We know that when you collaborate with some of the world’s experts, you can do some pretty amazing things. Whether educational programs, patient treatment protocols, assessment scales, or even new ways to track patient care, involving key opinion leaders (KOLs) with expertise in your therapeutic area can help you develop valuable and utilized resources that meet customer and patient needs.

However, it is important that companies don’t get caught in one important trap: always selecting our professional “friends” or brand champions to help with new projects or activities.

It is such an easy mistake to make.

Need a speaker? Didn’t one of our speakers, Bob, talk about this once during a meeting? Let’s just ask him.

Need some content developed? Someone I used to work with, Joanne, is really interested in this topic, so let me give her a call.

The best experts aren’t always right in your backyard. If you limit yourself to only those who are convenient and already support you and your cause—the KOLs you already know—then you also limit the knowledge and skills that can be brought to your project. Further, you lose an opportunity to gain new insights from specialized experts in that field or space and have no opportunity to establish a relationship and build rapport with a new KOL.

Like the proverbial snowflake, no two KOLs are exactly alike.

You must consider the needs you have for this specific project: What are the skills/talents, specialized knowledge, background, education, specialty, or other characteristics that your “dream KOLs” would possess when working on this project? Then identify the best candidates to match those specific needs. Not just someone who has discussed the topic before and not just someone you know could likely help, but the absolute best possible KOL.

If the resulting list of KOL candidates includes people you have never heard of before, that is even better! Maybe you should get to know them? Through the KOLs’ involvement in this project, you might establish a collaborative partnership that will benefit both this immediate project and future initiatives with your team (when they are appropriately qualified).

Just as the needs of two projects will never be exactly the same, you should consider each project individually, determine what that project needs to succeed, and find the best experts to meet your specific project needs.


About the author

Jeff Sears

Jeff is an experienced strategic marketer with over 15 years working with non-profits, associations, pharma and Fortune 500 clients. He is skilled in change management, crisis management, brand marketing, business planning, innovation, process improvement, and event management.

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