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Market your clinical research site to potential new sponsors
Finding a match between site's assets, trial protocol
It's the rare clinical trial site that stays consistently busy with research. Most sites need to do at least a little marketing. Only they might not call it that, or even have a business strategy for recruiting and maintaining a steady business stream.
It's a mistake to leave a research organization's business plan to chance, an expert says.
Research sites need to have a business plan for approaching sponsors and clinical research organizations (CROs) and delivering the site's value to a particular sponsor or study, says Kevin Ketels, MS, chief executive officer of KMED Research in St. Clair Shores, MI. KMED is a clinical research site and consulting firm that manages phase II through phase IV trials.
"I think the two most important things you have to go through are to first figure out what your business strategies and goals are as an organization, and then you have to think about what is your value proposition," Ketels says.
For instance, what is the site's capability and expertise, and what can it offer to a potential client, such as a sponsor or CRO?
The goal always should center on finding a good match between a site's assets and a clinical trial protocol. But this might mean that a site has to be proactive in seeking clinical trials that would fit in with its mission.
Ketels offers these suggestions for how to find and recruit the most suitable studies:
1. Develop your CR site's pitch.
"What my staff and I have done is create a value proposition," Ketels says. "The first two paragraphs talk about us, our site, our capabilities, and what we call key differentiators."
Key differentiators include a site's expertise, knowledge, capabilities, and appearance.
"This tells why we're special," Ketels says. "So you put that information in an email or conversation and say, 'I'll send you some follow-up information."
Ketels introduces himself in the email message, saying that he would like to offer the sponsor his site's services.
"I keep it short, concise, and to the point," he says. "When a person reads the email he knows who we are and what we have to offer."
When a potential sponsor requests more details, here are some items to include in the pitch:
"We give them an idea of what it would be like if they had a site like ours," Ketels says.
This information should be concise, brief enough to send out in emails, he adds.
Charts and more precise details can be sent as an email attachment.
"We provide sponsors with more information so they can follow through and see if our value proposition matches their needs," Ketels says.
"If you have a good match then sponsors and CROs are always looking for good sites, but the match has to go both ways," he adds.
2. Identify right person to contact.
"Sometimes it takes a little detective work," Ketels says. "And you have to be assertive about this."
When a CT site is targeting a particular sponsor it helps to use salesforce.com, an inexpensive resource for names and contact information, he suggests.
"Salesforce.com shows you relationships that exist between organizations, who reports to who, and you can send out emails directly from that software," Ketels says. "So I can create a report and see how many contacts they've made, how many times they've sent out site questionnaires or emails or made calls."
However a CT site identifies the key people to contact, the goal is to send out emails and information about the site's research attributes.
This contact information needs to be filed electronically so multiple people at a CT site have access to it, Ketels notes.
"If you have some staff turnover you'll need to have all of those contacts and phone numbers available," he says. "You need to be able to look at it any time and see a particular sponsor that you've been trying to acquire as a client and see when this client has been called."
3. Follow-up the introductory pitch.
Sites should follow-up with emails and telephone calls.
"If you know someone at the sponsor, and you know their name and phone number, then you should just call them," Ketels says.
"It's a little more powerful if you can do the follow-up by telephone," he adds.