Pharma marketing: integrating print and digital could hold the key to success

Pharma is often stereotyped as being a laggard in digital marketing terms. Considering the regulatory nature of its business, this is hardly surprising. However, many are now investing more heavily in digital channels, with some pharma marketers even adopting AR and VR in an effort to engage consumers.

Despite this positive outlook, a new report suggests marketers might be wise to hang on to the traditional channels when engaging physicians.

The study, conducted by CMI/Compas, cited 66% of healthcare professionals as saying that print journals were an important way for them to stay up to date with medical developments. This ranks print third, after professional portals and colleagues, but ahead of online journals, product presentations and medical training programs, in terms of keeping the industry informed.

Print as a trusted source

Why are physicians bucking the trend? What draws them to journal articles in printed publications? The answer is trust.

Speaking about the report, Kyle Cooper, Associate Director of Media at CMI/Compas stated, “While there are always new opportunities in the digital space, there are still plenty of people out there who are still highly valuing print, still highly valuing direct mail.

“Today when we start developing a channel mix, we want to listen to that input that we have from research, and capitalize on the continuing use of print.”

Ironically, a preference for print may be a reaction to today’s digital content overload. Print publications have always been seen as reliable, trustworthy sources of information, and physicians are using them as a way to cut through the digital clutter.

And it’s not just older generations who have this affinity with print. According to the study, print appeals to all generations of physicians, including millennials and Gen Xers.

3 ways to get the most from your print campaigns

Given the elusive nature of physicians, pharma marketers are keen to maximise the print opportunity. Here are three things to consider when planning future campaigns:

1) It’s not a case of either/or – think both print and digital

Print and digital should not be seen as two distinct entities, and print campaigns should not be treated separately from digital campaigns. In fact, print plays a crucial role in supporting broader campaigns across other channels.

2) Identify what physicians actually want

Fully understanding what physicians want is an ongoing struggle for many pharma marketers. Marketers need a comprehensive understanding of physicians’ needs if they’re to successfully use print to drive this audience to engage with digital.

3) Target the right publication, with the right message

Digital success is about delivering relevant messages to the target audience. Print is no different. However, in print – unlike digital – bigger is not always better. The study revealed that when larger ads were featured in a range of journals targeting different audiences, the returns did not match the price hike. Pharma marketers do better running smaller ads more regularly to see the best results.

Physicians are becoming increasingly difficult to reach, so marketers have to keep their wits about them. “Just because print seems old and digital seems new, doesn’t mean print isn’t an effective channel,” explained Brian Cunningham, VP of Media at CMI/Compas.

He continued, “It doesn’t mean you can’t think about it in new ways. New applications within the channel, new innovation in production, new targeting approaches that can keep the channel relevant and maintain the sophistication and strategy you’re using in digital.”

At Adare International, we can help you get the most out of your print campaigns – and more. Focusing on communication and engagement, we can help you take an integrated omnichannel approach to your pharma marketing efforts.

Speak to the team to find out how you can start using new channels to engage physicians and the pharma industry today:


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