Deeper Relationships in Pharma: The “Give To Get” Side of Marketing, Part II

File under: Mobile Health, Patient Engagement, Relationship Marketing

Recently I wrote about the idea of “Give To Get” marketing, the premise that you need to give value to your prospective customers before you ask them for their business.

To further reinforce this topic, I want to share a compelling story that a physician friend of mine shared over breakfast:

Laughing, she said, “I had an interesting experience yesterday with a rep. As you know, I’m hardball with sales reps. I rarely give them time. I walked in the back door to my office yesterday morning, and there were eight reps standing there, waiting. The office manager had told them there would be another doctor who would sign for their samples. I walked in, waving my hand, and said hi to everybody. I told them I would not be able to talk to anybody but that I would happily sign for their samples.”

This doctor is the highest-producing physician in her practice. Just having her sign for their samples is a big deal to these pharmaceutical sales reps.

repsShe marched right through to her office – with a smile the whole time – and closed the door. A few minutes later, the office manager came in with eight different signature devices. The doctor dutifully signed for them and handed them back to the office manager. It was at that point that the office manager handed her a piece of literature from one of the reps. She had a hunch that the doctor would find it interesting. And it did catch her attention.

“Okay, I want to see this rep. She’s got 30 seconds but I’m willing to see her.”

The physician returned to the back hallway in the office where the reps were waiting and offered the rep from the pharmaceutical company Sanofi the opportunity to deliver her sales pitch. The rep delivered her message in the allotted time, thanked the doctor and went on her way, knowing that she had been successful.

I was curious why my friend had decided to see this particular rep and what it was that was so intriguing.

“Every other rep had only product messages. The Sanofi rep was the only one that offered me something of value.

“This rep came with a very simple, 5×7 glossy postcard. But it wasn’t a product pitch. It was a coupon for the new Sanofi iPhone blood glucose monitor. She said, ‘You plug this little electronic glucose monitor into the bottom of your iPhone, and you put the test strips in there. It measures your blood sugar and uploads it right to the iPhone. It keeps your records over time, and you can add notes if you want. It’s been FDA approved. It usually retails for $79, but with the coupon, your patients can get it for $5.’

“I’m definitely going to remember her name. I told her, ‘I’ll need more of those coupons so I can refer the program to my patients.’”

So was this an example of “give to get” marketing?

“She is a good example of the reps I respect and will take the time to see: reps who make my life easier and make me look savvy with my patients. By offering me patient tools and educational material. But if all they have to offer is a product pitch, I just don’t have time for them.”

Are you willing to invest in value?

Are brand marketers willing to take the long view in building value relationships with doctors? Are you willing to sacrifice the potential for a short-term product message in exchange for longer-term, trusted relationships?

At the end of the day it’s a very simple question: Are you customer-centric, or are you message-centric?

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  • Glenn Raines

    It’s about the solution. Not the product.