A Multichannel Approach to European Pharmaceutical Marketing

Pharmaceutical marketing teams in Europe are facing significant challenges following a year of battles with healthcare systems and patient groups over drug pricing, as well as a divided marketplace that could get even more splintered with the planned exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union.


In this high stakes environment, drug companies have two key marketing challenges. First, they have to deliver a clear, consistent message about the benefits of their products and provide scientifically valid data to back up their claims. Second, they have to make it clear that they're partners — not adversaries — in the delivery of high-quality healthcare.


Coordinated multichannel marketing efforts can help to extend these messages across platforms while allowing marketers to tailor the content to fit each format and target audience.


Here are several ways that pharmaceutical companies are using multichannel marketing to their advantage.


Delivering Valuable Content


In a survey of 1,200 European physicians conducted in 2016, Bain and Company found that the two most important sources of information for physicians were medical education/conferences and medical journals. Furthermore, only 43% of the nonsurgical physicians surveyed said that sales reps were one of their top sources of information about a drug, down from 53% in 2013.


Thus one key way for pharma companies to provide value to healthcare providers (HCPs) is through high-quality, scientifically validated content about disease states and clinical care. This can take the form of sponsored content, educational seminars, conference recaps, or webinars.


If this first contact is a positive one, it can open up new opportunities for engagement down the line. For example, tracking cookies can provide insights into HCP behavior after they leave your website, and retargeting campaigns can be used to keep your message at top of mind. Depending on the information that you collect, you can further engage HCPs through emails, direct mail or text messaging.


The goal is not to hammer your customer with the same message every time but to view each channel as another step in the conversion process.


Improving HCP Engagement


To improve engagement with HCPs, it's important for pharmaceutical companies to be visible in platforms that provide credible, unbiased information about the latest developments in research and clinical care. A recent Doximity survey found that 75% of clinicians regularly change their care practices (on a quarterly or even monthly basis) based on what they read in medical literature.


Although digital platforms are becoming increasingly popular, physicians are continuing to read the print editions of journals as well. According to a recent report by Kantar Media, 61% of physicians say they prefer reading the print edition of journals, while 73% said they use both print and digital sources.


Engagement can also be driven by providing tools and resources that help patients comply with physician treatment plans. For example, Merck’s Growth Hormone eHealth Program was created to help children with a growth hormone deficiency follow a difficult and complex treatment regimen. The company’s suite of support programs includes a game that teaches children about the disease and need for treatment, an app that helps parents monitor their children’s treatment schedule remotely, and an injection device that transmits usage data to clinicians.


Turning Insights into Action


With face-to-face interactions between sales reps and HCPs on the decline and decision-making shifting from individuals to systems, it's important to know when, where, and how HCPs are interacting with your brand. By coordinating customer contact and sales information across products, you can identify areas of overlap, prevent market saturation and message confusion, and develop more targeted sales strategies.


This may require some reorganizing of your marketing teams, particularly if they're accustomed to operating in silos. But the long-term benefits will make the growing pains well worth it.


Wolters Kluwer engages HCPs in Europe through specialty journals with global reach. Contact us to learn more about our strategies for reaching HCPs in Europe and the rest of the world.

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