Marketing is in a near constant state of flux, but this year was more disruptive than usual for the pharmaceutical and life science industries. Most significantly, the implementation of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, a provision of the Affordable Care Act, has created new and burdensome regulatory obligations for those businesses selling to healthcare providers. As access to healthcare professionals continues to erode for life sciences companies, the physician shortage also continued to grow and challenge doctors with more patients and less available time to meet with field sales reps. Finally, and perhaps most consequentially, the unstoppable growth (and over saturation) of digital spaces online has made it harder than ever before to leave a memorable impression through email, social media, and websites.
Many companies attempting to attract the attention of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other healthcare professionals (HCPs) have begun looking “backwards” as they revise their marketing mix. Surprisingly, well-established, but often derided, techniques like direct mail, promotional giveaways, catalogs, brochures, and postcards have experienced a dramatic resurgence this past year. But, like all life science marketing, those time-honored strategies require a 21st century update to be effective. Distributed sales forces, global marketplaces, and carefully targeted direct marketing all require that fulfillment strategies operate with new levels of speed, flexibility, and efficiency. We have surveyed the most common fulfillment strategies being used in life science marketing in 2013 to help you determine the right strategy for your company.
Initially, most pharmaceutical and life sciences companies prefer to manage their obligations for literature fulfillment and sales force logistics in-house. The underlying assumption is that retaining the ability to control every step of the process will reduce costs, increase efficiency, and avoid issues resulting from regulatory non-compliance. This may be true at first, or for marketers with an especially small scope, but, for the vast majority of companies serving the healthcare industry, this strategy will prove self-defeating.
Experience has shown that in-house marketing fulfillment creates more problems than it solves. The professionals on your marketing team often do not have the time or expertise to handle both the creative and logistical side of marketing simultaneously, stretching their resources thin. This leads to disorganization and miscommunications that diminish the impact of your marketing messages. In-house marketing fulfillment also takes up a significant amount of space and is difficult to scale efficiently. That creates unnecessary expenses and lost opportunities.
Outsourcing the fulfillment side of life science marketing and sales alleviates the challenges of maintaining operations in-house, but only when it is done properly. Working with a fulfillment vendor who has the resources to print marketing collateral, store physical inventory, and distribute it strategically, all while complying with state and federal regulations, is your sales team’s most valuable asset. The partnership reduces the cost of distributed marketing, improves overall outcomes, and frees up company resources for other purposes.
However, problems arise when pharmaceutical and medical device companies try to outsource their sales force fulfillment needs to multiple different vendors. They may use one company for printing, another for shipping, and a third for storage. Coordinating the efforts of multiple service providers in the homogeneous way that complex fulfillment requires is not easy. Mistakes, setbacks, and inefficiencies at any stage in the fulfillment process can jeopardize the entire campaign. The benefits of outsourcing your fulfillment exist in inverse proportion to the number of partners you use.
When companies in the pharmaceutical, biologic, medical device, and medical supply arena rely on all-in-one marketing production & fulfillment vendors, they get all of the benefits of both in-house and outsourced fulfillment strategies with none of the drawbacks. Powered by the Internet, marketing resource management is a centralized approach to tracking, producing, managing, and distributing printed sales collateral and marketing assets to sales representatives in the field. Cataloging, storage, retrieval, printing, production, and distribution are done as a holistic, integrated process through a single all-in-one vendor.
In short, MRM is a way for companies to systemize the entire marketing production and fulfillment workflow through a single environment. When dedicated fulfillment experts apply this coordinated approach, it reduces costs, shortens delivery times, simplifies the ordering process, and unburdens creative marketing professionals.
The benefits of MRM are uniquely applicable to the challenges of direct-to-physician marketing. For instance, do you have the resources in-house to manage international shipping and complex direct mail campaigns that can support your sales staff in any physician's office on Earth? Are you prepared to meet the mandates of the Sunshine Act, so that you can avoid fines that begin at $10,000? Does your marketing department have the resources it needs to go from creative concept to finished product in a matter of hours? If you answered no to any of these questions, 2014 could be a difficult year without the all-in-one support offered by a qualified MRM vendor.
In order to get a clearer picture of how MRM works and how it can benefit your business, consider the workflow for producing and distributing printed collateral from the first step to the last. Wouldn't you prefer to let your marketing team handle the design and messaging, and then hand off all the other responsibilities to a single partner that can take care of the rest? That is the kind of convenience, expertise, and oversight that this revolutionary strategy has to offer.
To learn more about effective life science and pharmaceutical marketing fulfillment in the coming year, consult our free ebook, “Streamlining Fulfillment, Simplifying Compliance, and Staying Competitive for the 21st Century Life Sciences Marketer.”Google+
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