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Pharmaceutical Marketers Need to Get the Physician Message Right

Often times when physician engagement or lift does not meet benchmarks, companies are quick to point fingers at the marketing channel.  Whether it’s email or a third-party vendor, the response might be, “Let’s not work with that channel anymore.” But most channels have a long history of success. The question to ask is “Are you presenting the right message to these high-value physicians?”

Speaking to physicians through acquisition messaging makes sense for very low-decile, but high-brand potential physician targets. Even for pharma brands that have just launched, talking about brand attributes could make all the sense in the world.

In many cases, however, pharmaceutical marketers are still communicating with physicians who prescribe their brand regularly as if they are still trying to acquire them. To a limited extent, this can work to get physicians to continue to prescribe a specific brand, as it serves as a reminder that they made the right decision to write for your brand in the first place. However, this is not an ideal approach.

If a brand has new data to present, a new label or even a new indication, it remains important to inform all prescribers about new information. Often, brands continue to package and repackage old messages again and again and again, which just makes noise and doesn’t differentiate them in the market.

The physician marketer’s mindset needs to change from acquisition to retention marketing — with medium- to high-decile writers. The code term for retention marketing in pharma these days is “beyond the pill” programs.  The truth is that it shouldn’t be that complicated.  You should create innovative resources to help physicians educate patients around your brand and market the heck out of them.

Typical pharma brand messaging today is focused on acquisition

Physicians are searching for new tools to help them improve patient interaction


Patient conversation tools


Appropriate patient selection check list


Professional support services

Mechanism of Action

Injection education


Prior authorization and financial support

Pharma marketers get caught up in the idea that if you are not discussing brand attributes, you won’t meet the aggressive goals set by leadership. What you need to remember is as long as these retention tools are branded instead of being overarching like “disease awareness,” you will still be promoting your brand while creating a more meaningful dialogue between the physician and patient.

To learn more about addressability, personalization and increasing your relationships with physicians view the 2017 Marketing Imperatives