HCPs (healthcare professionals) are constantly inundated with information. When they’re not consulting with or treating their patients, most HCPs are researching information about disease states, recent advancements in healthcare, and new drugs or therapies hitting the market.
As pharma companies prepare to perform market research, recruit patients, promote therapeutic categories and launch new drugs, or, they create and gather copious amounts of information. Clinical trial data, drug efficacy, prescribing protocols, target audience insights—the information is endless. And that’s the problem.
Recent studies by the Physician Foundation show that 80% of surveyed physicians are at full capacity or are overextended. Of the surveyed physicians, 78% “sometimes, often, or always experience feelings of burnout.” Physicians are overwhelmed. They need information presented to them in a way that’s concise, valuable, engaging, and easy to access. Information needs to be presented to HCPs on the right platforms, at the right times, and in the right format.
Pharmaceutical marketers are tasked with weeding out the information that’s most valuable to HCPs from their stacks of stats and research, and formatting it in a way that’s convenient for the HCP’s consumption. HCPs only have time to consume information that provides value to them. To market to HCPs, pharma companies need an effective marketing strategy with highly-targeted content and succinct valuable messaging.
As the competition in new drug launches continues to grow and pharmaceutical companies are striving to outperform each other’s marketing efforts, HCPs now have more information to consider than ever before. They need to consider drug side effects and drug safety, patient access to the drug or treatment, the efficacy of the drug to meet their patients’ needs, the payor’s demands, and the changing treatment protocols for every new drug they prescribe.
On average, 40 to 50 new drugs are FDA-approved each year. In 2019 alone, a total of 48 new drugs were launched and approved by the FDA. In 2018, FDA approvals hit a record high with a whopping 59 new drugs joining the marketing.
The information HCPs require to help their patients make informed decisions hasn’t changed. They still need updated information about disease states, available drugs and treatments, prescribing protocol, drug efficiency and drug side effects. What’s changing is the platform these HCPs are receiving information through.
While traditional methods of disseminating and receiving information are still active, modern methods of digital information are thriving. An effective pharma marketing strategy for HCPs requires the perfect blend of traditional and digital marketing.
HCP marketing can be challenging for pharma companies if they aren’t backed by an expert pharmaceutical marketing agency. Marketing to HCPs is multifaceted, pharma companies have to meet the demands of not only the HCP, but of the patients (indirectly), the payors, and the FDA. HCPs and pharma companies both have to adhere to payor demands and FDA requirements. Especially with chronic and rare disease therapies, stricter guidelines and limitations can create obstacles.
Pharma companies have declining access to physicians, as physicians simply don’t have the time to meet with sales reps. This means pharma companies need to elevate their marketing strategy to reach HCPs where they’re receptive—and that has everything to do with digital marketing. Pharma marketers need the resources and tools that enable them to target their audience through social media and paid advertising, and create messaging that resonates with and provides value for HCPs.
COVID-19 has also presented a challenge of its own. The pressure is on for physicians to pivot their care to telehealth platforms practically overnight. HCPs have to adapt to new treatment protocols in light of COVID-19 precautions. For pharma marketers to meet the needs of HCPs during COVID-19, they need to provide physicians with critical information through easily-accessible methods to help physicians acclimate to recent changes in protocols, payor demands and patient needs.
Elements of a Successful HCP Marketing Strategy
Successful HCP marketing means successfully meeting the needs of HCPs. The HCP’s prescribing habits, treatment habits, diagnosing habits, their specialty, the size of their practice, and the recent events or trends that may have impacted their behaviors all contribute to the needs of the HCP.
Healthcare professionals need useful information that is relevant to their prescribing, diagnosing, and treatment habits on the platforms where they actively seek this information. Pharma companies must adjust to changes in the HCPs’ media consumption habits.
Modern technological advancements continue to pave the way for pharmaceutical marketing, because HCPs turn to the internet to research new information. The pharmaceutical industry is rapidly evolving, and new digital platforms are transforming methods of information dissemination daily.
Identifying the Needs of the Target Audience
What type of patients does the HCP diagnose or treat? In which geographical locations does the HCP serve? How does the HCP’s needs differ from other HCP needs? Pharma companies need to get specific and personal here. Identifying the pain points, challenges, and unique motivations of the HCP enables pharma companies to create highly-targeted content and messaging that provides the right solutions for their target audience.
Creating an Accurate HCP Persona
After identifying the target audience, pharma marketers can create an HCP persona to develop effective, personalized content. What does the specific type of HCP in your target audience need? What new products or treatments is the HCP actively using or interested in adopting? Identify new products that may provide solutions for the healthcare provider. Where is the HCP located in their patients’ diagnosis and treatment journeys? Through personalized content, the pharma company can understand and appeal to its audience’s unique needs.
