study into your next planning and budgeting meeting and watch those purse strings loosen a little.

We call this approach Stepwise Mastery and we can provide a free framework called TACT for use as the agenda for your workshop. Ask for a copy.

3. Forensic Digital Listening

A well-known military maxim holds that “time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted”. This is just as true in pharma marketing and communications as it is in battle.

It pays to understand your target audiences, their needs, preferences and behaviour so that you can devise communications strategy that accommodates these insights. Without it, you may be acting on guesswork and gut instinct and that is very hard to justify in the boardroom if the results are not what was hoped for.

To inform your communications strategy with real-world, real-time insights, commission a digital listening project in social media channels and publicly accessible forums and blogs.

This should include a report that shows where the important conversations are happening, what the hot topics are and which of the participants are the most vocal and influential.

We offer a free framework called CARDIO for use in your workshop. Ask for a copy.

4. Video interviews

Arguably, video is the content format that offers the most scope for repurposing. It is also a format that requires little or no research or preparation.For example, find a senior executive who likes to be in front of the camera and ask him or her to invite a friendly contact to join them and discuss a hot topic. If they both enjoy talking you’ll have difficulty stopping them after an hour. Have this conversation recorded professionally by a videographer.

Then … edit the video and have it approved for use in your content marketing activity … have the audio stripped out for use in a podcast … have the copy transcribed for an article … serialise this on your blog  … and then trail it all in your social media channels.

5. Event Amplification

Exhibiting at major conferences can be very expensive. To maximise the impact you make at an event you can invest in some “event amplification” now for use in the new year.

By producing destination content such as survey results and then promoting that content before, during and after the event, you can reach individuals who are unable to attend the event.

Create a registration page for the content and you can capture the contact details of these individuals for use in subsequent direct marketing by email. Email remains the channel that offers the highest levels of ROI in digital.

6. Commission a survey

Commission an online survey that can be conducted over the next month or so and then have the results delivered next year. You can produce a report with the results and use it in all of your available channels.

7. Stock up on some evergreen content for use next year

Few would dispute the challenges associated with producing great content in sufficient quantity to feed multiple channels.

One of the problems is the shelf life of content. The closer it is to news, the shorter that shelf life becomes.

Identify a topic that has enduring interest for your target audience. Commission content production now and then stockpile the content for use next year.

At pharmaphorum connect we can help with all of the above.

For more information about any of these services please drop a line to Consulting Director Mark Walmsley at mark.walmsley@pharmaphorum.com or call Mark on  +44 (0) 7947 793 554.