Pharma : Today’s Marketing Environment

Doctors (2000 TV series)

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Discussing Social Media Marketing goals with my Pharma friends, I have mapped the activities that traditional pharma marketing representatives do.  This is towards the exercise of drawing up activities that Pharma companies can do with Social Media Marketing to achieve its objectives in synergy with the traditional marketing to take a better share of market prescriptions in a crowded market place. Especially given the current scenario of domestic formulations.

Listing of a pharma representative’s activities go like this :

  • First-meeting with the doctors(first impression/introduction whatever you call it)
  • Frequent visits to the doctors and persistent promotion and/or reminders
  • Spotting the right prescribers(data-collection on prescription habits of doctors from chemists etc.)
  • Taking a feedback on supplies/stocks at chemists level with the chemists (to avoid prescription bouncing at a chemist level)
  • Detailing Features and Benefits to the doctor
  • Discussing/sharing scientific studies to substantiate the detailing (proof of concept/statement kind) to the doctor
  • Going through the grammar of a sales call with the doctor to get more opportunities to detail and get feedback
  • Maintaining a friendly gesture towards others(like a doctor’s secretary or admin) in the clinic/hospitals for a better access to the doctor
  • Reminders in all forms
  • Distributing “physicians samples” as per company strategy to doctors
  • Campaign gifts or occasional gifts to doctors (sometimes personal delivery by managers at various levels) including medical journals
  • Taking Doctors as a guest-lecture to CMEs
  • Sponsoring CMEs at different levels
  • Concentrating on detailing the product to PGs(catch them young kind)
  • Adding personal touch as per individual talents and commitment(example could be helping out a doctor with a chore at a personal level)
  • Reporting as per company format on all these activities
  • Achieving sales targets with distributors(what is called primary selling which gets sold to chemists (called secondary off take) who buy basis doctors prescriptions)

Some of the doctors welcome representatives and take those few minutes of break and chat with representatives about other worldly affairs. This helps them take a break in their busy practice. Hence some companies do train their representatives to be aware of other topics which basically helps engage the doctor better and helps establishing a two-way dialog.

All the above activities of building friendship with the doctor, efforts to convince and make him remember the product, the gesture of gifts towards increasing the feeling of reciprocity, collection of chemists feedback are towards one single objective: Making the doctor prescribe the company’s brand and getting a maximum share of that for any given product. More often, the challenge is getting that top-of-the-mind-recall for your brand with a doctor when he wants to prescribe.

All these are done with a lot of subtlety and with a lot of sophisticated communication. Though representatives spend only a couple of minutes every time with a doctor, a lot goes into preparing for those few minutes.

With such a background of traditional pharma marketing in place and with the changing nature of patients and patient-physician relationships, pharma has a lot of opportunity to participate in patient-physician relationship. Hence the topic “Pharma and Social Media” looks very promising.

Does this list show the current scenario well? Does Pharma company look forward to more innovative ways of marketing in such a crowded market place?

Please feel free to comment. I really look forward to your additions and ideas. Let me know what you think.

Stay tuned as I come up with more to share with you.


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