Shuffling spend as forces slim down

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Jake Yarbrough 
Group director, advertising 
GCG Healthcare

From the activity we're seeing right now in the healthcare market, as well as larger consumer product marketing spending trends in general, digital media and digital relationship solutions are making significant inroads in the short-term. 

We've been mapping out interactive sales detailers to complement our clients' existing sales force. We've been developing value-added, business-building tools for clients to provide to physician practices. We've stepped up web-based solutions. We've even been seeing larger investments in online marketing. 

However, I believe this is just the current manifestation of larger forces at work in the market. Healthcare is one of the most personal, emotional segments in business today. And while the integrity of scientific data is paramount — doctors will always be interested in efficacy and safety — we believe the only way to establish and maintain a favorable image of products is through personal relationships. Trust. 

Today's digital delivery trends are the way we are making personal connections with doctors and patients. Tomorrow it will be something different. Through it all, the most successful marketers will allocate dollars to building these relationships.

Steve Morris 
EVP Advanstar Life Sciences 
Advanstar Communications

The key word is “reallocated?” including the question mark!

The reality is everyone has to be more efficient, with existing dollars and less- because they may not be re-allocated.

The pharma industry is going through revolutionary upheaval.  They have to truly engage the healthcare professional at lower cost in a cluttered environment.

That is happening with: 
  • Investments in Tablet pc systems for detail reps- whose hiring profile has been upgraded while their numbers are reduced. 
  • Messaging in non-personal media is now better coordinated with the in person message to create a complete marketing loop 
  • Open territories, secondary client targets, and pharmacists (who are often left out of the ‘detail loop') are now receiving E media  & Virtual details to complete the communication in ways the physician or pharmacist can access on their schedules 
  • Acceleration of staffing investments in managed care relations as the business of healthcare pay formulas are changing so quickly 

We are working with many customers across these platforms to make sure the message, delivery and responses are accurate and efficient so that ‘reallocation' turns into ‘reinvestment and patient compliance.'
Peter Nalen 
Compass Healthcare Communications

As companies downsize their sales forces, it may not be a question of where these dollars will be re-allocated but if.  My guess is some of the savings will drop to the bottom line and marketers will take a new approach on how brands' overall marketing dollars are allocated across the various marketing vehicles and tactics. Being an interactive and relationship marketer, we are seeing more interest in Non-Personal Promotion (NPP) interactive programs such as eDetailing, online sample ordering, and online dinner meetings
This is good news for pharma marketers as physicians are ready to embrace the medium as an educational tool, a place to learn and gather information—just like the rest of us.  Manhattan Research reports that more than 90% of physicians are online on a daily basis, with more than three-quarters saying the Internet is “essential” to their practice. eDetailing is a good  NPP tactic with 43% of all US practicing physicians participating in eDetails in 2007, up from 36% in 2003. So the question has become not if docs are online, but how best can the smart pharma marketer optimally integrate this targeted and efficient medium into their marketing mix.
Craig Scott
President and CEO 

I think the reduction in spending on sales forces can be partially kept in the pocket of the pharmaceutical company, to be redeployed toward other aspects of their business, such as R&D, and some should be reinvested into sales and marketing activities.  I believe the re-invested marketing dollars will be allocated in primarily two ways.  The first is putting more dollars toward measuring and improving the quality of the sales force that remains.  The second major area of reallocation will be increased investment in other channels in the marketing mix, including other means of influencing physicians, as the industry strives to improve the effectiveness of non-personal promotion to physicians…I believe dollars will go toward the development and implementation of non-personal selling solutions.  It seems like every major company is at some level deploying alternative media toward physicians.  Offerings include teledetailing, e-detailing, and medical education programs, among many others. 

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