With competition among pharma brands being tougher than ever, the fight for physicians’ loyalty has become increasingly fierce. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, increasing retention rates with customers by just 5% reflects an organization’s profits by as much as 95%.
In a competitive market, it is imperative for pharma companies to establish brand loyalty with its prescribers in order to ensure they stay on top of physicians’ minds. However, brand loyalty is one of the most challenging aspects of pharma marketing. Here’s what it means, how it benefits pharma brands, and how you can achieve it.
Brand loyalty in traditional terms
Have you ever been asked if you want a loyalty card somewhere? Loyalty programs have been around for decades, and clever brands have amassed fortunes by successfully utilizing them. The idea is simple – you buy/use a certain product repeatedly and get a loyalty card. This allows you certain benefits such as rewards and discounts. Trouble is, albeit very neat, this approach does not work for pharma. First off, physicians may be put off by the amount of data being stored about their behavior. Second, using incentives to boost prescriptions rates has been proven as a hit or miss strategy before, and it’s time for a novel approach.
Loyalty beyond prescribing
Once established properly, pharma brand loyalty can have deep and long lasting effects beyond prescriptions. Once a physician is loyal, they become your best brand ambassador. If a physician has multiple positive experiences with your brand, they will actively endorse it to the point of associating their reputation with brand values. This really should be the ultimate goal that all pharma brands should be striving for.
How to build pharma brand loyalty
Provide research behind the drug
In one research, 85% of surveyed physicians stated that scientific literature is their first reason for prescribing a certain drug. Moreover, 46% of physicians declared that clinical trial results are their first source of information about a new drug. Their second most favorite source were sales rep, with 30% of HCPs getting their drug info during sales rep calls.
With these facts in mind, we cannot stress the importance of properly informing HCPs enough. The latest research and clinical trials should be readily available to physicians and sent out though all company channels. As far as sales reps go, they should present objective information from publications during their calls, allowing HCPs to make a rational, informed decision.
Once a practice of this kind is established, HCPs will consider your brand as a valuable source of scientific information, and not someone always ready with a sales pitch.
Make a shift in sales rep mindset
Although their numbers are declining every year, sales reps are still a pivotal force in pharma marketing. However, trouble lies in the very name – sales reps.
In order to build true engagement and loyalty with physicians, reps should not focus on selling, rather on providing a service. Instead of talking to the HCP, reps should to talk with them. By actively paying attention to physicians’ needs, reps can help spot gaps in the current approach.
Sales reps are one of the most effective ways to communicate with physicians. Unfortunately, many pharma brands under-utilize their sales rep force, to the point where physicians cut down their time with reps to mere minutes.
Use multi-channel as much as possible
How many touchpoints does your brand have with physicians currently? If you’re still stuck on one channel (email, for example), you’re doing yourself a disservice, even if your efforts are working. Today’s physicians are increasingly present digitally and using merely one channel is not enough to stay on top of mind – you need to go multi-channel.
In order to achieve continuous engagement, pharma brands need to connect with HCPs on various channels. This includes websites, emails, sales rep calls, webinars, webinars, conferences… You name it – it has to be done. The messages need to stay consistent and provide valuable information to medical professionals instead of pushing the product. At the same time, you must utilize these channels to actively listen to physicians and understand their pain points, in order to provide a better experience.
When brand loyalty fails
At times, your brand’s faithful supporters may switch sides and stop prescribing your brand. Instead of worrying about this, you can find the cause and work to fix the issue. Here are some of the reasons why physicians switch to competitor brands.
First, in the best possible scenario, new, similar drugs came out. This will happen and the only way to remedy it is to present your drug’s strongest points in an objective manner. The second reason is negative feedback from KOLs and peers. Unfortunately, this one is much harder to fix. Finally, the last reason for lack of brand loyalty is poor patient treatment outcomes.
As a marketing strategy, establishing pharma brand loyalty should be the ultimate long-term goal for pharma companies. In markets where large portions of the market are dominated by branded drugs, it is more important than ever to establish strong engagement with HCPs and provide value in order to get loyalty in return.
Do you need help setting up your pharma brand marketing strategy? Our team of dedicated professionals has worked with more than 50 pharma brands from all over the world. If you want to find out what we can do for you too – reach out to us, we’d love to help.
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