What Is RRM?

Over the last couple of years, responsive design has become the new trend to ensure customers can see our message any time from any device. As we know, healthcare professionals are uber users of hand-held devices, and so responsive design has become essential. The term also refers to the way digital design, leveraging the “agile” method, favoring smaller, cyclical bursts of development and rapid testing, is developed.

This approach has been favored by start-ups as it allows them to conceive ideas iteratively and make changes along the way, honing their business model at they go. But larger businesses too have adopted responsive design in rolling out enhancements to their global platform, making changes incrementally. One method that has been of great value to companies is a roll out with select users, enabling adjustments derived from the data gathered and analyzed. In the digital design world, the term responsive design refers to adaptation of code that automatically fits the medium it is being interacted with – and this is the way the term is most often used in our industry.



I was thinking about the evolution of healthcare relationship marketing (RM) a few weeks ago – as I often do – and coined the term “Responsive RM” in a brainstorming meeting. I come up with many terms along the way (and have been known to buy domain names as a hobby when I get excited about one) but RRM really stuck, and the more I thought about the concept, the more I loved where it was leading. 

Most Healthcare RM Remains Linear And Unresponsive
Over the past 10 years, we have developed and launched almost 50 RM programs, primarily for patients and caregivers. Despite the evolution of digital technology, including social and mobile, much of our RM emphasis remains dedicated to reaching those suffering with health conditions in a “planned and canned” fashion, with segmentation and messaging designed to leverage consumer insights (we hope!) and communications which could be fulfilled across myriad channels (including digital). 

Traditional Heatlhcare RM looks something like this:

(e – email; p – phone; o – offline)

The problem this traditional model poses, however, is that it is an approach that much like its counterpart in tech development, is neither nimble nor flexible and isn’t built for response or adaptation beyond the media it was designed for. This is exactly what medical/regulatory teams love about marketing such as this – planned and canned is perfectly suited to the controlled marketing style that must adhere to stringent FDA rules and regulations.

However, there is hope! Responsive RM is agile, and can accommodate the guidelines that are a fact of life in the pharmaceutical industry. RRM listens first, and communicates subsequently. In the new world, the marketing team and partners won’t sit in a room and bang out the “buckets” that seem clear cut, then execute streams of communication in a linear fashion.

We will not be implementing programs that take 12 months to give birth to, and then be compelled to stick with them “as is” for another length of time – because the time and resources needed to make updates are too painful to contemplate. Instead, the core of our RM strategy will be about content development in the form of an archive or library, married with a CMS (Content Management System). All the areas where a consumer interacts digitally with our brand will call upon the CMS to serve content that responds to how the user is engaging online.

For example, if a patient is tracking symptoms in a web-based tracker, the system that is collecting the data will serve personalized content in accordance with the unique experience a user is having with that tool. If the patient indicates “fatigue” as a primary symptom for three days in a row, the platform will provide value add information on what fatigue is caused by and how to manage it.

The Responsive RM model looks like this:

In our new model, segmentation is an organic process based on activities and engagement observed through serving dynamically tailored content. The tea leaves (better known as data) are read as the user interacts with digital offerings, and segmentation is born out of this process. And, yes, there can be fulfillment beyond that in the traditional sense – meaning we can leverage familiar media such as email, phone, offline, etc. The difference is that these are dynamically tailored as well by leveraging the same exact content library that we are using to serve content on the web. (Remember COPE? Create Once Publish Everywhere)

Questions we should be asking up front, and iteratively as we move along the journey:

  • What content do patients and caregivers value most? And how do they find it?
  • Who should author this content? (clue: not the brand!)
  • What kids of content is being shared peer to peer?
  • How does content scale, reaching the right patient at the right time?
  • How can brands insert themselves into the content ecosystem in ways that bring value back to the brand?

So as you think about your new RM program or an existing one, ask yourself - is the relationship designed to be responsive? Is it nimble and flexible, or are you still planning and canning? Its time to evolve our Relationship Marketing model so that we are actually building relationships, not amassing records.

Stay tuned for my next RRM topic: “5 Tips on How to Develop Content for Responsive RM”

1 comment about "What Is RRM?".
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  1. Fard Johnmar from Enspektos, LLC, July 26, 2013 at 2:17 p.m.


    I think the idea of RRM is absolutely on target. Coincidentally, your concept fits very nicely into a health content delivery model we've developed called "just-in-time" health information systems. This involves utilizing a range of passively and actively collected data from consumers to filter and deliver the right information at the right time. I wrote about this concept on Media Post a few weeks ago.

    We're producing a report and Webinar on this subject (both are scheduled for next week). If you'd like more info, please let me know.


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