Archive for February, 2013

Transforming Physician Insight Into Actionable Pharma Strategies

As marketing has evolved from mass advertising and promotion to a more sophisticated interactive approach, marketers have many new choices. But in this new environment, marketing decisions must be based on true insight derived from verifiable customer feedback and not just educated hunches or agency hype.

With the sheer volume of new communication platforms, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the huge number of variables that can be involved in an interactive marketing program. I recommend starting with baby steps. Two simple but very effective ways to personalize marketing are the choice of communication channel and the development of custom content. Channel and content. Often just getting these right will have a significant positive impact on building value-based customer relationships with healthcare professionals.

As a place to start, channel and content are both necessary. It’s one thing to come up with great, personalized content – but it’s a total waste if you’re not using the channel that a target physician is monitoring or uses. On the other hand, you might discover the unique channels a specific physician prefers, but if the content is irrelevant or inappropriate, you have lost an opportunity to build affinity.

Lessons Learned from Breakfast
breakfast w forkI had breakfast with a physician friend of mine. We’ve had a number of great conversations about her practice. She is very busy internist with over 2400 patients, making her a “top decile” physician, the segment that pharma needs to reach. Not surprisingly, given her large patient load and full calendar, she has very strong opinions about pharmaceutical sales reps and the value she gets or doesn’t get from their daily interruptions.

There are certain media channels that she uses regularly. She knows she needs regular access to information on new FDA approvals and emerging therapies. The major peer-reviewed journals and online content portals are two of those channels; the sales rep channel is not. Try to communicate using any other method and she simply won’t get the message. And like most professionals, she’s very particular about what kind of content she’s interested in. It’s got to be related to internal medicine. Go ahead and try to offer content outside her areas of interest but it won’t matter – she’ll turn it off and walk away. Read Full Article Now »

How to Turn “Lots of Data” into “Big Data” for Pharma

Pharmaceutical firms, like most large sophisticated marketing organizations, spend a lot of money in promotion and branding. Individual brands will use multiple sales and marketing channels to reach their customers, including sales reps, traditional direct mail, drug samples, journal advertising, websites and edetailing, conferences and symposia and small dinner meetings. It’s not unusual for a brand to use six or more different ways to reach and impact their target doctors.

The Lack of Integrated Campaigns

While each of these tactics may be implemented by best-of-breed agencies, there is generally little coordination or sophisticated strategy that enables the whole effort to be greater than the sum of the parts. Unlike in other industries where marketers have learned how to build multi-channel programs, pharma has continued to use its traditional silo approach.

For example, in pharma you rarely see integrated campaigns in which one tactic, say direct mail, launches a chain of touch points by presenting a call to action to go to a website, where there is a prompt to opt-in to an email newsletter program or register for a conference.

Why is integrated marketing so important? There are two reasons why a more sophisticated approach to marketing is beneficial for both the brand and physicians.

Two Reasons Why Integration Is Important

Integrated marketing acknowledges the fact that there is an adoption path over which all of us travel during the process of becoming aware, considering, evaluating and eventually making a purchase decision. An integrated marketing program understands what types of information and presentation formats are most helpful at each stage in the decision making process.

Secondly, an integrated multi-channel approach respects that fact that individuals use and respond to different marketing media. Some physicians prefer sales reps, while others insist that they receive their information digitally. Some professionals need clinical documentation while others want to hear from a colleague…

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Start Me Up

floweringUntil just a few years ago, conventional wisdom held that the pharmaceutical industry would continue its trend towards consolidation. The investment premise was that healthcare reform and pricing pressure would lead to fewer, but larger and more vertically-integrated pharma companies. In fact, the opposite is the case. There has been a flowering of small biotechs and start-up pharmcos focused on niche products and rare diseases. In addition to brilliant clinical researchers and experienced program managers, founding partners of these firms often include a savvy deal maker who knows how to leverage initial capital into a portfolio of promising compounds.

Cutting deals with universities and rummaging through the detritus of big pharma labs to build a pipeline is a well-defined process, with the strategy of licensing or merging with big pharma for a conventional but not always amicable exit. What’s different today are digital go-to-market alternatives that allow start-up biotech and pharma companies to consider bringing their products to market themselves as small-but-mighty manufacturers.

Digital channels are a cost-effective way to get reach, frequency and engagement on a national and global level without the huge investment of a large national sales force. A co-promote agreement with big pharma may still make sense, but by bringing their own customer relationship database to the party, start-up pharma leadership may enjoy better leverage in the marketing relationship and even ultimately the valuation.