The relationship between pharmaceutical brands and HCPs has long been marked by skepticism and distrust. The majority of HCPs don’t trust the authenticity of the content provided by pharmaceutical companies. And pharma companies struggle to determine what information or message will best convince HCPs to prescribe their products, and what medium and channel is best to deliver that message.
About 70% of physicians agree it is crucial that brands provide educational resources rooted in clinical trials and scientific information to gain their trust—and trust is crucial to establish a good relationship with HCPs. So to stay relevant with HCPs, pharma companies must provide the proper information that shows why there is a genuine need for their brand.
As the world is engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic, it is even more important for HCPs to have a source of information they can turn to for the information they need. But COVID-19 has made the future less certain for how pharma companies can interact with HCPs. Sales reps have been grounded by their companies, medical conferences and congresses are all being canceled, and in-person CME opportunities are canceled as well—all of which means pharma has fewer or perhaps even no face-to-face engagements with HCPs.
And yet, brands still need to ensure that they are reaching HCPs. This is not a time to stay quiet. It is an opportunity for brands that have been trying to gain the trust of HCPs to step up and build strong relationships by demonstrating how they can help.
Here are six things brands can do to build the trust of HCPs.
1. Be Compassionate
In a crisis like this, you can offer your help without the need to promote your brand. Be authentic and empathize with the challenges physicians currently face. This will help forge a deeper connection that HCPs will remember later.
2. Build Your Brand Promise
Create a unique story that communicates the personality, values, and experiences of the brand and emphasize what sets it apart from the competition. Then determine what manner to best distribute your message without disturbing HCPs or their workflow, so you don’t risk harming your brand equity. The goal is to establish your brand as a resource that physicians can go to for information.
3. Be Consistent
Delivering the same message across multiple channels enhances brand awareness. Being consistent is reassuring, fosters trust, and helps to establish clarity about your product and how it differs from others on the market. Even small steps like this help keep your brand top-of-mind and some line of communication flowing to HCPs.
4. Communicate in Real Time
In our rapidly changing world, brands need to communicate with HCPs in faster, more efficient ways. Every news cycle affords opportunities to engage with HCPs, but make sure you identify the right opportunity. Keep in mind that even the most rational and skeptical physicians will also react emotionally, so don’t just ignore appealing to that part of their brain.
5. Reach HCPs Where They Are
Marketing in any medium is all about being where your customers are. And that’s why engaging with HCPs in digital forums is more vital than ever. It also provides HCPs more time to review the information, think about it, and perhaps reduce their skepticism toward it. And that last part is key, because even though 80% of physicians say they have seen pharma content on third-party sites, 62% say the pharma content they see on these websites are “always ads” (see figure). So pharma brands need to build an environment where content is not just “push” but can also “pull” HCPs by engaging them with what they perceive as a valuable resource.
Being online is not enough: 86% of physicians use their smartphones to access digital resources for professional purposes, but 41% don’t visit pharma websites more often because it takes too much time to find the information they need. Brands need to create the easy-to-consume communication bites that HCPs are looking for.
The challenge is that HCPs can be reached through various touchpoints—not just digital channels—by many other brands using similar content. Brands need to develop a unique overarching strategy that maximizes brand equity, creates immersive experiences to enhance awareness and recognition, and positions them as the superior choice.
There is an overabundance of information now available, and much of it is conflicting and too complex to understand—even for physicians. By keeping messages to HCPs simple, credible, useful, and accurate, brands will lay the foundation necessary for earning their trust.