Hard times often teach us important lessons. At Eli Lilly this past year, the pandemic taught us how critical it is to listen, adapt, and respond to changing customer needs.
As a pharmaceutical company, we had a social responsibility to lean in and help people. In the pandemic’s early days, we took immediate actions, such as removing or updating TV and digital ads to better comply with COVID-19 guidelines.
Reality set in quickly that we were in a prolonged global crisis and needed to pivot our marketing strategy to keep up with rapid shifts in consumer behavior. Data became our litmus test for understanding these shifts and informing the decisions we made to adapt. It allowed us to navigate the crisis with a strategic, customer-first approach.
But our preparedness and ability to be nimble didn’t just happen. It started a few years ago — well before the pandemic — as part of a larger commitment to delivering more personalized experiences for customers. We had to increase our digital maturity to do it, by investing in and adopting new technologies and ways of working.
Digital transformation was not easy for us. It required executive buy-in, cross-functional partnerships, and a willingness to invest in ongoing change, even when it was uncomfortable or inconvenient. But over time, our approach has improved our ROI and helped us become more efficient. It also prepared us to show up for customers when it mattered most.
Here are four big lessons we learned during our journey to more data-driven, customer-centric marketing. I’m sharing them with the hope that they can help inform your own plans this year.