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Off Road Reps

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Healthcare professionals are coming under unprecedented pressure due to COVID-19, and visits by reps have become an ever-lower priority.

Conferences have been cancelled as large physical gatherings become impossible.

How do you access key customers to keep your brand relevant and top of mind?

Drawing on our extensive experience with a broad range of clients and issues, we offer some suggestions here for gaining and maintaining access to your customers.We know that the ‘back to work’ transition will be a slow one. As we ease restrictions slowly, your reps may be ‘off the road’ for a while. But when it is all over, and we are back to work, this pandemic will have re-set how we work, how we interact with each other and how marketing is done in the future. I, for one, am excited about the possibilities that it will bring for digital experiences and communication for pharma!Without interpersonal contact, standalone communications need to work even harder…

  • Channels must have effective reach
  • Communications must have genuine value (especially for maturing products) e.g.:
  • Educational information
  • Patient resources
  • Offer of samples

The current environment has accelerated acceptance of remote meetings, and doctors are even seeing patients using them. According to data from Canada Health Infoway, roughly 60% of doctors’ visits were conducting virtually, up from 20% prior to the pandemic. In order to take advantage of this increased use of virtual visits, consider one of these three options for keeping your brand’s share of voice:

One-to-One Meetings

  • One-to-one detailing through digital meetings
  • Several platforms available for video calls
  • Consider allowing physician to ‘drive’ presentation while rep talks – encourages engagement
  • Can use any digital tool and switch pieces if conversation demands it
  • Doctor can be anywhere – even on the road, in hospital or at home


  • One speaker, many participants
  • Can be pre-recorded and available on demand
  • Good for self-directed learning
  • Can grow email lists for further communications

Virtual Ad Boards

  • Designed for a smaller group of KOLs
  • Digital platforms to allow asynchronous communication and feedback
  • HCP can access based on their own schedule
  • Best practice is to combine with other virtual meetings (i.e. a web conference or telephone call to prep doctor and get agreement)


  • Multiple ways to make existing detail aids virtual
  • Print detail aids can be quickly disseminated as PDFs via emails
  • Take existing print detail aid and break up into discrete messages that can be animated and/or emailed to HCPs
  • Create a detail aid designed for digital, with interactive content
  • Create narrated videos that can be emailed – doctor can view on own schedule
  • Web conference tools like Zoom can be used on iPads so existing eDetails can be used in calls with HCPs
  • Prepare a digital resource centre for reps so they can easily access and switch tools during a call if needed

Therapeutic Area Hub

  • Multi-brand product hub
  • Can be built quickly to house previously PAAB-approved material and built out later to include multimedia as it is developed
  • Creating one hub for multiple brands can be more resource efficient and can allow for brand spill over (come for one brand, learn about another)

Request a Visit Landing Page 

  • Landing page where doctors can request a meeting or other resources
  • Can be quick to develop as it is non-brand specific
  • Can be promoted via direct mail or email or digital media

Digital Media Targeting 

  • Online resources (like the brand hub or ‘request a rep’) can be promoted using digital media
  • Typically difficult to reach doctors online can be identified by their behaviour
  • Target those online users who have visited a specific address (i.e. doctor’s office) more than 3x in a week and arrived between 7 am and 9 am
  • Can be very cost effective on a per click basis

The Rounds 

  • LinkedIn for doctors
  • Opportunities for digital media
  • Experiencing significant growth due to doctors looking for Covid-19 information
  • Plan for reaching out after the flattening of the curve
  • Good for brands or companies with direct Covid information


  • One-to-one, customizable for reps
  • Interactive engagement via downloads and links (patient resources, videos, case studies, sample requests etc.)
  • Can build a ‘conversational loop’ through a series of eDMs and offers
  • Relatively short production lead-time
  • Measurable, instant response
  • Can use company’s own email list or send via third party (e.g. PTM)

Direct Mail

  • Brand awareness and/or tactical
  • No CASL rules to contend with like email
  • Generate engagement/response through offers
  • Embed video within the email https://youtu.be/zO36sfA_Wh0
  • Can help build email lists
  • Can be retained
  • A valuable element in the mix – particularly for customers overwhelmed by their email in-boxes!


  • Still highly used by Canadian healthcare professionals
  • Good for formulary announcements or new product launches
  • Brand awareness and/or tactical
  • Can be retained


  • Highly consumed media at the moment
  • KOL speakers could record at home
  • Stitched together with balancing and intro/outro added
  • Can be recorded from home or office and viewed anywhere
  • Easy to produce, brand safety information can be added to each one if needed


  • Can develop new content or leverage from webinar
  • Can be recorded from home or office and listened to anywhere
  • Easy to produce, brand safety information can be added to each one if needed

Although not technically a way to increase share of voice for your brand, another way to keep your team connected and motivated is to use this time to optimize rep training. Dust off those learning modules, create an elearning portal and put the off-the-road time to good use. Some of your reps may appreciate the refreshers!

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