"You're truly limiting yourself in the information that is going into any kind of planning if you don't include the physician input from the get-go," DeTora says. "Any direct-to-physician marketing or advertising is more important to get the physician input because they would have a keener understanding of the target audience."
Physician input can also be useful when strategizing for consumer campaigns because they know what matters to their patients and can help explain technology and procedures in laymen's terms, but they may not know how
to best communicate those points with consumers.
"It's more important to be able to position your messaging structure based on what is most important to the consumer and not the physician---even though you're working with the physician to market their service line," DeTora says. "A lot of time what they think is important doesn't matter to the consumer. As much as it's
important to have that initial conversation, it has to be filtered through what the consumer needs to know to make that decision."
Though many physicians are eager to be involved in the marketing process, it's important to prioritize the information you need to obtain from them because their time will likely be limited.
"We understand that physicians are extremely busy seeing patients and performing surgery," Lawlor says. "This is why they are here. We share our strategy and tactical plans. Once we have their input, it is up to us to implement this plan."
And in order to keep physicians as an integral part of the strategic planning process, marketers need to keep flexible schedules.
"We need to be available for discussion when they are---this means 6 a.m. meetings or late at night," Lawlor says. "We work with them across the board to facilitate our marketing efforts on their behalf."
But once it comes to the execution and creative stages, physicians play a lesser role. When a physician is reviewing advertising copy, it's better to ask him or her if anything is factually inaccurate rather than asking if they like it or if they think it will work, DeTora says.
"Then it's about what that particular physician likes and wants and not necessarily what the target audience will respond to," she says. "At that point it's not as much about an open conversation. You go from this big funnel of information gathering, and it gets funneled and funneled as you go toward the technical execution."