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With the COVID-19 pandemic as our inciting event, pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing has been through a rapid cycle of digital transformation. If you are wondering how far your digital strategy should reach, take note of these five signs that indicate you need better digital support.
1. Availability – 24/7
Healthcare professionals are busy and work long hours, often shift work. They can view a meeting with a rep as a distraction. Because reps work more restrictive regular business hours, it’s clear we’re limiting sales potential.
Sales reps or medical science liaisons often hear “I am too busy to see you” or they can’t find a suitable time to schedule a meeting with a healthcare professional. The solution? Find a more convenient method to reach clients at a time when they are both ready and willing to listen.
Remove that barrier by giving your target audience the option to access material on demand, 24/7. A digital offering allows clients to access the same information on their terms and according to their availability. Just like we’ve moved from watching TV at a fixed time every week to streaming services, health education and marketing messages must be led by convenience.
In light of in-person meetings and events being cancelled throughout 2020 and into 2021, the marketing sector has focused its efforts on making content and networking more accessible through digital channels. If your audiences are saying things like, “it’s too far away”, “will the conference go ahead this year?”, “we can’t have these people sit in the same room”, then consider whether a digital solution can bridge the gap.
Having a digital strategy to enhance your in-person operations can be a game-changer, particularly for smaller brands. In the past, the organizations with bigger sales teams could cover more areas. Having a sharp digital component can negate that edge. Video conferencing, webinars and screen recording are just some of the ways brands are digitizing content.
As an added benefit, it opens up access for prospects with smaller travel budgets, as well as healthcare professionals from regional and remote parts of the country.
3. Complexity made simple
Sharing key insights and presenting data in a clear and compelling manner are two important skills the sales rep or liaison needs to excel at to be of value to healthcare professionals. If your team struggles to confidently explain complex data, digital content can help enhance the communication process. Used properly, a digital content strategy will help your target audiences more easily find the most relevant data to them. This is especially true of clinical data, which is in great demand when marketing a brand-new medicine or therapy.
Digitization allows for intelligent segmentation beyond demographic, including analysis of attitudes, feelings, thoughts and behaviors akin to what surveys and research can produce, and can help all delve into the data in new ways.
4. Currency and impact
A digital strategy is ideal for when you need to update information quickly or leverage a small budget for the biggest exposure. In this scenario, print material is stagnant and there’s no way to tell if the clients and patients are using outdated material. Having the material available digitally ensures you can edit clinical data rapidly, control which version people are viewing and share the latest research with a large audience.
5. Engagement and insights
Many campaigns focus on awareness. A more valuable measure of success is engagement. Healthcare professionals often don’t want to see sales reps all the time, so digital channels allow brands to track and measure how clients interact with them. Tactics like content marketing and online support assures your target audience that the rep is still in touch, but at a distance. The power is with your audience to drive the relationship on their terms.
Many healthcare and pharma companies will say they don’t know enough about their clients, and would like direct relationships to understand how to serve them better. Tracking and analyzing how clients interact with digital content enables the healthcare and pharma company to understand the audience better and improve their ability to contextualize marketing efforts. By optimizing how we engage and interact with customers, we have the potential to help them improve the quality of patient care.
A digital strategy is a ‘must-have’ for healthcare and pharma brands. It is not a stopgap to cover for COVID-19. How you employ digital tactics in conjunction with your sales team will mark the next era of healthcare marketing innovation. Make sure you and your teams are alert to the signs that remind us to leverage the power of digital channels.
Daniel King is Executive Director and Head of Digital, and Simon Davies is Founder and CEO, both at Bastion Brands.