Marketing to Professionals: Fax Me!

Don't throw away that machine just yet. All docs haven't switched to e-mail.
Dec 01, 2006

Michael White, president , PharmaKinnex
In today's world of mass communication, marketers are using any means necessary to get their brand messaging to prescribers. However, all marketing media aren't created equal, and in some cases the old standby is just as good as new innovation.

PharmaKinnex interviewed 100 prescribers to gauge their marketing communications preferences. Although in-person visits are still preferred by prescribers for product information, some statistics, including low interest in e-detailing and sample coupons, were telling.

Camille Macchio, director of business development, PharmaKinnex
  • Seventy-seven percent of all respondents would rather receive an office visit from a sales representative than a telephone call
  • Forty percent of respondents would prefer to be contacted by fax for product information
  • Thirty-five percent of prescribers prefer free samples of medication, as opposed to sample coupons (preferred by five percent), which can be exchanged for medication. "Both" was also an option.

Pharm Exec spoke with PharmaKinnex president Michael White, and Camille Macchio, director of business development, to learn more about the survey.

PHARM EXEC: What is the most effective way for marketers to communicate with physicians?

MACCHIO: There's no question that face-to-face conversations remain the number-one most effective way to communicate with prescribers. But when you look at the other channels, fax and direct mail really stand out.

Did that surprise you?

" In the pharma industry, communication is key. A recent survey looked at the communication and sampling preferences of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
MACCHIO: The preference of fax really shocked us. A lot of the doctors said that faxes usually have a very concise message, and that using the machine is part of their daily lives. Before the survey, I would have said the fax would have been one of the least-used communication channels, but we have testimonials from doctors around the country that state that they weren't surprised to hear that the fax was the preferred method.

Does this finding mean that doctors aren't frequent e-mail users?

MACCHIO: People are struggling with information overload with e-mail. And it has become a challenge for marketers to communicate via e-mail, because physicians have to subscribe and opt-in to receive the message. Also, people have become so inundated with e-mail that they just delete mail without reading it. At least with fax, even if they're not going to read the entire message, they might view the first few lines and it just might spark some interest.

Are there any methods of direct mail that work better than others?

MACCHIO: Doctors like direct mail as long as the message is concise and to the point. The minute you ask the doctor to do something with the direct mail, that's when your effectiveness starts to go downhill.

Are mailers getting to the appropriate people?

WHITE: Yes. In today's industry, where everybody is looking at return on investment, mailing lists are really fine-tuned for their targeted audience. So when marketers are provided a list, it's very targeted to who they are calling, e-mailing, or sending direct mail to.

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