Digital technologies have re-shaped the way marketers communicate with customers across a variety of industries. Will medicine be next?
Liz Cermak, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based POZEN Inc., discussed how the digital revolution is enabling pharmaceutical companies to engage with doctors in a “more meaningful and highly efficient way” at our May Marketing Mondays™ event. POZEN is on the forefront of changing how pharmaceutical companies market to and communicate with physicians. POZEN’s experience illustrates that engagement tools are no longer scarce – rather, attention is the commodity in short supply when marketing pharmaceuticals or other highly engineered products, in today’s Social Economy.
According to Cermak, the current pharmaceutical industry sales rep model is obsolete. She discusses the facts that the number of representatives has declined by one-third during the past seven years, the average call length is now approximately two minutes, and that 86 percent of doctors now credit the internet as an important source of practice-related information. Last year, for example, the number of doctors who would see “most reps” dropped significantly, to 20 percent, and the number who refused to see “most reps” increased, to 50 percent. That means eight million planned sales calls last year were nearly impossible to complete. Cermak’s findings are supported by a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Jeanne Whalen reports that, “big pharmaceutical companies have found replacements for the army of sales representatives they’ve laid off in recent years: digital sales tools that seek to see doctors on drugs without the intrusion of an office visit.”
Digital is fast becoming “the” preferred communication channel for many doctors. 82 percent use smart phones, 73 percent indicate a preference for e-promotion, and 60 percent are on SERMO – the largest online physician community in the US, which was introduced only five years ago. What’s more, 80 percent of SERMO-enrolled physicians say they would engage with a company there, opening the door to new engagement opportunities.
While digital strategies are unlikely to replace traditional face-to-face pharmaceutical marketing, as Liz Cermak says, “it’s about delivering the right message in the right place and at the right time for physicians.” We agree. Learn more at The RTP Blog.