Confusion Reigns in Today’s Pharma Marketing Environment: What To Do About It

If you’re confused about how to optimize integration of your sales and marketing programs, you’re not alone. Do you invest primarily in digital communications? Do you put your resources into building rep-physician relationships? With conflicting information and advice coming from well-meaning, well-respected industry leaders, it’s no wonder that marketers are confused.

In a recent CMI/Compas survey (, 73% of physicians preferred in-person details to alternatives, yet a Quantia/Capgemini report ( showed that 32% of doctors are barred from seeing reps. And this is changing quickly. As many as 57% of physicians are now part of integrated health networks, and 42% of them cannot see reps. And with increasing numbers of accountable care organizations—which are likely to have even more restrictive formulary policies—pharma clearly must take a new approach.

Information-accessing habits of physicians are also in flux. According to the Quantia/Capgemini survey, 76% of physicians prefer digital channels for accessing clinical/prescribing information. This is borne out by our experience, where highly personalized information shared via the PD One app has achieved open rates and click-throughs at up to 90% above the industry average. Physicians are also increasingly going mobile. Visits to via mobile devices have roughly doubled, from greater than 25% in 2012 to about half today, with 35% accessing information from their phones.

So what’s a marketer to do? The truth is that amid the conflicting trends, everyone is right. Doctors still like to see reps. But it’s also true that reps increasingly can’t access them face to face.

The upshot is that marketers need to use all the tools at their disposal effectively and in a way that can be measured. Success resides in streamlining your channels and providing your customers—the physicians—with the experience that they want. And to know what they want, you need to watch what they do.

Do they see reps? If not, activate voice or email channels. Monitor which emails they open and what digital materials they access. Track the number of tele-details they accept and direct mails sent and then watch their prescribing habits.

The unprecedented amount of information available to us today should enable better understanding of our targets than ever before—with the goal of being able to leverage data and analytics to understand the needs and behaviors of your prescribers, and then optimize channel integration accordingly. The key is in using data and analytics to inform personal and non-personal communication and measuring the results to improve your programming.

We aim to turn this into a science that can predict, based on available data, the optimal number of times to pull a lever before moving on to the next channel. It is necessary to determine the level in which engagement peaks, what channels to activate at what time, and ultimately, the optimal way to reach our customer.

So stay tuned. We know that access is changing and so are the touch points. While nothing will replace the rep as the best way to engage targets, the nature of those targets will continue to evolve, and we should be able to pinpoint the best way to engage them.


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