Lucy George, Head, Digital and Business Excellence, Novartis

Local & Global Cooperation for Marketing Success

Interview with Lucy George, Head, Digital and Business Excellence, Novartis on marketing success

“When it comes to content supply chains, 80-90% of the time we should be leveraging global centralised approaches,” says Lucy George, Head of Digital and Business Excellence at Novartis. Lucy recently spoke at The Customer Engagement Europe Event on marketing success which ran from 24–25th May 2022 at the Hilton London Tower Bridge, London, UK.

SciencePOD had the opportunity to speak with Lucy on the topic of her presentation in a panel entitled “Global to local and back again: Navigate customer preferences, varied regulatory requirements and tech capabilities with a plug-and-play digital strategy.” The event was organised by Reuters Events Pharma and provided a forum and networking opportunity for marketing, commercial, and medical affairs leaders.

The content is doing 80% of the heavy lifting in terms of engagement.

-Lucy George

Could you tell us about the focus of your talk at the Reuters Pharma Customer Engagement Europe 2022 event?

The focus of the session that I was involved in is how we best leverage global programs in our local market says  Lucy George. As a local digital data head, this is a huge part of what we do, and we frequently collaborate with our global teams to co-create a solution. When developing a new system or platform, we always try to be part of the initiation of those programs, so that our local needs are catered for.

We have a lot of experience of what works well, and the challenges and pinch points. I believe that we are more powerful together, especially when it comes to digital infrastructure. When it comes to content supply chains, 80-90% of the time we should be leveraging global centralised approaches, rather than each country or market, or even individual teams, working to create solutions in isolation for marketing success. However, it does come with some challenges. Each of us have our own level of readiness as local teams. Some teams may not be ready for every solution, and we need to lay the foundations for that.

Conversely, sometimes in the UK, we have actually been ahead of the curve in terms of what the global team is doing, and we are looking for solutions that are more advanced. So sometimes we end up with our own platforms, which is nice in terms of meeting our local needs, but ideally, we would all be working from the same strategy.

How do you balance the need to engage using global messages and the need to engage customers at the local level?

There’s definitely a need for pragmatism in terms of using great work that has been approved and tested already. From a global team point of view, achieving efficiency and consistency is important. Consistency is particularly important for branded campaigns and marketing success, as you need to ensure brand consistency across the world.

Sometimes there can be issues around regulations and customer expectations, or cultural expectations in different parts of the world, that means that we don’t use the content that has been provided, and we have to tweak that slightly. Sometimes, we might have divergence in our strategy between local and global teams, and because of the specific characteristics of our market dynamics or resources or readiness in-country, it may be appropriate to take a completely different approach.

However, I do think that’s rare, and I think for the most part it’s best not to have a mindset that we always have to be different. It’s human nature to strive for originality, but I think the best approach is to work with what we have available from the global team and then test it in our context and learn how it works there. Most of the time we are more similar than we are different.

Could you give us an example of a successful campaign you have run, recently?

Some of our great success has come from non-promotional campaigns. We have worked on several of these across Novartis in the UK. These often involve raising the profile of health inequalities or specific disease areas, such as cardiovascular, oncology and haematology, where we feel there is a need to increase general awareness about the disease state or what might be available in terms of treatment or healthcare support.

These campaigns have included some nice collaborations with patient groups and multi-channel campaigns, that aren’t necessarily promotional but really help to raise the profile of these important disease areas. These campaigns have also allowed us to test our digital approaches, including new channels and new engagement methods.   

What proportion of the marketing success of such a campaign can be attributed to the use of specific technologies and to the quality of the message/content?

The content has to be valuable. In our daily lives as consumers, we get bombarded with messages from every single channel. However, what grabs your attention is the content that’s relevant and appealing to you as an individual. This type of content should intrigue and stimulate a thirst to know more about the topic. So, whilst it’s amazing that we have all these new channels that we can use to reach people, in my opinion the content is doing 80% of the heavy lifting in terms of engagement.

What other best practices can you recommend to digital marketers in the industry for marketing success?

This has got me thinking about what makes us successful from a technology point of view, and we have loads of innovative techniques at our disposal, some of which we have been testing, like AI and big data, but when I think about what has been really successful over the last two or three years it is things like Zoom and Teams that have had the biggest impact.

These technologies have allowed us to reach our customers at a place and time that suits them. They have also allowed us to challenge the norm of “we can only meet you at 3 pm on a Thursday in your office” and have opened up new possibilities. I don’t think that we’ll ever go back, and we need to keep embracing that change and see it as a positive thing. We have also seen a lot of success with things like virtual webinars – again, it’s not exactly the most sophisticated technology, but it is extremely powerful in bringing people together in a very flexible way.    

Photo credit: Lucy George.

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