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As with most things in the healthcare industry, the way biopharma companies engage with physicians has changed dramatically in recent years. Today’s healthcare providers rarely have the time for lengthy face-to-face meetings, long lunches or golf outings with sales reps. They are busier than ever, and like many other professionals, they are overloaded with industry information that is often neither relevant nor sufficiently personalized to meet their needs. This is making it extremely difficult for biopharma companies to capture the attention of this key demographic. Adding to the challenge, many biopharmaceutical companies face decreases in sales and marketing budgets of up to five percent per year, and restrictions in access to healthcare providers for sales representatives. 

To adapt, sales and marketing teams should consider replacing their old school marketing strategies with an integrated multi-channel engagement (IME) approach that streamlines the engagement process, while delivering a consistent message across all communication touch points. This IME approach can help them cut the time and cost of marketing, while finding more innovative ways to connect with busy physicians on their terms. 

Transitioning to an IME marketing and sales strategy won’t be easy in an industry that has long relied on the intimacy of face time to close big deals, but if they can’t adapt, their bottom line will surely suffer. 

The IME approach 

The key to building an effective IME strategy is crafting a single consistent message and cadence that is then broadcast all communication streams with physicians. These touch points include: 

  • Non-personal channels, including web sites, social media, direct mail, and mobile applications. 
  • Personal channels, including conferences, webinars, e-mail campaigns, and thought-leader engagement. 
  • Live channels, including face-to-face or digital interactions with field sales representatives, customer service reps, clinical educators, virtual sales representatives, contact/call center staff or virtual clinical educators. 
Regardless of the channel, these messages must be informative and succinct, incorporating data that factors customer insights, analytics, and models, and allows for identification of elements that are working and those that need to be changed. They must also embody the key characteristics that are integral to any biopharma communication: integration, science, brevity, simplicity, relevance, timeliness and trustworthiness. 

To create this branded cadence and messaging, marketing teams need to do more than just harness the power of digital media – though that is a vital step. They must also work to integrate data between marketing and sales teams to ensure the message is accurate, engaging and constant regardless of the messenger. This is one of the biggest obstacles, as there remains a lack of integration between multiple legacy systems within marketing and sales functions. This disconnect creates challenges in how the business works with IT, as well as a shift in how reps adapt to include dynamic digital engagement in their approach to healthcare providers. 

To break down these silos, marketing and sales need to build strategic partnerships that involve the sharing of data and messaging strategies so they can create a coherent voice to the customer. Biopharma companies may want to look outside of the industry to find best practices in consumer packaged goods, and other commercial product categories that have fine-tuned their messaging to accommodate a multi-channel approach. 

Making these changes may be painful but it will be worth the effort because it will enable the biopharma reps to engage more productively with healthcare professionals across all communication channels. It is the best and most efficient way to develop lasting relationships with healthcare providers who have little time to spare.

For more information, read our latest white paper: A Smarter Path to Integrated Multichannel Engagement - How streamlining marketing and sales strategies can optimize outcomes for healthcare provider campaigns