Supporting the pharmaceutical salesforce with digital marketing

As marketers, we often wonder how we can best get our concept and product information to our customers, while maintaining the integrity of our marketing communication and avoiding any dilution to its messages.

In an era of information overload, where digital literacy is high and increasing all the time, this challenge might seem to be a minuscule one, but when we go a bit deeper and analyse it more fully, it’s not so easy. Moreover, within the pharma marketing realm, where sales representatives remain an important medium, the task becomes even more daunting.

As an adaptive strategy, embracing digital media and utilising it to our advantage is the prime change that we all have to accept. Here are some suggestions on how to get that ball rolling.

“Physicians face such a ‘time crunch’ that concise communications always help”

What is the utility of digital pharma marketing?

Today, everyone has less time and wants more out of every second they spend searching for information, but can digital pharma marketing cut through the noise?

Customers are not looking for your products, they are in search of solutions to their problems and challenges. If we think that the customer will find us at any given point of time, we are wrong. On the contrary, we as pharma marketers need to present our solutions on platforms where the customer is likely to be searching for it.

In a nutshell, when you want to put your product on display, be present where the customer is, and not where the media is likely to be.

What digital marketing tools help the sales force?

There are many digital marketing tools available to pharma, but real value often only comes from those that can assist a sales representative. Today, physicians face such a ‘time crunch’ that concise communications always help. Say, for example, you have to address an oncologist, who happens to be a key opinion leader as well, and want to brief him or her about a recently published clinical trial. The options that you have include:

  • Sending a digital copy of the article (not desirable as it is as good as a cold email)
  • Making an appointment to discuss the article (good, but to how many physicians and who would do the follow up and to which degree)
  • Creating print outputs that are tailored to the subject (good, but who has the time to go through it, whether the sales representative would be up to the mark to deliver the message and the retention value is questionable)
  • Creating a microsite (good, but how do you get the relevant traffic to your site, remember customers are neither searching for your microsite, nor are they aware as to whether it exists)
  • Creating navigational communications media to take the customer through the communication flow, create specific videos for specific queries that the customer may have and share them on a periodic basis (good and I would vouch for this).

There is a belief in advertising that it takes four exposures before a communication registers in the customer’s mind. On top of that, to make the message likeable and remembered the communication must be a relevant and high quality one. A peer-reviewed communication adds further flavour to the whole interaction and increases its chances of resonating with the intended audience.

How to use digital marketing in an in-clinic environment?

A frequent challenge to the sales representative is to how to make his or her sales call interesting and informative, so that it provides value to the physician by enhancing his knowledge and thereby his practice.

One has to remember that sales representatives will often be a vital source of information on new products and therapies for the physician, and that well-presented scientific information enhances these interactions.

A short 120-second video of a medical challenge the physician community faces, along with its solution and an explanation as to why it worked, can be more effective than a descriptive article elaborating the whole process.

Good sales representatives from reputable companies don’t just ‘carry the bag’, they carry their own credibility and reputation, and when digital marketing is used to best effect it enhances the effectiveness of physician calls that they make.

As stated earlier, time today is a scarce resource in the medical world, when a physician is able to offer some, it is up to us to ensure that any interactions provide him or her with a valuable experience.

Santosh Upadhyay Panacea Biotec

About the author

Santosh Upadhyay is a group product manager at Panacea Biotec, based in Mumbai, India