A helpful co-worker sent this link around today from a blog under the title “Are Pharma Reps Important to Docs or Not?” two blurbs from the article read:

” … most physicians find pharma sales reps among the least important sources of information they use to help them diagnose, treat and care for their patients.”

Still, 1 in 4 physicians find information from drug companies “very useful.”

I’m used to getting these kinds of emails because in my company, I’m the guy tasked with keeping all the numbers in one place. When someone wants to know if they should expect the average email recipient to be able to see images in their email, I’m the guy they ask.

Anyway, I was struck by these two quotes. They weren’t chosen at random. These things meant something to my co-worker, and he passed them along to me for cataloging and reference.

But I wonder if they mean the same to you as they do to me? This is like that “Do you see a duck or a bunny” drawing. You and I may see the same thing and come to two very different conclusions.

Possible conclusion 1: Only 25% of docs listen to reps. Ergo, reps aren’t very useful to my marketing plan because they don’t reach much of my market.

Possible conclusion 2: 25% of docs listen to reps. If we can identify them, we now know how to market effectively to one quarter of our targets.

Which camp are you in? Do you see the duck or the bunny?

I’m guessing a good number of you saw that number and mentally crossed reps off as a go-to tactic. Too bad. We live in a world where we don’t all watch the same TV shows, listen to the same music, or watch the same news. There is almost no unifying connection to us all anymore.

So why assume that there’s a way to reach all (or most) of your targets with one tactic or one channel? Looking for a broad channel is an exercise in futility, as the broader the channel, the less effective it is as influencing. Note the difference in perceived effectiveness between reps and TV commercials: 25% of HCPs find reps very useful. What percentage of HCPs would say the same about TV commercials?

Since you’re never going to find a channel with 100% reach, let alone 100% effectiveness in influencing, breaking your marketing plan into segments is the best way to be effective.

How can you segment? Well, have you asked your targets how they’d like to be approached? Have you given them the opportunity to express a preference? And have you taken the answers to those questions and applied them to your targets? Or did you just aggregate the responses into a worthless pie chart showing that no channel is particularly effective?

Stop looking for a marketing “silver bullet.” Instead, load up on lots of different kinds of weapons to fill your arsenal. Your targets will appreciate it and your marketing plan will get stronger.