Same same, but different: marketing in a regulated industry

What can pharma marketing learn from other highly regulated sectors?

No one industry is ever the same as another, but there are often similarities and valuable lessons that pharma marketing can take away from examining how other sectors use technology, build brands and approach digital content.

Like pharma, other sectors are tightly bound by regulations and operate across competitive global markets – including legal, financial, food manufacturing and transport industries, alongside thousands of companies that serve consumers directly or indirectly. Whilst their products and services might be different their approach to marketing might be more similar than you think…

We have looked across a range of sectors to see what life sciences could learn from marketing in other regulated industries.

Long-term content that can scale with your business

It’s important to establish a single source of truth for all content stakeholders and for content to be maximised through omni-channel delivery that is easily measured and adjusted as needed. Sectors including retail and financial services are a good benchmark for this approach and the contract outsourcing space is well advised to monitor external sectors to evaluate best practice.

Too often, we see content that is self-promotional. Which is fine, when used in the right places. From looking into other industries, it’s clear they share the same problem. They’re scared to share too much in case they are giving too much away. The learning that we can take from this is that there is always enough content to share. Whether you’re discussing best practices in drug product manufacturing or helping a biotech company to understand the CDMO selection process – people want to learn. And, if your content can help them do that, they’ll engage with you.

Content consistency

The proliferation of multi-channel activity demands a really strong focus on content consistency across all the different channels companies use. It’s a challenge that pharma and any industry working across multiple geographies, with a multitude of agency and supply partners, will know all too well.

When you expand globally it becomes an even bigger challenge, especially when you start to build in language and cultural variations. That’s obviously a challenge that’s relevant to all industries.

Marketing regulated products and services require a certain level of detail and often companies involved in the pharmaceutical outsourcing space have a tendency to be conservative and cautious, where they could simply be authentic by carefully telling their brand story, making their USPs clear, and creating consistent content. One piece of content can absolutely be re-purposed a number of times. They say a person needs to hear or see the same thing seven times before really hearing it – so don’t be afraid to tell the same story, in different ways.


Let’s be honest. There isn’t a single marketer in the world that doesn’t think they should be doing this more than they are.

Deploying carefully planned communication sequences that are personally addressed to the right audience, and targeted at the right time will reach customers at the point they are most active in the decision making and/or buying journey to support conversion. Hyper-personalisation requires good quality data and efficient CRM management together with tightly planned communication and content plans that support your local and/or global sales plan.

This is hard work.  And, it doesn’t happen overnight. So build a plan to get there and trust us, your marketing efforts will start performing in ways you didn’t think possible.

Regulated industry learnings

There’s a lot that pharmaceutical marketing gets right, but the way other regulated industries have taken learnings from the likes of consumer, financial and retail sectors provides some useful pointers for the future.

Striking a more approachable tone with stakeholders, and developing content that increases message consistency will pave the way for business and conversion support. Personalised communications will build trust, and engage existing and potential customers at key decision-making points. Taking a more personalised approach to content that is adaptable while remaining consistent could help messages resonate with the pharmaceutical industry’s diverse stakeholders.

Related news, insight and opinion