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The words “corporate social responsibility” are flooding the headlines. While not a new concept, in today’s world there is a fundamental expectation that we should do business in an ethical manner that supports the wellbeing and betterment of society. Under constant scrutiny by industry regulators, consumers, and other public consortiums, companies are required to consider the impact their activities have on customers, communities, shareholders, and even the environment. Pharmaceutical manufacturers must be particularly diligent when addressing matters of social responsibility, especially when it comes to their brand marketing initiatives. Industry guidelines established by PhRMA task marketers with ensuring that healthcare providers (HCPs) have the latest, most accurate information avail able regarding prescription medicines. At the same time, they are also expected to maintain a competitive market position for their brand. But industry critics are quick to implicate pharma marketing for the rising cost of healthcare, exacerbated by the waste associated with blast marketing or mass marketing tactics. The challenge is to develop a marketing strategy that minimizes marketing waste and gets information in the hands of HCPs with out compromising a brand’s ability to remain competitive. By following some basic principles and employing the availability of sophisticated communication technologies, pharmaceutical marketers can effectively communicate with HCPs in a socially responsible way while remaining competitive and, in many cases, improving the overall effectiveness of their marketing efforts — a win win. MINDFULMARKETING Salesforces are shrinking, prescribers have less time to review important brand information, and marketing dollars are hard to come by. Pharma marketers are challenged with finding better ways to engage HCPs with their brand. Today’s marketing strategies must be “mindful.” They need to be sensitive to the needs of the HCP, conscious of individual informational needs and communication preferences, and smart about the allocation of available funds. Fortunately, improving marketing effectiveness and being more socially responsible go hand in hand. By harnessing the efficiencies that address social responsibility, marketing can be more focused and more powerful. In other words, provide communication optimization. Optimizing communication in a socially responsible way is all about following a few fundamental principles: . Strategically analyze the audience — know which HCPs pre scribe your brand the most and which HCPs have the highest potential for prescribing more of your brand. Then allocate your marketing resources in a way that ensures these physicians are getting the information they need on a regular basis. Eliminate wasteful blast marketing. Contributed by William M. Clapper . Communicate individually with HCPs through the channel(s) they prefer. . Make messaging relevant, clear, and timely. . Measure your marketing efforts regularly and adapt communication to the behavior of each HCP. . Right size allocations of samples and other support materials to fit the need of the HCP and his or her patients. . Minimize the impact your marketing channels may have on natural resources like paper and fuel by sending only what you need to meet objectives. These principles support the current evolution in pharmaceutical marketing — the transition from independent mass marketing tactics to a more integrated relationship building strategy. It’s a strategy that may begin to silence the critics and boost the momentum behind responsible drug marketing. A SMART START It would be shortsighted to think that communication optimization can be started with an initial telemarketing call or the mailing of a letter to an HCP. To be truly responsible in the allocation of communications, marketers must first identify those HCPs who are most likely to consider their brand information valuable. If the primary goal of the marketing initiative is to communicate product benefits to the HCP and, in turn, grow prescribing, marketers would want to identify those HCPs who will be receptive to information on their brand and who may write more scripts as a result. Doing so requires a thorough, methodical approach that analyzes all factors, such as past prescribing history, growth rate, patient volume, specialty, demographics, managed care impact, etc. The best targeting solutions also incorporate the ability to continuously evaluate the target audience and make necessary adjustments in near real time. This ensures marketers are always investing more in delivering information to those HCPs who find value in their message. CONSCIOUSCOMMUNICATION Once marketers have identified the best target audience, the real challenge begins — how to efficiently and effectively deliver brand information to HCPs given increasing market restrictions and the need to remain conscious of society’s expectations. Understand Each Customer Know the audience — in today’s market, customer insight is more critical than ever before. It’s no longer enough to simply know what works, on average, with an entire customer base or even what works for isolated segments of the audience. Marketers need to understand each individual customer and his or her communication preferences. It is the only way to create and sustain a mutually WILLIAM CLAPPER OPTIMIZING COMMUNICATIONS IS KEY MARKETING IN A SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE WORLD