Dec 6, 2022

How to improve your KOL Engagement #5 How a modern knowledge of influence can transform your KOL management.

In the 2011 based-on-a-true-story film Moneyball, Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane who takes the lowly Oakland Athletics to the baseball World Series by building a team of unappreciated talent through a sophisticated sabermetric approach to analysing players. There is a great scene early in the film where the old-fashioned scouts are discussing players Billy might be interested in signing, with all sorts of old-fashioned parameters for judging them including the ‘eye-candy test; he looks the part’ and ‘he has an ugly girlfriend’, which suggests he is lacking in confidence. It serves to highlight the gulf in thinking between scouts and Billy Beane and his sabermetrics.

Eleven years after Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, it is inconceivable that anyone working in sport management now does not have some knowledge of sabermetric approach. For medical marketing and medical affairs, a similarly transformative way of approaching their work is through diffusion studies and social network analysis. Both these approaches analyse adoption of new ideas and how influence moves through a network. Below are three examples of how a little knowledge of diffusion research and social network analysis can transform your KOL activities.

1. The type of KOL you approach can depend on how different your product is from other products on the market, how well known you are as a company, and the stage you are in the product lifecycle. For example, a company that is new to a therapy area with an innovative product should be looking to engage with innovators as these people are more open to new ideas; a network map could be used to identify who the innovators are in a social network.

2. Some highly influential KOLs may be dependent upon another KOL for their own decision to adopt a new idea, while others who are less influential may be more independent minded. Again, a network map can help you to identify between these two different KOLs and plan your activities accordingly.

3. It is possible to use a network map to identify which KOLs are likely to have similar views. This can be vital when it comes to any activities where you are seeking advice and medical expertise from KOLs, such as advisory boards or one-to-one interviews, to ensure that the KOLs you hear from are representative of the opinions of the medical community overall.

These three examples give you some flavour of the insight you can derive from diffusion studies and social network analysis. If you are interested in finding out more, I’d recommend Everett M Rogers Diffusion of Innovations, or comment below or email me. We’re always glad to discuss all things influence and engagement.

Joe Kendle

Joe Kendle