Getting attention in today’s hectic, overstimulated society is a challenge. Getting attention from overwhelmed healthcare professionals–specifically, the ones who might be interested in your product–is priceless.
The rules have changed. Thanks to the explosion in technology and changing consumer behavior, savvy healthcare marketing must adapt to build meaningful relationships with prospects and existing customers.
How are things different now? What does that mean for the way you engage with your customers?
One thing in life is certain: change. That’s certainly the case in the healthcare marketing world, with important implications for your business.
The endless battle to reduce healthcare costs while maximizing limited resources pretty much guarantees the people you’re trying to reach are busy. A Physicians Foundation survey reported that over 80 percent of U.S. physicians were “at full capacity or over-worked.”
Time concerns aren’t the only thing. You also have to consider the way in which healthcare professionals engage with your marketing campaigns has changed. New technologies and a familiarity with doing business online means fewer in-person interactions with sales reps, as well as a more complex buying cycle.
The environment today presents challenges for even the most skilled healthcare marketer. With that said, there are just as many new opportunities to connect with customers like never before.
Here are four key ways how:
1. Integrating Traditional and Digital Marketing Strategies
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No one can deny how quickly digital marketing has evolved. That can create the temptation to either stick stubbornly to more traditional tactics–like sending reps to facilities and/or trade shows–or dive headfirst into digital and abandon traditional efforts completely.
There’s no reason to feel that way when you can have the best of both worlds. Many healthcare professionals still value the importance of in-person connections with sales reps. But they’re also increasingly comfortable educating themselves online, with a 133 percent increase in mobile device usage to research new drugs in the last five years.
A hybrid approach creates personal connection and scale. A sales rep can visit a physician’s office, and after having a productive conversation, direct the physician to a website to see video demos, case studies, and clinical data. Each approach supports the other, resulting in a more compelling message. This also works well because it gives physicians the ability to review materials on their own terms (in the evenings when they are less busy).
It’s time to stop worrying so much about distinguishing traditional and digital strategies. It’s time to start asking ourselves how we can use the strengths of each approach to complement, instead of compete with, the other. How can we present a cohesive message–one busy healthcare professionals can engage with at the perfect time for them?
2. Building Trust and Engagement through Top-Quality Content
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Long-term, fruitful relationships with healthcare providers are based on trust. With the FDA committed to accelerate the review process, it’s crucial for providers to feel assured your products are legitimate.
Building those relationships take time, though, and the vast majority of healthcare providers simply don’t have enough to spare for numerous phone calls and/or in-person visits.
But there’s another way. You can foster trust through the materials you present online. By sharing studies, opinions from KOLs and the like, you can strengthen relationships with numerous providers simultaneously. Once the relationship is strong enough, you can maximize your limited sales rep resources to transform interested prospects into customers.
The materials that foster this trust–demo videos, case studies, clinical trials, etc.–are the same as what mattered to providers before. Just by changing how you present those materials, you empower prospects to engage at times that are good for them, as well as slow down and review whatever content they’d like.
Digital tools also help create more meaningful interactions. You can use images and infographics to convey what would have taken thousands of words to say. Videos are great for breaking down complex products or procedures into a message providers immediately appreciate. You can even make graphic elements interactive, creating a personalized marketing experience by directing visitors to specific pages based on the elements they click.
3. Analyzing the Results Quantitatively and Qualitatively
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A marketing plan might sound great on paper, but what really matters is how effectively it targets the right people, engages them, and brings in business.
Online tools can help you better understand the details. By peeling back the mystery about which people are engaging with which marketing materials and how they’re engaging with it, it’s easier to analyze a campaign’s effectiveness.
Some healthcare marketers get so caught up with this wealth of quantitative data that they overlook the importance of qualitative data.
Quantitative data helps you understand what is going on. Qualitative data helps you understand why. It offers guidance on how to improve struggling marketing campaigns–or make winning ones even better.
Traditional tactics like in-person visits are gold mines of qualitative data; reps can get a feel for why (or why not) an initiative is working when they are in the same room as the healthcare professional. You can also generate qualitative data online by offering surveys with open-ended questions. Make it as easy as possible for people to complete these and get in touch with you, pair it with quantitative data, and get the robust feedback you need to succeed.
4. Creating Multiple Touch Points to Accommodate Non-Linear Buying Journeys
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A key part of engaging healthcare providers effectively today is to recognize just how much their buying journey has changed.
Where they used to hear about new products in-person, providers now make initial contact online and restrict sales rep access. They might not contact you personally until much later in the buying journey. Those who do contact you will have a journey that’s anything but linear.
This means you can’t leave those key first moments up to chance. As a market leader, you have to be there from the beginning, connecting with providers through a strong brand presence online. A repository of top-quality content educates visitors about the challenges your product helps solve, and content published regularly (through a blog or social media, for example) gives them reasons to keep coming back.
It’s easy for a provider to get intrigued by your product, only to forget about you once communication dries up. That’s why it’s crucial to create multiple interactions as part of an ongoing conversation. Digital tools like social media and email marketing will help. So will strategic follow-up from sales reps.
So much of marketing success comes down to regular follow-up. Keep delivering value across multiple touch points, and you will build a pipeline of leads and customers.
Over to You
Healthcare marketing is complex and fast-moving. However, there have never been so many tools available to help you reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time.
So give the tips above a try. Apply them in your business, and you’ll make digital and traditional marketing tactics work in synergy to serve up the perfect message for time-strapped healthcare prospects.