Can you be too digitally targeted?

In a time of ever-narrowing profiles and niche audiences, smart marketers can use digital communications to widen their reach and hit their target.


Recently, the world’s largest advertiser shifted its digital marketing strategy, as reported in “P&G to Scale Back Targeted Facebook Ads,” (Wall Street Journal, August 15). The marketing giant admitted they “targeted too much,” and “went too narrow,” leaving them unable to achieve scale. Ironically, targeted ads on Facebook also cost more than broader efforts.

In healthcare marketing, we have seen similar challenges with programs focused on very specific audiences such as non-personal promotions (NPP) delivered by life sciences companies toward healthcare professionals. In a world where brands can focus all of their marketing efforts on a specific set of individuals, it’s logical that they would direct all their marketing dollars toward individuals that are called on by sales reps.

However, that brings up a couple of important questions.

Is it possible that the sales target list is too narrow for NPP purposes? Should the considerations that drive the decision to include or exclude a prescriber from landing on a target list be the same for your sales team, as it is for your marketing team via NPP?

When we consider the significant cost per sales rep engagement, of course we need to be extremely judicious about applying those dollars toward prescribers with whom we have a greater chance of success. But let’s imagine for a minute that we had a futuristic teleporting device that allowed our sales reps to beam themselves from office to office with a minimal investment. Let’s further imagine that the cost per engagement between the sales rep and the HCP was drastically less, because we only invested dollars when the rep was engaging with an HCP.

Under these conditions, wouldn’t we widen the funnel a bit and engage more prescribers? That’s what digital marketing can contribute—additional opportunities for engagement with HCPs who may be outside your current target list. Their response, via opt-ins, requests for further information, or even a visit by a sales rep, has the potential to bring additional prescribers to your brand.

So you see, I’m not making the argument that NPP should replace the sales team. There is tremendous value, and impact, in delivering communications in person. Furthermore, integration of sales and marketing is critical to drive success for a brand.

However, what I am suggesting is that there may be potential customers that are being missed because we’re too narrow in our focus, which is exactly what P&G discovered.

Not sure if this approach is going to work for your brand? The good news is, if you expand your horizons, you’ll know if you’re achieving success by looking at your sales data by prescriber.


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