The Number 1 Reason Your Pharmaceutical Marketing Plan Will Fail

Pharmaceutical MarketingThe pharmaceutical industry is dependent on the attention, effort and interaction of healthcare professionals (HCP’s). Whatever your disease area and no matter how special your drug is, if you do not grab the attention of HCP’s – you are doomed to fail. No wonder that the battle for HCP attention is so precious that in 2012 $24 Billion was spent on marketing initiatives targeting physicians alone. The smartest pharmaceutical companies know that successful marketing goes well beyond Leave Pieces and ad hoc lunch meetings and invest wisely in Engagement Initiatives. It is my job to advise and create superior pharmaceutical marketing plans- hooking the engagement of healthcare professionals and increasing sales.

If Physicians, Doctors and other HCP’s do not engage in your initiative – it will fail, so…

How can we get doctors to engage with our pharmaceutical marketing plan?

I spend the majority of my time answering this one question time and time again tailoring my response to suit the situational needs; demographic, budget, platform, brand and time constraints amongst others. In every pharmaceutical marketing plan I construct there is always one ever present a ‘Selfish Incentive’. A selfish incentive is an absolute must for any successful pharmaceutical marketing plan and I will clear up exactly what I mean shortly, first consider the daily demands experienced by a HCP.

A Day in the Life of a Healthcare Professional

The Single Patient: “Please give me your time and save my life.”
The Patient Group: “Please give us your time and change many lives”
The Family of a Patient: “Please give us your time so we can understand”
Researchers: “Please give us your time and help change the future of medicine.”
The Colleague: “Please give me your time to share your knowledge”
Junior Colleagues: “Please give me your time and help me develop”
Procurement: “Give us your time we need to budget”
The Pharmaceutical Sales Rep: “Prescribe our drug and help me hit target”
The Pharmaceutical Sales Team: “ Tell others about our drug and help us all hit target”
The Spouse: “Give me your time I need your support”
The Family: “Give us your time we need your love”


HCP’s have a finite reserve for giving selflessly and this is all but used up every single day. A selfish incentive is a personal benefit for the HCP in return for their engagement and I am resolute on including selfish incentives into pharmaceutical marketing initiatives. HCP’s gives enough selfless giving already and if I am going to implement tactics designed to deprive them of more time and energy – I have to give something back. I also believe that without a ‘selfish incentive’, your initiative will fail. The skill is identifying an incentive, one that is compliant with legislation and making it fit with your initiative.

“Engaging doctors is achieved through building ‘selfish incentives’ into holistic initiatives.”

I wouldn’t dream of writing this post without offering some more useable insight. So I will share with you some broad incentive ideas to drive doctor engagement;

  • Digital Exposure (recognition of achievements online via third party websites).
  • Creation of personal brand content (assistance in building their digital portfolio).
  • Benefits for their private practice (i.e. links from better ranked websites).
  • Exclusivity (entry to groups with elitist entry requirements).
  • Talking, teaching and proctoring opportunities.
  • Tools to make their job easier.
  • A professional competition- an opportunity to pitch themselves against their peers.
  • Gamification (introduce a method to measure achievements/success and show this number off)

If you provide the right incentive wisely and build in behavioural science in to its execution and presentation, you will have doctors hooked, driving your initiative for everyones mutual benefit. More importantly you will be giving something back to those who dedicate a lifetime giving their time to help others.

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Pharmaceutical Marketing plan