For the majority of HCPs, conferences are the venues where they can learn about new research, drugs and essential studies. In the best-case scenario, as a CMO of the pharmaceutical company, you should do everything to cover as many medical conferences as it is possible. But there are a few drawbacks.
If you are planning to emphasize your presence, you either need to be an organizer or one of the primary sponsors. How much to pay for it? There are a lot of offers to look through, even open to the public, like this World Cancer Congress that will be held in Kuala Lumpur later this year. [source] After reading almost thirty pages of this spectacular presentation, you will be probably convinced why it is so essential to becoming a sponsor, but also how to get rid of hundreds of thousands of dollars. And to be frank, it is not just a well-marketed pharma needs creation. It is a plain fact. Conferences are costly. At least, classic ones.
As this conference example covers only one event for the one branch of medicine, usually pharmaceutical companies have a more comprehensive offer to sell. With a broader range of drugs, different specializations, CMOs needs to reserve millions of dollars to reach the audience of the leading medical conferences each year. According to the report from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, the pharmaceutical industry spent on accredited continuing medical education in 2016 hit $704 million [source].
Is it rational? If you can afford it, then yes. Sponsorship of the conference gives you a lot of opportunities, but to materialize you need a lot more than just paying for a sponsor package. When the event day arrives, you are becoming a captain of a ship during a storm. All hands on deck needed.
To squeeze the most from what you paid for, you should provide a little army of staff, who would take every opportunity to talk to the doctors, lead the keynotes, present your drugs and research, speak during the banquets, presentations, ask questions. It is an unfinished list of things to do during the conference. And it also costs a lot. Just take logistics, accommodations, outfits.
After having all of this you can probably call yourself a conference winner, but when you look at it from a broader perspective, you will see that it is just a top of the iceberg. There is plenty of other conferences that you can't attend. More doctors will not hear a word from you, and you never know, who will become the most influential practitioner or academic researcher in the upcoming years. Maybe he or she is not present at the event you are paying to attend.
So how to get the most of it? What is growth hacking and how to implement it in your pharma marketing plan?
For many reasons, growth hackers are focusing on innovation, scalability, and user connectivity. Instead of a traditional way of buying access to the target group by advertising, sponsorship and so on, they are thinking about cheaper but as well or even more effective alternatives.
It is thanks to the fast development of the new technologies that we can try new possibilities. Twenty years ago we read every email we got from the top to the bottom of it, sometimes several times. Now, we don't. With so many of them, our mailboxes, like Gmail can even categorize them as offers, notification, and social media related content, that we don't even see it in our main inbox. There are a lot less so-called evergreens that in previous years. What does it mean? That if you are doing something first from the crowd, you can gain much more than when everybody does so.
So what about conferences? Is there any modern alternative to it?
There is a new solution called conferencing. It is very basic in the formula but can lead to unexpected outcomes. It bases on the video messages called Highp videos, that can be quickly sent through the SMS without any need to login to the particular platform or account. Companies that offer this solution, like Connectmedica, cooperate with the most recognizable doctors worldwide. These top medical influencers are attending a lot of conferences, and they become the source of the knowledge for the other doctors who are not present. Usually, an attendee records few videos: useful materials before the conference, some highlight during it and recalls just after it. The statistic shows that the open rate of that kind of messages is enormous. In about two hours after receiving, about eighty percent of the recipients open the message. What is more important, it is valuable for the doctors. For nearly ninety percent of them, getting the news from other professors is trustworthy. As being so intuitive, they prefer this type of connection. Not to mention that it is straightforward to profile the needs of doctors and send them only info that is highly recommended for them.
There is a rising demand for the knowledge, exceptionally accessible one. The option of the conference coverage enriched with video messages is highly attractive. It can even use PowerPoint slides to picture the topic better.
Thanks to the ease of getting doctors to contact data like their phone number or email address it is more comfortable for the pharmaceutical companies to use the big data solution to even better communicate.
But first and foremost it broadens the audience for the fracture of the typical conference costs. As conferences are usually only marketing and brand awareness events, and sales go only through the medical representatives, in conferencing, you can merge those actions as the reps could efficiently use video messages to show the interesting conference data to the doctors they are cooperating with. In 2018 conferencing is present on more than 20 international events like ASCO, EULAR or EADV.
Conferences not only take time but are also costly. The more critical, with the broader list of outstanding speakers, the more expensive they get.