Typically, a pharma marketing strategy is carefully devised, by collecting relevant research data and garnering an understanding of the current market space. It used to be that the marketing message was meant to assume the needs of physicians, and spoke to how the product or service benefited those needs.

Access to a range of healthcare providers (HCPs) was necessary but often difficult, leaving the marketers to craft a strategy that was based on generalized data points.

Considering that today more HCPs turn to digital platforms, whether seeking answers or discussing relevant healthcare topics online, access is less of an issue; understanding your individual HCPs’ needs and how to engage them personally is now the typical goal of a marketing campaign. In allowing HCPs to drive the marketing conversation, you make the vital step in allowing them to guide the marketing strategy, and not the other way around.

Pharma companies can benefit by teaming with a third-party medical insights provider to understand HCPs. The ability to interpret social media, digital forms, and other accessible online data is the key to understanding the gaps between the HCP experience and what physicians need to better care for their patients. The right agency provider for medical insights will offer several ways to personalize the marketing content on the basis of your HCPs’ online activity: the type of information they want, the channels they use to seek it, and the questions they ask.

Digital engagement to better understand HCPs
While access to most physicians is no longer the obstacle it once was, largely because of the possibility to gather valuable data through online platforms, understanding how to engage HCPs digitally is critical to your marketing strategy. The many reasons HCPs turn to online resources provide the basis for understanding their needs. Specifically, physicians go online to look for new medical information, to share information both with peers and patients, and even to create original content through which information is disseminated.

By analyzing social media and digital forums, and listening to what questions HCPs are explicitly asking, you can find the gaps in what your HCPs know and want to know. An experienced provider of medical insights has special expertise and capabilities to help understand and contextualize your HCPs’ online activity, in order to engage them in a more meaningful and productive discussion.

Standing out in a digital landscape by building trust
More HCPs go to digital platforms to seek information, to communicate with other HCPs, and to market their own practices. Online resources for physicians are numerous these days, and provide access to the newest medical information, valuable clinical and diagnostic tools, drug databases, disease-specific forums, networking opportunities, and more. Only a small percentage of HCPs are content creators, but many more use digital platforms to share content. This raises the question, How do HCPs differentiate quality resources and evaluate sharable content?

Many seek knowledge on multiple channels at different times, so for pharma marketers to stand out, building trust with users is the primary requirement. Trust in the digital landscape is earned by the consistency, reliability, and credibility of the information you provide. When allowing HCPs to guide the discussion, an important consideration in the strategy is to promote the same medical conversation across different channels in order to reflect a consistent experience. And, because HCPs are the driving force, the marketing content and information shared through a multichannel approach should feel highly personalized.

Multichannel marketing supports the HCP conversation
Digital platforms and multichannel marketing allow pharma companies to better customize the information on the basis of their HCPs’ needs. Personalizing the content and message shows that pharma companies are listening to and following the lead of HCPs. When you allow HCPs to drive the marketing conversation, you need to consider all the different avenues of communication: email, Web sites, social media, online forums, webinars, and more. Each HCP has their own preferences for channels and content types, so to put them in the driver’s seat means you need to help facilitate the discussion across multiple channels.

Multichannel marketing is a strategy that aligns various channels and marketing content in order to convey a consistent message. For HCPs, a multichannel resource should benefit each unique physician’s lifestyle, clinical needs, and professional expectations. A medical communications agency can help you develop a digital marketing plan that identifies individual HCP preferences and fits appropriate channels with the most engaging content. The goal is to provide a resource where HCPs feel supported to direct the conversation.

A good lesson for the marketing world is to look at parallel trends occurring at the level of practicing HCPs. The trend of “patient-centricity”—HCPs focusing on individual patient needs or personalized medicine—can be interpreted by marketers as focusing on HCPs. An HCP-centered strategy places significant value on the physician conversation, as it affects medical communications and the pharmaceutical industry.