CommonHealth Spins Off Noesis

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CommonHealth, part of the WPP Group, has spun off its sixth company with the creation of noesis healthcare interactions, a full-service advertising agency.

Focusing on the pharmaceuticals business, noesis follows other CommonHealth spinoffs such as The Xchange Group, MBS/Vox, The Conectics Group, The Quantum Group and Adient.

"The focus of our team is really to interact with the brand management team and its sales force and then their customers through all the materials that we possess, so that way communications doesn't become one way and both parties are speaking back and forth," said Bruce Epstein, senior vice president and management supervisor at noesis.

Based in Morristown, NJ, noesis starts with clients such as Novartis, East Hanover, NJ; Elan Pharmaceuticals, San Francisco; Glaxo licensee Professional Detailing Inc., Mahwah, NJ; and SmithKline Beecham, Philadelphia.

The shop boasts a staff of 43 and initial billings of $43 million to $45 million.

While there are 20 percent more drug company salesmen in the field in the past two years, the number of healthcare professionals has remained constant, CommonHealth found.

Sales professionals usually have face-to-face interactions with physicians. But this option is getting tougher as physicians struggle to fit more sales representatives into their schedules. Remote-selling methods are gaining currency.

So, noesis' system now will create intracompany Web sites for sales staff to plug into while on the road. This way, they can access the latest information on their companies, clients and physicians, as well as answer quizzes that test their knowledge and awareness of recent advances.

Among the services noesis will offer are print promotions, sales force promotional material, sales force material, medical journal advertising, and interactive and traditional direct mail.

Direct marketing and direct response type vehicles will play a vital role in noesis's offerings, said Nancy Barlow, senior vice president and managing director at The Xchange Group, Parsippany, NJ. Xchange specializes in relationship marketing.

"As an individual need arises for different clients, they'll call in the Xchange Group and we'll work very closely with their account and creative teams to develop a relationship marketing program," Barlow said.

This direct marketing could take the form of hard-copy direct mail and hot-linked e-mails for patient communications. For physician communications, the mix is likely to be hard-copy direct mail, e-mails with links and inbound telemarketing.

In the healthcare industry, direct marketing is important on two levels, Barlow said.

"First, patients because patient compliance is so poor that there is a need to create a relationship with patients to help them understand the importance of continued therapy and to facilitate their discussions with their physician," she said.

"On the physician's side, it's very important because the sales forces that are currently in place typically cover only a percentage of physicians. And where there's coverage, it's extremely competitive because everybody is covering those physicians.

"So the role that relationship marketing plays is where there's coverage, relationship marketing can enhance the relationship and facilitate sales force entry to the office. Where the pharmaceutical company does not have sales force coverage, relationship marketing can build relationships with those physicians."

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