The Inside Scoop: First and foremost KOLs are scientists and they want and like to be exposed to stimulating new ideas. They may not always agree with the direction the science is taking, but it is the very act of discussing the differences that is intriguing for them. They are well used to hypothesis building and the uncertainty of scientific development. Participation in the development process makes them feel like ‘insiders’ engendering a spirit of ownership in them.
A Sneak Peek: Giving the KOL hands on experience with a novel product gives them a reason for the word of mouth transmission that is required to create the product’s position, and affirms the KOL as a leader. As well as using the product there is a need for the science surrounding the product to contain something controversial, i.e. something different from the status quo. It is this element of surprise that creates an interest and willingness to pass information on to colleagues.
VIP Vote: Giving advice and participating in advisory boards, steering committees and clinical trials creates a sense of ownership, loyalty and goodwill that triggers adoption and recommendation. However, this is an iterative process and if Pharma chooses a different route to that recommended by the KOL this must be openly addressed with them.
A future of transparency, public scrutiny and regulation is putting pressure on the Pharma/KOL relationship. However, in this changing environment there are a few pointers that may help you navigate these troubled waters.
Change is an opportunity
Move away from the advocate-led key message broadcasting approach, to a more considered, long-term science-led KOL plan that puts the KOLs at the core of the strategy and not a tactic to be ‘managed’ on an ad hoc basis
Help KOLs be leaders
Opinion leaders are looking for something remarkable so they can talk about it and to be seen to be leads. Our role is to give them a cause and give them the support and data to make change happen
This requires clear thinking as to how you wish to develop and shape the disease area as well as your brand. Importantly, it is in developing and communicating the science behind these strategies where KOLs can be appropriately engaged
Considerations for your organisation
Identify where and how the changes can trigger ideas about how your organisation can work in a transparent, mutually beneficial manner with the right KOLs. More than ever, a detailed and strategic KOL plan is crucial for the long-term success of your product
To discuss how Succinct can make the ‘secret formula’ work for you, please email Rob Barker.