The next time that you pull together a proposal for a Med Comms activity, ask yourself the following question: what is it exactly that this event will achieve? You probably already have some metrics in mind that you will sell to your client/boss, but really challenge yourself: short of a direct, visible effect on sales of the brand, what exactly will the return on investment be?

I recently came across a great cartoon related to this topic by Tom Fishburne, entitled “Brand Loyalty“, which makes a salient point within the humour:

A wedding with a difference...
'Brand Loyalty' by Tom Fishburne

Basically, your customers will swear their ‘loyalty’ to you and your brand now, right up until something better comes along. To elaborate on the wedding analogy, both parties need to work on the relationship, all of the time. Furthermore, working on the relationship is pointless if neither party knows what the other person wants, or even if what they are doing is working at all!

Let’s take a pretty standard example: a satellite symposium at an international congress, which will probably set your medical communications budget back by well over £100k (or equivalent). You gain the services of 3 or 4 top-tier KOLs to act as the scientific panel (although how were these people selected – are they really the top influencers of your target audience? That’s a whole new discussion for another day…); they do a fantastic job of presenting your key data to a couple of hundred delegates (some of whom won’t in fact be your competitors), and you head back to the office with a stack of evaluation forms showing your event scored 4.5 out of 5 on all measures.

Job done. Marketing Director happy. End-of-year bonus assured.

In the current regulatory and economic environment, most Pharma marketers are well aware that the general situation outlined above doesn’t cut it any more. The second the KOLs have delivered on their contractual obligations, will they devote any of their own time to be an advocate for your brand? Once the physicians in the audience have completed the evaluation form, how many will go away and talk positively about what they heard to their peers (either offline or online)? In short, what are the actual, measurable outcomes from your major investment?

Now, you may be lucky and the return on your investment may extend beyond the event itself. However, wouldn’t it make sense to set up your Med Comms projects properly to begin with? That is, to assess how and where your customers and KOLs are talking about your brand before, during and – most importantly – after your event? To find out what would gain their loyalty, and proactively work to keep it?

Here at WCG, we’re developing new models for Med Comms, founded on our industry-leading analytics. We’ll be expanding on this in subsequent posts, but get in touch if you would like to start building true KOL and customer relationships today.