Trying to Connect with Physicians? What Marketers Need to Know

Pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers put the majority of their resources behind direct marketing. While they’re most visible to the consuming public through television commercials and Internet advertising, they approach physicians very differently. According to The Pew Trust, the pharmaceutical industry spent more than $24 billion marketing to physicians and just $3 billion promoting their merchandise to consumers in 2012. But how can pharmaceutical companies and device makers most effectively reach out to medical professionals?

Approach marketing from the physician’s perspective
One of the first steps to crafting a more impactful physician marketing strategy is to recognize medical professionals have distinct priorities. Michael Golub, MD, contributor for PM360Online, explained physicians seek to:

  • Provide the safest, highest quality care possible
  • Take a holistic approach using a variety of methods to diagnose, prevent and treat illnesses
  • Manage a hectic workday by finding the path of least resistance to treating patients

This can often conflict with the way many marketers operate. They put much of their emphasis on a single product instead of looking at comprehensive patient care, Golub wrote. A massive amount of time and effort goes into researching the specific attributes of a particular drug or medical device so that the marketer can highlight every positive quality. But in many cases, the marketer’s advice is within the purview of the brand, and not so much the individual physician.

What can marketers do? They shouldn’t be afraid to veer from the script. While it’s important to mention how a product complies with all government regulations, it’s also important to engage physicians in a discussion of how the medication or device fits into the broader context of their practice.

A premium placed on face time
The most common and budget-intensive practice among pharmaceutical marketers is to meet with physicians in person. According to The Pew Trust, drug makers spent more than $15 billion in face-to-face sales and marketing meetings in 2012.

It took the work of roughly 72,000 sales reps to generate that kind of figure, which included making the actual appointments for the pitch, sending gifts like textbooks and delivering samples.

However, physicians and many other medical professionals are spending a significantly larger portion of their day in front of a computer screen. This presents both challenges and opportunities for marketers. First, the obstacles include:

  • Competition for influence
  • Physicians are more in control of the information they find

On the other hand, marketers have a golden opening by:

  • Using digital marketing to influence decision-making
  • Facilitating physician’s search for information with data-rich email

Physicians face a dizzying array of reports, research and facts from a variety of sources, including competing brands. It’s important to take advantage of digital marketing channels to make sure they actually hear the marketing message. Physician email marketing provides companies with an effective outlet for strong brand placement among health care providers.

Guest blog post provided by HealthLink Dimensions

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