Like the substitution for the star forward, or the lead actor in a Broadway hit, non-personal promotion (NPP) is ready to take center stage in targeted physician communications. Physicians, like consumers, have an evoked set of brands to which they refer in most situations. Consumers will lean on an “evoked set” of three to four brands for dining out, buying detergents, or even selecting wine or beer for a meal. To physicians, these evoked sets (referred to as Therapeutic Armamentariums) are defined as a small set of possible treatments, typically containing all therapies that might be considered, for a specific condition.
Whether consumer or physician, how are these evoked sets managed, reinforced, and reminded? In both instances, through a portfolio of promotional activities ranging from broad-based awareness, to targeted, personalized messaging. The pharmaceutical industry has relied on the pharmaceutical sales rep (rep) to deliver and engage physicians with their message for years. Recently, we have seen a rapid decline in rep access to the physician’s office, and subsequently a decline in their ability to help Rx brands stay top of mind in the evoked set.
A few weeks ago Fierce Pharma announced the inevitable – more than half of all physicians restrict access to reps. While it is no surprise, one would be naïve to think that those numbers are going to do anything but continue to shrink. 40%, 30%, 20%, etc. What’s a pharma marketer to do?
Well, there is a solution, there is an alternative and there is a way to get the message out there. The good news is that HCPs still want the information. Access restriction is not always their call, but it may be driven by MCOs, HCOs, therapeutics committees, state/county legislation, or some other jurisdiction. So traditional access is drying up, but demand for new insight is surging.
Hats off the pharmaceutical manufacturers who have seen the writing on the wall, and over the past five to ten years have made a conscious effort to evaluate alternative channels of communication, measure and record physician channel propensity, and develop truly integrated communication strategies that combine NPP with field force engagement. The engagement metrics, Rx lift and ROIs are impressive. HCPs are adopting new channels, and the industry is applying the tried and true principles of customer centricity, namely, listening to their customers, identifying their needs, and providing them with the right message, via the right channel at the right time. Non-personal promotion creates a very bright future for the pharmaceutical companies ready to leverage it.