Many of us are now working from home. We’re accepting meeting invites that will be held via video conference and preparing to FaceTime our families after work. We are pivoting our lifestyles to fit the circumstances that COVID-19 has put us in.
After lockdowns, isolations, and closures, we are starting to see the nation prepare to reopen. While New York City was one of the most severe areas for the pandemic, other regions of the state are ready to leave isolation. The state has decided to set guidelines for each of its 10 regions. If all the guidelines are met, they can begin to return to normal life.
So how can pharmaceutical marketers learn from this?
1. One-size-fits-all just doesn’t work. So why should your brand messaging be a blanket statement? Just like coronavirus, other diseases have a higher incidence in some locations than others – for example diabetes is far more prevalent in Alabama than it is Colorado. If you were marketing a diabetes drug, would you use the same marketing plan in Colorado as you would in Alabama? Would you spend the same amount of time and resources?
Unfortunately, the answer for most people is “Yes, I do use the same plan”, but the better answer is, “No, I vary my plan.” Just like the sales reps who approach each doctor a little differently, you should approach each market a little differently. Being able to identify that difference and strategize based on geography and audience allows you to make better decisions for the brand.
2. Get comfortable with non-personal promotion. By now, work meetings, happy hours, and family gatherings over video chat are quickly becoming a part of our weekly routine. You may even be connecting with friends digitally during quarantine more than you were in-person.
It was always confusing on how to best support sales reps in ways that would help them break through the clutter of a doctor’s busy day. Now, with face-to-face communication at a standstill, you need non-sales professional solutions. Sales reps are not allowed in doctor offices now and who thinks they will ever be allowed back in at the pre-pandemic rates? If they are allowed in, great. But, if they are not, pharma marketers will need to figure out how to educate doctors with less (much less) face-to-face sales rep contact.
3. Stay flexible. If you go to Georgia, you can get a tattoo, but in NYC, you cannot even leave your apartment. In Florida, beaches are opening, closing, and opening again. Things are changing every day. Being able to quickly make changes and execute them can be the saving grace in your next marketing program. Whether reworking a drug launch or supplementing doctor visits, the ability to change, and change quickly, can be the difference between success and failure.
The world is changing fast and we are all doing our best to keep up. By taking the time to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can better adjust for what will follow. Eventually, pharmaceutical reps will be back in doctors’ offices, offering samples and providing meals, but the tactics we can take away from the coronavirus pandemic can lead us into a stronger and more strategic future.