Wow vs How Rethinking content creation in Pharma and Healthcare

‘Wow’ versus ‘How’: Rethinking Content Creation in Pharma and Healthcare

‘We need this to really wow the audience!’ This is a common refrain in every species of content creation; the quest for materials that make a lasting impact. Anyone who has ever taken part in a marketing meeting or picked up a pharma or healthcare client brief has been challenged to create content that ‘wows’, every designer has heard the neighbouring phrase, ‘Let’s make this pop!’ It’s not said without cause, every creative and every marketer understands the desire to conceive and deliver work that stands out in an increasingly competitive landscape.

The Challenge of Information Overload

The volume of new medical knowledge reached an unfathomable 79 zettabytes in 2021, nearly doubling since 2019 (Elsevier, 2022 and Medical Affairs Professional Society [MAPS], 2023). And there are no signs of a slowdown. The challenge to be heard in a noisy content conversation is growing. The pressure to differentiate content from the mass of material in the marketplace is real. The audience needs and deserves to consume information that is memorable, attention-grabbing, and compels action.

This is particularly true for healthcare professionals (HCPs), who face increased time pressures and are seeking credible, up-to-date scientific and medical content through their preferred channels.

Yet what does ‘wow’ mean? Something expensive – a celebrity voiceover on a video with cinematic production values? Something elaborate – interactive graphics and gamification? Something provocative or unexpected? Or something insightful – something with the power to shape opinions or reframe perspectives because of its substance rather than its format?

Pitfalls of Pursuing the ‘Wow factor’

And there lies the crucial question. Is ‘wow’ about appearance and creating a shiny surface? Or is it about creating meaningful substance? The truth is, when it comes to content, what one person finds remarkable, another may find off-putting or even inappropriate. This is especially true when creating content for diverse regions and cultures. Striving for ‘wow’ could inadvertently alienate or confuse part of the audience.

Furthermore, in the highly regulated pharma industry, achieving ‘wow’ often means navigating a gauntlet of brand guidelines, medical-legal reviews (MLR), and localisation requirements. These necessary processes can be significant barriers to realising a particular creative vision. While creativity and innovation are undoubtedly important, even within the constraints of the pharmaceutical industry, the pursuit of ‘wow’ should not come at the expense of delivering timely content that is credible, relevant, and clear.

What HCPs Really Want

The most important question is whether ‘wow’ is truly what HCPs need and want from medical content. So, how do physicians filter and select content to meet their needs? Scholarly publisher surveys of HCPs found that the most influential factor globally is ‘trust’ –  the credibility of sources, with 81% of physicians considering it important, followed by up-to-date information and research, as selected by 78% of physicians, and ease of searching or navigation, selected by approximately 60% (+/-3%) of physicians (MAPS, 2023).

This data suggests that the primary focus should be on consistently delivering high-quality, scientifically robust content. By prioritising credibility, relevance, and clarity over flashiness, we can build trust with HCPs and support their need for reliable information to inform patient care decisions.

From ‘Wow’ to ‘How’: Agile Content Creation and Modular Strategies

Where format comes into play is understanding that credible, authoritative content can be tailored to the needs of HCPs who have different learning styles and prefer to consume their content in different ways. As Jörg Corsten, Senior Digital Transformation and Innovation Director at Roche, told SciencePOD in an interview: ‘It is important to realise that our customers are not a monolith, and tailoring content serves to keep the information relevant and appealing for each type of customer across the various channels.’

Traditional content creation approaches in Medical Affairs, however, often hinder this goal. These approaches are inefficient, involving recreation of content for different channels and duplication of efforts, leading to inconsistencies and difficulties in updating content across assets.

To overcome these challenges and deliver the content HCPs truly need, Medical Affairs teams should invest in agile content creation approaches that enable efficient production of compliant, evidence-based content tailored to different HCP audiences and channels.

Modular content strategies, which use pre-approved blocks of content or ‘modules’ that can be used to create various medical assets, offer a promising solution. Modular content reduces duplication, streamlines content creation, allows content to be updated consistently across channels, and enables personalisation.

Adopting modular content strategies requires investing in the right technology and processes, including content planning, development platforms tailored for scientific content, and well-organised content management. Michael Kurr of Boehringer Ingelheim explores this in a grander approach to scalable custom content through a digital content factory. These investments enable the agile creation and delivery of high-quality content at scale. Is this feasible for all pharma companies? Likely not all at once, but agile approaches and modular content can be assimilated at a feasible pace.

A Call to Refocus

We must ask ourselves: Are we chasing the elusive ‘wow’ factor, or are we focusing on delivering the credible, relevant, and clear content that HCPs need and want? By prioritising substance over style, we can create content that makes a difference in patient care.

Let’s refocus our efforts on the ‘how’ of content creation – the strategies and approaches that enable us to consistently deliver value to our audience. Metrics like improved speed to market, content reuse, and personalisation should guide our efforts, ensuring we’re meeting the evolving needs, content and learning preferences of HCPs.

In the high-stakes world of healthcare, building trust through consistent quality should be the ultimate goal. By investing in agile, modular content capabilities, we can play a key role in delivering a seamless omnichannel customer experience to HCPs, with scientific content that truly makes a difference.

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