News & Press

Pandemic Shifts Focus to Digital Marketing Strategy

Edition 4 / December 2020
Article > A Marketing Year Like No Other: The Importance of Integrated Strategy

Edition 4 / December 2020

Abby Thompson, Global Marketing Communications Manager, CordenPharma International, headshot

Abby Thompson,

Global Marketing Communications Manager,
CordenPharma International

A Marketing Year Like No Other: The Importance of Integrated Strategy


The 2020 pandemic reinforced the importance of an integrated marketing strategy that includes new & existing marketing channels
and digital technologies.

After spending early January 2020 in our normal, full-steam-ahead fashion, the Marketing Communications team of CordenPharma (comprised of Global Marketing Communication Managers Abby Thompson & Eva Schaub, Platform Directors Dr. Matthieu Giraud, Jason Bertola & Fabio Stevanon, and VP of Platform Management & Marketing, Dr. Stephen Houldsworth) began organizing another year around the CDMO sun in its usual marketing rhythm: set deadlines & priorities in winter, prepare & attend the spring shows, continue major initiatives through summer, meet customers at CPhI Worldwide and other fall shows, then finish the year with final projects, planning for the next year, and season’s greetings. Little did we know then that we were embarking on a year like no other!

Business Continuity in a New Digital Era

Not surprisingly, Merriam-Webster just announced that the word pandemic (pan meaning “all” or “every,” and dēmos means “people”) is the most searched online word definition of 2020, most notably at its highest 115,806% increase in lookups on March 11th, the day the World Health Organization announced that we had officially entered a pandemic. This data reinforces the fact that when the pandemic hit, humanity as a whole turned to the internet in search of answers to all sorts of questions, from scientific facts about the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the symptoms of its associated disease (formerly known as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”, now called “CoronaVirus Disease 2019” or “COVID-19”), to keeping family & friends safe, adjusting to quarantine life, finding where to get tested, tracking cases on maps, following travel and lockdown restrictions, and staying connected with loved ones. This yearlong digital Q&A sparked a paradigm shift that has entirely transformed business communications, particularly in the Pharmaceutical Industry, by suddenly tipping the balance towards digital strategy, technology & platforms, as well remote operations and virtual tools.

As a CDMO, we witnessed the tremendous pressure placed on the industry, and felt the responsibility our role in it would play on the dawn of an unprecedented race to create safe vaccines in timelines formerly considered impossible. With three facilities in Italy, one of the first epicenters of the outbreak, our task as an organization in February and March was to align quickly and work together to continue business continuity for our customers’ critical medicines, stay connected internally and externally, and keep our employees safe.

As such, our first focus as a Marketing Team in this exploding new landscape of digital & virtual communication was to create a COVID-19 Customer Letter on our website, with weekly updates on critical pandemic communication and video success stories to keep customers informed, assured and inspired during challenging times. Of particular note is the continued supply of Propofol, an effective sedative for COVID-19 patients, from our CordenPharma Caponago facility in Italy.

Digital Content is King

The coronavirus’ sudden demand for digital content in March formally crowned it ‘King of 2020 Marketing Strategy’ by April. With the loss of face-to-face contact at trade shows and customer visits, the use of video emerged as the most immediate and effective form of digital content and virtual business interaction, as is seen by the 53% increase of daily Microsoft Teams users to 115 Million since April 2020. It was then that video became the ruling focus of our digital marketing efforts, starting with the creation of two videos for our Sterile Injectable and Highly Potent API Platforms, and ending with the November launch of our ONE Partner Customer Video to highlight our Full-Service Integrated Supply.

The Need for Integrated Marketing

By May, we realized the need to not only create digital content such as videos, but also augment and integrate them into a connected marketing strategy involving traditional communication methods such as Press Releases, our quarterly Corden Connect newsletter, email campaigns and digital advertising. For example, this Q420 edition marks our third use of video in the leadership editorial of the newsletter this year, replacing the traditional written editorial of the past.

As announced in a May 28 press release, one of CordenPharma’s greatest honors of 2020 is our collaborative effort to support an expanded agreement with Moderna to manufacture large-scale volumes of Moderna’s lipid excipients for their vaccine candidate (mRNA-1273) against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The power of PR to communicate these important milestones to the press, so they can relay them through traditional news channels and publications, remains a key factor in Integrated Marketing that must run in parallel to new digital efforts.

The Importance of Social Media

What we #love about #quarantine during the #covid19 #pandemic is how we #stayhome for our #future, and count on #cdmos like #cordenpharma to support #businesscontinuity, so #innovators can create #safe #vaccines and improved #pharmaceuticals for #healthcare. Ok seriously, the hashtag has never been more important! In addition to the constant monitoring of hashtag trending, as well as an utter fascination with the role social media apps such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok have played in the global quarantine culture, most of our social media attention centered on our LinkedIn company page, where we realized a 20% increase in followers since April.

Trade Shows > Adjusting to the New Normal

By June, we had begun to accept the inability to connect in person with customers and colleagues at our usual trade shows, and the profound impact it had on our communications and spirits. Aside from participating in three virtual trade shows, our Key Account Managers have worked tirelessly to keep connected with existing and new customers, while our dedicated employees at all CordenPharma Facilities made sure supply chain continues uninterrupted. Thank you to the whole CordenPharma team – we applaud your efforts!

Now that the old normal has become the “New Normal,” where trade show cancellations and travel restrictions toppled our naïve conceptions of just how long this would take, and just how much it would limit our intended plans indefinitely, we suspect the 2021 New Normal will be just, well, normal life. That is, one that requires flexibility, adaptability, and a large measure of trust in the innovative work that pharma & biotech companies are doing to create vaccines.

Digital Technologies

As one of four CordenPharma pillars forming the foundation of our mission & vision, Customer Centricity was the main driver behind the acquisition of new – or continued use of existing – digital technologies this year. Customer surveys sent out by the sales team through Get Feedback are one example of how data gathered by digital technology provides many areas of CordenPharma, including Compliance & Operations Teams, Project Management, R&D, Sales, Marketing, and Executive Leadership, with specific information about customer satisfaction that fuels our global continuous improvement programs.

During the summer months, we acquired new digital technology platforms which enabled customers to book virtual meetings more easily, and allowed us to produce our own webinars and internal town halls. We are convinced these technologies will drive further engagement with customers, and provide platforms for communicating our thought leadership and expertise in a broad number of areas going forward.

2021 > A Hopeful Future for Pharma

As fall ends and winter begins, the CordenPharma MarCom Team will continue into 2021 by further expanding our digital strategies with virtual customer site tours and the possible use of AI and Marketing Automation. We very much hope to connect with you somewhere in person next year, to thank you for your continued partnership, as we embark on the future of Pharma together. We wish you a Happy & Safe Holiday Season and New Year.

The CordenPharma MarCom Team

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