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Audio Detailing: Alternative Marketing for More Sales Appointments

Audio detailing is a form of alternative marketing with demonstrated applications in the pharmaceutical industry. By using Voice Express Connect™, marketers can reach target audiences on behalf of sales representatives who are struggling to get meetings. In the past, audio chip technology transformed pharmaceutical industry marketing in a way that surpassed even Internet-enabled technologies. As today’s marketers struggle for attention, this case study provides lessons for the age of COVID-19.

The Demise of Detailing

Sales representatives from pharmaceutical companies have always wanted to visit physicians in their offices to present product information. Known as detailing, these meetings were not designed to sell a product directly. Instead, the purpose was to provide doctors with enough information so that they will prescribe a product to patients. Mini-detailing, as this process was known, involved explaining how a drug works and sharing indications and safety information. This typically occurred in conjunction with printed material.

Business, regulatory, as well as technology changes disrupted the detailing model. Pharmaceutical companies have large sales forces, but time-strapped physicians don’t have time to meet with them. Regulations under the Physicians Payment Sunshine Act ban giving gifts to doctors in exchange for viewing product information. Pharmaceutical marketers learned how to reach physicians through the Internet, but early e-detailing efforts faced obstacles. Doctors needed to be in front of a computer, and dial-up speeds were painfully slow.

Internet speeds have improved and computers are now commonplace, but e-detailing has also lost some of its appeal. Today, many pharma companies still want doctors to go on-line and participate in interactive presentations. There’s little that’s novel about this, and salespeople who can no longer provide physicians with anything of value or sponsor a meal, outing or conference struggle to gain a busy physician’s attention. Audio detailing, a form of alternative marketing, enables pharma as well as other types of companies to communicate through voice in a direct and unmediated fashion.

From E-Detailing to Audio Detailing

Dan Steel is an e-detailing pioneer who understood these challenges and seized an alternative marketing opportunity. Steel wanted his employer, Advanstar Communications, to cut through the noise created by an overload of digital communications and competing digital platforms. As a business-to-business publishing and marketing services company, Advanstar worked with pharma marketers who enjoyed strong relationships with the product managers. Especially those who wanted to help salespeople earn more appointments.

Steel contacted Geoffrey Stern, the founder and CEO of Voice Express, and asked if the Connecticut-based company could create an audio card with five minutes of voice content. Together, they developed an audio brochure with a red button as well as a bold title: “Introducing the button that’s worth 1000 words”. Doctors who pressed this button could listen to product information immediately and also without having to connect to the Internet or take any other action. This became the first of several successful projects.

Audio detailing with button

Figure 1: Connect Brochure for Pharma – designed by Structural Graphics
Audio Detail Cards

Steel’s boss, the Vice President of Marketing and Sales, remained skeptical. In addition, some product managers complained that the audio brochure seemed like a kids’ toy. However, the data that Steel gathered proved that most doctors were pressing the button and listening to the message. Since its inception, close to half a million Audio Detail cards were mailed or inserted into medical trade magazines. Finally, the benefits were clear. Doctors were listening to the messaging, reading the fine print on the inserts, as well as ultimately writing more scripts.

In addition, the Audio Detail engaged its target audience in a way that traditional direct mail and cutting-edge e-detailing could not. Brands such as Levaquin even ran multiple Audio Detail campaigns that increased interaction with the health care provider (HCP) and included a Fax Back card. For example, one notable campaign included an interactive quiz.

Levaquin Quiz

Figure 2: No need for an app, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth connection
Audio Detailing and the Age of COVID-19

Today, salespeople in many industries are struggling to connect with prospective clients simply because they can’t visit them. Also, Zoom calls and video presentations that seemed novel at the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic now serves commonplace and a necessity. Especially since most marketers use the same techniques to appeal to audiences who are already overloaded on-line. Like Dan Steel, however, you can cut through the noise with Voice Express technology. Contact us to learn more.

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