Date posted: 8 September 2017
Hello and welcome to the first ever Method Minute | Pharma Blog.
Method Minutes are pieces of original content for pharmaceutical marketers, where we discuss industry challenges and how to address them using content, social media and search engine marketing.
Today, we’ll look at the challenges you face engaging customers online and how content marketing can help you. You’ll also receive actionable advice to help you begin your content marketing journey.
Why Pharma Needs Content Marketing
HCP-Only Websites in Control
Marketing using digital channels in the pharmaceutical industry can be tough. It can feel like your content and your customers are not your own.
This is best illustrated by pharma’s heavy investments in third party, HCP-only websites, where you give up control of your content to reach your customers with messaging that may, or may not help your brand.
Pharma loses control of its content & customer relationships at HCP-only websites Tweet This!
And why do we do it?
Many reasons, but one is perhaps most disappointing: Deloitte’s research shows that many physicians don’t trust the content pharma produce. They are turning to third party, HCP-only platforms, such as Medscape, Sermo and Doctors.net for the information they need.
HCP-only networks are filling Pharma’s trust gap with their content (Credit: Chris Franck, Deloitte Consulting)
This isn’t good for you, or your brand:
- You lose control of your content and communications
- You miss the opportunity to build customer relationships and earn their trust
Low Engagement in Pharma Assets
When pharma does invest in its own content and channels, does the situation improve?
I’m afraid not.
According to research by Google, physicians do prefer online resources to traditional ones and use search engines to find and access that content.
However, this information is not being found at pharma websites:
- The average physician Google’s clinical queries 6 times per day
- 39% go to HCP-only websites
- Only 7% go to pharma industry websites
Only 7% of physician search traffic goes to pharma websites Tweet This!
Pretty disappointing, given the time, effort and money that goes into building some of these websites.
More doctors start with a search engine than any other online resource (Credit: Google/Manhattan Research)
Impact on Pharma Marketing
If these scenarios resonate with you, then you may feel that this is inhibiting your ability to build customer relationships and earn their trust. Important if you want to sell to them in the future.
Why is content marketing important?
Content marketing is important because your customers do not care about you, or your brand. They only care about themselves and how they can advance their careers, address their professional challenges, and improve patients’ lives.
If you think about it, it’s the same reason you’re reading this article. You hope it will provide some useful insights and advice that will enhance your knowledge and advance your career.
I hope it does.
Content Marketing: What Is It? How Can It Help?
The content marketing institute define it as ‘a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – ultimately, to drive profitable customer action’.
For the pharmaceutical industry, Method defines content marketing as ‘the consistent creation and distribution of the content audiences need, in all the places they are searching for it, to attract and retain their attention’.
The key word here is ‘consistent’. A consistent, long-term commitment to helping physicians and patients, by creating and sharing valuable content on a regular basis. In this way, you can address their ongoing needs and keep them engaged.
In time, this creates other opportunities for you to share promotional content with them. Once you have a relationship.
3 Big Reasons Pharma Needs Content Marketing
- It puts your owned media channels (e.g. therapy area website) at the heart of your content marketing efforts – putting you back in control of your content and communications
- It leverages owned, earned and paid media to distribute your content and drive traffic back to your site – helping you reach your customers in the channels they’re using
- It gives your customers a valuable and compelling reason to opt-in, subscribe and follow you – allowing you to practice permission-based marketing
Content marketing puts Pharma back in control of its content & customer relationships Tweet This!
If you’re still not convinced of the benefits of content marketing, it will also:
- Increase organic search traffic to your website – a free source of motivated, verified prospects and leads
- Build and maintain long-term audience engagement – improving trust and relationships with your customers
- Reduce your long-term advertising spend and reliance on third-party, HCP-only sites – allowing you to connect directly with your customers. For free
There are many more benefits to content marketing for the pharmaceutical industry, but we’re both busy so I’ll crack on.
OK, What Now?
3-step process to begin your content marketing journey:
- Set and align your business and content marketing goals
Your content must help you meet your business/brand objectives. Otherwise, what’s the point? How will content marketing help your business or brand? Will it help you attract and retain more customers? Build closer relationships and earn trust? Help your customers make better clinical decisions? Whatever it is, ensure alignment between business and audience goals.
- Define and characterise your target audience
Using search and social insights, interviews and questionnaires, create personas for your target audience. Develop a deep understanding of their needs, motivations and online behaviours so that you can create valuable content, in the appropriate format for the channels they’re using.
- Set your mission
Define your content marketing mission statement. Define who your content is for, what you will offer them and how they will benefit. This will guide all your future content marketing efforts. It’s your raison d’être
Remember: Give More Than You Seek
As a pharmaceutical marketer, you have lots of valuable content to offer your customers; however, currently, most physicians look elsewhere for the information they need.
Content marketing is the key to engaging customers online. By putting your customers’ needs first, you are repositioning yourself as a trusted and valued industry partner.
The trust you earn will create future opportunities to communicate with physicians – including with your promotional content.
Just remember, to get the balance right between your promotional and non-promotional communications.
Give more than you seek.
What are your experiences of implementing a content marketing strategy?
How did it work for you and your brand?
Please share your thoughts and comments below.