Multi-Channel Marketing Carries Sampling Programs Forward

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - September/October 2010

By combining online with traditional direct-marketing media, manufacturers can accelerate sampling programs even in the face of restricted physician access

The Scenario: A relatively common therapy, an exceptionally tight product launch budget, a very narrow window of opportunity to gain a foothold in the market, oh and by the way - NO sales force whatsoever.

The Solution: A purely non-personal sampling campaign using multi-channel marketing (MCM).

The Result: 4500 prescribers (almost 25% of total targets) sampled in less than 13 weeks.

This example—drawn from one of our recent clients—highlights the rapid evolution of how marketing campaigns to physicians can be conducted today. It captures three important trends:

• The rising comfort level of physicians in accessing online media.

• The growing capability of service providers to develop systems that deliver a message (such as a sample offer) effectively and economically, and with thorough metrics that define, in near real-time, what works.

• The urgency of marketing programs in pharma today, where time and cost pressures, combined with reduced sales staff, are driving innovation.

“Multi-channel marketing” (MCM) is not new: traditional marketers in consumer goods and other industries have long attempted to leverage the impact of advertising media (television, print, direct mail) with calls to action (responding to a telephone call, submitting a coupon, making a purchase). In pharma, traditional marketing media have included journal advertising, direct mail, call centers and, of course, face-to-face direct selling. And now, with the impact of online media ranging from e-mail campaigns to online advertising to social media environments, true MCM is beginning to occur. And it’s working.

E-marketing and e-sampling, considered “alternative” or “exotic” practices just a few years ago, have become the stalwarts of successful MCM and fulfillment campaigns as physicians have migrated steadily to online resources for instant and convenient access to pharmaceutical information as well as ordering of product samples. To cite one authority, Manhattan Research’s annual “E-Pharma Physician” report shows that already 60% of physicians prefer to conduct various pharma-related activities online versus in-person with a rep, and just over a third prefer to receive samples via online ordering.

Meanwhile, another driver for MCM is that the proportion of “no see” or “seldom see” physicians is increasing, as evidenced by the latest AccessMonitor report from ZS Associates. Currently it’s running at around 40% of the physician community.

Not the supplemental option

In the past, direct marketing was an effective means of broadening the reach of a sampling campaign beyond the scope of an existing sales force. Percent return in the single digits was both expected and accepted as a supplemental “job well done” with respect to these simple mailings and fax blasts.

Now the key to achieving the levels of success referenced above is finding the best mix when utilizing multiple marketing channels. And the key to that magic mix (which is unique to each individual campaign) is the “science” of measurement. Everyone may understand that measurement is necessary, but the best science starts with knowing what, when, and how to measure, and then recognizing the required adjustments based on the analysis of those measurements.

Put simply, it’s no longer enough to see an objective in the distance and simply plot a straight line assuming you will reach it. You must continuously collect data, measure your progress, re-evaluate your terrain, check to see if the objective has moved, and then adjust your heading based on the proper analysis of such variables. Only the most advanced systems utilizing a highly efficient and intuitive “response data structure” can provide the ability to understand and respond so effectively that time and budget are utilized in the optimal manner achievable. The metrics below provide just a few examples of how an advanced MCM platform can provide great insight into marketing activity allowing for truly meaningful adjustments to the highly dynamic process of an effective marketing campaign.

The mass migration of prescribers to online resources has driven the most successful direct marketing and fulfillment innovators to produce new processes and platforms that take full advantage of every opportunity within this channel in effort to reduce cost and leverage data for the pharmaceutical manufacturer while consistently providing the highest levels of convenience and ease of use for the target audience. E-mail, mobile, and social media have become primary vehicles in facilitating a comprehensive marketing strategy that provides broad penetration. Integration of such marketing channels into a seamless flow of online detailing and subsequent online sample-ordering provide maximum value in each marketing touch. And that translates to maximum success through budget reduction, rapid response, and ultimate opt-in to the sample program. PC

About the Author

Steve Gransden is Vice President of Technical Marketing at J. Knipper and Co. (Lakewood, NJ;, where he has worked for over a decade. Currently, he is responsible for product management and overall solutions marketing, including Steve also serves as subject matter expert for direct-to-provider and sales-force support initiatives.

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