Part II: Planning the unplannable: 5 key considerations for pharma marketeers in 2021

This is the second part of a two-part series. Read the first part here.

Here we continue to explore the five key themes when planning for the unpredictable year ahead.

3. New ways to connect in 2021

In 2020 we supported many of our clients in transitioning, usually very quickly, from in-person events to digital activations. We’ve built websites and virtual conferences to enable events to still go ahead safely, using live streaming and interactivity to allow global audiences to still meet and continue important conversations in healthcare.

But what about 2021? Different countries – and increasingly, different cities – will have variances in travel restrictions and in-person meetings. As testing increases in availability and vaccines are approved, we can anticipate an opening up of events. This does not, however, make the forward planning of events easy, and we know many of our clients are planning ‘best of both’ hybrid events.

Digital activation can help in two ways:

  • Allow all attendees to join whatever their circumstances: if local or regional travel restrictions vary between your attendees’ residencies, or if some of your attendees are required to shield and cannot travel, live streaming or making events available on-demand means they can still participate.
  • Expand the reach of your event: using paid media to extend the reach of your event and invite those who may usually be unable to attend an event in-person can bring you a new audience and often a fresh perspective. For example, those who often work on the front line of treatment, such as outreach workers or community care givers, often do not have allowances for travel, but are vital to include for a holistic conversation. Virtual events open the doors for these audiences in ways previously unavailable.

4. Adaptive content for changing times

As access to healthcare professionals through face-to-face channels has either depleted or stopped completely in 2020, the importance of content has grown. It’s a pertinent time to look at how your content can provide even more value for your audience:

  • Understand what your audience needs: Creating content that is truly valuable to your audience has always been good practice, but in challenging times this is even more important. As healthcare professionals continue to be under pressure, how can your content help? We’ve previously written about the ways in which we can uncover their needs – putting useful, informational content at the heart of your strategies will facilitate a fruitful value exchange between you and your audience.
  • Help your audience make content decisions: Time-to-read labels, article ratings and simple summaries of an article’s content are all effective ways to help your audience navigate your content. When you’re targeting time-poor users, these pieces of functionality are incredibly valuable.
  • Go audio-only: The audience for podcasts continues to grow at a healthy rate and saw a particular boon during national lockdowns[1]. Podcasting enables healthcare professionals to listen on-to-go, such as during commuting times, or using smart speakers whilst doing other activities. Audio-only content frees up the restrictions of having to look at a screen, which can open up new audiences too busy to read or engage with the written word.

5. Measurement is the lifeblood of a strategy

In uncertain times, data can often provide the answers to questions we have both within our organisation (what’s working? Where should I invest more budget?) and outside our organisation (what is my audience engaging with? How can we improve their experience?).

Organisations can often shy away from robust measurement in marketing and communications, but a commitment to understanding what’s important to your organisation and putting in place the correct measurement framework can be a critical friend in your endeavours.

Measurement needs to look beyond metrics and toward value: what value is your activity driving to the business? Value is often associated with monetary measures, but our toolset can determine value drivers such as improved ranking positions, reduced cost-pers or shorter paths to action.

Ascribing values to actions allows you to start to compare the relative benefit of all your marketing activity: it levels the playing field and affords you the ability to make like-for-like comparisons, to understand what’s really working. As consultants, we’re here to help define the right approach for your organisation.

  • To find out more about our approach consulting for pharma brands, or if you’d like to get in touch – drop as a line at We’d love to hear from you