If It’s Good for the Goose, Why Not the Gander?
Vol. 2, No.9: October 2003

OpEd by John Mack

I am impressed! Pharmaceutical companies and their vendor partners know a heck of a lot about marketing to physicians. They know, for example, that physicians want more than glossy brochures or detail aids. They want prescribing guidelines, patient case scenarios, information about drug side effects and interactions, and other information that can help them in their practices.

Marketers also know it takes time to convey information to physicians. Consequently, sales reps seek as much time in front of docs as they can. Yet, the average sales call lasts less than 2 minutes. It is obvious that this is not enough time to do a good job of detailing the physician, let alone providing other valuable information and resources.

eDetailing is one way to address the issue of access. Studies show that physicians spend close to 8 minutes on an eDetail. Not only is an eDetail an excellent way to provide information to physicians, it is also a great relationship building channel (see “The Future of eDetailing“).

What About Consumers?
Whereas pharma marketers lament the fact that sales reps get less than 2 minutes to deliver an in-person, often personalized, message to physicians, they feel that a 30 or 60-second TV commercial is just right for consumers. (They must feel this way because they spend so much money on TV.)

Furthermore, whereas the physician detail is targeted and delivered to physicians most likely to respond, the TV commercial is the same message delivered to millions of consumers with practically no thought given to segmentation and targeting — it’s all about reach, nothing about relevance.

What’s Up with That?

Healthcare consumers and patients are becoming more empowered and want the same kind of detailed product information that physicians want. A 2001 study by Vividence, for example, indicated that 75% of consumers would return to a drug Web site for detailed, up-to- date information on diagnoses, side effects, prognosis, comparison with other treatments, etc. According to Vividence, “consumers don’t want to see brochure ware, even if the site is offered by a pharmaceutical, health insurance or other type of company.”

“Pharma companies must enhance their products with services and tailor communications to connect with diverse customer segments,” according to CGE&Y/INSEAD.

Unfortunately, this is not possible in a 2-minute sales call nor is it possible in a 30 or 60-second BROADcast TV commercial! However, let’s not complain about the lack of time in front of physicians and consumers. Why not use a technology that can deliver what your customers want, when they want it, and to the right person? I’m talking, of course, about the Internet.

In this context, it is appropriate that this issue focuses on eDetailing. We also present some results from our “Out-of-the-Box Marketing Survey,” which compares and contrasts permission-based marketing to physicians versus consumers.