I still remember the first advisory board meeting I ever attended. I was in my first job out of school—a market research analyst position in the company’s CNS franchise. The brand team invited me to tag along as a glorified note-taker for their semi-annual Depression Advisory Board.
The meeting took place at a fancy beachfront hotel in Miami. There were maybe twenty KOLs in attendance, flown in from around the country for a couple of days in the sun, and some helpful input on marketing and development strategy.
To be sure, many aspects of pharmaceutical marketing and development have changed for the better—the reliance on entertainment being a singular example. But this basic formula for an advisory board meeting still persists—KOLs gather from around the country and huddle in a pleasant atmosphere to give the company the benefit of their insights and experience.
Does this still make sense? In an increasingly technological world, is this “old but good” approach still the best way to get input from advisors? Not to mention the myriad of current challenges in executing in-person meetings that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are four reasons why today’s ad boards should be virtual, not live:
- Lower Cost – This is a no-brainer. By eliminating airfare, meals, hotel, etc., you eliminate the lion’s share of the cost—wasted dollars that do not buy you any additional insight anyway. Add to that the reduced honoraria you will pay to compensate your experts for time out of the office and going virtual is a real budget stretcher.
- Ability to access the KOLs you want – Let’s face it: the people whose input you want are busy—very busy. Finding a time when all your trusted advisors are available is not easy. Moving to a virtual format dramatically improves your scheduling options, and therefore improves the caliber of your board.
- Speed to Launch – When you have questions to ask, you want them answered now, not in 6 months! While live ad boards may require months to organize, a virtual ad board can be successfully executed in weeks or even days.
- Engagement and Interaction – A virtual ad board can be much more than a webinar or Zoom call. At MNG Health, our Advisor Direct platform creates an interactive environment for up to 25 advisors on camera simultaneously. We track participant engagement with discussion content, use interactive polling and survey questions, and offer virtual white boards where participants and facilitators to collaborate on topics of special interest. Additionally, we offer a seamless breakout room experience, allowing sub-content to be shared with smaller, intimate groups while providing the same interactive features. Whatever you used to do live, we can now do virtually.
None of this is to say that there is no longer a place for face-to-face interactions with company advisors. But given the many advantages of meeting virtually, the modern marketer should give strong consideration to using a virtual platform to host advisory boards.
MNG Health is a multichannel marketing company with over twenty years of experience that specializes in data-driven tactics designed to reach and engage target HCPs throughout the customer journey – spanning non-personal promotion, peer-to-peer interactions, and advisory platforms.