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The optimal blend

Combining on- and offline tactics will increase a campaign's effectiveness and deliver positive RoI

The optimal blendIn today's web and mobile age, the need to find new and different ways of engaging with physicians and patients is paramount.

In a world in which marketers leverage mobile applications, eLearning sites and even augmented reality (AR) to engage their audiences, providing integrated campaigns is more crucial than ever. Without a cohesive plan, which marries the best traditional marketing solutions with these new and exciting tools, brand managers would be left with just flashy creative and no results.

To allow you to navigate successfully through your next marketing plan rather than using the same old tired strategies, it is important to educate, fascinate and motivate physicians — fast!

Changing needs
According to an independent research study, conducted by New Jersey-based New Colony Partners, approximately 80 per cent of the more than 600 physicians surveyed said they planned on reducing or eliminating the time they spend with pharmaceutical representatives in the near future.

With the average physician encounter lasting less than two minutes, pharma brand teams need to ensure their sales reps can get the job done well within the time allotted. As professionals who are invested in a life of learning, physicians are ultimately looking for valuable and specific content pertaining to their speciality and area of practice.

They seek to learn about any new medicines, procedures or therapies designed to promote better health and wellness for their patients. To fill the doctors' needs, companies must first realise that their role is to deliver to the doctors the content they need to improve their patients' lives. The detailing meeting should be about presenting a meaningful learning experience and not about pushing a product.

Effective marketing
From a brand manager's perspective, however, marketing also has other requirements. Marketers are under more pressure than ever to reduce costs and improve efficiency. While many people think that online initiatives are the only option for doing this, we're finding that integrated campaigns, which marry the success of dimensional direct mail and online components are even more effective.

Utilising two or more marketing tactics gives pharma the best of both worlds, ie the targeted impact that dimensional mail has on physicians and their staff, and the educational benefits of interactive online programmes.

Much more than eLearning
eLearning campaigns enable marketers to utilise offline solutions in addition to using websites that host educational, and sometimes personalised, information about a product. Offline solutions deliver initial information and generally push to sites that engage doctors and encourage them to continue the brand dialogue — on their own time and in their own way. These campaigns promote the vital process of active learning and foster an ongoing relationship between the physician and the pharmaceutical brand.

Successful integrated campaigns also have various recruiting methods, such as direct mail pieces, emails or multi-wave marketing campaigns. It's this combination that has proved to increase physician recruiting into these programmes and enhanced the overall effectiveness of the integrated marketing campaigns. The programmes also provide reach, frequency and improved market penetration and response rates.

Why the results?
Integrating offline and online campaigns get the best results for a number of reasons. Principally, sending an interactive, high-impact direct mail vehicle with a medically relevant message to a physician's office is an effective marketing tactic for breaking through the other office clutter. It also helps bypass gatekeepers that you might have encountered had you employed tactics such as telemarketing.

Using this kind of interactive piece also means that the information is more likely to be retained for later, since people are at their most receptive when all five senses are engaged. In addition, the more creative pieces tend to be kept and passed around the practice, allowing your message to be seen by other healthcare professionals.

As physician assistants, nurses and others in the office become a more important part of the healthcare delivery model, the relevant message needs to be spread. Implementing a purely online marketing campaign makes it much more likely that you will miss out on engaging with these contacts if you don't have their email addresses.

Continuing the dialogue
Another benefit of integrated marketing campaigns is the ability to make multiple impressions. A single shot campaign will often lack the desired return on investment (RoI) and will fail to yield anything tangible in return.

To make an impact, marketers should view each part of a campaign as an opportunity to engage, with the ultimate aim of building an ongoing relationship. Campaigns with a multi-channel approach provide effective tools for continuing a dialogue. This is exactly what the doctor ordered. The aforementioned study by New Colony Partners, which surveyed 10 brand managers and more than 600 doctors, found that eLearning campaigns were ranked as one of the most valuable of more than thirty other marketing tactics designed to serve the marketing needs of the brand manager and the educational needs of physicians.

As the new PhRMA Code and other regulations put limitations on what pharma marketers can do, integrated marketing campaigns need to be more enticing and engaging than ever before. An effective way to do this is to use highly personalised, variable data, as studies show that greater personalisation and relevance increases response rates by nearly 20 per cent.

By tailoring integrated marketing campaigns to the type or geographical location of the practice, or to the speciality of the physician, brand managers can improve the impression that the campaign makes exponentially. A paediatrician, for example, will spend more time interacting with a direct mail piece or email that is tailored towards treating children and includes details of a recent study about the effects of certain medications on children, compared to the amount of time spent on a general pain medication piece.

A truly integrated campaign is about so much more than the marketing tactics or the approach employed. It is also about the people. While they are decreasing in volume, sales reps are still a critical component of an ongoing relationship and should be integrated into the multi-channel or closed-loop marketing mix. Supplying sales reps with leave-behind tools for their physicians will optimise the reps' time spent with physicians and help to ensure better brand messaging uptake and integrated programme performance.

Cost plays a large role in the overall marketing picture, which is another reason why integrated campaigns are so effective. Once brand managers have developed content for the various sections of the campaign that target physicians, they can repurpose it for other activities, such as eLearning courses, non-CME (continuing medical education) courses and even patient education.

Analysis of campaigns is also a vital component of many integrated solutions, but unfortunately is often overlooked. By measuring success accurately and benchmarking what was effective and what yielded sub-par results, brand managers can be equipped with the necessary information to ensure the success of future campaigns.

Seeing the results
There are two three-letter words that make the ultimate case for any marketing campaign: "why" and "RoI".

While typical pharmaceutical direct mail response rates range from 3 to 7 per cent, an integrated campaign using eLearning tools has an average response rate of anywhere from 10-15 per cent. Maximising reach and frequency with target physicians to increase awareness, trial, adoption and advocacy for an integrated campaign can yield an RoI range of between 3:1 and 10:1.

Most importantly, RoI must still be achieved, regardless of how much budgets are cut. Marketers need to do more with less and a smart, integrated campaign makes it look almost easy.

Take, for example, a particular Fortune 10 pharmaceutical company, which needed to develop a campaign to maintain and increase brand market share with fewer sales representatives. The company was reducing its salesforce support for a brand that generated $500m in US revenue, so it needed a campaign that would maximise marketing dollars.

The firm partnered with an integrated marketing solutions company to first analyse the brand's physician base and then developed a patient education and Rx starter kit programme, which included information that would typically have been delivered by a sales rep. The kit, which incorporated both offline and online tools, was mailed to physicians in the areas where sales teams were scaled back, and garnered some amazing results, including:
• Increased brand awareness, providing a four point boost in market share
• Increased revenue among "no-see" MDs by 27.5 per cent
• Improved time-to-market by analysing the right audience before conducting campaign outreach.

Think it through
The pharma industry has changed and, in order to keep up, brand managers must take a fresh look at marketing campaigns.

Pairing the best direct mail and online activities will help to get the results of every marketer's dreams and, more importantly, justify the need for marketing dollars.

The Author
David Duplay is president of MedTera

To comment on this article, email

19th July 2010


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