This article is the 13th in a series produced by the Pharmaceutical Marketing Society’s Digital Interest Group to address some of the industry’s most pressing challenges in the digital space. They have been designed and written to inform and share good practice, but most importantly to generate discussion and collaboration.

Welcome dear readers to this seasonal tale, where we find ourselves following the star of  Good Marketing that will guide us towards a New Year of frameworks and ways of working that we hope will last all through 2024 and beyond.

Our first gift to you – a nice big mug adorned with the message “Beware of Shiny Things”.

It is an exciting time of year looking forward to next year’s projects with a new budget to spend, or perhaps quickly using up the remainder of this year’s budget before Scrooge in procurement takes it back.

There are lots of adverts and agency pitches for shiny “new” marketing toys all with “Added Omnichannel” or “AI” stickers on them, and agency elves are busy creating (or trying to get Chat GPT to do them whilst they recover from their Christmas party) clever campaigns that will get the reps asking their Marketing team for even more Next Best Actions.

There are plenty of new shiny toys in the omnichannel store this year; ChatGPT, AI/ML, AR/VR… but which ones are going to last beyond that first set of batteries, let alone still being marketing’s favourite come next Christmas? Which of them get superseded in the second week of January by new models that cost extra, or breakdown and no-one knows how to fix them, and you are left wondering if the lovely people in the Repair Shop are the only ones who can help?

And which of these toys actually turn out to be more hard work than fun? Where the instructions are difficult to understand and they don’t play nicely with the other marketing and sales toys despite all the promises of the nice person in the shop. Or that legal person down the street won’t let you take them out of the box and the IT person won’t let you turn them on until they have undertaken a full assessment which will take at least until the summer when you would have forgotten about them…….or will have changed your job!

Our second gift to you – this rather nice cushion embroidered with “All That Glitters Is Not Gold”.

So let’s pause for a moment; what about those toys you got last year? Where are they now? Gathering dust at the back of the marketing shelf?

And what about the classic marketing toys that past generations played with? Let’s get some of them out of that dusty toy box under the bed. Did you really realise all that they could do before you got bored with them?

Firstly do you know what is on your customer’s Christmas list? What content, products and services are relevant, trusted and simple to access and would help them do their job? Remember the Jobs To Be Done video you watched last year and the Value Proposition Canvas that you started to use. It still works, so get it down from the shelf and blow off the dust . Are you sure your customers really want another ¼ drill this year?

And are your customers all the same? They may all be Rheumatologists but do they all think, feel and act in the same way? What are their personas? Where did you put the voucher your Great Aunt in Global gave you last year to do some behavioural research, but you never got round to spending? Perhaps it is worth checking the expiry date to see if it is still valid for 2024.

So now you remember that you need different content for the different personas at different stages in the buying journey, how long did you play with the new functionality in the CRM system that your IT team gave you last year? The functionality that allows you to see by customer, value potential, persona and stage in the customer journey what content, channel, service or event your customer has engaged with and what they might engage with next.

Perhaps there may still be some money left over from Global Great Aunt’s voucher that could be used to discover customer insights that would give you a competitive advantage next year, especially if you ask IT to set up the integration between CRM and the new analytics system.

So when the Spotify list of Christmas songs has finally got to the end, you have run out of recipes for leftover turkey and you have enough cardboard from Amazon delivery boxes to fill the recycling bin until Easter …..our final gift to you is a lovely teddy bear called – “Omnichannel is just good marketing”

Season’s Greetings from Debbie Young, Chris Wade and Paul Dixey.

The PM Society is a not-for-profit organisation that believes excellent healthcare communications lead to better outcomes for patients.

We aim to:

• Support organisations and people in healthcare

• Recognise excellence and promote best practice

• Provide education and development

Visit us HERE to learn more about the society and the value of becoming a member.

The Digital Interest Group is made up of passionate pharma digital experts who volunteer their time to:

• Promote digital best practices across pharma marketing and the wider commercial organisation

• Explore and share an understanding of what digital strategies and tactics marketers in the life sciences sector can employ effectively to support their brand, business and customers.