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Engaging with hard to reach doctors

Gaining traction is a constant challenge for pharma marketers

Gaining traction with hard to reach target doctor groups who rarely or never see pharma sales representatives is a constant challenge for pharma marketers: And research from Doctors.net.uk suggests the situation is becoming increasingly difficult as the number of doctors who see pharmaceutical representatives face-to-face is declining and more doctors prefer to do their own independent research online.

The research, conducted recently among 1,000 GPs across the UK, found that 52% of them did not see any pharmaceutical sales representatives in a typical week and 26% of them saw only one pharma sales rep in that period. Of those GPs who did not see reps in a typical week – 38% said they did not have time, and 23% said they preferred to do their own independent research about products. 

Verbatim comments provided by 15% of respondents revealed that seeing pharma reps was against practice policy for some and that a perceived lack of impartiality was a key concern.

By integrating specific engagement programmes run through independent and trusted physician networks, with offline multi-channels activities, pharma marketers can generate measurable reach, contact and frequency with hard to reach doctors in a compelling and tailored way, based on a detailed understanding of their needs, profile and behaviour. 

Such engagement can be achieved by firstly exploring doctors' level of knowledge around a particular therapy or disease condition and seeing where and how they last engaged with information and via which channel. These insights can then be used to target very specific messages and build and measure knowledge improvement and improved intention to prescribe among doctors.

However, while experience proves that online professional networks are extremely successful in developing long-term, meaningful reIationships with hard to reach doctors, they are not a quick tactical fix and need to be seen as part of a sustained and optimised engagement programme that provides education as well as promotion, and can be used to complement and inform other sales and marketing activity.

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

10th October 2012

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