The real estate marketplace has a famous axiom: location, location, location. Healthcare marketing has had one of its own: content, content, content.
Pharma marketers of all stripes spend vast amounts of time and money working on content. Following the time-honored philosophy of “if we build it, they will come,” the notion is that the well-honed message will find a place in the hearts and minds of key targets, resulting in a lift in sales.
Using this model, the path to market for content is long and costly: qualitative research turns into message development; message development turns into creative explorations. Creative explorations then become tactical onslaughts and eventually go to press or to an iPad near you.
Admit it, we've all done it. One or more of your marketing partners is probably entrenched in this behavior right now.
The primary problem (of several) with this approach is that the lion's share of these messages won't get through to their intended audiences. This is most evident in the direct-to-physician environment. More and more doctors refuse to see reps, but the problem runs deeper than poor access. When reps do manage to get an audience, their message is often discounted. Doctors know the rep is not objective; after all, their title is “sales.”
As with “one-size-fits-all” marketing or employing an oversized sales force, the “content-only-driven” strategy is outdated. Doctors no longer rely solely on reps for information.
This is the new reality: While content is still important, context has become more crucial. In other words, great content needs to be delivered in the right manner or the ROI for the development effort is wasted.
Brand messages are built primarily with qualitative insights in mind. However, if you configure those messages for the target's environment, rather than the target's behavior, and ensure that those messages are delivered by a messenger the target respects—you're on your way.
No matter how many audiences you identify, your brand messaging must stay consistent. But it's critical to understand that the realities in which your target audiences interact with your brand can vary. Starting with national data that guides you in understanding those different environments, you group like markets and configure your brand messaging to those environments.
But how do you ensure they are actually received—and acted upon? The key is to arm trusted messengers with your message; specifically, local clinicians who have proved by their writing habits that they are drivers of your brand's business in a local market. If those professionals are carrying the nuanced message—either digitally, in print or via local events—you have a vetted, trusted “in” with your target constituents.
Not so long ago, speaker programs were the gold standard for putting key messages out into the professional space. Times have changed; healthcare professionals know that these programs are platforms for promotion. However, utilizing strategically identified peers to be the messenger for your branded and unbranded messages remains the best way to ensure that rich interaction happens in behalf of your brand. Identifiying those KOL's and equipping them with innovative methods to deliver and engage your audiences in their environments is the way to increase brand adoption and adherence.
Scott Weintraub is chief marketing officer at HRM: Healthcare Regional Marketing.