I jumped on the multi-channel marketing (MCM) bandwagon 15 years ago, working for a company that brought data-driven technologies to the healthcare industry. Using data to deliver incremental prescriptions of branded pharmaceutical products was a novel approach for marketing to healthcare providers (HCPs) – and a new revenue stream for the industry. This firm proved that by sending the right message to the right customer through the most efficient channels at the right time and tracking prescribing behavior, it could develop an understanding of the communication preferences associated with each HCP. We were giving HCPs control of how they received information from a pharmaceutical company.
Fast forward to today, and I’m relieved that not a lot has changed.
Like many of the doctors the industry is marketing to, I’ve accumulated a few gray hairs. When I joined Merkle, I was afraid of a Mount Everest-type learning curve. I’m happy to see that traditional media channels such as tele-detailing and direct mail remain in the marketing mix. Why? Because these tried and true methods of communication still work.
However, this is not to imply that the pharmaceutical industry or the prescribers who are vital to a brand’s success are stuck in the mud. Both the industry and the channels used to engage with HCPs are evolving. In 2005, a hyperlink and interactive website were novel and now SEO and tagging are all the rage. And Merkle offers a variety of customer touchpoints. By providing digital and creative solutions along with the technology that connects the marketing channels, Merkle drives behavior by developing personalized experiences for each HCP.
Not all prescribers should be treated the same. I’m making a broad assumption that older physicians are not as digitally savvy as their younger counterparts. For this reason, I’m right at home with a marketing mix that includes traditional elements.
I agree that digital technology is the future of marketing. But as of today, HCPs dictate a mix of channels. The strategic appropriate balance has certainly shifted, but I’m grateful we’re adding to the toy box, not purging it.
In addition, for years, the industry has been building a database and using it for marketing purposes. Firms enter transactions and learn their customers’ preferences. By analyzing this activity, brands are able to implement individualized, preference-based marketing. Today, data-driven technologies are allowing product managers to orchestrate HCP marketing to create well-informed prescribers. The idea is to build and manage physician relationships based on individual preferences.
A playbook is still used to guide and track HCP MCM activities, but the technologies to drive the interactions have become much more sophisticated. In addition, rapidly evolving digital communications pose challenges to reviewers. Members of review committees are my peers and it’s difficult for them to keep up. It’s a rapidly changing landscape and it can be a challenge to maneuver the terrain, but having the right partner can make it very worth the trouble.
To learn more about this topic, view our webinar series on Personalized Health Marketing.