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Break Prescribing Inertia Via Borrowed Experience

At ROF, we get to see a lot of brand positioning. Sometimes we help develop it, but other times we are exposed to brand positioning as part of our strategic road map service. In all of the positioning statements that we have viewed over the years, there is one word that shows up more than any other – “confidence”. As in, “…so doctors have the confidence to…” and “…so that patients can be confident that they…”.

Given the ubiquity of this term within pharma and biotech brand positioning, we have been giving some serious thought to what it takes to actually engender a feeling of confidence within your customers. Not surprising for ROF, we came up with an equation of sorts.

Confidence = Knowledge + Positive Experience

Simple enough, right? Well, maybe not so simple when you think about execution.

The first part of the equation is pretty easy. This is what we do for our brands every day. Create great materials, hire awesome sales reps, buy the right targeted advertising, stir vigorously, and voila!, we have knowledgeable customers.

Borrowed ExperienceNow for the hard part – generating positive experiences. As with any drug launch, there are always early adopters who try a new product right away, specifically so they can gain personal experience with it. But what about the other 85% of your market, who are generally satisfied with their current options and are waiting until the product is proven in the market? How do we overcome their inertia and give them just enough confidence to try the product once or twice?

Brands that have been successful in accelerating trial beyond early adopters, have become facilitators of “borrowed experience.” With the right initiatives in place, you can allow your laggard physicians to ‘borrow’ the experience of their braver colleagues in order to give them the temporary confidence boost needed to generate trial. At ROF, we have identified multiple sources of this borrowed experience, which may include:

  • Within Practice – Macro trend of practice consolidation provides opportunity for non-prescriber to ‘borrow’ experience from a colleague. From our research, you can’t assume that this is already happening within the practice and by your field force.
  • Formal Physician Network(s) – Networks that physicians belong to, such as GPOs, state societies, training institutions, ACOs etc., shape their perceptions of new therapies, and specific experiences/recommendations allow non-prescribers to ‘borrow’ an experience-based endorsement from a respected organization or institution to instill the confidence needed to prescribe
  • Physicians’ Outside Network – Physicians within same specialty, but outside formal network, can tap into other colleagues to enable a ‘borrowed’ experience
  • Associated Specialties – When a medication spans multiple specialties, physicians from one specialty can co-opt or ‘borrow’ experience from another to overcome inertia.

The important part of your launch strategy is to facilitate the borrowed experience from multiple types of sources, as each will have different levels of access and credibility for your prescribers. This cumulative effect provides the necessary power to overcome inertia built up over years of habitual prescribing.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply overcome inertia by educating and marketing your way to confidence. The secret is to stimulate and facilitate those connections described above so your targeted physicians will be able to borrow the experiences of their early adopter counterparts… until they can get their own experience with your brand.

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