HCP Marketing Field Guide: 7 Strategies to Engage Busy HCPs
Think about when you’re trying to gain the attention of a healthcare professional (HCP). Sometimes, it can feel like you’re trying to catch a rare butterfly while being surrounded by moths.
We understand that an HCP’s attention can feel elusive. After all, they are juggling so much—shorter patient visits, more EHR recording-keeping, insurance red tape, not to mention the overwhelming amount of information that surrounds us all.
However, we’ve found proven engagement methods to help pharma companies gain and keep an HCP’s attention throughout the buyer’s journey, from awareness all the way to conversion and advocacy.
Consider it a strategic field guide to HCP engagement, and here are seven top tips from it:
1. Think like an HCP
When it comes to promotional medical education, understanding what matters to your healthcare professionals and how they consume information is critical to making meaningful connections—and the more specific, the better.
It’s important to ask:
Why do they need to know the information you want to share?
How does this fit into the HCPs’ workflow and practice?
Why or how could it be a challenge in their practice?
How complex is the information?
How similar or different is it from the current standard of care?
You want to determine the learning curve. Is it immediate and seamless, or more complex? The answers to these questions will inform the learning needs of your target audience.
At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that HCPs are consumers, just like the rest of us. Each have their own learning style, whether it’s visual or auditory, whether they need to listen to the information and then write it down, or if they need bite-sized chunks or the full-course story.
2. Cast a multi-channel net
This is where a well-thought-out omnichannel strategy comes into play because learning is not one size fits all for every HCP. HCP marketers need to create a strong story that can be told as smaller stories—depending on the channel, whether that’s through email campaigns, social media posts, or videos posted to your brand’s own HCP site.
You want to surround your healthcare provider audience with the most relevant and impactful information in the channels where they actually live and work—and leverage traditional and digital marketing data to identify where meaningful HCP interactions take place.
3. Use the right tools to reach the right HCPs
HCPs aren’t one-dimensional, and your audience research shouldn’t be either. If you only use one source for your market data, you risk executing against an incomplete audience picture. So, it’s important for a pharma marketer to take a multifaceted approach to identifying and understanding your audience. That could mean employing an advisory board, social listening, or a focus group to build on the insights from your own market research.
Also, data mining is especially important in this era of digitally based engagement. Digital expectations have been raised for all of us, and as pharma marketers, we need to offer the same level of digital customization and engagement to HCPs that they experience in any other facet of their lives.
For example, at Avant, we’re always exploring innovations that enable our clients to reach their HCP audiences in more seamless and engaging ways. That could mean using augmented reality that enables HCP learners to visualize a mechanism of action, building a mobile app that allows busy HCPs to learn on the go, creating a series of thought-leader videos that HCPs can access anytime, or leveraging social platforms to amplify messaging.
4. Identify KOLs who make an impact
Within the peer-to-peer space, when the right key opinion leaders (KOLs) talk, your HCP audience listens. We’ve turned KOL identification into a science, literally, with PeerMesh℠, a first-of-its-kind suite of analytics services. Through the PeerMesh℠ proprietary technology platform and algorithm, we can identify those KOLs who best align with our clients' specific goals and who are interested in providing support as a KOL partner. That means less time and money spent finding the right KOLs and an increased likelihood that your message will hit home because you’ve selected the right HCP messenger.
5. Understand why peer-to-peer engagement and scientific storytelling matter
The benefits of finding the right KOL are invaluable—but, in some ways, frustratingly immeasurable. There’s no conversion rate that can be directly traced, and, admittedly, other areas of the marketing budget may garner more pull.
However, when a respected HCP speaks to his or her peers about a disease state or treatment, it adds a level of credibility and authenticity that can’t be duplicated.
Peer-to-peer education forms a bridge between scientific information and clinical applicability. It’s the difference between saying “here’s the information,” and “here’s how this information applies to what you do each day.” It gives your brand the ability to then be part of a dialogue around what this information can mean for patients.
A KOL can speak to not only the positives but also to potential challenges. This kind of authentic dialogue can build confidence and trust in your brand and the information you present—because the KOL is there as someone who’s been in the HCPs’ shoes. Moreover, the peer-to-peer dialogue format is a familiar learning model for those who’ve been through the “see one, do one, teach one” teaching approach often used in medical school.
Yet, it’s not enough to rely on KOL presentations alone to build stronger HCP connections. For one, it’s impractical. Whether they’re in-person or online, a KOL can only give one presentation at a time. However, you can extend a KOL’s presence by featuring them as a speaker in an on-demand video or including their photo in an email invitation. Wherever it makes sense, weave KOLs into your overall medical story.
In all you do, it’s your ability to deliver a medical story that resonates with the HCP that matters most.
Use your audience data to point to the type of scientifically based story that your target HCPs will find valuable. The right KOL provides a compelling entry point into it. Your channel mix ensures your story is told holistically. Your overall strategy should be designed so your story meets your HCP audience at the right place and the right time to build momentum and engagement over the course of your campaign.
6. Ask yourself the tough questions
Now, step back and think about your current HCP marketing campaign initiatives. Are they hitting the mark? Are you reaching the right HCPs and engaging with them in meaningful ways? Are you making the best use of your medical education dollars? If not, you probably want to look at your strategy and execution process and ask:
Are we making data-driven decisions based on behavior?
Are we collaborating on our story with members of our target HCP audience?
Are we collaborating with our internal partners, such as the sales force and MLR reviewers?
The more you can ensure your story and its delivery aligns with HCP preferences, and avoid any surprises along the approval process, the more likely your campaign will stay on time, on budget and meet—and maybe even exceed—your engagement expectations.
7. Find the right partner for a successful HCP marketing strategy
As you seek to engage your audience, your agency partner can play a key role in your HCP advertising success. The right one can serve as an essential guide as you navigate the HCP landscape to point out pitfalls and smarter ways forward to stronger engagement.
At Avant, we work with pharma companies, leveraging a trifecta of science, strategy, and creative expertise. With nearly 40 on our medical staff—many of whom have advanced degrees—we bring a level of scientific insight and clinical understanding that’s unique in the industry. We say, “We speak HCP” because many at Avant have lived in that world.
We believe that, as healthcare marketers, we serve as an extension of our client’s brand team. We immerse ourselves in their process, science, and market information. In addition, we also look to bring the outside in—to apply the perspective and insights gained from our longtime experience across diverse therapeutic spaces to help clients see fresh solutions in the challenges they seek to solve.
If increasing HCP engagement is a challenge you’re facing, the busy HCP isn’t as elusive as you may think. The right agency partner can help ensure your marketing teams are fully equipped with the optimal data insights, channel mix, KOL partners, content, and strategy to fully capture the attention of your HCP audience.