MERCK – a global company with over 350 years of experience, founded in Darmstadt, Germany in 1668 by Friedrich Jacob Merck, now with almost 53 000 employees in 66 countries working on breakthrough solutions and technologies. Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials are MERCK’s core businesses. In all three sectors, it offers specialized and high-quality products.
Considering recent changes in European law system (GDPR implementation) Merck is required to gather a personal opt-in for further continuous communication with HCPs. It is a rather challenging activity involving multiple assets and resources, including proper tools, representative training, and development of an add-value – “a reason to believe” – to HCPs give Merck an e-permission.
Connectmedica where responsible for complete project development and implementation using Highp platform and service. During the Polish Clinical Oncology Society Congress, Merck was acquiring opt-in with the support of our conference representatives. Using Highp platform we were able to send instantly thank you message to physicians and reinforce the promotional process of a new app – CRC box, designed especially for oncologists, bringing higher satisfaction and Merck brand awareness. With Highp automation we are able to followed-up communication to successfully engaged hundreds of HCPs remotely.
Anyone who attends conferences knows how crucial it is to be up to date with the newest data. What is even more critical, having a chance to listen to the most influential people and their current findings in the fields we are interested. But it is not effortless.
Conferences as seen from a pharmaceutical company perspective
One of the values of conferences that are crucial for the pharmaceutical companies is to build trust among the doctors. Achieving this goal is easier when the keynote speakers are experts and have a perfect reputation. On the other hand, thanks to an added value, and the ability to deepen doctor’s knowledge, organizers could influence the most ambitious attendants to become a keynote speaker one day. Not to mention that during medical conferences a lot of meetings and a backstage conversation took place, which in connection with the newest knowledge and the up to date research data are the key values for this group.
Both pharmaceutical companies and the doctors are aware of the fact that in today’s digitalized world the masses are dealing the cards. With so many troubles to maintain working and affordable health care system, everyone knows that refundable medicines are the most important ones. But to be a part of this system, the drug needs to have a support from the opinion leaders, which could be built during the conference.
A lot of companies find it crucial to becoming a partner of a significant branch conference, having the proper booth and a chance to make a prelection. Especially for pharmaceutical companies, the expenses for the Continuing Medical Education (CME) are enormous. According to an annual report from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, companies from this sector spends more than $700 million on that goal. About half of this spending goes just for the registration fees. It is huge. There are some two-day events that cost a single company about $750 000. 
We are facing a situation in which the majority of company’s marketing budget goes for fees, booths, logistics, travel, hotels and so on. Not to mention providing stuff to handle the conference. What are the outcomes of the enormous financial investment? Unfortunately, in the vast number of cases, potential revenues do not offset the costs incurred. Why is that?
The needs of an attendant
Conference attendants use new technology to peak information that is most important to them. Thanks to event calendars that are present all over the Internet, they can choose the conference that matches their needs the best way. What’s more, equipped with mobile applications, participants can plan their presence on the speeches or accompanying events that suits them best without the need of attending everything the agenda contains.
Shortcuts – the new beginning
It is a significant change, like comparing the old IKEA style. Everyone knows this pattern in which clients went through the whole store until they reached the check-out. The new model, on the other hand, allows you to get to know the exact location of the product you picked before you even leave your home and finally you can use the shortcuts to get them the fastest way.
The same is with conferencing. Let say that you spend a big part of your marketing budget on the proper booth. It may not be a bad idea if it is located on the main route that most of the attendants must walk every time they go for or back from the lecture. But what if you have not so visible but still expensive place in the second or third row? Your opportunities of getting the proper attention are decreasing. It is because people, especially medical doctors, are smart enough to assume that it is your duty to get their attention. On the overcrowded marketplace, and the pharmaceutical industry is one of such, especially in the era of patent cliffs and generic medicines, doctors know that companies will do everything they could do to contact them. So the option of even seeing the pharmaceutical company booth may seem to some them not very important.
How to be remembered
In that case, you may not reach your primary goals which are entering the broad group of doors and building the healthy and impactful relationship with them. What more, due to the vast numbers of companies like your at the conference it is more than possible, that your target group will quickly forget you and your message. A pharmaceutical company could try to gain maximum attention by organizing the conference by themselves, but in this scenario, costs will rocket through the roof. Providing top-notch lecturers is expensive. While the company needs to reach the broad range of the healthcare practitioners, focusing on the few may not be the best solution. Thanks to the new technology, there is a solution.
Virtual Congress – the solution of the 21st century
The most important results of attending the conference are being up-to-date with the newest medical research and getting to know people, which means building face-to-face relationships. With virtual conferencing pharmaceutical company could easily reach both goals or rather provide the benefits of it to doctors, attendants of the event. Seeing the world as a global village is crucial.
Let’s suppose that company would like to target doctors from the US specializing in one medical field. After the research, it cames out that there are some great scientific authorities from Argentina, France, South Africa, Japan and New Zeland. It is usually costly to have them all in one country. With the virtual conference, you don’t need to worry about the logistics and its costs. What is more, you can not only invite few most prominent doctors from around the world but the whole groups from their countries. That could be very important for your US target group. Building a relationship with the colleagues from other nations, that in another case wouldn’t come to the conference. That is an extra benefit which doesn’t make the organization of the conference more expensive.
