Discover the Power of One in Pharma Marketing

Case Study

Dr. Sana Shakir is a consulting endocrinologist and a KOL. A lot of medical reps from various companies try to reach her. But she avoids meeting 95% of them.

The reason?

Communication that is delivered doesn’t interest her nor address her needs. It is like a broken gramophone record. She politely and in a friendly manner turned away most of them, almost everyone – except a couple of med representatives. One of these is from V & V Pharmaceuticals.

What V & V Pharmaceuticals communicate interests her. And one of the brand managers of V & V Pharmaceuticals is Nayana Pradhan is responsible for this.

What is the magic of Nayana’s communication?

Before a new campaign or the launch of a new product, she does three things religiously.

  1. Nayana works extensively and intensively in the field to generate insights. For one new launch, she even spent time meeting the patients at home and observing them closely.
  2. From these insights, she creates the right brand persona and matches it with the doctor’s persona.
  3. And then the right communication is personalized and delivered both on the online and offline channels.

Let us examine each of these closely.

Why does Nayana feel it is so important to generate insights? She knows that neither data nor observation is insights. She also knows that insights are the hidden or unrevealed truths, which once a brand manager knows, can create the right persona and communication for her brand strategy.

Nayana also knows that the purpose of personas is to create a reliable and realistic representation of the key doctor and patient segments for reference. She creates personas based on both qualitative and quantitative research interviews with doctors and via web analytics. She knows that personas are only as good or as bad as the research behind them.

The next step is to deliver the right personalized communication to doctors the way Amazon does. Before that, she must explain to the field-brand managers, the first-line managers, the extended arm of the HO-based brand managers – what personalized communication is.

She is aware that many are confused between personalized communication and customized communications to an individual doctor are the same.

She takes the help of Gartner to clarify this to her colleagues.

“Customization is to custom-make the communication for a particular doctor, based on her/his particular needs. Personalization on the other hand is a process that creates a relevant, individualized interaction between the brand and doctors designed to enhance the experience and engagement of the recipients.”

a. “Personalization detects patterns of behaviour of the doctors.

b. This leads to the discovery of correlations in behavior among the doctors.

c. Third as the similarities get recognized, doctors can be segmented. This segmentation enables brand managers to effectively deliver relevant content to the key doctors, which, in turn, leads to greater engagement. It-dumps the one size fits all approach and works to make doctors feel special.”

Nayana’s brand communication is invariably very emotional and is focused on showing doctors how her brand can help the doctor or the patient. This makes the doctors feel very special.

Her communication being personalized helps in building doctors’ trust and loyalty.

This converts prospective prescribers into actual prescribers.

Moreover, it encourages existing prescribers to prescribe more or even prescribe more brands.  

The time has come for communication to be awesome. And that’s the reason Nayana’s brands were loved by doctors. Her brands were empathetic to the needs of doctors and the doctors’ patients.

And that makes personalization in communication, whether online or offline, even more important.  

The Power of One

One of the biggest mistakes that I see brand managers make with their marketing is “spray and pray”.   Many may have no clue what they want

You really have no clear idea of what you want an action to achieve, but you hope that if you throw enough of your budget resources out there, some of it might stick.

All your marketing efforts should be designed to bring your prospective prescribers one step closer to becoming your brand advocate.

Focus on the Power of One. Design your promotional material so that every KOL perceives that your brand is only for him, personalized for him. Because a confused, overwhelmed mind sends a strong message that you are not treating him exclusively. “I am absolutely nothing for this company!

Having a great product available to your padocumers at a great price does absolutely nothing for you if your doctors don’t feel it is personalized for them.

Why Is It Important to Personalize your Brand Communication?

Have you ever received a message starting ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. If I receive such a message, I immediately delete it. It’s not exclusively meant for me. “Oh hell! The sender doesn’t even know whether I am a male or a female.”

The year was 1981, much before the advent of the internet and computers. That was the time when calculators were just emerging and evolving. I was then the District Manager with Carter-Wallace. Upjohn Inc. had licensed their brand, Lincocin, to us. We had a pre-launch training program in Goa. Peter Rodricks came all the way from the USA to train us. We were told to carry with us the names of all the chest physicians and consulting physicians with us, correctly typed, and with no spelling error. We were asked to proofread the spelling three times for correctness.

