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Are HCP online communities the panacea for pharma marketers?

Professional online communities offer pharma extensive research and engagement opportunities

With more than 194,000 doctors now part of Doctors.net.uk alone, pharma marketers cannot afford to ignore the extensive research and engagement opportunities that professional online communities have to offer. But how can they capitalise on these communities in order to really add value to their brand and increase sales?

Our experience shows that rather than offering a universal solution for pharma marketers, professional online communities work best when they are integrated into the overall sales and marketing mix, and used to deliver deeper insight and value across target territories.

One of the big advantages that professional online communities bring to other sales and marketing activities is that they help marketers to build a detailed understanding of what their target audience wants and needs. This enables them to achieve the fundamental principle of saying the right things to the right people at the right time.

By identifying knowledge gaps and creating tailored material to fill them, pharma marketers can use their extensive knowledge base to provide resources that are really valuable to doctors, and marry them with complementary messages about the therapy. They can also maximise their sales force effectiveness by integrating these educational resources and marketing messages with other activities, such as sales rep calls, to ensure consistency and message penetration. 

Having a detailed understanding of the target audience also enables pharma to tailor their messages to specific doctor groups and the mechanics through which they deliver them. This enables them to build relationships with hard to reach doctor groups, including those in the 'low see, no see' categories. 

Finally, by capitalising on the extensive ongoing measurement and evaluation services that online communities offer, pharma marketers can ensure that both online and offline sales and marketing activities are developed in line with doctors' evolving needs in order to help deliver significant cut-through and return on ROI. 

By Simon Grime, Managing Director of Communications for Doctors.net.uk - the UK's largest and most active network of medical professionals

For more information on Doctors.net.uk, please call Simon Grime on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Simon.Grime@mess.doctors.org.uk. You can also follow Doctors.net.uk on twitter: @doctors_net_uk

19th September 2012

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