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Besides being one of the most heavily regulated industries, the pharmaceutical sector is also slightly behind the times when it comes to marketing. After all, drug manufacturers are famous for their hands-on approach to connecting with physicians and other medical professionals. According to research from The Pew Charitable Trusts, pharma companies collectively spent $15 billion on face-to-face sales and promotional activities targeting physicians in 2012. That’s more than half of the $24 billion the industry spent on physician marketing overall. The second biggest piece of the spending pie was for free medication samples, at $5.7 billion.
Obviously, the more face time that pharmaceutical representatives have with physicians, the greater impact the organizations may have. But this is a labor- and cost-intensive practice that is increasingly difficult to do because of physician preferences and regulations in the healthcare industry. Citing data from Quantia and Capgemini, an article for FiercePharma Marketing found that roughly 40 percent of doctors indicated they’d always decline to see a pharma sales rep. On top of that, about 8 in 10 physicians said organizational restrictions intervene between pharma companies and physicians. In spite of this, it’s in the best interest of pharmaceutical manufacturers to diversify their outreach efforts.
Pharmaceutical companies have a potentially huge market to satisfy. The Washington Post recently emphasized the fact, explaining how U.S. consumers shelled out nearly $330 billion for prescription drugs in 2013.
While direct-to-consumer advertising is a big part of generating this kind of profit, physicians play a major role in influencing the patients who end up purchasing prescription medication. Therefore, it’s still in the best interests of pharmaceutical companies to engage with doctors and help educate these professionals about their products. But it can’t simply be a hard sell. As PricewaterhouseCoopers suggested, tackling the consumer market is more than just selling the greatest volume of pills; it’s about demonstrating the value of your product, how it fits into health services, and how it helps doctors effectively treat their patients.
Video marketing is an essential way for pharma organizations to get their messages in front of physicians without having to make an appointment.
The next time you visit your doctor, pay close attention to the way the offices are set up. While private practices are likely set up somewhat differently, doctors who are part of a health system – working in a hospital – probably don’t have a desk that they sit behind for any significant amount of time.
MediaPost highlighted the fact that most physicians rely on their mobile devices precisely because they have to move between appointments, surgeries, consultations, and a wide variety of other daily duties. Smartphones and tablets are ways for doctors to stay connected while on the go, and these tools are ideal for pharmaceutical companies to deliver their messages through video.
Physicians spend 180 minutes per week watching video content in relation to their professions. Concise, information-packed explainer videos can show doctors exactly how specific medication works for a particular ailment or as part of treatment for a major issue. What’s more, medical professionals can access the content when it fits into their schedule, whether they’re commuting to work on public transportation or on their lunch break. With compelling graphics and animation, the message sticks and helps them understand the results of clinical trials.
Although you probably won’t find many doctors going through Facebook and Instagram to find pharmaceutical product information, there are other sites geared toward medical professionals that are gaining popularity in the healthcare community. Sermo and Doximity, in particular, are two HIPAA-compliant social networks for doctors who want to connect with colleagues or search for new job opportunities, Information Week explained.
A big draw for these sites is that doctors and other medical professionals can freely – and anonymously – discuss a wide range of healthcare topics. At the same time, several of the major pharmaceutical companies are able to use the social site to engage with and educate physicians about their products.
While Sermo may be exclusively for doctors, the fact that it’s a social network makes video marketing a powerful way for pharma companies to get their messages across to physicians. Going further, it’s easier for companies to personalize their content because they can gain access to deeper information, including the type of practice a doctor has and the specialty or subspecialty he or she works in. All of this information can help pharma organizations deliver product messages that resonate with a target audience.
The prescription for pharmaceutical companies is to integrate smarter digital marketing that helps shift the ad model away from face-to-face meetings that are difficult to arrange and move toward video content that allows for anywhere and anytime sharing. Concise, targeted animated videos are ideal to help physicians understand the implications and benefits of medication, as well as how it fits into a broader treatment program for their patients.
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