Three months later, just before the launch of Lincocin, doctors received a personal letter from the CEO of Upjohn via US-Airmail. The letter told them about the launch of Lincocin and how it would benefit their patients. Were the doctors happy? And when I met the first doctor, Late Dr. Vasant Pai, with my teammate, the joy and happiness on his facial expressions was such that Oxford and Webster Lexicons perhaps displayed poverty of words. That’s for the first time I learned about the ‘Power of One’ and personalized communication.

Today, with AI and other technology, personalization can happen in a jiffy.

Personalization must be the key focus in brand communication and that puts you on the path to First-Person Marketing. First-Person Marketing can engage doctors in an innovative way.

First-Person Marketing makes marketers smarter about how you use phygital marketing. Advanced technology and data integrations allow you to create the kind of personalized, relevant messages for a mass audience that looks as if you composed a personal message to each padocumer in the database. Every message you send will get them closer to you and your brand.  

Ally with your digital marketing team and always look for ways to incorporate padocumer data into your marketing campaigns so that each message is as relevant as possible to each recipient.

The Power of One Marketing is all about being more human in your marketing efforts. Your audience will connect with you better. The Power of One will make your brand intimate and authentic. You make the padocumers feel invited – it has such a strong pull. A KOL may even take ownership of your opinions. 

My advice: stay away from generic copy in advertising. Doctors want to be treated as individuals by the brands they interact with and support – not like mere numbers on an IQVIA or a PharmaTrac report.

“Personalized” is no more just using the doctor’s name. Do they regularly interact with your content? Has your phygital marketing team studied their interactions via social listening? Do you know the concerns and the pain points of your padocumers? 

I receive so many emails from companies that got my name correct but clearly had no idea what I do on a daily basis. When I was interacting with Upgrad a couple of years back to enrol me as an educator, (much before the Covid era), I started receiving continuous mails from them using my first name ‘Vivek’. Which I liked, but detested the latter part’ when the contents were to enroll me as a learner. That I am a perpetual learner is a different story. That’s where a persona has a strong role.

Let me reiterate effective personalized messaging goes beyond a doctor’s first name. To really stand out, segment your message by persona so that it is more relevant, timely and helpful. The goal should always be to inform or educate to make patients and doctors’ lives better. 

When you want to talk to your doctors, the first step is always to listen to them. As in India and Bangladesh, where you or the digital marketer are writing copy, take even 10 minutes and dive into their day-to-day. Make sure that digital marketers too meet the doctors and patients in person, not just digitally.

Personalized messaging should be emotional and pierce the hearts of the audience. Yet it must be genuine and sincere. A stiff copy can turn off even the most dedicated doctors. It is not about the message you want to share, but instead, about the information which your doctors need. Provide them with relevant information that supports their goals.

To be effective, continue to optimize and evolve your strategies based on continuous monitoring and tracking the padocumers. Personalization remains effective only when you have enough clean and compliant data. Personalize based on the doctor’s journey and intent rather than on the brand’s intended path.

To master personalized copy, strike the right tone. Today you are in a SoLoMo era. Every padocumer has a world of his own within his/her mobile. The padocumer is copy-focused, accustomed to reading messages on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. It is very likely that if you incorporate this style of writing in business communication it would help you create a human connect, breaking down traditional walls of stiff-upper-lip business style. This is the real H2H touch,  

Collect as much data as you can. Collect as much information as you can through one-on-one meetings, social listening, and any other means. And then communicate as if you are talking to each individual doctor or a patient. Let them know you have what they need.

And finally, invest in the right technology to build 1:1 personalized content for padocumers at scale. When you are reaching out to so many doctors, you will find it cost-prohibitive to build variations of a personalized message manually. It is only AI and ML which can help you deliver copy that is relevant to the doctors and patients. 


The power of One is immense. It can help raise padocumer engagement and the overall padocumer journey.

Focus on the Power of One. Design your promotional material so that every KOL perceives that your brand is only for him, personalized for him. Because a confused, overwhelmed mind sends a strong message that you are not treating him exclusively. “I am absolutely nothing for this company!”

Personalized messaging should be emotional and pierce the hearts of the audience. Yet it must be genuine and sincere. A stiff copy can turn off even the most dedicated padocumers.

And the last word, it is not about the message you want to share, but instead, about the information which your padocumers need.

Written by:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Vivek-Hattangadi-Photo-comp..jpg
Vivek Hattangadi – Chief Mentor at
PharmaState & The Enablers

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