Reshaping pharmaceutical marketing: the agony of production frequency

The best reflections emerge from reading and especially discussing with those who disagree but have our trust. I would like to share with you an interesting concept that I would like to call 'the agony of the productive frequency'.

The difficulty that pharmaceutical sales representative used to face was attention, now access has been added.

Before, in order to overcome the difficulties of attention, and thus of memorisation, recollection, notoriety, i.e. share of voice, we had to be more present than our competitors, to be seen more often. In other words: increase the frequency of visits. Even a brief visit, even a greeting, was useful to make people remember our products and increase frequency.

For those now tuned in to Pharma Marketing in Italy, it may be useful to remember some definitions.
Frequency' is defined as the number of times an pharmaceutical sales representative, front or remote, meets that individual doctor for a visit in a certain period. This period is defined as either "per cycle" or "per year". Thus there is a frequency per cycle, and a frequency per year of visits by the doctor. Of course, the "average frequency" by extension is the average value of the total visits made in the period divided by the number of doctors visited. In correct practice there are segments of doctors for which different frequencies apply. Thus in the same cycle there will be doctors for whom we plan different frequencies.

Today, in addition to the concrete need to be remembered, we also have the difficulty of 'reaching' the doctor. Between formal visits sitting at their desks and even superficial brief meetings, whistleblowers used to be able to meet doctors sufficiently to be present in the doctor's mind and pen. Today, the sum of the commitments and difficulties that the doctor faces in his or her daily routine has reduced the attention span for pharmaceutical sales representative. Is this a problem? In my opinion this is an opportunity. Now is the time to stand out and not just lobby, or rather, the muscular action that has worked so well and favoured the large networks leaves room for those who work better on the right positioning and communication to the 'right doctor' .

Smaller and smaller networks and increasing difficulties of access require ever greater focus. There are two solutions: a maniacal focus on positioning and an equal focus on the 'right doctor'.


Positioning, we must always remember, is what remains in the mind of our customer-consumer-user in our product-service-brand. It is the meaning, the motive, the unique feature, the character that distinguishes ours from our competitors. Positioning is that small space reserved only for us in our customer's mind. It stems from an in-depth market analysis to create an identity, and from clear, unambiguous, aligned, strict, precise, identity-based communication. Almost a reason, a why, a meaning that that product-service-brand has for being in the world.

If you agree with me with this way of seeing 'positioning', it becomes almost a pair of glasses with which to read the consumer world, advertisements, competitors, and obviously also your products and your company. And it becomes clear and, almost obvious, that the 'right' answer to the problems of access and, above all, attention is correct product positioning. If attention is the difficult commodity to obtain and access to the doctor is difficult, then our response should not be to communicate more, with more channels and reproduce the pressure we had before, but rather to use tools to connect with the doctor that are more suitable.
Rather than squeezing the network with a higher frequency, rather than abusing alternative communication channels, we align the message with the characteristics of the product and the needs of our interlocutor.

"The right doctor"

Participating in briefings I see that today this part of the pharmaceutical marketing mantra has become a common locution. The selection model called targeting or segmentation has long since become obsolete. I do not want to represent here the need to create segments of potential prescribers, but rather the need to know our stakeholders and adapt communication to their needs.
Certainly having a good database of doctors is preliminary, as we have seen above . But over time this no longer seems to be sufficient and requires more in-depth analysis.

The processes we are activating and which are finding increasing interest from our customers are Medical Personas® and Channel Preference Insight. It is a real pleasure to find feedback on the work done to come up with the identifications and that they resonate with the territory. These are the same informants who, having actively participated in the profiling and interest definition, collaborate in the review of the files with us. The work of 'cherry picking', of choosing the right file of doctors and for these defining the right message together with them, has led in recent projects to create a strong operational synergy with excellent results. Sales Force Effectiveness becomes crucial for the correct guidance of the network and the adoption of additional information on channel preference, type of interest and behaviour of the doctor are indispensable for effective analysis.

Salvatore Ruggiero

Salvatore Ruggiero

Salvatore Ruggiero nasce a Napoli nel 1964, si definisce un imprenditore seriale. Oggi a capo del gruppo Merqurio, di cui è stato anche fondatore. Sposato con Giuseppina, ha due figli e nel tempo libero, tra un'escursione e un'altra, tra un film ed un altro, è alla ricerca della ricetta dei biscotti perfetti.

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