July 12, 2024

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Effective Project Management Boosts Pharmaceutical Omnichannel Success

Digital pharma uses modern technology throughout the drug lifecycle, starting with research and development through production, packaging, marketing, distribution, supply chain, and consumption. In today’s fast-paced consumer-driven world, the horizon of digital pharma marketing is increasingly dynamic. Patients and prescribers expect a seamless, integrated experience across all communication channels, which can be achieved with omnichannel marketing. Omnichannel projects are multi-vendor, multi-stakeholder, customized marketing campaigns that require unique management techniques. For these reasons, the project manager (PM) role is critical to omnichannel success and leads to increased patient and provider acquisition.

Differences between omnichannel and multichannel marketing in pharma

Although omnichannel and multichannel marketing share the concept of utilizing

Credit: SDI, Samarra via Wikimedia

multiple vendors to support a company’s product vision, omnichannel takes this a significant step further. Multichannel marketing uses different methods such as email, mobile, retail locations, and direct mail to promote a service or product. The problem with this generic approach is that the communications often convey similar messages, leaving target audiences inundated with redundant marketing materials they eventually ignore.

Pharma omnichannel marketing incorporates all the necessary facets of multichannel but tailors them to the end user. It helps establish a smoothly integrated patient and provider experience across multiple communication channels via digital and offline materials. Omnichannel aims to create a customized marketing experience referred to as a journey that caters to consumers, either patients or healthcare providers, based on behavior and user analytics, giving them what they want when they want it.

Additionally, pharmaceutical organizations can build large data sets related to end-user behavior by utilizing omnichannel capabilities. This type of data can be used for predictive analytics, which is then used for further customized marketing and communication.  

Omnichannel marketing project manager responsibilities

The customer-centricity of omnichannel and dealing with multiple channels make the omnichannel PM role unique from others. The omnichannel PM needs to have a deep understanding of various customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing automation platforms, and analytics, which may not be an absolute need for non-omnichannel projects. Hard skills required for an omnichannel PM include technical, digital marketing, and general project management abilities along with soft skills such as communication, collaboration, adaptability, customer focus, and leadership.

An omnichannel PM is involved from the ideation phase through post-launch and analytics, including, but not limited to, discovery, strategy planning, vendor coordination, resource and risk management, budget allocation and management, post-launch analytics, and, most importantly, continuous improvement. Some of the major tasks that an omnichannel PM is responsible for are defining the goals and objectives, aligning the measurement metrics, budget management, onboarding multiple vendors, and the development of a strong, agile project plan that is accepted by the entire team.

Keys to effective omnichannel project management

A PM can make or break the omnichannel journey, so effective management is critical to success, especially in the pharma space. Adopting and inculcating an agile project management approach is crucial for managing journeys in a regulated environment, and is vital in the pharma industry for capitalizing on that window of opportunity. This approach keeps the developmental lifecycle short and flexible, resulting in a faster launch. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals can be tricky and unexpected, and the goal for a PM should be to establish an agile plan that can be rapidly changed so the journey can launch immediately.

Another important task of the PM is to build an impeccable strategy and define goals for the omnichannel journey and team at project initiation. This is accomplished with excellent research, gathering customer feedback through various methods, utilizing trends from previous opportunities, and collaborating across cross-functional teams. It is essential for the PM to generate and establish key performance indicators for the journey, which can be used in future comparisons with the results of patient and provider engagement and/or acquisition after the journey’s launch.

Another critical process change that a PM can bring to the table is the application of lean concepts in tactic creation. Lean aims to reduce wasteful steps. This approach can unify and encourage different brands in the same pharma organizations to reuse information by creating modular content, reducing the cost and time spent on creating new tactics. Finally, a team reflects its leader, so it is paramount for the PM to establish a cross-functional team that is agile and data-driven.

Common obstacles

Although pharma organizations achieve great success by adopting omnichannel marketing, implementing such a catered journey has its own set of challenges. Some obstacles organizations typically encounter are:

  1. Establishing a project lifecycle that can accommodate the rapid creation of journeys. PMs avoid this by maintaining a strong and consistent overall theme within an organization. By managing a tactical backlog, tactics can be reused with minor applicable changes.
  2. Silo data. Many companies have a wealth of valuable data that no one is using. It is imperative for a PM to collaborate with different stakeholders across all channels to gather the information and piece together a consumer profile.
  3. Resistance. Not everyone welcomes a change from the traditional approach. Omnichannel marketing requires a great deal of process and workflow change. To combat this, PMs can leverage leadership skills and hard data to demonstrate the immense benefits of an omnichannel strategy.
  4. Budget constraints. Anything as customized as omnichannel can be expensive. Some costs can be mitigated by identifying new opportunities, condensing multiple options into a single expense, and prioritization of efforts.

The omnichannel marketing approach in the pharmaceutical industry is not going anywhere. The demand for focused personalized marketing will continue to expand and improve. ABI Researchforecasts that pharmaceutical manufacturers’ use of data analytics will grow by a 27 percent compound annual growth rate and is projected to be worth $1.2 billion in 2030. It is important that organizations focus on strong project management as the path forward to manage the growth of omnichannel transformation. The PM, by utilizing a trained network, understanding trends and regulations, and effectively using a plethora of analytics, can simplify an organization’s transition into the future of omnichannel marketing in the pharma industry.

Picture of By Divya Madugula

By Divya Madugula

Divya Madugula is a Senior digital product manager who has worked in the healthcare and pharma industries since 2015. She has a Master of Health Administration and Health IT degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia. Divya specializes in using process improvement, product management, and resource and financial planning to create high-quality, innovative healthcare products and build strong teams to solve today’s critical healthcare problems. She can be reached at divyamadugula@gmail.com.

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