Meeting societal needs for ever-smarter communications support

Today’s healthcare environment is under greater regulatory scrutiny than ever—
yet the need to reach consumers with product information, so that medical advances can reach their full potential, remains critical. As communications professionals, our job is to help clients think smarter—to find creative, efficient ways to educate consumers about products that can impact their wellbeing.

Consider a product launch, perhaps the “big daddy” of healthcare communications efforts. Rather than broad-sweep outreach, the key to success today is shifting toward intimacy: high-level, targeted communications outreach. That said, “targeted” doesn’t mean a smaller effort; nor does it mean dialing back on potential impact.

A targeted communications strategy seeks to connect with tipping-point stakeholders who will pass new, relevant information forward through their networks. Identifying key “grass-tops” (as distinguished from “grass-roots”) influencers, and reaching them directly via creative interactions, allows companies to generate a valuable ripple effect —and gain counsel from the very people they seek to engage.

THE SEEKERS

Consumers are looking for new—and credible —healthy choices. An intimate, private event to unveil the new product can provide an in-depth look at the product for decision makers in top-tier media markets while creating a memorable, informational experience. Selectively targeting one city or region in each launch phase also creates the in-person opportunity to drive word-of-mouth, and gain valued insight. Partnering with the brand team, and utilizing deeper analytics of local trends and interests, will maximize impact and relevancy to the geographic audience.
By engaging key influencers, a well-executed product launch event can build company reputation and enhance consumer understanding—driving media coverage, increasing consumer awareness, increasing website traffic and developing relationships with health-conscious leaders who influence their peers.
Whether a patient blogger with a dedicated following, a television journalist or a third-party patient-support organization representative, creating a firsthand product experience for those “grass-tops” community leaders is a prime example of smart, targeted outreach.

To-Do List

Some recommendations:

  • Make it interactive: In addition to inviting leaders in the community’s social media scene, encourage attendees to blog, tweet and share information during the event. Technology and social media have leveled the playing field in many ways—journalists are tweeting to connect with sources, and bloggers are featuring exclusive interviews with industry KOLs. Helping to foster these connections on behalf of the brand can strengthen multi-directional ties and expand the sphere of influence.
  • Think creatively about attendees: A creative, engaging event is only part of the formula for success—the participants must be the right fit. Consider the target end-user (or payer), and work backwards: who do they listen to? Where are they getting their information? Ultimately, seeking to “influence the influencers” will achieve great bang for the client’s buck.
  • Consider “tipping point” elements: Going forward, see how program participants impact the quality of your product communications. Draw from their questions and suggestions. If they attend your gathering, they’re making a statement: “we care.” Listen!

Reaching key audiences and achieving brand success is not easy in today’s environment—but it is all the more important to help ensure patients and their caregivers can connect with needed solutions, and find supportive communities. In order to help connect new healthcare advances with those who will benefit most, targeted communications to key influencers can achieve results far more effective and efficient than broader consumer-based campaigns of yesteryear.

Gil Bashe is Executive Vice President of Makovsky and Company. He is counselor to pharma, biotech, and medical device manufacturers and patient advocacy groups. Contact him at gbashe@makovsky.com.

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