As David Bowie sang, Cha, Cha Changes. The pharmaceutical marketplace is no exception.

While it was once easy for representatives to visit doctors, those days have long past.

According to AccessMonitor, access to physicians has decreased from 80% in 2008 to 44% in 2016. That number will continue to decline.

Then came direct to consumer (DTC) marketing, which aggravated medical professionals and was over done by too many companies. Over $5 billion is spent yearly with this tactic and the U.S. is one of only two countries that allows it (New Zealand is the other).

The AMA has called for an end to this type of advertising.

A recent Harvard study noted that 57% of consumers do not like the ads and think they should stop. More alarming is that the survey said a mere 7% consider switching to the advertised prescription drug after seeing the ad (down from 21% a year earlier).

People also falsely believe that the ads increase the price of the advertised drugs.

So, what’s a drug company supposed to do?  First and foremost, shift focus back to the healthcare provider audience. The catch? You must adjust your strategy and find new and different ways to reach them. While it is, of course, case dependent, here is a list of five things, based upon real-world experience, that more progressive marketers are doing to gain market share or open new markets:

  • Align sales and marketing

More “feet on the street” is old school and does not work. A well-orchestrated campaign that makes the sales reps job easier is the approach to take; with the goal being that a physician reaches out to your company or sales rep on their own terms.

  • Target beyond the physician

Reach out to office managers, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and other influencers to increase your odds of success. Accurate data is key. Spend time on curating your database to be more successful.

  • Employ Personalization and better targeting

Think beyond traditional advertising and try reaching your prospects at both their home and offices via digital channels. Be careful to not be intrusive, and remember, your target prospects are busy with patients during the day and likely spend a significant amount of time online (whether it’s mobile, tablet or desktop) outside of the office. Timing, where you reach them and on what device could be the difference between an ROI-rich campaign and failure.

  • Adopt a multi-channel B2B approach

Help inform and educate your audiences. Curiosity is a powerful tool; use it in a campaign that includes tactics like direct mail, digital banner ads, e-PR, email, content marketing, etc. The goal is NOT to sell the product, but an instead INVITE to see the sales rep. It’s a huge difference.

  • Develop Compelling Offers and Test

What’s the reason the prospects should respond and invite you in? If you don’t have one, save your money. Think about your offer, not just free samples. Consider white papers, new research, trial cards and/or patient testimonials.  The offers you make and test will be critical to your outcomes.

Using the above steps, we added 157 new provider registrations, a double-digit increase from previous campaigns and it garnered a 380% ROI. (Link: http://www.responsory.com/portfolio-item/unmatched-reach-the-right-offer-380-roi/)

We are currently using this approach with 3 other traditional pharmaceutical drugs and the results are also impressive.

As changes will continue fast and furious, it’s the companies that can identify what works and what does not work in marketing today, faster than the competition, that will prevail. It’s a journey that must continually be refined based upon rapid, on-going changes in the pharmaceutical marketing landscape.

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