Posted on Jan 22, 2013

The growth of peer communication

Need a sign that current ‘push’ communication methods aren’t working? Just look at the growth in peer-to-peer communication among healthcare professionals. There’s been a startling rise in peer communication that’s come about, I believe, because doctors can’t get the information that they need from the industry.

As the pharma industry stepped up its ‘push’ communication–delivering ever more messages through ever more rep visits–doctors were left without good sources of information. No longer a treatment partner, the industry had become a marketing machine. From healthcare professionals’ point of view, these were poor quality visits that didn’t deliver the quality of information needed.

So what did doctors do? Well, needing to find credible sources of information, they started talking to each other. New networks sprang up that allowed healthcare professionals to share information among themselves.

Be part of the conversation

Needless to say these peer networks are closed to push communication. Doctors are unlikely to distribute push-marketing materials into their peer-to-peer networks because this would threaten their credibility and integrity. The result is that pharma is in danger of being closed out of real communication with healthcare professionals.

Still, while push doesn’t work in peer-to-peer, the relevant and useful knowledge that pull marketing creates can and is being shared. This is because high-quality pull information actually helps to build a doctor’s reputation within the medical community. Pull marketing materials, being relevant and knowledge-based, are sharable.

Pull communication and peer-to-peer suit one another. There are lots of possibilities to combine them because they are both information based and about real communication rather than message delivery. Today, adding pull communication to your marketing mix helps you access peer networks. It’s an easy first step. Then you can start to explore how to build peer-to-peer networks into your pull communication system–and truly become part of the conversation.