Global pharma communications: Internal activation process

Blog_icon_how-to-use-animations-in-edetailingIt’s the best digital marketing investment you can make. A few days spent getting buy-in and aligning your organization repay themselves again and again over the months and years to come. Yet it often doesn’t happen.



What usually occurs is a top-down approach that breeds overly critical discussions and an ‘us against them’ atmosphere that is so hard to overcome.

The results are familiar to many HQ marketers: core materials get changed; the message gets diluted; reps just show one slide that they are familiar with; there’s no data collection so no CLM; the materials don’t get used.

And then the blame game starts, with the finger pointed at the content, the e-detailer, or the platform.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

A simple strategy

Many problems with digital communications can be traced back to internal communications. The issue often isn’t the quality of your digital communication but rather its delivery (see flexible HQ content) and, specifically in this case, its communication.

If our objective is to get the materials used so that the message gets disseminated and data gets collected, then ownership needs to be fostered. That requires involving your internal stakeholders early in the process – preferably beginning at the content development stage.

It really is that simple: uptake comes from ownership and ownership comes from involvement.

Basic activation process elements

There are many ways to get digital communications activated in your organization. Here are elements that we know work after many years experience of global digital sales campaigns at Anthill.

  • Content workshop: Get your marketing colleagues together from the affiliates to work together on the features and messages that your digital communications will include. This enables people to give input early, avoids nasty surprises and provides a common picture of what the materials will contain.
  • Marketing workshop: Inspire and educate your colleagues on the current best practices in digital communications. This not only covers the visionary elements, the ‘why’ questions, but also the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of digital communication by looking at great examples of things like user interfaces, animations and video.
  • Train the trainer: Build competences in your organization. Trainer sessions enable you to educate those using the tools – your reps and medical science liaisons. This isn’t ‘swipe to the left for more content’ but rather generating understanding – by explaining the overall strategy, the main messages, how best to use the tools to maximize their value.

It’s important to stress that none of this is a huge time commitment. The workshops each last for a day and a half or less. It’s a tiny investment with a big pay off.

The only thing that you have to ensure is that is an honest attempt to get involvement. Running a content workshop, for example, and then not taking onboard any of the ideas that arise from it causes more problems than never running it at all. It has to be real.

Support the process

Appointing ‘digital champions’ in your organization – particularly the sales force – not only provides more support for the materials but also allows you to better understand any issues that people are having.

In addition, consider building training into your digital sales materials. Training overlays, in which explanations are placed on the materials, allow people to learn in their own time and provide excellent refreshers on functionality and key content elements. These always-available tools really help reps and medical science liaisons develop confidence with the materials.

It also pays to actively engage with your internal communication department and leverage internal communication channels – online, offline or personal.

You should consider repeating elements of the activation process. Once the materials are launched, you will quickly be receiving rep feedback on the materials, along with hard data on their use. What worked? What didn’t?

Cycling through the process once a year enables you to update materials and maintain local ownership. It also solves the problem of staff turnover and the need to build ownership with new colleagues.

Essential activity

Our work in digital communication adoption has grown consistently over the years, as we sought to ensure that the content that we created was used effectively and delivered the expected results. These processes are now part of every major project. By working together with our clients to understand and solve the issues that lead to poor adoption, projects are more effective – and strengthen the relationship between HQ and the affiliates.

Get in touch to learn more about our content activation processes and how it can increase the adoption of core materials.

>>> Contact Anthill


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