How does it work?
The future of conferencing is in the video messages. That is how the system works. Virtual Attendants can have access to pre-conference materials – series of videos from the lecturers that could build an image about the topic of the conference speech. Next, during the conference, they get the highlights and after it, series of recalls. It is crucial to maintaining doctor’s interest through the more extended period. It also answers the need of providing knowledge on demand. Congres attendants could access materials whenever they like.
The crucial factor which determines if the virtual congress will end up as a success is simplicity. One of the best solutions provides Highp system. It simplifies the way that video messages get to the final recipient who only needs to have a smartphone without any particular application installed. That is a cost reduction as well.
For decision makers in pharmaceutical companies marketing departments, it is a game-changing ability. Knowing their budgets, they can now spend more time and money on activities that are crucial to generating valuable leads than spending a lot on other people businesses like hotels owner, airlines, booth producers and lots more.
Situation in pharma industry
There are many challenges in the pharma industry nowadays. Patent expiry and loss of revenue from the blockbuster medicine (patent cliff) is one of them. Despite different strategies aiming to prolong a medicine’s lifecycle, patent cliff is inevitable. It becomes also a challenge to replace one blockbuster medicine with a new one, since the complexity of new medicines is higher, research takes more time while the time pressure is very big.
Another important aspect is the communication between a pharma company and a practitioner. Reps seem to be the best solution but in the case, cost effectiveness plays a key role. At the same time, communication via automated tools such as emailing is not effective any more. Doctors receive numerous mails and either they don’t have time to open them or they are bored with this sort of communication. Despite the efforts to make emailing more personalized, the tool assumes mass communication which is less and less involving. It should not be a surprise that its efficiency stays on a very low level.
In a highly competitive pharma industry there is a need to maximize the sales of the existing portfolio within the limited time period. The tools are to be chosen with care as the industry pushes for cost and performance effective digital marketing. One of the market proposals is broader usage of relationship marketing.
Relationship and personalization are key words in the business today. According to Gartner, the year 2018 is likely to become the year of the customer for marketers. With 64% of marketing leaders who report using or showing intent of use of personalization technology, the customer-centric trend is here to stay. [source] The trend is also observed by McKinsey and personalization is called the heart-beat of modern marketing, next to data activation. [source] Relationship marketing is an aspect of customer relationship management (CRM). It places communication between a company and a customer in focus. In the business relation, customers are more of partners in the dialogue and ideally, they should become brand ambassadors one day. The idea is to give customers an added value, show them their importance to the company before one can expect any transaction. The communication with a customer is two-way. Not only does the company communicate the message to the customer but it is also interested in gathering feedback from customers. The move of communication to the digital world was the next, natural step. As a contrast to relationship marketing, one can point transactional marketing which aims at a closing transaction and not establishing any relation with customers.
Market shows that there is a need for high performance digital relationship marketing tool created specifically for the pharma industry. The ideal tool should be up to date and it should use modern channels of communication. Building relationship between reps and practitioners should be simplified. The content, which a practitioner gets, becomes better targeted and much more interesting in terms of tools. It should allow for better communication between the brand and the practitioner. It should allow for quick response to the doctor’s request.
Relationship marketing tool for pharma
As the answer to the demand, Highp comes up and improves communication between a company and a practitioner. Highp is a communication platform to the existing CRM tool in the company. It empowers the marketing and sales team to deliver best Customer Experience (CX) by supplying one unanimous message to the customer. In the highly competitive environment it is important to use channels which are effective but not overcrowded. Highp uses SMS or mail as media. Mobile devices are called by Gartner most popular consumer engagement points these days [source], while Deloitte predicts further that the usage of smartphones will be even more extensive. [source] The real change, however, comes with the fact that more interesting formats can be embedded into communication, such as: personalized videos or presentations. Videos have gained much popularity in social media recently and they are much more impactful than any other format. Videos allow for personalized message in an easy way and shorten a distance in communication between a practitioner and a rep. On the side of the practitioner, there is no receiving barrier since no effort is needed for app installation. The message opens easily on every device: be it a mobile, iPad, PC or MAC. It should be also noted that the flexibility of the tool allows for working within smaller teams as well as large ones.
As noted by McKinsey, technology is at the point where the real-time data can be used in a way that is beneficial for customers and profitable for companies. [source] Highp allows for reaching and communicating with the customer in real time. The same refers to reporting. Highp allows for tracing customers behavior and instant campaign evaluation based on previously set KPIs. The platform allows for option such as ‘call to action’ or decision based presentation (DBE) which makes the interaction between a rep and a doctor more vivid.
From the user’s perspective, Highp platform received very positive feedback: 93% of customers report positive experience with the tool, 55% were engaged in the message communication and 67% requested further contact. Comparing to emailing which has the opening rate of less than 10%, the double-digit figures speak for themselves. The channel used for communication is yet not so much crowded which makes the engagement higher than with other traditional marketing tools.
Deloitte states that “winning and retaining customers in the digital era requires a mix of personalisation, relevance, exclusivity and engagement across all the different channels”. [source] It seems that Highp has found the recipe for the digital relationship marketing tool. The solution has been trusted and implemented by numerous global pharma brands.