CBI Scene Blog

Harnessing Digital Platforms for HCP Engagement in Emerging Markets

Posted by Joe G on Apr 13, 2015 1:45:00 PM

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The Need for Adaptability

Marketing in the healthcare field today is anything but a static environment. Every pharmaceutical brand is daily forced to deal with a constantly changing environment in the areas of technology, regulatory issues, and client expectations. In addition to flexibility, efforts to engage healthcare professionals require high levels of creativity and constant adaption.

Major brands that built effective outbound marketing strategies over the past three decades are revamping those approaches to reflect the realities and opportunities of digital, inbound marketing capabilities. These companies are now hustling to properly positioning marketing strategies and tactics to harness a range of new and existing digital platforms. The constantly evolving nature of these digital resources compounds the challenges. A recent article by Mike Marett of WorldOne Interactive discusses several aspects of HCP engagement in this new digital marketing scenario.

In addition to these realities, the opportunities in several emerging markets present new targets for new marketing strategies. A recent post in PwC makes the point that by 2020 the E7 countries will control more of the global GDP than the G7.

In another look at the emerging pharma market in China, PMLive shows China in a spectacular rise from a pharmaceutical market position of nine in 2007 to the number one position by 2020.

These facts represent a tectonic shift in market development priorities.

Defining New Goals and Expectations

Healthcare marketing today deals with a much wider mission than building brands and generating revenue. The two-way nature of digital marketing allows the gathering of market insights and intelligence in an unprecedented detail. Comprehensive analytics provide an ever-increasing amount of data detailing the effectiveness of individual marketing initiatives and programs. This both allows and requires constant evaluation of every aspect of efforts within the various channels and platforms.

This concept of active engagement, even ongoing conversations, proves especially valuable in an emerging market where it is necessary to react quickly to evolving market realities. For example, both qualitative and quantitative reactions to pricing strategy are available in days as opposed to months.

Another dimension of this interactivity is the degree to which HCPs in emergent markets are using the web to research, evaluate, and learn about new drugs and therapies. Instead of the enormous expense and time lag of building an indigenous marketing capability, these HCPs can be served and nurtured digitally. The multiple vehicles, devices, media and forums allow the tailoring and targeting of information and messages to engage these HCPs. While this proves more effective, it is accomplished inexpensively and effectively with new digital techniques.

Transformation: Where is this Going?

While the first step to utilizing this transformative process is understanding and accepting what it can accomplish, implementation of effective strategies requires a bit of crystal ball today. The HCP in emerging markets is often an early adopter leading the way in their respective fields and communities. Achieving and maintaining engagement with these providers requires an aggressive approach rather than a safer, wait and see philosophy. Mere action, however, is insufficient. Effective efforts require an investment in both reacting to gathered demographic intelligence and simultaneously educating the targets. Due to the rapidly evolving nature of this market, this process must be timely and precise.

Marett makes the point those marketers providing this investment and listening to the feedback will improve the development, design and delivery of their messages. They will also have the benefit of increased measurability of those initiatives, even providing the ability to modify them on the fly or in mid-campaign.

The Role of the Trusted Advisor

While trust has always been a powerful tool of the successful marketer, it plays an even more important role in the digital conversation and engagement. The ability to assume an advisor or authority role in a social community provides unprecedented opportunities to shape markets and perceptions within them. The varied uses of education, gaming and delivered content are all part of assuming such a position. Sources such as Manhattan Research show that HCPs spend a great deal of time online, with physicians averaging at least eight hours a week, making them accessible by such efforts. These statistics show higher rates in some emerging market HCPs as they seek to access current status of drugs, therapies and research. This includes even Chinese HCPs spending at least six hours a week online for professional reasons.

An increasing percentage of these same doctors will regularly contribute information to and participate in various social media platforms. Marketers can benefit by understanding collaborative and educational sites are of particular interest to these early adopters. They willingly seek out these digital platforms to:

  • Participate in research groups
  • Conduct and evaluate surveys and interviews
  • Find targeted educational resources
  • Critical skills assessment and evaluation

Move Over Nintendo

One intriguing finding in looking at emerging markets and new uses of digital platforms is the interest in various gaming scenarios. According to a poll conducted by MedLive.com, a somewhat stunning 82 percent of doctors are interested in competing with their peers globally in such areas as knowledge in their specialties. This insight can be useful in a targeted marketing strategy, especially in engaging those HCPs in emergent markets. Allowing them to join such a community meets their needs on practical and emotional levels.

The disruption in the methods used to market to HCPs will continue for the near future. Merely reacting to the changes is insufficient for those desiring to capitalize on them. In fact, active involvement allows a marketer to shape and direct the changes in their market segments, particularly in the rapidly evolving and emerging markets.

For more information on how you and your teams can better harness digital to engage HCPs, join us at iPharma 2015- CBI's Life Sciences Marketing Innovation Summit, May 14-15, 2015. 

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Topics: Brand & Digital Strategy