How to Achieve Physician Segment-of-One Communications

If you are in the physician communications business, you have no doubt been baffled at times by the pace of pharma’s somewhat slow journey to the altar of multichannel marketing. When you consider that all of us today are omni-channel creatures in the way we choose to communicate and gather information, why would physicians be any different? Well—they’re really not. But old habits, a lack of MD-level engagement preferences, and uncoordinated channel strategies have conspired to produce less than stellar results. Until now, that is, when you can use a new resource that’s tailor-made for this challenge.

Compared to other industries, pharma has always had a sales and brand-centric slant. But, alas, the customer ultimately calls the shots in the digital age in which we live. In this environment, you must be where your customers are—and they are everywhere!

By schedule and by preference, physicians can be found—at any point during their day—engaged on their iPhone, on an app, reading an online journal article, Googling a healthcare topic, interacting in a medical roundtable, reading in print or on their tablet later in the evening. And although distinct channel and device usage patterns are evident, every doctor is engaged in his or her own way—a “segment-of-one” if you will. To clarify: The segment-of-one notion is more about how HCPs like to engage during their day, while targeted messaging is still about the traditional pharma segmentation schema that speaks to behavioral imperatives tied to prescribing (i.e., high-writers, dabblers, influentials, etc.).

The Source of Segment-of-One Data

While targeted messaging truly emerged with the advent of individual MD prescribing data, segment-of-one engagement data comes from another source: The physician database of full-line, multi-specialty medical publishers who provide news and clinical content to HCPs every single day. These few publishers, including Frontline, provide the right content to the right physicians, in all channels and on all devices that HCPs prefer—while delivering the ability to track media usage and patterns at the user level!

Dr. Smith, for example, is an app user, responds well to content-specific push notifications and spends considerable time with immersive multimedia “long form” content. Conversely, Dr. Jones craves the latest news on her mobile phone, requests and reads her favorite journal after hours, and attends major medical conferences to remain current. With the ability to identify engagement preferences in this way, marketers are better able to effectively and efficiently target Dr. Smith—identified by the brand as an XYZ drug “dabbler”—with X ad, Y sponsorship, or Z brand-specific education/communications solution in the channel he prefers, while reading the content he finds valuable! The ability to link MD behavior and engagement preference with superior message “context” (and resulting metrics) is a marketer’s holy grail.

An MD engagement database such as this can also provide information on ad engagement and dwell time, what kinds of content are being consumed, aggregate channel participation and the inclusion of select demographic data to better identify target profiles.

The world of multichannel communications is customer-centric—one in which the message is still king, context is queen, and the segment-of-one trumps anything else for personalization and relevance.

  • Alan Imhoff

    Alan Imhoff is CEO at Frontline Medical Communications. Alan has more than 30 years of experience in medical publishing. He was appointed President of IMNG in 2001 and became CEO of Frontline in 2014.

    • Jim McDonough

      Jim McDonough is VP, Marketing and Customer Advocacy at Frontline Medical Communications. At Frontline, Jim is the official spokesperson and advocate for the customer—both advertiser and HCP.


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