How to Effectively Outsource Your Pharmaceutical Marketing Fulfillment

Jason Robinson  |  March 25, 2014  |   Marketing Fulfillment,   Distributed Sales Force,   Fulfillment,   Life Sciences Marketing,  

Use this simple guide to help you select the right outsourcing partner to support the future of field marketing and sales.For pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and others in the life sciences industry, direct-to-physician marketing presents difficult new challenges in 2014. This will be the first full calendar year in which companies participating in U.S. federal health care programs will now be required to track and record payments, gifts, travel, and other honoraria to healthcare professionals (HCPs) and health care organizations. Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

The Physician Payment Sunshine Act does not only concern compensation, but also extends to ownership and investment for physicians – as well as their immediate family members. For both life sciences companies and physicians, noncompliance with the Sunshine Act carries with it significant fines and the hazards of a damaged public reputation. On top of these new regulations, a shortage of physicians and an increase in patients means that sales reps must make the most of the limited time they have to meet in person with overworked physicians. In short, appealing to physicians in a comprehensive, convincing, and legal way will be more difficult than ever in 2014.

In response, the role of marketing collateral and sales literature has become ever more important for sales reps. A recent ISR report stated that the Sunshine Act has already had a dramatic impact on the ability of pharmaceutical sales representatives to connect with physicians, both one-on-one and in a group setting. Since sales reps can wait hours to get a mere 30-second meeting, it is of the utmost importance to support your distributed sales force with enough supplies and marketing materials at greater speeds and efficiency.

In order to unburden existing marketing resources and access logistical expertise, many life science marketers have begun outsourcing their marketing and sales force logistics needs to third parties. This is a wise strategy, but only when the process is handled thoughtfully. Outsourcing alone is not enough to access all the benefits of marketing fulfillment and sales support. Use this simple guide to help you select the right outsourcing partner to support the future of field marketing and sales.

Avoid the “Silo-ed Approach”

Marketing pharmaceuticals and other healthcare products with printed collateral and promotional material is a complicated process, even after the creative work is done. Materials must be printed, shipped, tracked, and stored for the campaign to be successful. Too often, life science marketers delegate each one of these services to a different provider, thus creating “silos” of outsourced partners that each handles a discrete responsibility. In practice, this strategy has been shown to be expensive, disorganized, and inflexible. The fewer third-party vendors you work with the better, and, ideally, you would have just one.

Seek Out an MRM Provider

MRM is an all-in-one strategy for managing all of your printing, distribution, reporting, surplus storage, and regulatory obligations directly from any web browser.Marketing Resource Management (MRM) is a marketing production and distribution strategy that integrates all the logistical challenges of ordering, producing, storing, and distributing marketing assets to your sales reps into a single process. With an outsourced MRM provider, you’ll have the means necessary to manage all of your printing, distribution, reporting, surplus storage, and regulatory obligations directly from any web browser. When all of your fulfillment needs are managed under the umbrella of a single partner with specific expertise in MRM, it reduces costs, increases speeds, and eliminates common hassles and setbacks.

Before committing to an MRM provider, however, pharmaceutical marketers need to realize that not all companies provide the same level of service. You may inadvertently find yourself falling back on the “silo-ed” approach because your MRM provider does not provide true all-in-one services. In order to make sure that any and all of your needs are truly met, make sure you MRM provider can offer you the following levels of service:

  • Self-Contained Fulfillment Capabilities – Some MRM providers outsource steps in the production and distribution workflow to other companies, and eventually these inefficiencies will affect you. Make sure the company you choose handles everything themselves.
  • Life Sciences Experience – Marketing pharmaceuticals and other products for HCPs using printed collateral brings with it unique challenges like regulatory compliance. Your MRM partner should have specific experience with life science marketing.
  • Flexible Responses – Effective print marketing campaigns rely on speed, flexibility, and dynamism. The best MRM providers offer multiple methods for revising and updating marketing collateral, and seamless integration of these changes into existing workflows.
  • Global Reach – In order to stay competitive, many life science companies are seeking out international markets for their products. The MRM provider you choose to work with should be able to meet the demands of your global business.

The time and research you put into initially selecting an MRM provider will pay dividends down the road. Be sure to look passed the sales pitches and investigate the levels of service various companies are actually able to provide. To learn more about MRM and the ways that it is changing pharmaceutical marketing, read our free ebook, Streamlining Fulfillment, Simplifying Compliance, and Staying Competitive for the 21st Century Life Sciences Marketer.

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