As a Pharma Marketer, Are You Setting Yourself Up for Success in 2018?

08 January 2018
As a Pharma Marketer, Are You Setting Yourself Up for Success in 2018?

The new year is a good time for marketers in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to look back and assess their failures and successes over the last year, understand industry trends, and plan for success in 2018. With marketing budgets often being cut and the constant need to demonstrate returns on investment, the task becomes even more difficult. Stay reassured that you are not alone and can learn from your peers. This article describes some of the most common challenges and how these can be addressed.

In the rapidly evolving climate for pharmaceutical marketers, the first challenge is to do more with less by adopting multichannel strategies beyond the face-to-face meetings that have traditionally been used to inform healthcare providers (HCPs), including physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, about the latest therapeutic advances and product innovations. Such meetings are becoming less feasible because of HCPs’ time constraints and increasingly stringent regulations.

Second, marketers have to develop mechanisms to share content. HCPs are demanding improved responsiveness from marketers, expecting them to build trust and expertise on key topics. HCPs want reliable information, and they want it fast. For example, there are opportunities for sharing content among medical personnel who are heavy users of WeChat, China’s most popular app chat. In theUnited States, there are content-sharing opportunities via Sermo, the country’s most popular social network for doctors.

The third challenge is for marketers to customize their messages for individual audiences. As most digital channels have metrics, it is imperative to use them to analyze audience needs through increasingly sophisticated marketing automation software.2 Technological change is enabling the contextual landing pages of websites to evolve into the primary means through which HCPs can personalize their messages and receive feedback.

The environment for pharmaceutical marketers in particular is evolving rapidly as new channels, including digital channels, proliferate and change the way marketers interact with HCPs. Research published in 2016 shows that 53% of marketing to HCPs occurs through non-personal promotions, including email and mobile alerts, direct mail, and speaker programs.3 Furthermore, in 2015, 86% of a sample of HCP marketers used digital channels, including websites (78% of respondents), digital sales materials (57%), digital advertisements (50%), and mobile/tablet applications (40%).4 Not only are HCPs becoming more digitally savvy alongside the growth of social media, but the development of marketing automation software brings new opportunities to provide valuable information for marketers to optimize content.

Marketing budgets are being overhauled in two key ways in response to these challenges. First, the pharmaceutical industry is expected to spend more on digital marketing, at an estimated compound annual growth rate of 13%, during 2016–2021.5 Even partial adoption of digital marketing is expected to reduce promotional costs by 20–50%.6 Second, there is increasing emphasis on content marketing through the provision of measurable value-added content assets targeted to the requirements of different channels. Examples of content marketing include not only reprints of journal articles or study results but also presentation of some articles in enhanced formats, such e-learning or video presentations by the authors.

Publishers as partners can advise you in your strategic approach. Publishers engage with a large network of communities, and consequently, have a deep understanding of HCPs’ interests and needs. Take the time early on in the planning process to share your challenges, and the chances are that your knowledge partner will be able to guide you about how to engage in value-adding communication with your audience. At Wiley, we focus first on adding value to the key assets that drive engagement with HCPs, such as the provision of e-learning modules and content feeds with links to product descriptions on websites. Second, we prioritize speed and engagement by adapting the style format to suit audience needs, for example, by using content feeds, infographics, and abstract videos. Third, we provide tailored, personalized content, such as Essential Knowledge Briefings (practical guides in a mobile-enabled format), Wiley’s Key Opinions in Medicine, webinars, local editions, and special issues.7

The trend toward digital marketing is expected topharmaceutical and biotechnology industries continue in the healthcare marketing industry, driving engagement with HCPs as well as better returns on marketing investment and improved measurement of metrics. A new approach is required, in which HCPs are given information they want to receive, not what marketers wish to tell them. In order to increase engagement with HCPs, the message must be tailored and personalized as far as possible.

It can be time-consuming to test, analyze, and scale what works. Given the expected continuing convergence of healthcare and technology,8 a knowledge partner like Wiley is best placed to help you get the most of your marketing budget and reach intended target audiences. By working with a knowledge partner, marketers can better identify the right solution at the right price.


  1. Wiley Corporate Solutions, “Helping HCPs access trusted content they need”

  2. Frost and Sullivan, “Traditional marketing and the pharmaceutical market: finding a cure through marketing automation”

  3. ZS, 2016. “As doctors keep closing doors on pharma reps, do digital communications provide a better solution?”

  4. Dobrow, Larry, 2016. “How is pharma shifting its marketing budgets?” http:///

  5. Snyder Bulik, Beth, 2016. “Pharma digital spending ticks upward slowly but surely”

  6. A.T. Kearney, 2015. “New medicine for a new world: time for pharma to dive into digital”

  7. Wiley Corporate Solutions, “Quality content for higher engagement”

  8. Moa, Andre, 2017. “7 Pharma trends for 2017 that will define the industry”