Pharma marketers: Streamlining MRC processes

For pharma marketers, the journey from concept to campaign launch is fraught with regulatory hurdles, complex approval processes, and it always needs to be done ‘yesterday’. The Marketing Review Committee (MRC) plays an important role, ensuring that marketing materials are not only effective but also compliant with regulatory requirements. However, for marketers, navigating the MRC process can often feel like steering through a maze of challenges that slow down progress and stifle innovation.

Here are six common obstacles faced by pharma marketers in their dealings with MRCs and presents actionable solutions grounded in new ways of working.

1. Lengthy Approval Times

Challenge: Approval processes are slow, causing delays in campaign launches.

Resolution: Implement agile methodologies within the MRC process, such as breaking down approvals into smaller, manageable pieces that can be reviewed and approved in shorter cycles. This approach can help accelerate the overall approval time while maintaining rigorous review standards.

2. Inconsistent Feedback

Challenge: Marketers receive conflicting feedback from MRC members, leading to confusion and revisions.

Resolution: Use a collaborative platform where feedback can be consolidated and discussed in real-time, ensuring consistency. Adopting a Scrum or Kanban board for the review process can help in visualizing feedback and aligning it before it reaches the marketing team.

3. Lack of Clarity on Regulations

Challenge: There is uncertainty about how to interpret and apply regulations to marketing materials.

Resolution: Conduct regular training sessions for both marketers and MRC members on the latest regulatory requirements and how they apply to marketing efforts. Incorporate Design Thinking workshops to explore creative yet compliant solutions to regulatory challenges.

4. Resource Constraints

Challenge: MRCs have limited resources to review a large volume of projects, affecting the quality of oversight.

Resolution: Prioritize projects using a Lean Startup approach, focusing on those with the highest value or urgency. Additionally, streamline the review process by adopting a ‘triage’ system where materials are pre-assessed for complexity and allocated resources accordingly.

5. Communication Gaps

Challenge: Misunderstandings arise between marketers and MRCs due to poor communication.

Resolution: Foster open communication channels and regular check-ins between the marketing teams and MRCs, using tools like daily stand-ups or sprint planning meetings to clarify objectives, target audiences, and key messages. This ensures alignment from the outset.

6. Rigidity in Approaches

Challenge: MRCs may be resistant to new marketing approaches or technologies.

Resolution: Leverage Systems Thinking to understand the impact of new approaches within the broader organizational and regulatory context. Encourage a culture of continuous improvement and experimentation within the MRC, using validated learning cycles to cautiously test and learn from innovative marketing strategies.

By adopting these resolutions, pharma marketers and MRCs can work together more effectively, ensuring compliance while also embracing agility, innovation, and a focus on delivering value to customers.

By adopting new, agile ways of working, such as breaking down approvals into smaller pieces, using platforms for real-time feedback, and regularly training on regulatory requirements, marketing teams and Marketing Review Committees (MRCs) can work together more efficiently. Streamlining the process with clear communication, prioritizing projects based on business impact, and being open to new marketing technologies can transform these challenges into opportunities for innovation. Ultimately, by working smarter and embracing change, pharma marketers can achieve their goals faster and more effectively, ensuring their campaigns resonate well with their audiences while staying compliant. This approach not only speeds up the marketing process but also fosters a more collaborative and innovative environment where both marketers and MRCs thrive.