Tell the story to healthcare professionals and let them figure out the rest.
Episode 3

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Finally, here we are closing our first series of 3 episodes about pharma campaign management. Through this series of articles, we developed a methodology that relies on 3 principles which are very common to how TV series work.

If you have missed episodes 1 & 2, please help yourself.

Picking up where we left off…

Let’s recall our main marketing campaign objective: HCP’s retention for engagement. Looking for the lasting effect of our marketing campaign on healthcare professionals’ (HCP) minds 

Our marketing campaign is now almost ready for broadcast.

On the first 2 episodes of our posts, we explained the power of repetition to enhance HCPs’ retention; and how we manage the repetition of key messages along the marketing campaign thanks to 2 principles: schedule message management and storytelling.

The marketing campaign’s key messages are delivered through a clear schedule like a tv series’ season enabling the repetition of one key message at a time – 6 times to be precise. The repetition of the message is made possible thanks to storytelling i.e delivering the same message through a different compelling story each time.

Once considering our target audience, we know what story to tell the HCP to convey our first key message, and this is where our third principle comes in.

How a TV series manages to involve their audience into the story delivered during an episode?

The Narrative.

In order for the audience to fully engage with the story, we need to structure it.

In an episode of a TV series, the narrative is what guides the attention of the audience into what’s important and what you want them to retain to get their engagement.

So, the narrative encourages participation.

Actually, narrative and storytelling are sometimes used as synonyms, but we consider narrative as the comprehensive building and construction of a story. Storytelling allows to organise the series of events, while the narrative provides how to structure the event.

The narrative takes the audience on a journey and that journey triggers emotions.
It involves a structural framework of how the story is presented to the audience (shaping the story). 

How it works concretely?

The narrative structure of a TV series or a movie, also described as a storyline or plotline, is generally built in 3 acts: exposition, development and conclusion, complying with the dramatic intensity curve that indicates the involvement of the audience as the story unfolds.

It works following a pattern with:

  • The exposition being the introduction of the story preparing for the coming conflict. It provides just enough background information about the characters and their environment;
  • right after follows the conflict that establish the direction of the story;
  • (moving through) the rising action in which the conflict is developed, giving a growing sense of urgency;
  • (then comes) the climax, which is the dramatic turning point that resolves the main conflict of the story and answers the central question.
  • (It ends with) the falling action offering a resolution also known as the dénouement or conclusion.

Unfolding the story through a well though-out path.


Note that all good narratives are based on conflict and challenge. And great stories have always a clear structure and purpose.

The narrative creates an emotional connection and engage the audience with the character of a TV series as much as with a brand.

Every step evokes cognitive and emotional responses such that the audience experiences the story through a process of mental simulation of actions from the narrative.

Emotions are key to an effective marketing campaign as they enhance memory, create connection and drive behaviour change.

Credit: Paramount Pictures.

So, what implies narrative structure in pharma campaign management?

Thinking of the pattern we described above used in TV series’ narrative structure, the same should apply during a call with an HCP. We want to create an interactive narrative where HCPs encounter stages during the course of the conversation leading to a new prescribing behavior for instance.

Articulating the message along the presentation helps achieve that emotional effect that will influence HCPs’ behavior.

The narrative structure drives the story in a way that HCPs know that what they sees matters whether they engage or not.

Eventually, the narrative structure will help to:

  • Demonstrate our proposition
  • Create an interactive conversation
  • Enhance HCPs’ retention
  • Drive HCPs’ engagement.

The sales representatives being the narrative’s voice, their speech relies in that structure. It is the outline of the story also referred to as the storyline or story flow.

However, in a marketing campaign, the narrative must also address the more strategic role of selling the proposition. In fact, at the end of the day we want the HCP to  ENGAGE.


All Pharma companies have communicated a selling process to their sales reps in order to get HCPs’ engagement during a call.

A simple and easy selling process we usually recommend is using Procter & Gamble’s that has been known and successfully applied for years.

With a small adaptation of the P&G’s selling process, we will pretty much match the narrative structure of a TV series benefiting from the dramatic curve to engage, both emotionally and in selling.
It structures our story so that the HCP will provide agreement at each step of the selling process.

1. (Start with) The situation

This first step, the exposition in a TV series episode: the set up.
It introduces an information to raise HCPs’ interest and make them receptive to the discussion to follow as they recognize and identify with it.

Depending on the content of the story, it can be a problem patients or HCPs are facing. However always think of who you are telling your story to. Adapting the situation point to the persona you’re meeting is key.

2. (State) The idea

Provide statement of your proposition. The idea addresses the situation. We enter into the rising action, creating a build-up of our solution.

3. (Explain how It works) The mechanism

Once we’d clearly stated the idea, then it is time to provide details that will support the idea. Typically, this includes more information about the product, like a mode of action for instance. This is the phase that builds up to the climax.

4. (Bring out) The Key Benefits

We reach the climax, where we answer to the question that was established early in the story’s exposition. These are the key reasons they should agree to move forward and maybe see a resolution to their problem.

Usually we recommend providing benefits for the HCP and also for the patients.
However, this shouldn’t be a long list of advantages but instead benefits carefully picked in accordance with the situation and the HCP’s profile. Remember that every step is linked to the next one.

You probably need to narrow down the list of potential benefits offered by the product to stick to the stated situation.

We want the HCP to not lose the thread of our narrative to boost our chances of getting an approval, a further engagement at each step.

5. Closing

The conclusion. We finally relieve the “tension” to open the discussion towards an engagement. This final step is very important as it is the dénouement of our story, the moment where you demonstrated competence in providing a solution to the situation and enabling the HCP to take action in response.

This narrative structure allows the sales’ rep to eliminate barriers or anticipate them. We make it easy for the HCP to agree or disagree on our story at each step creating the build-up of engagement.

A very simple example…


Hello doc,

Patients suffering from disease A are facing…
The risks are… to develop…


The latest clinical guidelines from… regarding the treatment of disease A say…


Product W works with a similar… as it provides…


Clinical evidence shows…
Patients benefit from a better…


Do you see how one of your patients could benefit from product W?
According to… the recommended dosage is…

To end this series let’s recap a little bit.

We tried to share an approach where we think effective pharma campaign management is a collection of various story points that communicate key messages repeated along a defined period through a clear narrative structure that leads to getting HCPs’ engagement.

The 3 principles developed along this series of posts work all together to make a marketing campaign lot more effective.

Just like a running TV series depends on the audiences’ memory of events, characters etc. pharma campaign management rely on HCPs’ retention of key messages to ensure its performance.

Whether the audience is sitting in their couch during an episode of their favorite TV series or sitting on their desk during a call with a sales’ rep, it’s all about scheduling, storytelling and narrative to engage the audience each time.

That being said, we are evolving in a complex environment surrounded with multiple channels of communication. Therefore, conveying a message is also about using a combination of channels to interact with the audience. An audience that increasingly tends to choose their own channels of communication.

Knowing that, it is important to look for developing a marketing campaign integrating those multiple touch points outside the traditional sales’ rep call, by creating what we call versatile content and using the segment-potential matrix approach.

Stay tuned!

If you’d like to learn more about how to enhance your campaign management in digital Pharma marketing, feel free to reach out to us at contact[at]


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