The two greatest challenges for pharmaceutical marketers are getting HCPs to understand our products and helping them become comfortable with how the products work so they become part of their ongoing treatment regimen. For decades the dynamic duo of detailing and sampling has served that purpose admirably.

For quite some time, most of us have reduced detailing and sampling in response to growing profit and organizational pressures. However, cost-efficient methods of performing the same roles have emerged and eDetailing and eSampling have become common alternative solutions to our continued need for HCPs to understand and to be comfortable with our products. But something crucial has been lost.

What’s Been Lost?

What we’re missing today is the human touch—that unique personalized understanding of HCPs that serves up well-crafted messages to the right HCP, in the right way to provide that extra comfort with your product.

Understandably, the human component may have been lost because eDetailing and eSampling are data-driven, technology-based solutions that can economically replace, to a degree, the personal interaction of the sales rep. However, these tactics can too easily become faceless communications—or at their worst, spam.

What’s a Marketer to Do?

However, not all is lost. You can transform the impersonal nature of eDetailing and eSampling by harnessing information about your target HCPs to make your non-personal marketing more personal. The good news? You probably have what you need right at hand. The bad news? It’s probably sitting around gathering dust.

The top three things you can do to make eDetailing and eSampling work for you are:

1. Put your data to work
2. Remember, Service with a Smile
3. Start with a KISS

Put Your Data to Work

Start by realizing that not all HCPs are the same. You have target groups with distinct points of view, concerns and hurdles to overcome. Recognize that and put the power of your data and your experience to work for you. Get insights. Take your qual and quant research and identify the mindset of those key HCP targets:

  • What do they like?
  • Dislike?
  • What do they believe?
  • What won’t they believe?

If custom research isn’t available, that’s not a problem. There is a lot of publicly available data on healthcare professions, and you’ll be surprised at the quality of available data you are able to leverage to help direct your programs. For example, consider using medical school or average patient volume at the clinic to get insights into your target groups or consider creative cuts of your syndicated data.

Whether you have extensive data or limited data, now is the time to gather your information together and make it work harder for you.

So how do you put your data to work? Knowing your call plans and your deciling is a start. Even with limited access to data on your HCPs, you can provide a more personalized experience within your eDetail. For instance, if all you know about your HCPs is their specialty, then consider breaking down and personalizing your communications for each specialty, tailoring the messaging to provide information that is compelling and relevant to their distinct perspective. Even with limited data you can drive deeper engagement for each of your target groups.

If you have access to more data, then you can get even more creative. You may have insight into how your reps historically interact with your HCPs and how they’ve used your marketing assets—emails, direct mail, display ads, sites and marketing engagements such as conventions, speaker programs, etc.

If, in addition to knowing your HCP specialties, you also have insights about their attitudes and past behaviors towards the condition and medication, then you can, and should, personalize your messaging even further. For example, create eDetails using this approach by integrating simple typing questions on the first page in order to provide more nuanced versions with content tailored to the HCPs preferences and past behaviors. Engagement can be further improved by delivering educational content that HCPs can pass onto their patients.

Service with a Smile

Don’t forget that part of the personal touch that’s lost when the rep is taken out of the equation is the sense of useful interaction or supportive service.

Effective detailing isn’t just presenting the right pages of the CVA.  Nor is sampling just the re-stocking of the sample closet. Effectiveness is born from the give and take that helps you understand where HCPs have questions as they use your product in the actual clinical setting, how the samples are used, and how to answer their questions. That requires feedback and follow up.

There are numerous ways to generate feedback about your programs—either directly from your transactional data, or from asking for additional feedback and leveraging it in additional value-add contact with your HCPs.

For brands looking to implement a quick and cost-effective feedback process, consider leveraging small surveys in your non-personal programs—such as emails and websites. You can use the survey responses to craft more personalized and compelling information to enhance future eDetail experiences.

Start with a KISS

KISS, as in KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. Nothing succeeds like success. Starting small and getting a proof of concept will give you the learning you need to prove your case, and the opportunity to optimize before you expand to scale.

As the industry continues to see reductions in our sales force numbers, it has become increasingly critical to supplement personal promotion with non-personal tactics that are cost effective.

How can you start small and move successfully from there? Try starting with a small test that proves your marketing concept and provides ROI measurement for your management.  It’s not difficult to target a small sample of HCPs based on traditional deciling, brand share and category performance—and qualitative and quantitative information leveraging rep insights. You can leverage several messages to the different physician segments through channels that can both support individual HCP tactics and data (e.g., email) and channels that only provide aggregated data (e.g., paid search). Your ROI analysis can be based on HCP-level tactical data tied to scrips. You’ll be surprised what you can do by starting small!

So keep it simple—and optimize and expand as you go to see measurable results.

Why is This Important?

Leveraging these three key lessons will enable HCPs to have a deeper understanding of your products and greater comfort with prescribing them, which will ultimately lead to increased prescriptions. Plus you’ll have created an invaluable tool, a flexible ongoing approach that can meet a range of marketing challenges, and provide a cost-efficient platform that can be evolved as you learn what works and what doesn’t.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about rebuilding your approach to eSampling and eDetailing to create more personalized touch points with HCPs. It can be as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  • John Weyrauch is a Partner, Managing Director of Rosetta’s Healthcare practice. He has more than 25 years of experience in innovative marketing in both client and agency positions in healthcare and consumer goods. John is an experienced leader of brand management, multi-channel marketing, agency work, and oversees the Healthcare practice in Rosetta’s NY offices.


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