Do unto others as you would have done to you? No way. The Golden Rule in marketing is dead. To engage our customers we need to rise above it to the Platinum Rule—do unto others as they prefer. In a research report CMI/Compas released this month, “What Physicians Want and Need from Pharma,” we looked at ten specialties and their preferences for promotional access. We used the data to isolate the three critical ways to engage today’s prescriber. And they all stem from the Platinum Rule.

To engage today’s prescriber, you must: Consider today’s physician and his/her environment. In the best cases they’re simply busy, and in the worst, overwhelmed. They’re reimbursed not for outcomes but for the number of patients they can see in a day. Some patients demand more of their time, others won’t listen to their advice, and while every interaction is different, each is challenging in its own way. Doctors need the right information at the right time.

  1. Understand your audience and their individual challenges and preferences
  2. Reach with omni-channel and flexible media
  3. Offer value with every marketing piece

Our research shows that during the workday, physicians don’t have time for long presentations and seminars. They’re looking for quick information that can help them diagnose and/or treat patients. They need it in sound bites and quickly delivered. Some would think that means digital is the answer, but that conclusion doesn’t point to the whole story. We need to take into consideration how they need to help their patients. A cardiologist seeing patients over age 65 may not want to offer them a heart monitoring app; in fact the majority of doctors we surveyed across specialties strongly prefer a print piece they can easily and quickly hand off when seeing patients.

With that said, physicians also spend time during the workday looking online—mainly for resources that can help them diagnose patients or answer patient questions. Brands that are flexible to offer materials across media, or “omni-channel,” are in a better position to provide value when and how it’s needed.

Online search plays a critical role in the doctor-patient interaction. We’ve found that the majority of pharmaceutical brands do not fully invest in prescriber-focused search marketing campaigns, even when they invest in consumer-focused campaigns. And yet, our research shows that prescribers across specialties are frequently searching for information and not only using search engines. They’re also searching on trusted websites directly. Search is a perfect example of the Platinum Rule, because we know that healthcare professionals search differently than other consumers for medical information, using not only different key words but also different key phrasing and searching at different times of the day.

We also understand that physicians today use their personal time to learn. Because they’re investing time at night on learning more about your brand, give them meaty value—research, reference, relevance—not fluffy marketing. And this is the time to offer lengthier presentations because they will take the time. In this case, it is particularly important to be omni-present, allowing a doctor access to materials whether they’re sitting in front of a PC, traveling with an iPhone or relaxing on the couch with a stack of journals.

Above all, the materials that doctors receive, no matter the time of day or medium, must be of value. Not of value to us, but of value to the individual physician. We are in the business of building relationships that provide value. And if a physician is not getting value from a brand, they will simply not prescribe it. So our goal needs to be finding ways to provide value tailored to the individual physician in a way that he or she wants it.

So, what does this mean for marketers? Just as there are three requirements for engaging with physicians—reach, understand, value—there are three steps you can immediately take to integrate the Platinum Rule into your marketing campaigns: providing value. As part of the audit, optimize your brand for better search targeted to healthcare professionals, not just on search engines but also owned media sites. Ingrained in each of these steps is the Platinum Rule. Accessing our audiences the way they want to be accessed provides a win-win for all.

  1. Conduct an audit of your marketing materials, including a survey of

    prescribers in your target audience, to ensure the materials are

  2. Assess your audience at the individual prescriber level to understand their promotional preferences.
  3. Be flexible with media, and open to multi-channel campaigns. Ensure

    your budget and policies are in line with an omni-channel strategy.

From PM 360, By Dr. Susan Dorfman, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer, CMI/Compas, September 2012