Combine messaging with clinical data

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As general manager of product development and interactive marketing for Advanstar Life Sciences and its Mediwire Network, Andrew Weissberg is responsible for the marketing, maintenance and enhancement of doctor destination sites and a syndicate network that serves more than 1.5 million health care professionals.

BtoB: What's the main consideration to make when marketing to physicians?

Weissberg: The keyword in marketing to physicians is trust. Physicians selectively trust a variety of "channels" for actionable, credible and fair balanced information that is ... evidence-based and in a format that is practical and can be used at the point of care. Physicians trust major medical journals and information which comes from the association that serves their specialties, as well as their corresponding Web sites. Physicians trust sales reps and the information they provide, but only those sales reps that can effectively meld a clinical evidence base with a sales and marketing message that is credible and can deliver value to their patients.

BtoB: What tactics should pharmaceutical and other health care marketers use online?

Weissberg: Pharmaceutical marketers targeting physicians should focus their dollars on venues that physicians trust for accessing information. They should also focus their decisions on working with vendors that can "authenticate" their physician community, whether that is opt-in e-mail messages, username/password driven venues or with associations that can deliver their message to a target, yet scalable physician population.

Physicians are increasingly going online to earn continuing medical education (CME) credits. There's data out there from reliable sources suggesting that 92% of physicians skip over or ignore banner advertising completely, yet there are plenty of sites claiming to serve physicians that are almost entirely funded by a banner advertising business model. Other credible data suggest that 80% of physicians do not use e-mail to communicate with patients, yet we continue to see newer online businesses attempting to sell "HIPAA compliant" e-mail solutions to physician practices.

-Roger Slavens

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