Understanding the nuances of your brand’s healthcare professional audience(s) can improve marketing strategies and make your media dollars work harder.

 

By Nicole Hamlin, senior account executive for Butler/Till

 

 

Our industry has done a reasonable job of understanding that not all patients are alike and that those differences between patient groups, no matter how big or small, necessitate unique media strategies and tactics for connecting them with treatment options.

Surprisingly, many of these same marketers continue to think of all healthcare professionals as a static audience, regardless of their specialty or title – forgoing the meticulous audience-defining process that guides their DTC strategy. Understanding your core healthcare professional audience in detail, from media consumption habits to basic preferences in content formats, can be the key to executing a successful HCP media campaign that goes beyond “air cover” to drive engagement and action.

Let’s dive into the behaviors of a few different segments of the healthcare professional audience to showcase their unique attributes and the associated implications that will help build stronger HCP media approaches.

Digging into differences between different specialties within the medical space

It’s easy to get tactical quickly when developing your healthcare professional plan. Regardless of the specialty, brands lean toward zeroing in on medical associations, conferences, and medical journals in that field to deliver their messaging. Taking a step back to dig into how each specialty audience uses media can help finesse the tactical approach and lead to opportunities to increase efficiency. To showcase this a bit further, below are a few key differences between the OB/GYN and gastroenterologist audiences, along with the media implications of these attributes:

 

OB/GYN Audience

Media Behaviors    

Medical journals are the 2nd most important source to stay well-informed about new medical developments and 82% of OB/GYNs are reading both print and digital editions of journals in their field. However, in digging deeper into what source they feel is most important, print editions specifically are what OB/GYNs turn to in order to stay well-informed.

Marketing Implications  

Print Isn’t Dead                                                                                                                                                           This medium continues to be a leading source for new brands and products to educate the OB/GYN audience. In fact, since OB/GYNs are referencing their print journals on a weekly basis, there is an opportunity to use print to provide a more extensive educational platform for brands/products in the obstetrics & gynecology space (through cover tips, supplemental inserts, and other custom units).

 

Gastroenterologist Audience

Media Behaviors    

Gastroenterologists also lean on medical journals to keep informed about their industry, but they aren’t as wedded to the print version. 72% read both print and digital versions, and the importance they place on each version is only slightly skewed to print.

Marketing Implications

Additionally, print is #4 on their ranking of important sources, edged out by professional online portals (e.g. UpToDate, Medscape).    

Media Savvy, Non Loyalists
While print should be considered for a baseline awareness tactic, digital can provide a key opportunity to deliver pinpointed media to the gastroenterologist audience. Employing a wide range of tactics can help keep your brand top of mind. And, with gastroenterologists being more likely than general HCP populations to be opinion leaders and seek board memberships, being top of mind could lead to significant earned reach for brands.

 

OB/GYN Audience

Media Behaviors    

OB/GYNs are relying on print materials in the waiting room & exam rooms to help educate their patients. Their goal with the usage of these materials is to provide their patients with the background they don’t have time to provide and improve adherence once patients step out of the exam room.    

Marketing Implications

Help Me Help You
Brands and companies within the space can be seen as a partner for the OB/GYN audience by providing them with patient educational materials. If your brand is targeting consumers with a message but not following through with supporting material to the HCPs, you’re missing an opportunity to build trust and ultimately scripts.

While sales reps may be able to help disseminate materials within targeted offices, in-office media can help to streamline delivery of patient education materials at scale.

Media Behaviors    

86% of OB/GYNs note that conferences and meetings are critical to staying informed about new medical developments. Specifically, grand rounds and speaker programs are likely to capture their interest, as OB/GYNs are more likely than other HCPs to teach in medical programs.

However, with their busy schedules, OB/GYNs are only able to attend 1-2 events each year.  

Marketing Implications

“ICYMI”
In order to get the biggest impact from key conferences, brands in the obstetrics & gynecology space should consider key avenues to extend messaging outside of the conference hall.

Knowing that grand rounds and speaker programs are of interest, consider sponsoring a podcast or video series to broadly distribute this content. With key conferences (ACOG), look to advertising opportunities and content alignments on the associated society websites (as 61% of OB/GYNs are accessing these websites monthly or more frequently).

