Clueless Spray and Pray Pharma Marketing Is Dead

“Almost all of the Pharma marketing approaches are spray and pray approaches and they are not going to give Pharma desired outcomes. If pharma companies do not use “Analytics and Big Data” for their marketing activities, they are going to suffer”, observes a Senior Manager from Ogilvy CommonHealth, a leading healthcare communications company.

The same sentiment has been iterated by leading marketing gurus around the world, all strongly emphasizing that Pharma companies must stop this clueless marketing approach.

Spray and Pray marketing has been THE way of marketing for Indian Pharma companies, with hardly any player exploring another approach. “Spray and Pray” is a term derived from a battleground analogy, where a soldier sprays his gun hoping to take his target down. The soldier doesn’t have to aim but neither is he guaranteed a successful hit. The same principle applies to spray and pray marketing, where a marketer tries to promote his product through a barrage of marketing initiatives, hoping that at least one will click and convert into a sale.

Pharma marketers have been using a variety of ways to market their products to doctors. Most common among them are:

  • Field Force Marketing
  • Marketing during Conferences
  • Marketing through CMEs and Webinars
  • Marketing through Mobiles and Media

However, one very critical flaw remains in these promotional practices. While engaging in these initiatives, Pharma fails to assess the impact of its marketing efforts as it does not take insights from doctors beforehand. In short, Pharma companies are spending their time and money behind a non-guaranteed marketing approach.

What’s Wrong with Spray and Pray Marketing?

Spray and pray marketing is a thing of the past. It may have appeared to be working for pharma marketers, as previously, marketers did not have the tools to measure their effectiveness. But in this digital age, we can certainly predict what is working and what is not, by using various models and evidence from web analytics. Pharma needs to pay attention to these insights which are easily accessible now.

The main problem is that Pharma companies have not been able to:

  • Measure which marketing activities work: As said earlier, Pharma engages with doctors through multiple means. One doctor can be part of several marketing initiatives. But in the end, the Pharma never knows that which approach actually got the doctor interested. Hence pharma keeps spending money on certain activities even if the success rate is negligible, in the fear that they may lose the doctor.
  • Assess the real effectiveness of each marketing activity: The ultimate goal of Pharma marketing activities is to change the prescription behavior of doctors in company’s favor. With a random marketing approach, it is too hard to tell whether the change in the prescription has occurred or not. As there is no feedback loop, the pharma companies hardly know whether their marketing activities have been effective at all.
  • Decide realistic STP for marketing: Without an unbiased feedback loop, pharma companies have never been able to accurately construct their STP (Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning) strategy. Moreover, Pharma companies are still not able to distinguish between marketing activities and their corresponding STPs. For example, if face-to-face marketing with hands-on training at a conference has worked with gynecologists, it is not necessary that it will work with other specialties like oncology, urology, nephrology etc. However, pharma tends to adopt the same approach for every audience group. This approach may fail if  Pharma cannot accurately assess who the right target audience for a specific marketing initiative is.

How to Best Achieve Targeted Marketing?

Since marketing without good analysis is a random marketing approach whose success hugely depends on luck, experts consider it to be haphazard and highly risky.

In order to achieve the best and measurable results pharma needs to:

  • Adopt content marketing: In contrast to spray and pray marketing, content marketing is a targeted approach based on measured trends and behaviors. Pharma can easily gain access to these trends by engaging with doctors’ professional platforms like Docplexus. At Docplexus, we have gained insights about doctors’ behavior including what clinical insights they expect from pharma, when they need those insights and most importantly in what format. With this key understanding, when Pharma segments, targets and positions itself with content marketing, it is bound to get clear, measurable results.
  • Access doctors through the right channel: Undoubtedly, pharma industry has great useful clinical insights that doctors want. However, pharma is not using right channels to leverage the brand-building and marketing. Instead of delivering the message to doctors where they are actually active, pharma companies are often found running behind the doctor to pitch their product. It is time pharma realized that it needs to market its products where the audience is. An online community like Docplexus is a great way to interact with doctors as it can help deliver pharma’s marketing message to doctors effectively.
  • Take Insights from Digital Analytics: The biggest advantage of online communities is that they offer critical information about doctors’ behavior. Docplexus offers detailed insights into what type of information doctors prefer, when they access pharma’s marketing messages, the preferred content consumption format, the best frequency of marketing messages and most importantly the impact of pharma communications. Such use of analytics helps in assessing various parameters before planning marketing activities, thereby improving outcomes.

At Docplexus we constantly analyze what 2,50,000+ doctors expect from Pharma companies. We thus help Pharma companies to understand doctors ‘needs’ and establish themselves as Doctors’ Trusted Knowledge Partner. This opens up a novel communication channel between pharma and the medical community on which an exchange of ideas and information about products and solutions takes place.

Docplexus – Pharma’s Trusted Marketing Partner
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