HCP profiling made simple

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HCP profiling provides a much better customer experience but it pays to keep things simple

Excessive complexity

Too often, pharma companies try to introduce HCP profiling in an unworkable way. It’s too complicated, expensive, and frequently impossible to implement. For the many organisations now seeking to work with omnichannel marketing, this is a problem. Omnichannel requires providing personalised experiences for HCPs. That’s only possible if you understand what different people need and categorise them into groups. Put bluntly: no profiling, no omnichannel.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. This Insight explains how you can develop simple customer profiles using basic categorisation techniques that apply to any product. This kind of HCP profiling ensures that you can start with omnichannel — and enables you to increase the sophistication later.

Too much, too fast

Does the following sound familiar? A marketing plan details four or five distinct HCP profiles. They are based on solid market research. And they are visualised and presented with short descriptions that bring the profiles to life. It looks great! Local markets then want to add some additional profiles — again for excellent reasons.

The plan then runs into trouble. Firstly, there’s a disconnect between marketing and sales. The CRM system doesn’t have all the data points to enable this kind of profile-driven engagement. And the data that exists is very patchy. Some countries have a few data points. Many have none. Without the data, there’s no way to connect the marketing strategy to sales force activity. For example, how do you send an email targeted to a specific profile unless the CRM tells you who they are?

Then it becomes clear that it’s economically unfeasible. There are too many profiles making the market too segmented. It doesn’t make financial sense to produce all the content these different profiles require. And it would overly strain the organisation to review and approve all the additional assets.

In other words, HCP profiles often don’t meet the realities of pharma marketing.

Start with what you have

Before getting creative with HCP profiles, doing a data audit is a good idea. What data points are in the CRM system? What’s the geographical coverage? Are there bright spots? What are the problem regions? Are there countries that, for example, can’t place HCPs on an adoption ladder because they don’t collect the data?

Perhaps your data is in good shape. In that case, you can make your CRM data the starting point. You can design customer profiles using existing data points and be confident that this can drive the engagement strategy. For example, you can target customers within Profile A with one thing, and those in Profile B get something else. The data exists to make it happen.

Usually, however, the data won’t be there. If so, there is little point in brand teams and their agencies dreaming up customer profiles. Because there is no data to leverage, there’s no way to take action. The profiles will live in marketing plans and never get implemented.

What to do?

Engagement style

You can do a very simple market segmentation just by asking: “How are HCPs willing to engage today?” It’s a good question because the market is changing. Rep access to HCPs continues to fall, and new engagement patterns are emerging.

We can summarise these developments as ‘content before conversation’. This is the trend for people to use digital media to educate themselves before contacting a sales rep, which is why content-first strategies are increasingly popular in pharma. That said, some doctors still prefer in-person meetings. And many refuse any personal contact at all.

How does this help? It provides three simple profiles. First, there are the ‘rep only’ HCPs who prefer personal contact. Then there are ‘digital only’ HCPs who never want to see reps. And finally, we have those who are a blend — engaging with digital media initially and reaching out later with specific questions.

While this kind of profiling doesn’t tell you what to say to anyone, it can define how to reach people. For example, you can use the ‘engagement style’ profiles to create three different customer journeys and commission the required content.

Even this simple categorisation takes you a long way. For many companies, it would be enough. But you can decide to take it further by applying additional criteria. To show what’s possible, this Insight highlights two options we often consider at Anthill — refining profiles by HCP ‘motivations’ and ‘content format preferences’.

Identify HCP profiles based on engagement preferences
Engagement preferences can inform simple HCP profiles


Motivation profiling is an ancient concept, going back to Aristotle. The idea is that people respond to different kinds of argumentation. For example, some of us are more swayed by emotional appeals (pathos). Others are influenced by facts and logic (utility). And some tend to be persuaded by what other people think (authority).

This kind of profiling is helpful because it does direct how you communicate. Again, it won’t tell you precisely what to say regarding any specific message, but it will tell you how it should be said.

