Market research reports in recent months have shed light on “promotional fatigue” – that feeling among doctors that the pharmaceutical industry has spammed them with excessive digital marketing during the pandemic.
A recent Indegene survey found that 62% of healthcare professionals felt “overwhelmed” by the product-related promotional content they receive from drug manufacturers. In another Accenture survey, 64% of healthcare professionals said they received too much digital content from the pharmaceutical industry, and 65% said at least one pharmaceutical company had “spammed” them. “since the start of the pandemic.
So how can the pharmaceutical industry engage physicians in this new marketing landscape without adding to the deluge of clutter? It’s about timing and storytelling, said Jason Bernstein, chief medical communications strategist at epocrates.
“The first thing you need to do is consider what your physicians’ needs are, how best to reach them, and the story you want to tell,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be 50 platforms. It might just be a few. But consider exactly what their needs are.
For sales reps, for example, that can mean stepping away from their promotional scripts and arming themselves with more information that can help doctors help their patients, he said.
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“If I am a [high prescriber], great, remind me of efficiency. But I also want to know who is the right patient for this drug against its competitors. I want to know what access looks like. What types of patient savings programs are available? How can I support my patient to continue taking the medicine, because I believe in it,” he added. “If I’m a non-writer, I want to know how the mechanism of action is different? How does this drug appear in the guidelines? Is there head-to-head data compared to another drug? »
With so much information coming from multiple directions, it’s also crucial that the messaging is synchronized, he said. One way is to use omnichannel marketing strategies that tell a seamless story across all platforms.
But coordination between marketing staff and field staff is also important, as is ensuring that DTC campaigns are coupled with relevant communications with physicians, he said. When companies advertise their drugs on TV or social media with instructions to “ask your doctor,” those doctors need to be ready with detailed information so they can adequately answer patient questions.
He cited Biohaven’s migraine drug Nurtec as an example of a brand that has done this successfully. He said data from Epocrates’ mobile medical referral platform shows searches for Nurtec doctors increased after Biohaven launched its DTC campaign featuring celebrities like Khloe Kardashian and Whoopi Goldberg, and that Biohaven was ready to seize the opportunity.
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“What Nurtec did well was they were really trying to sync those TV ads with communication to doctors,” he said. “If we provide the information to the doctor just when he is looking for it, it is an added value. It is a success.
His advice echoes suggestions from Suzy Jackson of Accenture, chief life sciences officer, who told Fierce Pharma Marketing in January that the pharmaceutical industry should emphasize quality over quantity in its HCP engagement strategies.
“Medical professionals have more time and they will reward you for engaging them appropriately,” she said. “But it’s certainly quick to spin if there’s too much content coming in disorganized.”