A key component of targeted marketing and communications initiatives is the development and evolution of marketplace opinion leaders as management mentors and product advocates. Clearly defining the differences between opinion leaders, advocates, and management mentors is an important first step toward understanding the market dynamics that will impact the penetration and acceptance of communications messages and overall product data and positioning.
The process of identifying and developing a core group of faculty to support your product in the marketplace is one of the most important activities that you will undertake for your brand. These individuals are the voice of your brand and you rely on them to effectively discuss your data and how it relates to the broader marketplace.
Percolation Communications believes that opinion leader identification should involve a multifaceted process that considers expertise, perception, and relationships. To define your most effective “brand voice,” it is important to know not only who has the experience and expertise in the marketplace to speak credibly on your data but also how they relate to the overall marketplace in terms of being able to efficiently deliver your communications programs. As such, we have developed an approach to marketplace mapping that utilizes existing social percolation theories in conjunction with perceptual mapping to identify opinion leaders, management mentors, and product advocates at the local, regional, national, and global levels.
Methods borrowed from physics have been recently applied to a wide range of subjects. Very simple models were adopted as mathematical metaphors for generic classes of collective phenomena in social systems. One such model involves the theory of percolation dynamics as it relates to social phenomena such as disease transmission, communications, and marketing effectiveness to name a few.
This process ensures that the market maps that are generated reflect the reality of community relationships and communication networks (clusters) in your target market. These relationships or clusters can be mapped within any professional and/or social network to provide unique insights into the connectivity within the professional and social networks and can be customized to provide specific insights relative to the dynamics of the system. Additionally, as this process is based on a proven scientific theory, it is possible to validate the accuracy and effectiveness of your market map to ensure greatest return on investment.
Percolation Mapping® leverages the existing theories of social percolation and communications networks, including the small world hypothesis of Stanley Milgram and the more recently derived theory of accidental influentials by Duncan Watts, to establish a mechanism of mapping effective networks for the communication and sharing of information within any social or professional system. The result is a process that has advantages over traditional quantitative analysis and thought leader identification and mapping programs in that it establishes local level influencers who are “perceptually primed” to receive and share specific types of information as well as establishing the areas of professional expertise in which their influence has an impact on those around them. The information that is provided through the combination of perceptual and influence mapping results in a clear understanding of the communications networks and information sharing patterns of the group of professionals specific to the clinical platform and marketing strategy of any individual brand or therapeutic franchise. Therefore, unlike traditional thought leader mapping initiatives, which strive primarily to define the top thought leaders and their circles of influence, the information derived from Percolation Mapping® establishes not only who is looked to for information within a specific therapeutic area but more importantly in what specific areas their expertise carries the most professional credibility and how their individual clinical perceptions and practices align with brand-specific medical marketing opportunities and challenges.
The results establish a granular understanding, from both the top down and the bottom up, of the information sharing and influence networks within a defined group of healthcare professionals and allows for the most effective use of communications resources as relates to clinical development and medical marketing strategy and tactics. Additionally, since the process is based upon established theories of social percolation, there is an inherent ability to test the resulting market map and validate the resulting information provided.