My biggest marketing pet peeve is when marketers forget to behave like human beings and just behave like marketers. Case in point: marketers who treat their audience like morons, but get grumpy when treated like a moron by other marketers.

Didn’t we all learn that while everyone’s experience is individual and unique, the first way to evaluate a marketing idea is to ask yourself, “how would I respond to this?”

To that end, I am now putting you pharma marketers on notice: no more spam. You hate spam. I hate spam. And our audience hates spam. And yet, there you go, sending emails every X days, pretending that you have something interesting and useful to say, but really all you’re doing is trying to remind your audience that you and your brand aren’t dead.

Sound mean? Bear in mind that I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt by not assuming that you are emailing every X days simply because you charge your client by the piece. No, I’m gonna assume you’re not a jerk.

So anyway, no more spam. Agreed? Good.

Oh, you’re worried that the notion that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is a fallacy? You’re worried that without regular emails reminding them that your brand is an effective solution for XYZ, HCPs are going to forget all about you and just prescribe baby aspirin, or something? Okay. Let’s pretend you don’t spend money on ads and conference promotions and websites and eDetails and reps and giveaways and all those other things. Let’s pretend email is the only way to contact your audience. How do you contact them and not spam them?

There are two parts to converting your email system from spam to steak. Part one, upgrade your content. No more junk. No more content that you wouldn’t be thrilled to get yourself. Remember, your targets get the same emails from dozens of other brands, so don’t feel like you need to send an email for every little thing.

But as a brand, you may not have a lot of content. So what do you do? Since your brand is excellent at treating disease state X, I bet your brand has a lot of knowledge about disease state X, right? I bet there’s a chance that you have a Google Alert for any news about brand state X. Maybe you even subscribe to a bunch of blogs about that disease state (and if you don’t, why don’t you take a moment and do that now. You’ll thank me later). That there is a lot of content you can share. And you are curating it, even if it is only for yourself or an internal team. Here’s my suggestion: let it out. Become your target’s one-stop shop for news about disease state X. Send them an email every X days with links to all the biggest stories online about the disease state (it’s not all about you, you know). Wrap that curated content with a simple message that your brand cares about keeping health care professionals up to date about the disease state. That’s the kind of content they will be glad to get, and perhaps even share.

Part two, embrace your segments. Are you just sending your entire target list the same emails? Shame on you. Are you segmenting? Good. Tell the truth: are your segments based on year-old data, or are you monitoring the data and adjusting your segment populations accordingly? How long would it really take a target to move from your “unlikely target” segment to “power prescriber” segment if they started prescribing like crazy today? How long would it take you to notice and react?

Are you making adjustments based on behavior? For example, do you treat the target who opens five of your emails in a row the same as the target who hasn’t opened an email of yours since 2009?

If you treat all your targets the same, they will treat your messaging like spam and toss it out. The fastest way to stop being perceived as a spammer by your targets is to stop sending spam: treat different doctors differently and give them something they truly want to read.