Hey, Brand Manager: Here’s 9 ways to influence healthcare professionals, part 1

January 22, 2016By Behind the Shelf Blog, Brand Marketing, Influencing Healthcare Professionals blog series

By Jen Johnston part of the Influencing Healthcare Providers blog series

In my last post, I introduced the notion of educating healthcare professionals as a means to drive awareness, recommendation, and usage of your brand. Today I will reveal some of the ways in which to do so.

The loosely-used term for influencing influencers in the healthcare space is “doctor detailing.” This term probably stems from pharmaceutical detailing, a 1:1 marketing technique used by pharmaceutical companies to educate physicians about their prescription products with the expectation that the physician will prescribe the company’s products more often.

Pharmaceutical detailing traditionally involved a team of sales reps that would meet with doctors face-to-face at the cost of billions of dollars to the pharma companies.

If I had to guess, your OTC brand does not have billions to spend on detailing doctors. You are lucky if you have millions to spend on all audiences: consumer, healthcare email outreachprofessionals, pharmacists, and the trade.

Here is a list of some different ways you may choose to reach healthcare professionals, which, as I mentioned in my previous post, can include general practitioners, specialists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, naturopaths, certified diabetic educators, nutritionists, and more.

Face-to-Face Detailing: Brands that are backed by a large budget may choose face-to-face detailing. Typically, your OTC brand will be presented to the captive doctor audience alongside a complementary pharma product. One example of a company that offers this type of service is Alamo Pharma Services.

Email Outreach: It may be tempting to purchase a healthcare professional email list, and many companies will eagerly sell you one, but unless you can ensure the doctors have truly opted in, brand emails from unfamiliar companies are likely to be treated as spam and may reflect poorly on your company. What I encourage you to do is to start building your opt-in email list. You can capture email addresses at trade events or send a direct mail with a fax back option to sign up for a newsletter, answer survey questions for a reward, or receive free samples.

Phone Outreach: I know of a company who has an in-house customer service rep dedicated to calling on physician’s offices. She builds relationships with the front-desk staff and arranges for the doctors to receive samples for patient distribution. The product is the number one doctor-recommended, natural product brand in its category, so it has the benefit of a long history. If your brand is new-to-market, it may take time to establish these relationships.

Advertising in Professional Publications: Some healthcare professional publications only support prescription advertising, however many will accept OTC advertising as well. Wikipedia is as good of a place to start as any for a list of medical journals. The cost to advertise varies greatly among these publications. And remember there are both print and online advertising opportunities for most publications.

My next post will list even more ways to connect with healthcare professionals.

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