Pharmaceutical marketers are aware with the concept of the influencer marketing. Drug manufacturers and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) continue to have a long-standing relationship as companies recognize the power of their influence. Pharma companies use multiple criteria to define a KOL but broadly is to estimate the influence potential leveraging information available in public domain about the HCP.
It is highly desired by pharmaceutical marketers to engage with KOLs from late stages of drug development to the launch of the drug in the market. As KOLs generally not averse to trying new therapies and play a crucial role in shaping the HCP community’s opinion by advocacy for an early adoption.
Today KOLs are increasingly busy and have drastically reduced the amount of time they used to spend meeting with company representatives. It is imperative for pharma marketers to devise new ways to keep in touch with KOLs not only through medical representatives but also by leveraging technology to maintain relationship with high degree of personal touch. In fact, the KOL engagement must be driven top down for an efficient and fruitful collaboration as KOLs value more when they are contacted or met by top management on regular basis. Additionally, the results from an effective KOL engagement by top leadership are long term, as opposed to medical rep relationship which generally dwindles when the reps switch the jobs or change territories.
Engagement between KOL and Marketing teams
A marketing plan for KOL engagement is considered successful when the product is picked up early by the KOLs across the geographical region and based on their advocacy it is well accepted by other HCPs and followers of KOLs. A well thought through KOL strategy must emphasis on developing a dynamic relationship with senior management of the company that translates into better reception of reps in KOLs clinic and improved advocacy by the KOL.
Pharmaceutical and medical device industry is at the junction where on one hand they are developing increasingly sophisticated drugs and cutting edge medical devices for better outcomes but at the same time the marketing teams and senior leadership is relying on age old methods to engage with HCPs. Their KOL engagement strategies have not kept the pace with rapidly evolving customer engagement tools and technologies that have been adopted and successfully being leveraged by their counterparts in other industries
However, it is extremely difficult for marketers to keep in touch personally because of a hectic schedule of meetings, quarterly and annual HCP engagement strategy formulation, coordination with sales teams for targets, help in content development and monthly inputs the list goes on. Sometimes for months there is no interaction between marketing teams and top KOLs that leaves a lot of space for competitors to capture.
Here we recommend three systemic changes to galvanize the KOL engagement practice that marketers and leadership can leverage
3 Keys for an all rounded KOL engagement
- Central KOL management system:
Much has been said and written about segmentation, targeting, KOL mapping etc., and most, if not all, marketers are doing it right. However, companies fail to capitalize the value of the centralized KOL engagement and the hard work put forth by senior marketing and sales teams to meet with KOLs does not bring the desired results.
A central KOL engagement and management platform allows cross functional – medical affairs, marketing, sales and leadership – teams from across the business units to collaborate easily and lead a well-coordinated engagement.
- Use of integrated technology for an optimized engagement
In today’s competitive environment, the use of technology is indispensable. We cannot manage the content sharing and follow ups with KOLs manually. Also, the manual approach is not scalable and cannot scaled up for other BU or people.
Platforms like KEMP – KOL Engagement and Management Platform – from Engage 48 help the marketing teams of pharmaceutical companies to maintain personal relationship with top KOLs. The platform tracks the field visits of the marketers, their meeting with KOLs and send customized communication to the KOLs as follow up of the meetings and prepare the KOLs for the upcoming meetings.
- Well defined KPIs and measurable engagement
Being able to measure the success of the interactions is vital in the time when the budgets are being squeezed globally. Though the ROI on the KOL engagement is intangible as it is extremely difficult the impact of engagement on number of prescriptions, however, there are indicators that can be monitored and recorded to measure the effectiveness of engagement methods that are employed.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) enables you to focus your marketing efforts on the accounts that matter, reducing waste and accelerating growth. Ensure that you can always get the right message to the right accounts by leveraging technology that’s purpose-built to support the cross functional teams. By identifying and segmenting by company, Healthcare marketers can efficiently orchestrate their efforts across the entire funnel from awareness to pipeline to revenue.