02.08.2019 | Health Strategy

5 keys for multichannel marketing to healthcare professionals

By Jamie Doggett

5 keys for multichannel marketing to healthcare professionals

Evidence and experience is continually teaching us that healthcare professionals (HCPs) are not just present on social media but are also highly active. For many pharmaceutical companies, it has taken a long time to shift from traditional channels for physician engagement, to embracing omnichannel marketing with
HCPs. Now that pharma is seeing the value in this avenue for marketing it is being slowly incorporated but digital tactics implemented often lack effectiveness because they do not engage customers with meaningful messages, at the right time and the right place.

There is a new opportunity for all that social media has presented – to get customer feedback en mass from the quantitative and qualitative, unprompted conversations of physicians. Using social media we can listen to the conversations of HCPs to inform the best messaging, the best timing and the best positioning of our marketing. Let’s take a look at how multichannel tactics can be used not only to implement your marketing strategy, but also to inform it.

1. Have a clear message

You have to talk about what your customer cares about.  The art of appealing to your customers is in showing a genuine interest in what they are interested in. You need to add value to the conversation and you cannot simply guess what they like. Listen to them to become informed in this area.

Healthcare professionals are individuals and their needs and interests thus differ from person to person. However, there are also trends that can be found, based on location, therapy area, role type or a combination of these. For example, you may discover Spanish dermatologists are concerned about prescribing the right product for quality of life while American dermatologists want the best value for money. Equally, this may be the concern of American dermatologists but what about the nurses or the pharmacists?

It is important to be aware of your corporate voice in your marketing. In some areas we have seen healthcare professionals respond negatively or skeptically to pharmaceutical companies because they were too promotional or patronising. There may be value in presenting a highly professional, corporate persona or you may want to be more ‘at ease’ and personable; listen to your customers’ responses to each to find the best for you.

As well us understanding and using your customers’ language and aligning with their values it is important they know yours. Make sure your messaging has some focus on communicating your brand values, ethos and mission. If you can win people over to why you do what you do, and customers feel like they can align with your ‘why’, the task of selling becomes a lot easier.

2. Choose the right time

The balance between a marketing campaign prepared in advance, and opportunistic tactics is a delicate one. Having a marketing strategy is essential but this strategy can incorporate both. When you know your corporate voice, and whether this differs or remains consistent across various platforms, you can ensure that the content posted at different times is consistent.

In terms of getting the right time you might consider planning posts at times that you know will make an impact, such as at the start or end of a congress or perhaps on a disease awareness day. Knowing the time that your customers are likely to respond positively will maximise engagement. Be careful, however, of automation: it can be a really helpful tool but without a real person to verify the post as it goes live it might end up being at an inappropriate time and corporate voice can be tarnished.

Preparation from a compliance point of view, can get you ready to give instant feedback. Especially at events this can be very useful. Some companies develop a group of pre-approved segments of posts such as certain phrases or an entire post which can then be used live during a congress. This gives the impression of
spontaneity and real time engagement whilst remaining compliant and well-prepared.

3. Pick the right platform

Those in regional or global roles have to consider how cultural contexts or views may affect their message to different areas. There may also be a need based on a certain location, for example in one instance we saw nurses in one region of the UK struggling to use a certain medical device. As the issue was limited to one location the company was able to respond by sending messaging and training to that specific region.

Getting messages on the right platform and available on the right devices is an important aspect of this as well. You may discover in your initial research that many of your HCP customers are using certain sites to gather information from, or perhaps their conversation is occurring on one particular network. Social data can give you an indication of how an individual is accessing the information, from a device point-of-view. This allows you to consider whether your content should be suitable for hard copy, widescreen (i.e. laptops/computers) or small screen devices such as tablets or mobile phones.

4. Master social media

When marketing on social media it is important to think about balancing your post type. Make sure you have a good mix of information, activation and engagement. Information can bring users to you out of interest, and good quality original information can help position you as a thought leader. Activation causes your customers to feel something and want to act on it – this can be emotive and should definitely be inspiring. Engaging with customers compliantly can be done really well if there is a good strategy in place.

Avoid overly ‘wordy’ posts. We have seen in many therapy areas HCPs respond to and engage more with media like video, infographics and gifs. These posts must still find the balance between information, activation, and engagement as well as having the right message, time, and place otherwise they can be seen as ‘trying too hard’ or ‘gimmicky’ thus actually pushing customers away.

Social can be combined very effectively with congress, meetings and publications. Remembering the importance of message, time and place, consideration should be given to which congress, meeting or publication to be involved with and what the engagement looks like. This will be achieved by knowing HCP behaviours. We have seen companies who are traditionally very engaged during congress meetings disappointed because HCPs had not engaged with their material – the issues vary from not appearing at the right congress, to not posting on the platforms where the HCPs are, to posting material that simply wasn’t very engaging.

Using hashtags and account handles can successfully bring your posts into a certain stream of conversation or engage with organisations and customers. Consider which hashtags your customers are using and who the influencers are so you can be in the same stream as them.

5. Closed-loop marketing

Once you have found the language that resonates with your customers, understood how time affects customer opinions, and have learned how location and environment impact customers’ expressed needs you can run a successful multichannel marketing campaign. But it should not stop there. Starting with a clear outcome in mind from your marketing, you need to measure your success through ‘closed-loop marketing’. Continue to listen to your customers to make sure your efforts are resonating. After each cycle, redress your tactics or goals in order to become more and more effective each time.

What next?

Start strategising! Being well prepared in this journey of marketing is highly important.  It can be helpful to work with a cross-functional team of colleagues, to align on vision and customer goals and collaborate on each individual’s skills and experiences. Then, once your roadmap is set before you, start the marketing loop by listening to your customers!

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Meet the Author

Jamie Doggett

As Associate Director of Insight, Jamie leads the Analytics and Insights Team overseeing the development of insights. He works with teams to ensure the highest standards of research outputs, client delivery, and technology development.

Jamie is a country boy at heart having grown up on the sunny Isle of Wight and enjoys adventures which is reflected in a love for travel and travel literature.