Are pharma marketing efforts accomplishing their goals?

In the first of four articles by Ash Rishi for our marketing excellence focus month, he questions whether pharma marketers are achieving their goals successfully.

As marketers in the pharmaceutical industry are no doubt noticing, there has been a sea of changes in the way that both healthcare professionals and consumers engage with brands and seek out health information. Coupled with shifting sales and economic pressures in recent years, marketing practices have experienced a major overhaul. The question is, are pharma marketing efforts accomplishing their goals?

Today, multi-channel marketing is a “hot” topic in the pharmaceutical industry. This is an industry in which it sometimes seems difficult to engage with their target audience in a way that is personal and engaging.

What is multi-channel marketing? Simply put, it is the practice of reaching your target customers using multiple channels. This makes it possible for you to not only reach consumers and healthcare providers through various mediums; it ultimately gives the customer a choice, as they can complete the actions you desire them to take through whatever medium or “channel” they choose.

“Coupled with shifting sales and economic pressures in recent years, marketing practices have experienced a major overhaul.”


In pharmaceutical marketing, you may want to use any combination or all channels which may include:

• Pay-per-click

• Digital media

• Direct mail

• Email

• Social media

• Mobile

• Print media

Cohesive marketing across these channels helps guide audiences towards engagement, and gently moves them further into the marketing funnel.

The benefits of multi-channel marketing are many, and include increased attention to company / products or brand, the ability of potential customers to use their favourite medium and additional touch points in the marketing funnel, making it easy for marketers to collect more data regarding prospective customers.

Here are a few tips to help pharma engage with prospective clients and build trust online:

First, plan your multi-channel marketing strategy with the patient in mind. What information is vital to the patient, and what is the best way to deliver it through HCPs? Answering these questions is vital to developing a marketing strategy that includes both off and online (integrated) channels, making it possible for pharma to cover a larger portion of their target clients. Depending on the HCP, they may prefer to receive information about their products via email, social media, or telephone. Others may prefer to visit a blog or website at their own leisure. This is why it is critical to know and understand your prospective client before determining which channels will be most advantageous in a particular situation.

“…it is critical to know and understand your prospective client before determining which channels will be most advantageous…”


What channels will you use to engage with consumers and increase brand awareness? In today’s digital world, it is important to communicate online as more and more consumers use social media to learn more about products, brands, and services.

Deliver your message in the manner the consumer wants to receive it. For many in the sales / marketing field, this is tough. Blatant advertising and promotion of products simply isn’t as effective as it once was, and in fact turns many HCPs off. It is important that pharma interact and engage with HCPs, answering their questions, addressing their concerns, and communicating in a way that interested parties come to trust and know.

Pharma companies need to determine what data they need, to develop a multi-channel marketing model. What are the demographics of the healthcare providers the product serves? In 2013, senior sales and marketing managers in the pharmaceutical industry have stepped up their use of not only digital technologies, but analytics as well. In order to analyse the results of pharmaceutical marketing efforts, data analysis is key.

One important step often overlooked is to be sure that any pharma website is properly optimised for mobile devices including tablets, smartphones, and other devices. This is critical, as today consumers link to all other channels via mobile devices.

“Deliver your message in the manner the consumer wants to receive it.”


Develop multiple touch points. Be creating multiple touch points, you will be at an advantage because data collected via these touch points will influence and determine future marketing efforts. These may include email newsletters, social media, and even surveys.

It is also important for pharma to further “hone” their marketing skills, particularly as they are not adept at engaging online, which is frequently used by consumers and healthcare providers today. While pharma will be at a huge advantage by implementing multi-channel marketing, there are some difficulties pharma will have to deal with. For instance, pharma may prefer one specific channel, which means they will no longer be in control of funneling users to a single medium. In addition, managing all of the “moving parts” can seem overwhelming, considering they must use integrated marketing and manage cross-promotions. It also involves additional time and expense because of the level of management involved. However, there are now technological solutions available to pharma that can address these challenges. Regardless, the advantages of using multiple channels in pharmaceutical marketing far outweigh the few obstacles!

By taking a multi-channel approach to pharmaceutical marketing, they can remain competitive in the industry and build something that is currently missing i.e., gaining trust. Even better, this approach makes it possible for pharma to reach a much larger segment of the population than what would be possible in sticking with a more traditional marketing approach.

Part two in this series can be viewed here.



About the author:

Ash Rishi is the Founder and CEO of COUCH. Based in London, COUCH is an integrated digital marketing and creative communications agency focusing on the pharmaceutical, healthcare and lifestyle industry. Ash has over 9 years experience in pharma marketing and has delivered activities across UK, Europe, US, Canada and Latin America. His area of expertise include: branding, communications, stakeholder development and digital marketing. Ash is also the founder of a new pharmaceutical marketing community on Google +. You can reach Ash at or follow him on Twitter @We_Are_Couch and @Ash_Rishi.

Do you think pharma marketers are achieving their goals successfully?