Key considerations for marketers in the pharmaceutical sector

Topic: Healthcare   |   13 April 2022

Key considerations for marketers in the pharmaceutical sector

The pharmaceutical industry is fiercely competitive. A fact endorsed in 2020, AHIP analyzed the marketing spend of the largest pharma companies by revenue. 7 out of the 10 companies examined spent $36 billion, or 37% more on marketing and selling expenses than research and development. Furthermore, the sector is increasingly pivoting to more specialized innovative therapies. 

This strategy promises greater rewards, however comes with much higher risk. Development is costly, and there are often multiple manufacturers fighting in the same space and for the attention and consideration of the same customers. When you add a global pandemic into the mix, upending the traditional and tried and tested ways pharma marketed its products. It brings us to now, and pharma marketing in the ‘new normal’. Tactics and considerations have greatly changed. The focus has shifted to how to reach audiences through omnichannel and multichannel strategies. 

To improve marketing tactics, we first need to examine how health care professionals want to receive pharmaceutical marketing. This article will dive into past tactics, how Covid-19 has changed pharma marketing forever, the value of data in the pharma industry, and how marketers can provide value through their content. 

Further reading: Digital Marketing to Physicians (a Comprehensive Guide)

Digital Communication and the ‘New Normal’ 


Since 2020, the healthcare landscape has changed significantly in the way healthcare providers deliver care. The sudden shift to digital-only meant that physicians have had to accelerate the way patient care is managed, and that has had a knock-on effect for pharma marketers. 

In the past, pharma marketers have relied on live meetings to build and maintain relationships with clinicians. However, the Covid-19 pandemic forced those in pharma marketing to take a new approach to these meetings: going digital. 

While hard copy brochures and printed materials fell into the conventional marketing methods, a shift was required. Although traditional healthcare methods were interrupted, digital options like telehealth and remote patient monitoring became commonplace. 

As for pharma marketers, that meant adopting a digital mindset to accept the new normal, and change their methods of communication. 

However, this also posed another problem. With everyone rushing to use digital channels to contact doctors, physicians now found themselves bombarded with messages, emails, and virtual conferences. In this scenario, pharma marketers had to decide which digital channels best fit to contact healthcare providers.

They also needed to discover how to market to doctors treating patients in “the new normal.” As providers can turn to online sources for information instead of speaking to pharma reps, marketers must reevaluate their typical marketing techniques. 

Big Data and Analytics 

Data is king in the pharma industry. However, many companies struggle to process the data they collect, and how to use the insights to create robust marketing strategies. Harnessing big data enables pharma companies to create more tailored marketing based on insight that physicians resonate with. 

Here are two facets of big data that can propel pharma marketers forward:

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform pharma marketing as we know it. Success in the pharmaceutical marketing world relies heavily on compiling and processing large amounts of data. Since these machines can articulate data often missed by humans, they can identify critical components marketers should implement in their campaigns. 

AI can also help marketers better engage with HCPs. To appeal to physicians, you need to understand what kind of campaigns will appeal to them. Consider using AI technology to build user profiles of your physicians. For example, collect insight that reveals their primary digital platforms, treatment patterns, or prescription tendencies. 

These insights will reveal the best time to send optimized, personalized messages to physicians to get the highest level of engagement. Without this information, you risk missing your window to engage with your HCP or sending a message that doesn’t appeal to their needs. 

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics help pharma companies save valuable time and money when developing marketing campaigns. When mixed with real-world evidence, pharmaceutical marketers can create customer personas that are the cornerstone of personalized campaigns. 

In addition, utilizing predictive analysis helps companies to use data efficiently. Information revealed by data sets will help pharmaceutical organizations make predictions for future trends in the health industry, lowering the need for physical trials.  

Provide Value Through Content 

The days of taking a one-size-fits-all attitude with content are long gone. Instead of overloading doctors with irrelevant information, marketers have worked hard to deliver personalized content.  

To deliver value to consumers with the content you present, you need to know your audience’s needs. When creating marketing materials, consider the following questions:

  • What journey has your consumer been on?
  • What defines our consumers?
  • What are their pain points?
  • Do your regulations make sense for the customer?


Once you have the answers to these questions, you can use these insights to understand consumers and improve the consumer experience with valuable content. 

You can achieve an improved customer experience in two ways: 

Customer-Centric Design

Create content with a customer-centric design. Traditionally, pharma marketing reps tend only to promote the benefits of a product, whether or not that product fits the current needs of the HCP. Rather than focusing on the product, aim to deliver a good customer experience.

When communicating with HCPs, simply “selling” a product won’t get you far. You’ll need to provide value with a measure of subject matter expertise. Put yourself in their shoes. 

Consider how the healthcare professional would like to engage with a company like yours. You may realize that it’s best to approach them through digital campaigns with ads on their platform of choice or that a simple webinar invitation will do. 

Avoid Generalization 

The trap of generalization is one that marketers can easily fall prey to. Instead of taking a blanket approach to marketing, why not use acquired data to tailor the experience for each person? Use tact when dealing with various cultural and geographic audiences, and only provide relevant information based on data collected.


Bryter’s research over the last two years demonstrates there's a far greater need to use targeted data to gather deep insights for marketing strategy, as well as a renewed effort into creating tailored, easily digestible content in formats that physicians want to see.

So, after analyzing how pharmaceutical companies market their products, what have we learned? 

Instead of a product-centered approach, companies must shift to customer-centric sales by focusing on building trust through quality data and presentation. AI and predictive analytics reveal areas where marketers can improve tactics and share valuable recommendations about where to focus their marketing to receive the best sales results. 

Implement digital approaches to interacting with healthcare practitioners and patients, and focus on solving customer pain points.

Free report: Getting a digital edge in a fiercely competitive landscape

Who is winning the digital battle by delivering what customers need in the hard fought novel biologics marketplace? Download this free resource, where you'll learn:

  • What is driving physician satisfaction with digital content
  • Which companies have adapted to the needs of physicians
  • Content types and channels favoured by physicians

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