 

Gastroenterologist Audience

Media Behaviors     

41% of gastroenterologists are utilizing the internet during a patient consult. In order to help them educate their patients, this specialty is over 2x more likely than the holistic HCP audience to frequent disease-specific consumer websites (with 11% of gastroenterologists accessing these sites on a daily basis).  

Marketing Implications

Gastroenterologists are Consumers Too
From a digital media perspective, both media & creative agencies should consider that ad placements on consumer-facing endemic sites will be delivered to both HCPs and consumers – how can the message be tailored to resonate with both parties? Are there key sections of the site that could be surrounded to facilitate the “in-office” conversation?

This learning can also greatly impact website content strategies. On branded sites, consider building out a “toolkit” to provide gastroenterologists with easy-to-follow patient materials. This approach could help build goodwill (and ultimately recommendations) for brands in the space.

Media Behaviors     

Not surprisingly, gastroenterologists also note conferences and meetings as a top avenue they turn to in order to stay informed about their field. Their schedules also only allow for ~2 events each year.

However, these professionals are more likely to seek out symposiums vs. broader gastroenterology conferences to attend, and over half of gastroenterologists do not frequent medical society websites more than once a month.    

Know What Matters To Me
Knowing that they are not only seeking out symposiums, but also disease-specific sites as mentioned above, it’s of utmost importance to study sub-segments of the GI audience that’s most relevant for your brand – ensuring that you’re efficiently targeting them at the right time and giving them the most relevant message at that moment. A planning exercise that digs into how these users view their work, which ones specifically are writing scripts for your brands and which aren’t, as well as key moments when your brand is most relevant for them, could help direct creative versioning, calls-to-action, and programmatic audiences to test throughout your digital marketing mix.

There’s also an opportunity to tap into endemic partners in the space to help test multiple contextual targeting tactics to better understand the key content opportunities for your brand.

Source: KANTAR Sources & Interactions: March 2016 Medical/Surgical Edition

 

But audience defining shouldn’t stop at the specialty level

Supplementary professional audiences that can have a significant impact on the administration of and/or loyalty to your product or service should also be identified and examined during marketing planning. Even with tight budgets, slight tweaks to the creative messaging and media delivery could pay dividends. Here are two key ways that auxiliary audiences could be better served with segmented buys and creative:

Hospital Management Audience

Media Behaviors    

In order to continue to educate themselves on medical advancements, hospital management members are spending an average of 23.2 minutes per session on the internet.

This time is spent across a variety of sources: research (73%), reading industry articles (66%), and checking out relevant product/service owned sites (59%) are among the top five reasons they’re turning to digital while at the office. 

Marketing Implications

You (Could) Have My Attention
Management’s longer session length and proclivity to interacting with supplier/vendor sites gives brands a great opportunity. Because you have a longer time to tell your story, site content should be built to play to your product’s strengths – video testimonials, significant detail on specs, points of differentiation, and/or supporting case studies.

However, just because you have the content does not mean that they will come. Media becomes a vital piece of the puzzle, providing the opportunity to mix targeting strategies to tailor to their needs in the moment and edge out the competition.

By utilizing contextual targeting, you can reach health care managers while they are researching. Knowing the wide breadth of content that this audience is consuming, programmatic audience targeting should be utilized in tandem with a contextual approach, to ensure your brand is top of mind when a key decision is around the corner.

 

Physician Assistants/Nurse Practitioner Audience

Media Behaviors    

68% of physician assistants access the internet right after patient consults weekly.

They are looking for quick reference information, with 61% spending less than 15 minutes a session online.

Mobile is also a key tool for this audience; 38% are consulting drug reference apps in their daily job.    

Marketing Implications

Make It Snappy
Since they are turning to the internet in quick snippets, search becomes a key touchpoint to speak to the Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant audience. Implementing a site link in paid search ads to direct them to the administration and dosage, patient savings cards, or efficacy information will help them make a quick decision about recommending your brand.

No matter where you’re reaching them, it’s important for messaging and calls to action to be clear and concise. This audience isn’t going to spend a lot of time on your site trying to find answers.

Source: KANTAR Sources & Interactions: 2015 Hospital Management Edition, 2015 PA/NP Edition

 

So the next time you’re planning a professional media program, ask yourself, “What do I really know about this professional audience?” Just as we’ve grown from targeting consumers solely based on age, gender, and household income, we can continue to transform our healthcare professional marketing plans to reflect the audiences’ media habits in and out of their white coats.