The trigger for this blog is lovely KATRINA KAIF (I got the above image from HERE). It has made headlines in India - the maximum search made by googlers of India (and Pakistan) is for Katrina Kaif. The question is not: 'Why Katrina Kaif?' The question is, why do people do 'information search' - what is it that motivates people to search for items or persona?
The answer is: PROBLEM SOLVING - the process of problem solving REQUIRES INFORMATION SEARCH.
The other name of life is problem solving. We are constantly solving problems and taking decisions accordingly. For eg., putting up a blogpost that is interesting is a problem and this requires a series of decisions and activities. However, the start of the problem solving process is INFORMATION SEARCH.
To solve problems, we search for information first within our memories. We try to make decisions to solve problems based on the wisdom of our past experiences or the stored up knowledge in our brain. At another level we tend to confer with trusted individuals and seek information to help solve problems. In fact, in the cyber dimension, Google has redefined and created a new paradigm in the problem solving process. We only have to type in the words associated with the problem and we can try and create a menu of actionable approaches to solve the problem.
SO WHAT ABOUT PHARMA/HEALTHCARE MARKETING AND THE PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESS?
Marketing communication and other activities address people - in fact, to be specific, marketing activities address the problem solving process of people. Marketing people present value to the prospects and customers - the net result is that the value preposition solves the problem(s) of the target audience.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the medical representative had a hallowed status in the field. During those times, the MR was the only source of valuable information that could add value to the clinical practice of a physician. Hence, there was a great value for a MR during those times. Besides there were very few MRs and this created additional value for the profession. Later on as the number of MRs increased and the print medium picked up (offering several print products with clinical information), the MR's role altered to becoming a relationship management expert (offering intangible and tangible inputs to the doctors). With the increasing internet penetration and the consequent collapse of the information float (this means people will have access to real-time information), the MR's role will alter considerably in coming days. Consequently, mobile based and internet based marketing communication activities will see increased focus so as to engage members of the target audience. The major role of the MR will be to create a human face to the company operations in the market and IMPORTANTLY HELP BUILD TRUST in the company products and processess.
I recollect my days of independent field working in Bangalore some time in the late 1990s. I read about a report in the Times of India that nifedipine on long-term use increases mortality. We had an antihypertensive product - atenolol and indapamide combination. I met a leading doctor, Dr. K G Das in Ulsoor. This gentleman is an illustrious and very knowledge oriented doctor. I detailed our antihypertensive product, and as part of the post-detailing discussions, I placed the newspaper report, in front of him, and said:"Sir, many of your patients may have read this report today morning, so naturally, they will be confused, and may confront you for answers." The doctor read this newspaper report and then had discussions with me for about 45 minutes about clinical trials, and many other matters. Needless to add, my prescriptions for our antihypertensive combination saw a rise.
The moral of the above story is that when marketers present information in a timely fashion, it helps the marketer achieve better success significantly.
Marketers need to understand the problem solving process of doctors and chemists. By understanding the problem solving process, and offering value added solutions, marketers can gain better prescription mileage.
Gifts, relationship management and other promotional tools are vital to influence prescribing behaviour and the chemist OTC behaviour, however, it is critical to participate successfully in the problem solving process of the target audience to attain key marketing success.
Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down to read about a book in which, there is a chapter penned by me. Also, please scroll down and click on OLDER POSTS, to read all other blogposts. Thanks.