With all you hear about the Internet these days, you’d think print marketing no longer has a place in pharmaceutical marketing to health care professionals. Of course experienced marketers in the field know otherwise. Print materials (advertising and informational) continue to play a huge role and companies still spend far more money on them than on Web-based resources. However, every year targeted digital marketing plays a bigger role in smart integrated marketing, offering new means to effectively reach today’s doctors.
Most physicians continue to find traditional marketing, such as free samples, informational brochures, and in-person presentations, valuable to their practice. A recent study of doctors published in the Archive of Surgery shows two-thirds think company materials are still useful introductions to new drugs.
But where do doctors go for more in-depth information on what drugs to prescribe? The 2010 Pharma Connect Study from MPG asked them just that. Their top 3 choices were:
- 85% medical conferences
- 83% discussions with academicians/ clinicians
- 81% journal articles and papers
That last result could help explain why, in the first half of 2010, the top 100 pharmaceuticals upped their ad spending in medical journals 58% over the first half of 2009. Ad pages in the Journal of the American Medical Association ad pages jumped 54%, American Family Physician up 46%. A strong ad in a prestigious journal (especially one directing doctors to a product website) can still have a big potential impact on the market.
Print materials at conferences have long been pharma marketing staples. But today’s rapidly evolving digital technology has given health care professionals new means by which to confer with each other, discuss medical issues and gain awareness of new products. And smart marketers are discovering new ways to become part of the discussion.
E-detailing is proving to be an especially effective, high-ROI means of marketing new or updated pharmaceuticals to doctors on their computers, tablet PCs and mobile devices. E-detailing not only lets doctors view Web CD presentations on new products at their leisure (not just when sales reps drop in), but offers online access to Web conferences and product-sponsored educational events. It also enables them to schedule interactive online appointments with company medical experts, so they can discuss drug details and disease state data one on one. No wonder over 150 new drugs were introduced using E-detailing in the first nine months of 2010 alone, a new record.
Another new avenue pharma marketers are pursuing are physician-based online communities. Number one in this field is Sermo, an MD-only discussion site which 20% of U.S. doctors have now joined. 10 of the top 12 pharmaceutical companies have become sponsors on Sermo, allowing them to share information (and receive feedback) on new products, medical trials and studies, promotional events and conferences, available drug samples and more.
Pharmaceutical marketing, whether it’s aimed at healthcare professionals or consumers, remains a particularly volatile, fast-changing field, marked by rapidly evolving digital technology, shifting FDA regulations and major uncertainty in the area of healthcare legislation. Developing on-target print and digital marketing materials will remain a challenge for years to come, requiring experienced pharmaceutical marketers, armed with innovative approaches and creative minds.