Choosing Effective Marketing Platforms
To ensure HCP engagement, the pharma marketing team must reach healthcare providers where they’re already present. Knowing where to reach HCPs is often done through the preliminary phases of data collection and market analysis. For marketing efforts to be effective on these platforms, content strategy must be driven by results and insights. Pharma companies can’t just throw messaging at the wall and hope it sticks. Pharma marketing teams need to be strategic in the platforms they utilize and in the messaging they use to present information. Multichannel marketing through digital marketing, direct mail marketing, and point of care marketing are all common marketing methods that hold the power to secure HCP engagement.
Best Marketing Channels in the Current Era
In the current era, it’s no surprise that digital marketing campaigns are vital to effective HCP marketing. As face-to-face meetings between healthcare providers and pharma sales reps dwindle, digital methods of communication have proven more effective and more convenient than face-to-face communication. For the most part, virtual resources and meetings are taking the place of traditional, face-to-face methods.
HCPs are taking to the internet to research information, read emails, download educational PDFs, watch valuable videos, and read online articles on their own time. To receive information, HCPs are using smartphones, laptops, and tablets for greater convenience.
Over the years, email marketing remains a tried-and-true technique in healthcare marketing. Email marketing can prove highly effective because it enables pharma companies to send highly-targeted content to individual audiences, on a timely basis. Once the target audience’s needs are identified and the HCP persona is established, the marketing team can personalize content to be sent out at strategic times. Data collection for email marketing can give pharma marketers insight into the time of day or night that HCPs are most receptive and most likely to read emails.
HCPs can determine their own personal preferences and choose to receive emails in a certain format or frequency. These personal preferences can then be used as data for the pharma company to continue refining their messages and altering their strategies to align with their target audience and stay consistent with their changing needs.
Paid Search Advertising
Through highly-targeted paid search campaigns, pharma companies can get their message to the right HCPs, at the right time, in the right place, with astounding accuracy.
Pharma companies can share information about new drugs or therapies and provide informational, valuable resources for HCPs through PPC advertising, Google Ads campaigns and Display Ads. Paid search advertisements enable pharma companies to show up on SERPs (search engine results pages) when HCPs are seeking information, based on the HCP’s recent searches.
Paid advertising presents a challenge for pharmaceutical companies, because search engines have strong guidelines and limitations that marketing teams have to abide by. Landing pages and advertising messaging need to be strategic, personalized, effective, and compliant with regulations.
Social Media Advertising
Your target audience is already looking for you on social media. You just have to deliver. HCPs are uniting in groups on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, based on specific conditions, specialities and geographical locations. Healthcare professionals are communicating, researching information, and actively scrolling through social media platforms. These behaviors present pharma companies with plenty of invaluable marketing and advertising opportunities.
Social media marketing campaigns geared toward educating HCPs on upcoming drug launches, disease states, and signs and symptoms of specific diseases can prove highly-effective for reaching and educating HCPs.
Direct Mail Marketing
Traditional marketing methods, especially direct mail marketing, still have their place in the digital era. Direct mail marketing has proven to produce above average ROI, because it allows for geographical targeting, it’s tangible and therefore more personal, and it’s not as common as other methods.
As digital platforms are flooded with paid advertisements and HCPs are constantly sifting through email ads, social media ads and targeted search ads, some advertisements will inevitably subdue others. Direct mail marketing stands out from the crowd, because printed marketing materials are to-the-point, impressionable, and not as prevalent as online marketing.
How Good Apple Can Help
Because the healthcare arena is so strictly regulated, every marketing platform (in both digital and traditional marketing) presents its own challenges. Pharmaceutical companies require an expert marketing agency with years of experience in HCP marketing to produce the results they’re seeking.
We provide advanced solutions for pharma companies, because our past successes have shown us what works. We know regulations; that’s our business. We create digital and traditional marketing campaigns that fall on the right ears, comply with FDA regulations, and meet payors’ demands.
Integrating traditional marketing methods and digital marketing methods into a comprehensive, omnichannel, strategic HCP marketing plan can expand the pharmaceutical company’s reach, by narrowing its reach. What good are your advertisements if they’re reaching thousands of healthcare professionals, but only a quarter of those professionals are viable conversions?
Narrowing the reach of pharmaceutical marketing to access viable HCPs that are in the company’s target audience is essential for effective marketing. At Good Apple, our HCP marketing expertise enables us to target audiences with increased efficiency. We use only the most modern advancements in media targeting technology, along with third-party data tools, to draw media consumption insights and develop unique targeting methods.
We help you to allocate your marketing dollar effectively, through custom strategies that maximize your budget. Every pharma company needs an allied marketing agency that understands the nuances of the healthcare industry, and excels at modern, omnichannel marketing.
If you don’t reach your target audience, your competition will. Don’t fall behind in a time of uncapped growth potential.