The Brand Manager of the Future Takes Shape

For brand managers to bring the right content to the right people, they’ll need a cross-functional approach, as well as the speed, agility, and technical skills to act on brand insights that are uncovered by data. Yet the brand manager of the future will continue to have attributes of the past, especially field experience. That is still important to understanding customers.

Message first, but with speed

The primary focus of brand managers needs to be on producing quality content, which will then be delivered across many different channels.

While the need for quality content won’t change, the speed at which it is created and communicated to health care professionals (HCPs) and patients will. The pace of brand marketing is faster now, and it will get faster still. We’ve got to get brand marketing teams on board more quickly to understand what is happening and create the content we need.

This quicker pace is tempting some leaders to think about distribution first in the belief that an omnichannel approach will best meet their needs. In my company, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, we do use multiple channels to deliver personalized content but we believe that focusing on the channel before we have nailed the message will cause the message to be muddied.

The first step for brand managers is to identify the most important message for the customers they want to reach. Get the message right for each customer segment, and then think about the tools to reach them.

Best practices, global and local

Life sciences companies are global organizations with global perspectives, and resources. The brand manager of the future needs to tap the strengths of a global organization while not getting bogged down in processes that may not apply at the local level. Agility is important, and agile brand marketers must be able to take global materials and quickly localize them.

Brand managers will continue to play an important role in localizing global content, and I would encourage them to get as much local experience as they can in the markets their company serves. They need to know what content works best in each market, and to know that what plays well in Asia might not play in Germany and vice versa. Some countries and regions are more future-thinking than others, and that can help brand managers to see new avenues for innovation.

Get comfortable with data

Everyone on our team needs to be able to dig into data to understand the story it is telling. The more we use the insights we have, the better we will become at it.

There is so much data out there that this can be overwhelming, as can the pressure to understand what is behind the numbers so that we can incorporate them in our strategy. By doing this kind of analysis, marketers, salespeople, and any customer-facing person will be better able to understand what customers and prospects are asking and they can then move in the direction of a tailor-made answer. That will create real, impactful customer journeys and experiences.

Life sciences companies get many, many touchpoints from every customer. The brand manager’s job is to understand what information needs to be shared, and with whom, to create a truly outstanding customer and brand experience.

Data will drive messaging and getting the messaging right is the key job of brand managers. The need to get more content out faster may tempt you to focus on how to deliver content before you’ve defined the appropriate message for your target market, but don’t let it. Get a solid understanding of your local market needs, get plenty of global experience, and you’ll be well on your way to better serving your customers.

For more on Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s marketing journey and Fabienne Vanderpoel’s view of the digital brand manager of the future, read this Q&A.

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