Every day we talk about multichannel, thinking that’s the future, but it's present.

It appeared clearer than ever during a conversation with an Innovation and Multichannel group at Pfizer.

We were analyzing the data and looking for the reasons of the success of an initiative that involved Multichannel and use of the remote informator- after partnering in this activity for more than an year. Was it the partnership, the modality of communication, the competence of the remote rep, the contents, the multichannel project?

The conclusion was: correct scientific information, and correct application of “traditional” marketing trough the new channels.

The concerted communication efforts needs to focus on the subject to develop a good multichannel practice: the recipient of our communication plan is the physician,  who will use in different situations, different channels to receive the same key message.


Touchpoints and multichannel marketing

The same principle- the touchpoints- was developed in marketing a long time ago, and now is being updated for new technologies. Touchpoints, in marketing, are all the instances when the brand interacts, or makes contact, with the customer. But it could also be defined as every elements that concurs to create a direct experience of the product or service, through every channels available.  For the customer, this moments or experiences represent the deciding factors in purchasing (or re-purchasing)a certain product.

In pharmaceutical B2B things are simpler, as the application of marketing’s 4P is by its very nature more immediate.

The normative is strict, and the avenues that can be used by a company to interact with physicians  are limited – and more easily controlled and regulated – than with daily consumer goods. This limitations, however, besides being enforced by the normative, are  proper and fitting to scientific  rigour – which is actually the core of the message.

Two yogurts may appear different while being similar in their composition – and be differently positioned – but the defining characteristics needn’t be particularly scientific; in pharma, the product distribution is – by its very nature – tied to the specifics of the active substances benefits and advantages.

Touchpoints analysis is, at any rate, broader and more complex: it includes the packages and its colors, the package insert, the components both graphic and scientific of visual aids, clinical trials, how the rep describes the product therapeutic specification.   

If pre and post-purchasing evaluations are to be considered touchpoints, and the interactions with the pharmaceutical company are reiterated, then the factors which can concur in creating the physician’s opinion are crucial. It’s taking into consideration the service and the manner of delivery of the message, that multichannel acquires its meaning.

Whenever we’re in a grocery store, perusing the shelves, or at home, pondering the purchase of a durable good, or even just window shopping, we search for reviews on the web, we talk with friends, we share our experiences: these are all touchpoints.  The same principles apply when a rep calls, or redirects by email towards a website with detailed studies.

The touchpoints perspective is a “traditional” one, but can complete and integrate how the physicians perceive the brand. Even today, everything – from the congress to the rep visit- is planned to convey the same key message,  with the different manners that each implies: a roll up at a congress, a visual aid for the rep (as the opposite would be impractical).

As the number of channels grows, the message will be tuned to the peculiarity of each.

Clearly, the touchpoints model is a subtler version of multichannel, and therefore more complex – as every instance of contact is analyzed for itself and not just from the channel perspective.

Multichannel Marketing is a direct descendant of traditional marketing, that has evolved to adapt to modern necessities: it’s the one that fits the most to the channels and the multiple touchpoints that everyone experiences every day.

It can’t be explained in his entirety, the only way to fully assimilate it is by trial and error, experimenting, constant studying and tweaking. (I found a motivational video by Marco Montemagno , maybe a little blunt, but nonetheless effective ).

After all, marketing is a big umbrella, with many iterations: tribal, viral, one to one. They are condidered legitimate if they work, which only happens if they are customer-centric. If they are, as multichannel is, it’s simply “marketing”, and every addition is redundant.