For example, you can communicate a message about product efficacy in three ways. First, there could be a version that explains what it means for a patient’s quality of life (emotion). There can be an alternative that emphasises the data (utility). And then one that highlights what KOLs think (authority). All three are still about efficacy, but they tell the story in different ways.

Very few pharma companies have this kind of motivation data in their CRM. That means you must take an experimental approach — exposing HCPs to content that emphasises different motivations and tracking how they respond. Quickly patterns emerge. Pro tip: a self-detailing solution is especially helpful in determining motivations because it enables HCPs to choose between different content types. For example, you can quickly see whether there’s a preference for patient case videos or clinical studies.

How to apply motivation criteria to inform HCP profiles
Applying motivation criteria informs profiles and how best to communicate

Content preferences

A further criterion that you can apply is content format preference. Again, few companies track this in their CRM. Therefore getting this data likely also requires an experimental approach: by presenting content in multiple formats, you can see what people want by their choices.

Format preference informs HCP profiles because different people respond to specific kinds of content. For example, some people will always click the video play button, and others prefer to scan a text to jump directly to what they want. To keep things simple, you can categorise most content into ‘listening’, ‘watching’ and ‘reading’. And then use this to inform your HCP profiles.

Download Anthill's whitepaper on HCP content preferences

Profiling based on content preference can inform campaign planning
Profiling according to content preference informs campaign planning

Beware the multiplication factor

The point of customer profiling is to engage people in different ways. Accordingly, Profile A should have one kind of experience, and Profile B have another. An omnichannel approach, therefore, requires both customer profiles and more content. In other words, you need to know what different people want and have the content to respond to those specific preferences. This provides a much better customer experience, but it pays to keep things simple.

Just responding to changing HCP engagement preferences is a significant task. Accounting for the ‘digital only’ profile requires content throughout the customer journey — from awareness to loyalty — which would previously be covered by the sales force. Taking another step, and segmenting by motivations, multiplies by three the content required. Then addressing format preferences adds a further multiple of three.

If you’re not careful, costs and complexity quickly spiral.

Content requirements increases rapidly as the number of profiles increases
Content requirements quickly multiply by the number of profiles

Making it easier

One solution is to create assets that account for multiple profiles. At Anthill, we’ve long used the motivations in eDetailing — ensuring that each presentation includes emotional appeals, authority argumentation, and logical reasoning. In other words, you don’t create multiple eDetailers but build one solution that works for all profiles.

Another solution to the multiplication problem is modular content. This dramatically speeds up content creation and MLR approval. Instead of creating assets one at a time, you reassemble pre-approved ‘content blocks’ as required. As a result, modular content enables you to produce much more in the same amount of time. If you’re seeking to implement profile-driven omnichannel, modular content will have a big impact.

You can make it even easier with Activator, our content authoring tool that integrates with Veeva Vault. And the latest innovation from Anthill is to use AI to assemble modular content blocks into tactics. This approach enables you to use AI safely in healthcare marketing because it avoids the potential issues of AI ‘hallucination’ by using pre-approved content modules.  

How tosSpeed asset production with modular content
Modular content speeds asset production making omnichannel easier to implement

Keeping it simple

Above all, it pays to avoid complication. While it’s tempting to be highly specific with HCP profiles to provide the most personalised experiences, things quickly get unmanageable. That’s why the factors we’ve outlined in this Insight — engagement style, motivations, content preference — provide simple lenses to apply. And they can be used singly or in combination.

For example, you might develop HCP profiles based on engagement style and content preference. That would mean creating three customer journeys and generating content in different formats (videos, texts, podcasts) to allow HCPs to select what they prefer. Or you might focus solely on addressing HCPs’ different motivations.

Take the next step

Doctors want personalised content and shut themselves off from companies that they perceive as pushing irrelevant information. But it works the other way too. Companies that try to improve the relevance of their communications will be appreciated. Even very basic profiling can dramatically change the HCP experience and increase your value.

Omnichannel case study: learn how simple HCP profiling drives HCP engagement

More on HCP engagement

Pharma guide:Self-service detailing explained
How to meet HCP preferences for video
Pharma guide
: Omnichannel marketing explained
Webinar recording
: Speed content creation for omnichannel


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