What Pharma Marketers Can Learn from Adaptive Perfectionists

In the late 1990s, I had the chance to research and publish a project about perfectionism. It's a broad topic and a very entertaining one—and, as you might imagine, during my 20 years working in pharmaceutical communications, I've had many opportunities to work with (and for) perfectionists.

Perfectionists can be sorted into two distinct types: adaptive and maladaptive. The basic difference is essentially how they react to achieving—or not achieving—the high standards they've set for themselves. Today's environment, characterized by a rapidly changing health delivery system (driven by technological, managerial, and medical advances), is especially challenging for some types of perfectionists, and an ideal context in which others might thrive. Whichever type you relate to (or whichever you strive be more like), perfectionists of all types in the world of pharma marketing can no longer rely on the status quo, given the current threats to traditional commercial models and the rise of digital HCP engagement.

See also: What It Will Take to Make Pharma Consumer-Centric

Accelerated by electronic health record adoption, HCPs spend increasingly more time engaging with technology to support education, treatment decisions, and patient outcomes. Yet most life-sciences companies either embrace change reluctantly or they actively marginalize results by perpetuating a siloed point of view.

Yet it's no longer possible—or acceptable—to react or adapt slowly to the change sweeping over the industry. Here are some ways pharma marketers can flex their adaptive perfectionist muscles to achieve—and exceed—their goals.  

The objection: “Our customers are different. They haven't adopted digital because they still heavily rely on our sales force.” 

The truth is that across nearly every segment, sales reps are increasingly restricted from calling on target HCPs. Digital outreach is the obvious way around this barrier to in-person access yet with all the channels and platforms out there, it can be hard to know where to focus.

Adaptive perfectionists aren't stymied by choice. Rather, they're developing integrated digital strategies and optimizing them across multiple channels for maximum impact and meaningful measurement. And they're relying heavily on mobile strategies to ensure that their messages fit into HCPs' busy lives—credible, concise, and available whenever and wherever it's convenient for them.

The objection: “We've got our database and a list of promotional channels, so we'll just run our own campaigns.” 

It's tempting to just check the proverbial box and launch a series of fragmented campaigns with a tried-and-true target list. But the adaptive perfectionist demands a more strategic, more integrated approach—one that leverages data-driven targeting and segmentation strategies to engage HCPs with highly relevant digital content (and even making it available at the point of care) that helps them make better decisions.

This approach also means changing the way marketers define and measure engagement—shifting focus from the number of eyeballs to the impact their integrated digital campaigns have on their targets' attitudes and behaviors. Having a single partner manage all these campaigns makes it even easier to measure performance across channels.  

The objection: “Our current models are working—why rock the boat?” 

The evolving market may pose many challenges, but it also gives pharma the opportunity to offer more value to its constituents. In fact, while data suggests that 90% of HCPs say pharma partnerships have the potential to improve quality of care, 40% of them say they aren't currently partnering with pharma on key initiatives.

See also: 'Deadpool' Imparts a Lesson to Pharma Marketers

Adaptive perfectionists see opportunity here and understand that taking an objective, credible approach is an effective way to engage targets. That means re-evaluating their commercial strategies to include self-directed, digital learning programs that disseminate product information, disease state, patient education, and other resources that support physicians and help boost performance metrics.

So ask yourself whether you're pursuing success for your brand or fleeing failure. Those who get in touch with their inner adaptive perfectionist will be the winners when it comes to accelerating engagement amid the current digital revolution.

Ken Locicero is SVP and client strategist at Aptus Health.