This is the first in a two-part series on HCP marketing communications.
As with any successful marketing communications campaign, knowing your audience is key. This is especially true when engaging healthcare professionals (HCPs). There is often a misperception that all HCPs are the same—that they are all physicians. HCPs encompass a diverse range of roles and specialties, including medical doctors to nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physical therapists and mental health professionals (to name a few). Each of these HCP groups have their own unique needs and preferences. This is also true among different physician specialties. How you reach and engage primary care physicians could be very different than efforts with orthopedic surgeons.
In this blog post, we will further discuss insights on effective outreach to HCP audiences.
Because HCPs make up a diverse group with a variety of roles, specialties, and interests, before developing and implementing any communications program take the time to research and understand your specific audience’s characteristics and challenges.
Understanding their needs and pain points allows for the development of more targeted messaging and tactics. For example, many physicians have limited time with patients and an abundance of administrative work, which can often lead to burnout among other things. Therefore, for some campaigns, we build in messaging about how our clients’ products can create efficiencies to give HCPs time back. We’ve also created specific videos acknowledging the issues these HCPs face to let them know we hear them and we’re here to support them. Also, even with the advances in electronic health records and other technologies, there is still a lag in how physicians, patients, health systems and payors connect and work together, causing many challenges for HCPs.
If we don’t already know this information, we conduct market research, interviews and surveys to get much-needed audience insight. For example, we’ve used 1:1 HCP interviews, our clients’ social listening analyses and insights from sales teams, among other means of information-gathering, to develop our campaigns. A successful HCP marketing communications campaign starts with having insight into healthcare professionals’ priorities, behavior and knowing when they are most receptive to information, and understanding the type of information they need.
When communicating with HCPs, providing value through education is essential, with a no BS approach
HCPs have a very high level of expertise in their respective fields. It’s imperative to speak the language of our HCPs and show an understanding of their area of expertise. Also, many HCPs are on a continuous learning and growth path, where education is second nature. When communicating with HCPs, providing value through education is essential, with a no BS approach. Many HCPs are put off by “marketing language” or “jargon,” so engagement is a delicate balance of informing without defending. Yet, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative in HCP campaigns! On the contrary, creativity plays a crucial role in impactful HCP outreach just as with any campaign. It may just take a bit more thought and consideration given the audience, and perhaps other parameters like regulatory or compliance factors.
A successful HCP marketing communications campaign starts with having insight into healthcare professionals’ priorities, behavior and knowing when they are most receptive to information
Building trust and credibility among any audience is paramount—and it takes time. To start, it’s important to understand where HCPs get their information, what sources they trust and why. For example, HCPs, particularly physicians, value peer-to-peer communication for a lot of their go-to information. That’s one reason we worked with Boston Scientific to create Physicians’ Perspectives, a platform that provides physicians with credible and actionable peer-to-peer insights on treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).
Beyond understanding which communications channels are most impactful, developing content that resonates is just as important. Physicians especially rely on published clinical research in respected journals. Because physicians aren’t quick to jump on any bandwagon, they need content that is well-researched and evidence-based. Delivering credible information via trusted channels is another factor in building credibility and trust overall.
HCPs are increasingly using digital tools and online platforms for information and networking. Not integrating a digital communications approach to an HCP outreach program would be a miss. It’s important to understand what digital preferences HCP groups and specialties rely on, and to ensure that these are included as appropriate in any digital outreach strategy. Leverage social media platforms, like LinkedIn, online professional groups and networking sites, as well as virtual conferences—these are just some examples of digital channels to consider.
In the next blog post in this series, we’ll dive deeper into digital communications for HCP outreach and engagement.
Need help reaching HCPs? Drop us a note here to learn more about our experience and how we can help you.