Step 3: How to select your best customers and resources
In “Step 1: Isolating your brand’s key issues” we discussed the first step in our Value Creator Process when developing a Campaign of Interactions for your advisors. It is comprised of considering all the possible product and market factors impacting your brand and isolating the top 3-5 issues that are preventing you from capturing “100% market share”. It requires a process of stepping out of the day to day immediacy of the concerns of the moment and going back to basics. Why is your brand where it is today?
This was followed by “Step 2: How to bridge the insight gap for your brand“, which focuses on uncovering your fundamental brand issues and isolating knowledge or insight gaps. What is keeping you up at night? What questions still keep you scratching your head?
Describing your key customers
After you have isolated the key issues and determined the insight gaps and methodology for customer engagement, it is time to decide which stakeholders will be key in helping you to achieve your success metrics. Often in pharma, our usual “go to” customer is the prescribing physician. But these days, in the uber complex and diverse customer base that has developed over the years, there are a myriad of other decision makers who are now equally important. No longer are physicians the only ones deciding which drugs or interventions can be, or should be, prescribed. They are now collaborating with multidisciplinary teams and other allied healthcare providers who are conjointly deciding on the best patient care maps to follow. In addition, with the increased emphasis on cost management, payers, insurers and hospital administrators are playing an increasingly important role in protocol and treatment algorithm development, execution, and measurement.
Depending on the questions you need answered, you may be surprised to find that the customers you have traditionally engaged with in steering committees or advisory boards may no longer best serve you. For example, if you are looking for advice on how to develop a performance-based reimbursement model for a new product launch, you may want to target a series of interactions with ex-payers for their expert view on the subject. Similarly, if your questions has to do with the creation of new materials or messages for a patient support program, you may find your best insights gathered through a group of nurses. Alternatively, a focus on new conference data releases and implications to clinical practice would best be served through a board of physicians specializing in that therapeutic area.
There are also several other characteristics one must consider when selecting the best individuals for your working group or advisory board, especially if there is going to be a digital component, such as web meetings or asynchronous online assignments. The customer’s level of influence and their association or personal interest in your objective as well as their openness to partnering with industry should be considered. Other important items are geography and language preference, their level of access (do they check and respond to email?) and their level of technology savviness.
Describing your information sources
Now that you have selected the customers who will sit on your steering committee or advisory board, it will now be important to aggregate the informational assets that you have available which can be leveraged to educate your group and to inform the working sessions. Often in pharma, board meetings are initiated on data releases at conferences. This is because many pharma employees, who live and breathe their product, assume their customers know the “old” product data just as well as they do and that the only way to “engage” them is with new data. Pharma managers are forever flocking to conferences and meetings, questing after “new” tidbits that will be deemed topical, relevant and compelling for their customers. But what we can often forget here is that customers are not living and breathing the details of individual products. They often create mental “mashups” of products and categorize them by mechanism of action or biological target. Being able to create “contextual” stories for your product, using data and informational sources from the past, present or future, will help to create mental clarity for your customers in your working groups.
Data of all types can be collected, sorted and prioritized based on a logical “story” flow. One can use abstracts or posters as thought starters or include peer reviewed journal articles, guidelines or consensus papers for more broad scope discussions. In addition, resources from affiliates or global teams such as curated powerpoint decks, videos, websites and other internal resources can be incredibly helpful. It is also important to consider other valuable resources that can originate from internal cross functional teams such as regulatory, market access, medical, scientific affairs and marketing. Reference materials from strategic visioning exercises from leadership teams as well as financials and market research can also be referred to during board discussions.
At the end of the day, leveraging a group of key, targeted customers who have the expertise in the subject you are trying to solve, who are equally vested in the topic and who are provided the informational resources that will help to inspire co-creative insight generation, is a sure formula for sustained success both for your board and for your company.