Ah, chicken noodle soup. It’s the cozy, feel-good food you can always fall back on. Sure, there may be times in life when you forget about its noodle-y goodness. You might branch out to some flashier recipes; avocado toast or whatever pasta craze is happening on social media. Then, one rainy day, maybe a Monday, when you’re feeling blue, and need something to boost your spirits, you remember that one special recipe – the classic, the understated, chicken noodle soup. And after throwing together your ingredients and simmering everything for just the right amount of time, you take your first spoonful and realize it’s been there all along, and it’s all you really needed.
Okay, I may have gotten dramatic toward the end there, but hopefully you see the point to this overly detailed analogy. Speaker bureaus have gotten a bad rap. Our team has more than 20 years’ experience in building and executing speaker bureaus in the pharma world, and you can trust me when I say that we have heard it all. “They’re boring. They’re overdone. They don’t work. They require too much effort. They’re costly, etc.” But experience has taught us that the impact of a speakers’ bureau should not be underestimated. Your programs can be brilliant or mundane. It all boils down to what goes into them, and the person/people creating them.
So how do you, a talented, driven, intelligent, pharma/biotechnology company create your biggest possible impact in the healthcare/medical community, while also considering regulations, budget, time, etc? The solution won’t be found in the flashiest technology, quinoa, or hiring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for door-to-door advertising. The real answer? A good old-fashioned (yet modernized) speakers’ bureau.
Yes, in the past a speakers’ bureau was a big investment. We know this, and biopharma brand marketers know it even better. In addition to cost, the PhRMA Code and Open Payments legislation forced changes to the way speaker programs were traditionally conducted. Some of these restrictions can prevent healthcare providers (HCPs) from participating or attending programs altogether and have reframed the way content can be presented.
But there’s also good news! While these roadblocks have impacted how speaker bureaus are conducted, nixing programs entirely is not the answer. There will always be regulations in our industry, and it’s our job as marketers to work with these regulations. We evolve, regroup, and strategize. All it takes is a little creativity!
The relevance of a speakers’ bureau has been, and always will be there. Here’s our take on why.
1. Peer-to-peer education via a speakers’ bureau brings pivotal information about medical progress right to the door (or screen) of busy HCPs. It’s a highly effective way of hearing from trusted experts about their personal experience with new products or their insights on new data and treatment approaches.
Let’s go back to the basics for a second. Educational programs allow speakers to share crucial information and perspectives about diseases, new products, new product indications, and other significant updates and use cases that impact patient care. Their primary goal is to provide compliant content that engages your audience, while offering a scientific forum for discussion that ultimately leads to better interactions between patients and their healthcare providers. Between patient schedules, writing notes, managing practices, balancing personal lives, and otherwise saving the world, healthcare providers are busy. Speaker programs can be catered to their schedules while offering the opportunity to stay updated on scientific advances in medicine. Who doesn’t love a win-win?
2. HCPs value interactions with sales representatives but are able to have a richer scientific exchange with an expert peer who can provide depth of expertise and clinical experience to enhance overall patient care.
The most effective speaker programs provide new information to educate HCPs in a credible and impactful way. While sales reps are experts on their products and provide valuable real-time support, information related to efficacy, safety, and clinical application are even better received when coming from another HCP. It can sometimes be difficult to look past the fact that sales reps, no matter how good they may be, are simply limited in their expertise and what they can share. Peer-to-peer communication allows HCPs the unique ability to interact with someone with comparable training and expertise, who can provide a more well-rounded understanding of the patient experience.
3. Technological advances have enhanced creativity in programming, so programs no longer need to be “one size fits all.”
Say it with me, “We have evolved past one size fits all.” Big budgets, small budgets, tech-savvy, or keeping it simple, there is no one right way to do things. Gone are the days of only delivering tightly-wound, traditional dinner presentations at high-end steakhouses. The global pandemic has reinforced that other options can and must be just as effective at delivering educational experiences. It’s 2021. You can bring modern ideas to the table designed to enhance engagement and accommodate a variety of learning needs and preferences, and you can do it with style!
In the end, it isn’t about having the jazziest technology or the biggest budget. Substance is key. It all comes down to how you can better deliver scientific information and HCP education that will positively impact patient-physician communication and improve patient care. When done well, speaker bureaus are a valuable asset in achieving this goal. They are customizable, reliable, accommodating, and accessible. They bring people together, create connection, and may even warm a heart or two along the way. Not unlike…a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup.
If you’re interested in learning more about enhancing your HCP education via a top-notch speakers’ bureau, contact us! Our team would love to talk strategy and answer any questions you may have about where to begin. If you’re lucky, we may even share our favorite soup recipe with you. Wink. —
JB Ashtin’s Speaker Bureau team focuses on providing an amazing customer experience. We are available to help clients with content development, faculty identification and contracting, speaker training, rep training, target area mapping, and/or full program implementation. We pride ourselves on providing customized solutions and unparalleled white glove service to ensure our client’s speaker programs are impactful. Contact us today to learn more about our team and what we can do for you and your business.