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Challenging the Myth That Marketing Promotion Is Ineffective Without Sales Rep Reinforcement

HCPs have changed the way in which they consume information, and there is ample evidence that multi-channel marketing promotions can effectively drive increased revenue.  Nevertheless, overall gains have been relatively modest due in part to the limited reach of these programs.  When discussing the importance of scaling these programs, it is common to hear from brand managers  that  marketing promotion shouldn’t be used with physicians who lack rep coverage.  When making this assertion, brand managers will usually cite one or both of the following: 

  1. If a physician is valuable, she or he will already be detailed by a rep.  Otherwise, don’t waste money with marketing promotion.
  2. Marketing promotion by itself is unlikely to have an effect on a physician’s behavior if there is no reinforcement of messages from a sales rep.     

No doubt these beliefs are borne out of experience, as, historically, marketing promotion  has been very tactically driven and often deployed without consideration of physicians’ needs, channel preference and brand/therapeutic value; one wouldn’t expect stellar results under those circumstances.  However, it is crucial that brand managers break out of the mindset that rep coverage is a pre-requisite for success; otherwise, they will face limited opportunities for driving sales growth.

Regarding the belief that rep coverage denotes value, it is important to remember that the comparatively lower cost of marketing promotion makes it much easier to achieve a return on investment.  Furthermore, physicians that may not be responsive to detailing, or otherwise place restrictions on Sales rep access, may be very likely to engage with brand content via other channels (digital, etc.) as alternative media may be more complementary to their schedules.

The key to driving significant value from marketing promotion is customer targeting and profiling.  Pharma companies that are building a consolidated view of their customers have the ability, through advanced analytics, to sort through a list of physicians and hone in on those with the greatest potential to engage with, and write more scripts as a result of, effective and relevant marketing promotion.  Over time, the targeting will become more precise as incremental response data becomes available, leading to increased efficiency of marketing promotion among physicians with little to no rep coverage.

Effective targeting is also a counterweight to the belief that the reason marketing promotion is ineffective among non-detailed physicians is because there is no rep to reinforce the messaging. Without a doubt, a mobile message isn’t the appropriate channel for conveying in-depth content, but relevancy, rather than the absence of a rep, is the determining factor to driving impact with marketing promotions.  By leveraging the consolidated view of customers, and tailoring the customer experience based on their needs, interests and preferences, brands will achieve increased and sustained customer engagement, leading to improved financials.

Based upon trends in the industry, the sales force will likely become a smaller component of the total promotion mix over the next 12 – 36 months.   Therefore, it is increasingly important that brands break out of the mindset that marketing promotion cannot be successful without sales rep reinforcement.

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