The principle behind influencer marketing is simple: If someone who is trusted or admired by many other people expresses a preference for a product or service, then others will give it a try. Marketers in a wide range of industries have long directed their efforts at celebrated individuals as a relatively inexpensive way of getting the word out about a product, especially when compared to the cost of a television ad buy. The proliferation of social media took this strategy to a whole new level, making it easy for a well-known person to convey a sponsored message instantly to thousands or millions of followers.
Sales and marketing departments at life sciences organizations have taken notice of the increasing relevance of influencer campaigns, and many want in on the action. Of course, it’s challenging to apply the same concepts to medical devices or pharmaceuticals with the strict rules in place to regulate communications and protect patient privacy. However, a clear perspective on how influencer marketing works and extensive access to physician data make it possible for businesses to guide the right people to information about medical products.
Influencer marketing in medicine
Given the restrictions on sharing information, many physicians have been reluctant to embrace social media. In the Healthlink Dimensions Annual Healthcare Professional Survey for 2018, 28.6 percent of respondents said they used social networking sites to communicate with other physicians and healthcare professionals, but few used these platforms to connect with patients or life sciences organizations. The majority, at 66 percent, said they opted out of social media altogether.
Nonetheless, influencer marketing has made headway in medical marketing in recent years. Initiating online contact with key healthcare decision-makers and thinkers is often a major step toward making sales and promoting beneficial policies. Pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers can gain an advantage by finding clinical partners that carry weight in the medical community and forming relationships with particular physicians and executives willing to promote the brand to others.
Meanwhile, patients are flexing their own newfound clout through social media accounts. WIRED reported on people with chronic diseases who regularly post about their struggles and triumphs, including photos and popular hashtags. Healthcare startups, marketing research firms and brand strategy agencies have seized the chance to network and collaborate with these individuals.
Hewing carefully to regulations, marketers have begun working with patient influencers in bringing attention to life sciences brands. By looking at what individuals have to say, companies gain new perspective into what it’s like living with the chronic conditions that their products treat. Such relationships have thus proven invaluable to a number of businesses and may prove a vital part of many more marketing strategies in the future.
Targeting communications to key healthcare decision-makers
While influencer marketing is a burgeoning force in the world of healthcare, life sciences organizations must still concentrate on nurturing relationships on a smaller scale. Individual physicians and administrators play vital roles in driving purchases for their facilities. With the precipitous decline of in-person access to medical professionals, marketers and salespeople have to form connections online.
Email has solidly established its place as the best means for sending information and promotions to healthcare providers. A strategic physician email marketing campaign can be the start of communications with professionals who come to champion a product or firm throughout the purchase process. Optimizing these efforts depends on gaining a clear perspective into the needs of the doctors who participate in the decisions to buy pharmaceuticals or medical devices and segmenting accordingly.
By working from up-to-date contact information, representatives reliably get through to doctors. Messages should be targeted and customized by drawing on data such as institutional affiliations and areas of specialization. Taking into account where healthcare providers work and the demographics they serve, marketers can tailor messaging to capture and hold their interest.
A deeper engagement with details like the treatments a doctor commonly employs to treat certain conditions will permit even more precise segmentation. Addressing the precise needs of physicians with a wealth of informative materials encourages them to advocate for a product all the way through a long purchase journey. Delivering quality results and nurturing relationships may persuade key individuals in health systems to wield their significant influence on the behalf of a life sciences organization.
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