In the rapidly changing access-to-physicians and marketing mix landscapes, Dimensional-to-Digital (D2D) drives brand objectives

I recently read a published study conducted in 2007 by UCLA Medical Center, which found that the average American TV viewer sees over 1,000 prescription drug ads in the course of a year. Consequently, the average person spends 16 hours more watching these commercials than they spend with their primary care physician, according to the study. Even more startling, the study finds that the large majority of TV ads fail to fulfill an educational purpose. Education is key to driving a call to action and the ultimate brand objective, change in behavior.

Pharmaceutical companies commit large percentages of marketing budgets to TV advertising while omitting a significant opportunity to educate. Pharma remains challenged to select an optimal media channel mix to reach, educate, engage and solicit response from patients and physicians. Contributing to the challenge, technology innovation races ahead, multiplying the number of media channels, electronic and digital communication tools and messages to pharma’s key audiences. How can pharma navigate the proliferation of non-personal media channels and tools to differentiate, educate and solicit the call to action that seemingly TV offers?

On the flip side of non-personal promotion is personal selling through brand sales teams. As physician access and face time continue to fall to an all-time low, for reasons that are growing too familiar to repeat, the negative impact to sales force efforts grows. In the past, this valuable face time with health care professionals (HCPs) served as a critical information exchange about the benefits of a specific therapy between the drug rep and HCP. Given these mounting reach and frequency challenges, non-personal, measurable, multi-wave integrated campaigns are able to effectively reach and educate audiences. How should brand managers begin to develop and execute these integrated campaigns?


We begin the conversation with what works. The 2010 Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Response Rate Report shows that mail delivers consistently good response rates thanks to variable data printing (VDP), database technology, and data analytics. Per the DMA report, email delivered a 1.73% average response rate while direct mail delivered a whopping 8.51% average response rate. While these numbers are impressive, it is more than just “direct mail.” Response rates are not enough. Communication must drive message recall and continuous engagement in the call to action. Information presented in three-dimensional pieces with sensory-stimulating electronic components has even more impact than conventional two-dimensional direct mail communication or email for that matter, as it bypasses email clutter and spam filters.

Dimensional mail is effective at delivering complex information in a memorable way. In a 2010 focus group study commissioned by MedTera, participants were presented with both two-dimensional flat pieces and three-dimensional pieces, which included a single sensory stimulant such as light, sound, a changing picture, or a video. The result was a 39% increase in memory recall of the communicated message of pieces that included one sensory stimulant. Incorporating a second sensory stimulant drove an additional 19% recall. Other sensory stimulants can include electronic components, such as a webkey, augmented reality, full-motion video or ear buds to deliver important medically relevant audio from a KOL, for example.


The goal of dimensional mail is to capture attention and educate to solicit a call to action. Dimensional-to-Digital (D2D) solutions combine traditional with nontraditional media to increase the effectiveness of the overall marketing campaign. This is where integration begins. By including personalized webkeys, personalized QR codes, and personalized URLs (pURLs), high-impact dimensional solutions become highly effective at driving audiences to digital destinations where physicians can order a sample and/or patient starter kit and where continuous engagement with the brand takes place. Integration doesn’t stop there. Marketers must appropriately target and segment by decile and physician access, then strategically sequence integrated dimensional mail (D2D) as multi-channel waves, in conjunction with announcement or reminder flat-mail pieces and emails, to further move the needle and maximize the overall campaign.

As emphasized, there is a clear opportunity for effectively executed non-personal promotion in the marketplace. While personal promotion shrinks, it still exists. To grow brand awareness and impact change, non-personal and personal must utilize the same message points and branding elements. Non-personal integrated dimensional mail is easily leveraged as interactive sales aids to enhance those rare face-to-face physician interactions. Solutions can be further designed with the physician workflow in mind, using formats that compartmentalize key information points to command attention and steer focus. Pharma can extend the frequency of their message with personalized QR codes, webkeys, and URLs to lead their HCP to a video-detail aid accessible via smart phone, tablet or desktop or a dimensional leave behind that complements the rep’s iPad e-detail aid.

Though pharmaceutical brand teams attempt to navigate the rapidly changing access-to-physicians and marketing mix landscapes, their brand objectives remain consistent, drive physician-prescribing behavior and loyalty. High-impact dimensional marketing, known as Dimensional-to-Digital (D2D), does both, while seamlessly integrating with the brand’s overall personal and non-personal promotional strategies.

Email your question to Dave Duplay, our Customer Engagement Strategies expert, for the answer.

  • David Duplay

    Dave Duplay is the president and founder of MedTera, an integrated marketing solutions company dedicated to improving education, promotion and communications in the healthcare, life sciences and pharmaceutical industries


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