Are You Using Your Whitespace as a Pharma Marketing Incubator? – From a Former Sales Rep

May 19, 2020 | Article

What is Whitespace?

For arguments in this piece, we will define whitespace as those territories that have no sales reps in their geography and those offices that are refusing to see reps. 

According to Decision Resource Group (DRG)’s 2019 ePharma Physician Report, just over half (54%) of the physicians in the research firm poll said that they have met with pharma sales reps in person this year, a substantial drop from 2018 when 67% reported such visits.

This is the lowest percentage DRG has ever reported since the inception of the yearly study back in 2004.  Looks like your whitespace is growing and with it, a new set of challenges.

However, every challenge holds an opportunity. 

The companies better able to adapt to this expanding new frontier will not only survive but thrive across this new landscape.  Marketers should be excited about the increasing limited access. 

Why? 

According, to the same study by DRG, these physicians are turning towards the internet on their own to answer questions about prescription drugs and biologics.  More and more physicians are embracing technology when it benefits their own time and schedules. 

When one door closes another opens…

Pharma sales rep happy engaging with physicians remotely.

This is an incredible time for marketers to workshop new ideas and develop novel approaches that can break through the whitespace and grab their physicians’ attention. These offices that reside in the whitespace cannot be influenced through transactional relationships.

In other words, samples will not work to get your sales reps through the door. 

These offices are challenging you to approach them with a better value proposition and you must be up for the task if you want to win.  If you can build an innovative marketing campaign that can work in these offices, then imagine how successful the same campaign would be where your reps have full access? 

Your whitespace can be an imagination gym, where you iron out all the wrinkles in your plan before you roll it out to the rest of the field.

However, in the end, it all comes down to time, and doctors are having less and less of it to share.  If the physicians are leaning more heavily on the internet for information, then it’s safe to say physicians are using their personal time to help with their work-life. 

Physician on the phone with a pharma sales rep

Any marketing initiatives should give deep consideration on how best to leverage the doctor’s time and what value it brings to the office.  Therefore, the marketing campaign presented to these offices must be of both form and function.

The whitespace is not the area your reps drop off promotional collateral or go on coffee runs or whatever “business-as-usual” attempt to gain access.  This is the area where the proverbial line in the sand has been drawn and they are daring you. 

Daring you to demonstrate why you are worth their time while so many others are knocking on the door asking for the same.  In this new battlefield, marketing initiatives that demonstrate value to both physician and office, as well as, respect the physicians’ time have an incredible likelihood of succeeding in this ever-growing whitespace.

This is just the beginning. 

As the month’s progress, offices will be crowded with a backlog of patients, doctors’ will be short-staffed and there will be new safety protocols in place.  There will be more problems than time and even previously accessible offices will be limiting their interactions. 

It will never go back to the what it was. 

So how are you prepared to support your offices? What novel approaches have you thought about to help your brand succeed in this new reality?

Pharma sales rep happy talking to physicians with sales team remotely

One way to reach your whitespace is by opening a remote channel of engagement through a desktop device, such as Swittons. Swittons is a remote communication device that can be placed on physicians’ desk and result in sales reps connecting with HCPs like never before.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Swittons can connect your pharma sales reps with your whitespace, chat with us today by clicking below.