Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Marketing's Right Message to Right Person at Right Time Mantra

Posted by Princess Eva Angelica at 8:19 AM
How many times have you heard the phrase "Deliver the RIGHT message to the RIGHT physician/patient/whatever at the RIGHT time!"? Too many times, I'm guessing.

Let me call it the "RMRPRT" strategy.

Usually, to implement the RMRPRT strategy you need good segmentation based on the interests of the person who you intend to send the message to. For physicians, you might segment them based on therapeutic specialty, how often they write scripts, which products they often prescribe, etc. Segmentation could be based on one or all of these things. Then you have to compose multiple messages appropriate for these segments.

It seems like a good marketing strategy, but is it really?

First, where's the data that supports the benefit of deploying the RMRPRT strategy? If you have it, please let me see it. What I'd really like to know is whether or not the increased ROI offsets the cost of doing the segmentation and creating the different messages. If more and more messaging is done by non-personal means (ie, Internet), the cost per message is so low that it may not make sense to go overboard with segmentation and targeting.

Anyway, I'm thinking that this analysis is not routinely done by pharma marketers.

I know it's not done by marketers in other industries. For example, I just got an email message from DeerPark offering me $2 off a case of water (I get monthly deliveries from DeerPark). I have ordered cases of bottled water before from DeerPark. So I guess I am the right person to send this message to. But wait! Wouldn't it be better to send this message to clients who have NOT ordered cases previously? Isn't that the "right" person? Or maybe DeerPark gives those people an even bigger discount than they offer me. It would be a bummer if I ever discovered that DeerPark offered a better deal to someone else!

Don't get me started about the "right time" issue. I mean, how does DeerPark know when I am thirsty? Heck, they are sending email which I may not even read for hours or days after it's delivered! I could even be at my local bar enjoying a Guinness!

Here's another one. I recently ordered a futon from Overstock.com. Now, when I visit websites I see ads for Futons from Overstock.com. Obviously, some kind of behavioral targeting has gone awry! Hello! I already ordered the futon!

Do you think this sort of thing happens when pharma marketers try to deliver the right message to the right physician at the right time? Just wondering.

Segmenting physicians into different groups is something pharma marketers have been doing for a long time -- they are good at it mostly because they have access to all sorts of data about every physician. Recently, however, several states have passed laws restricting access to physician prescribing data. This and other trends may limit the ability of marketers to deliver the appropriate message to physicians.

What about patients? It's much harder to segment the general population based on health data. For one thing, there's the federal HIPAA regulations. It's also much more creepy to receive messages that reveal how much the sender knows about your medical condition.

I don't believe, therefore, that the RMRPRT strategy is appropriate for patients unless they have opted in to receive the information. But that's a problem because few people will opt in to receive information from a pharmaceutical company. Maybe that's why we see so many WRONG messages delivered to the WRONG people at the WRONG time on TV! Call it the WMWPWT strategy!

Just a few random thoughts.

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