Barlow/McCarthy Blog

Physician Relations Collateral Clash

Mar 31, 2016

Physician Relations Collateral ClashBy: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA  |  kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

The plea, “We need more collateral…” has reverberated in physician relations since the inception of focused field staff. Marketing teams are generally open, but have their own ideas about what’s important. The lines are drawn: how much collateral, what’s the right medium and message, how does it fit within other marketing priorities, and how do we measure the impact.

My bias is that less is more; collateral should not be the center of the discussion, but the right visual is important to validate a conversation between the referral source and the representative. Here are some thoughts as you consider collateral/tools for your program:

  1. Make it relevant. Always have the referring physicians’ needs and interests in mind. It is not about what we have, it’s about what they need.
  2. Stay current. Make certain the data is updated. The “keeper of the data” must keep the data current. Don’t print clinical outcomes. If marketing creates a template then relevant clinical findings, physician bios and other visual details can be updated and shown on a tablet when it is relevant to advance the conversation.
  3. Say more with less. Keep the look, contents and ability to read and discern information simple. Bullets, charts and graphs.
  4. Target specific messages to the audience rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. If it is written for a consumer, 99.9% of the time it is not going to satiate the needs of a physician.
  5. Consider the type of material that physicians read and rely on for factual information. Journal articles often have a mini-summary at the front end; relevant clinical findings are always presented with numbers. If there is internal uncertainty, ask the prospective referring doctor:
  • What do they read? Which publications or sites are their favorites?
  • Where do they read it? Online or in a publication?
  • Do they find their reading time is in the office, at home, or other?
  • What’s their approach, do they scan or read?
  • How do they choose which articles get their attention?

If you currently rely on a leave-behinds for most visits, the value-add approach that I outlined will feel new to you and to them. It requires better questions and pre-call planning, as the tool is no longer the center of the rep’s conversation (it never was a pure captivator for the doctor, we just wanted it to be!). Relationship sales is all about their needs. Meeting to TELL about our offerings is our agenda. More conversation and use of the right tools goes a long way in positioning. It also clarifies the collateral needs.

With a streamlined approach for collateral use, a conversation with marketing can outline what tools and when they are used. With a short list, the field teams’ collateral needs must then be a priority with a clear time line for production. What do you think?