Empower Your Brand by Guiding the Physician Journey

In pharma marketing, getting physicians to consider your brand is largely a matter of helping them along their “journey” of influence, a process by which they gradually understand and appreciate the value of the medication(s) you’re promoting. This can be challenging, as “value” means different things to different practitioners. Each physician begins his or her journey from a different starting point, informed by individual habits, practice patterns, brand perceptions and specific patient profiles. Other factors, such as practice size, may also affect the journey as smaller offices may focus extensively on managing costs and prior authorizations, which may be less of an issue for larger practices. However, regardless of where the journey starts, it is possible to convert product trialists to product adopters to (ideally) product loyalists. The key lies in helping to make the journey a personal one.

Personalization goes beyond ensuring a physician’s name is on the email you send. It is propelled first and foremost by end-user-driven content and sequential content recommendations based on previous engagement history and specific practice needs. Unlike the “push” strategy employed by “traditional” pharma marketing, personalization enables a “pull” approach, allowing physicians to “self-select” content. Armed with historical data on physician preferences—including messages they’ve responded to and products they’ve prescribed—you can devise a pull strategy that motivates individual physicians to engage with your brand on their own time, across multiple platforms.

Gauge Your Audience Response

One way to create a compelling “journey” is to regularly gauge audience response to content. Whether content is branded or unbranded, it is important to establish how strongly your target physicians agree with your key messages, respond to your brand benefits, and understand product attributes and indications.

If, for instance, after engaging with your content, a sizeable percentage of physicians express interest in learning more about your product’s mechanism of action (MOA), your next touchpoint can be an MOA-focused communication that specifically targets those physicians. If your target physicians do not express a strong understanding of how your product differs from a competitive brand, you may decide to focus your next touchpoint specifically on your clinical data. Whatever the direction of your communications, regularly gathering feedback from target physicians will help you make better-informed content decisions.

Additionally, you can regularly gauge physician response to emerging research, competitive brands, or newly identified “hot topics.” This information can be gleaned through surveys disseminated prior to key industry conferences, for example, as a means to investigate which sessions or topics rank highest on physicians’ lists, which KOLs they wish to hear from, and which competitors’ booths they plan to visit. Understanding physician interest—beyond your brand—drives a more personalized end-user-driven content strategy. You can leverage this information to ensure that your brand messaging is surrounded by the topics your physicians seek, the KOLs they respect the most, and the education they require.

Evaluate Each and Every Touchpoint

Personalizing content requires continuous measurement and evaluation of both your program’s impact and physicians’ educational preferences and needs. For each touchpoint you create, you need to evaluate its effectiveness, focusing specifically on message relevance and consistency. That level of evaluation will increase your chances of crafting communications with sufficient volume, frequency and resonance to influence physician habits.

Importantly, the personalized journey cannot be realized by a single impactful message. To guide physicians along their personalized journeys, you need to maintain an ongoing dialogue with them that leverages the information you’ve gleaned using multiple touchpoints to engage with them. These touchpoints must be driven by a story arc enlivened with refreshed data to enhance the impact and consistency of your interactions.

Your multiple touchpoints need not be created from scratch. In the new world of multichannel marketing (MCM), you can leverage existing assets such as interactive learning programs, quizzes, slide decks, videos, texts, and self-directed learning modules in various print and electronic formats covering topics such as product efficacy, safety, dosing, preclinical data, and supporting literature. Working in multiple media allows you to reinforce your messaging by re-posting or re-packaging content at timely intervals.

Dual Engagement Ups Your Impact

The power of multiple touchpoints was vividly illustrated in a recent Healthcasts analysis of nearly 2,000 HCPs who viewed promotional content of two distinct campaigns for the same brand. As shown in Figure 1, dual engagement with both programs was associated with a four-fold impact (24% vs. 6%) on HCP script volume, compared to engagement with only one program.

HCP-Engagements-fig1The MCM approach to content creation does not necessarily entail a regulatory hassle. Indeed, the medical/legal/regulatory (MLR) people have already reviewed and approved your existing assets. It won’t take much time or effort to secure MLR approval for these materials in a different format.

Optimizing existing assets, such as detail aids and other sales force materials, is often a matter of making them more visually compelling via enhanced graphics, or by adding voice-over capability to make the materials more appealing. You can also optimize materials for digital consumption by making them more interactive, including incorporating digital “quiz” elements to bolster their educational impact, or by leveraging an approved KOL slide deck as the “script” for an educational video series or an engaging self-learning module. Your MCM plan may also encompass telesales scripts, through which you can digitally reproduce the scripted phone “algorithm” with messaging from your approved marketing materials.

Roll Out Incrementally

With a body of content that highlights your key messages and brand benefits, you can deploy these assets by rolling them out incrementally to complement your segmentation strategy, aligning specific materials with specific HCP needs. You can, for example, employ digital tactics to disseminate clinical data as soon as they are available, enhancing the impact of particularly noteworthy results. This approach may resonate with specialists who are already familiar with your brand, whereas a digital hypothetical patient profile may help PCPs identify appropriate targets for treatment or referral. Similarly, product labels, once approved, can be presented and disseminated digitally to a receptive audience of physicians eager to see your product information.

In short, the adept multichannel marketer has abundant opportunities for creating resonant, meaningful interactions with HCPs. To be a trusted guide on the physician journey, you need to maintain continuous dialogue with your target HCPs. By crafting consistent, personalized experiences across multiple touchpoints, delivered via targeted, sequential messaging, you can make the physician journey a mutually beneficial sojourn.

  • Erik Dalton

    Erik Dalton is Executive Vice President at Healthcasts. Erik has helped spearhead the evolution of Healthcasts since 2005, from a video engagement company to a multichannel, on-demand educational experience for physicians. His leadership drives market growth and product innovation for the company.

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