Planning any successful marketing campaign requires a thorough understanding of where and how the target audience most effectively consumes marketing messages. To better assist the efforts of pharmaceutical marketers and sales reps in the life sciences industry, a 2012 CMI/Compass study surveyed healthcare professionals (HCPs) to evaluate their preferred methods for receiving marketing communications and product information. More than 200 promotional access vehicles were assessed across various channels, ranging from printed to digital types.
The results were surprising, and they say a lot about the enduring value of using printed collateral to appeal directly to HCPs. Consider these results.
Direct mail can be accessed by more than 95% of the physicians surveyed.
Broad-reach journals are accessible to 80% of the physicians surveyed.
Only 20-25% of physicians surveyed read journals exclusively in electronic formats.
In 2012, 65% of physicians identify direct mail as their preferred method for learning about new products and services -- that's a 27% increase since 2009!
Over 77% of nurse practitioners surveyed personally read mail from pharma reps.
For physician’s assistants, 60% reported they prefer print over digital for communications.
This study draws the conclusion that printed materials (like brochures, catalogs, whitepapers, handouts, and flyers) are invaluable for a broad spectrum of healthcare professionals. For some pharma marketing and sales reps, this will come as a surprise, but it shouldn't.
Most people understand and remember information better when read on paper rather than a screen. Traditional offline marketing strategies like print have unique benefits that digital alternatives can never match. Here are the top 4 reasons why printed collateral will resonate with your target audience.
1. Permanency: Gifts that Keep On Giving
Printed marketing collateral has a significantly longer lifespan than other forms of marketing. TV and radio ads are temporal, email marketing is easy to delete, websites can be hard to reference, and sales calls are forgettable. Once something printed is delivered, it has the opportunity to make an impression repeatedly, and in unexpected ways, because it literally does not go away. The impact on your target audience can be significantly larger than the impact on your marketing budget.
Many claim that email marketing provides a greater return on investment because it doesn't involve the cost of printing and mailing. Nevertheless, healthcare marketing experts say direct mail is regaining ground because, unlike with electronic solicitation, someone is significantly more likely to read a mail piece first before deciding what to do with it.
2. Shareability: Built for the Offline World
The fact remains that printed material is easy to distribute at any time an opportunity presents itself. In an elevator, restaurant, a trade show, or conference meeting, having physical marketing materials to give out makes it effortless to deliver a complete and lasting sales pitch – regardless of the time or technology at your disposal. Do not underestimate the convenience of a business card, three fold brochure, or even promotional items for pharmaceutical marketing.
3. Attractiveness: Appealing to Their Senses
Printed marketing collateral has a unique ability to deeply connect with the consumer. A study examining the link between the brain and direct mail marketing revealed that marketing messages in printed formats elicit a greater neurological response than any other format. Researchers concluded that the tactile nature of physical materials creates more emotionally vivid memories and a greater sense of “internalization” of the advertisement.
By comparison, websites seem cluttered, emails look dull, and sales calls come off as meandering. The combination of targeted graphics, focused copywriting, and smart branding strategies has a powerful ability to leave an impression on the minds of healthcare professionals.
4. Ease of Reading: Less is Sometimes More
Direct-to-physician marketing, which often has to explain complicated subjects, must go out of its way to make advertising materials easy to digest. For overworked HCPs, printed marketing materials have a natural simplicity and brevity they can appreciate. Plus, research indicates that LCD screens are more cognitively and physically taxing than paper due to near constant light emission. Perusing an artful piece of printed collateral is often a welcome change from staring at the glowing screens of computers, tablets, cell phones, and medical devices. Paper's greatest strength may be its simplicity. When a physician wants to look up your phone number, would they rather dive deep into your corporate website or simply look at your business card?
Pharmaceutical and life science marketing professionals and their sales reps must contend with increasing competition, distributed workforces, and greater demands for speed and efficiency than ever before. This hyperactive environment may not seem conducive to print marketing, but new technologies and marketing fulfillment strategies make it faster and easier than ever to integrate paper into the marketing mix.
To learn more on how to optimize your literature fulfillment and direct sales strategies under The Sunshine Act, consult our free ebook: Streamlining Fulfillment, Simplifying Compliance, & Staying Competitive for the 21st Century Life Sciences Marketer.