Healthcare Advertising: Making The Most Of Your Advisory Board

Whether you are marketing a pharmaceutical or biotechnology product, medical device, hospital, or other healthcare product or service, an advisory board is a potentially valuable asset in helping you understand your target audiences, competition, market, and the position your brand occupies in the marketplace. There are numerous ways to use your board to your advantage, even if yours is an e-advisory board and meets only virtually.

Who should be on your advisory board?
Ideally, your board includes heavy users of your product, lighter users, and even potentially non-users. The members may be all one profession: physicians exclusively, for example. Or your board may represent multiple allied health professions. The goal is to get a balanced perspective on your brand from both users and influencers, both advocates and detractors.

What should your advisory board do?
Through meetings and/or online discussions, your board can advise you on the strategic and tactical direction of your brand. Your board members can share clinical insights as well as enhance your competitive intelligence by sharing insights into how competitors market their brands. Your board also can help you develop surveys (on your website, via direct mail or email, or via Sermo or other healthcare professional-targeted social networking sites) and moderate focus groups in peer-to-peer research initiatives. And as feasible, your board members can make presentations supporting your brand at national conventions, regional conferences, dinner meetings, advocacy group meetings, and online and offline seminars. Additionally, you may establish a dedicated social networking site (or password-protected sub-site on your website) where your board members-as well as non-members who opt in-can post case studies, and discuss treatment challenges and solutions.

What should you do with the information your board generates?
Advisory board activities generate content that can be edited, distributed, and “merchandised” to your target audiences. For example, create transcripts of panel discussions and focus groups. Videotape your board members making presentations. Share your survey results. Publicize these and other advisory board output through your website, an e-newsletter or e-mail campaign, YouTube and other social media vehicles, plus PR targeting the media.

How should you get started?
First, plan ahead. Decide what you want to do with your advisory board and what you hope to gain from their activities. Outline a proposed schedule of the board’s activities. Then determine the most effective way to form the board-whom to invite and how best to contact them. Extend the invitations, and get started ASAP. Your advisory board’s input can help considerably in your quest to understand the hearts and minds of your customers.

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