Shifting the Pharma Marketing Budget Mix

Pharmaceutical sales representatives are struggling more than ever to get time with healthcare providers. A recent study by ZS ( shows the number of rep accessible physicians declined in 2016, with only 44% willing to meet with sales reps, down from 80% in 2008. Surprisingly, 88% of overall pharmaceutical sales and marketing dollars still are allocated to sales representatives.

A recent stat study shows that in 2015, life sciences companies spent $5.2 billion on new print and TV campaigns, much of which are becoming more legacy in nature as consumers turn to customized digital content and fast-forward through ads. Moreover, mass marketing isn’t effective when targeting niche conditions, particularly in fields such as oncology and rheumatology.

To better reach physicians and improve patient outcomes, the smartest pharma manufacturers are becoming more targeted and sophisticated in their marketing efforts, investing more in digital solutions at the point of care (POC).

Shifting the Mix: Better Patient Outcomes, Improved Results

While a strong sales force and DTC advertising are critical pieces of the pharma marketing puzzle, manufacturers must add digital innovation to the traditional mix. POC digital solutions enable pharma companies to bring the right content to the right place at the right time, improving patient outcomes and ensuring success. And, digital POC solutions create much better financial efficiencies, delivering average returns of $4 or $5:$1 compared with $2:$1 for DTC advertising. Some pharma manufacturers experience as high as $9:$1 ROI. In adherence, companies are seeing a lift as high as 80% in continued prescriptions filled against a control (CRx). Such solutions improve patients’ ability to manage their own care, increase awareness of patient portals, improve understanding of conditions, and increase engagement with doctors.

Key Considerations

With POC’s explosive growth, the channel is only a few years from achieving the scale of mass media—and POC has much more accurate measurements. POC technology is on track to be in more than 150K physician practices by 2020. So, how do you rethink your marketing mix? Companies planning to invest in digital POC solutions should consider these four elements.

1. Understand the technology. Not all digital campaigns are equal and not all tablets are the same. Understanding the platforms and how patients and providers interact with them, helps you understand what makes them so essential to your marketing mix. These platforms offer brands an opportunity to give patients access to the information they need, when they need it.

2. Define success. With POC technology available, it is wasteful to adhere to the same metrics used in other channels, such as impressions, eyeballs, or even click-through rates. POC solutions can extend mass marketing and sales force efforts into the actual consultation to most accurately and directly affect brands’ most important goals.

3. Seek scale. Your POC partner should be adding scale at high velocity. Your campaign is only as effective as the amount of patients and physicians you can reach, so aim to keep up with this growth and level of access.

4. Collaborate.Find a trustworthy partner that will help achieve your goals and move with the urgency you seek. One of the biggest advantages of a digital solution at the POC is that you can start seeing results immediately and with a clear ROI. Each brand is unique—your partner should understand what distinguishes you.

A well-planned POC campaign adds push to a brand’s existing marketing spend while adding pull to a sales force that is experiencing decreased access.

  • Ashik Desai

    Ashik Desai is EVP of Business Growth & Analytics at ContextMedia:Health. Ashik leads business growth initiatives. His myriad achievements and leadership have helped ContextMedia:Health achieve triple-digit annual growth, with sights on ubiquity within healthcare by 2020.


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