Pharma DTC At The Crossroads? 2011 Prevention DTC Study Results

Here are six thought starters I see coming out of Prevention Magazine’s 14th Annual Pharmaceutical Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Advertising Study.*

1. Generic growth continues to put downward pressure on DTC ROI’s.

2. DTC continues to positively impact conversations with the doctor, but there is a general decline in patients receiving the prescription drug–a significant drain on ROI.

3. Consumers value Pharma websites, but opportunity exists to improve their value with less focus on ‘benefits-only’ messaging.

4. Consumers are consistently looking for Pharma to provide more information about the safety and risks of prescription medicines.

5. Social Media and Mobile Health are still in their infancy in helping consumers to gather information about prescription medicines and to manage their healthcare.

6. Consumers are interested in new health IT and advanced treatment solutions to help improve their health.

1.      Generic use continues to rise with 36% reporting that they’ve switched to a generic prescription or OTC medicine in the past 12 months to reduce healthcare costs.  With Generic medications now accounting for 78% of all retail prescriptions dispensed (IMS Health), this has sizable potential implications for any brand’s DTC Adverting ROI.  Continue reading

TV Isn’t Dead. Social Media Is Over-Hyped. Highlights From DTCN2011

Here are six themes that I took away from this year’s DTC National Conference, which took place in Boston April 6-8, 2011.  You can also read the tweets from #DTCN2011, Wendy Blackburn’s recap of Day 1, or take in the video interviews  by Pixels & Pills.

1.       Everybody has a story…Major life ‘events’ are what catapult a person, patient or caregiver to step into an active e-patient and patient advocate role. Myrtle Potter’s near tragic medical event is leading her down the patient advocate path and focusing her efforts behind improving patient literacy and engagement.

At WEGO Health , they say that each health activist has a unique story.  However, they become a health activist when they are talking about health every day and offering support and advice to others online—to the tune of  an average online audience of more than 15,000 every month. Continue reading

Pharma Marketers: 6 Key Skills Every Brand Champion Will Possess

In our ever-changing media landscape, coupled with increasingly powerful ePatient communities, a demand for new standards has arisen.  As a result, Pharma [and in reality all marketers] must accelerate their skills in six key areas to separate their marketing communications, and become brand champions. 

Read the full article in DTC Perspectives March 2011: Tough Demands to Galvanize Marketing Communications: 2011 Brand Champions Will Possess Six Key Skills.

Every marketer knows that spurring brand and patient success requires building on wisdom from the past, while honing new abilities to educate, motivate and converse with patients and their families.  Savvy marketers know that the 4P’s – also renamed SIVA [Solution, Information, Value, Access] to provide greater customer focus- have never been more critical.  In addition, 2011 brand champions are challenged to create Michael Porter’s “shared value”, accelerating skills in six areas:

  1. Dynamic listening and action, real-time. Astute marketers take dynamic listening seriously- they know who to listen to, where to listen, what’s most important to take note of, and are eminently geared to take action by responding nimbly to new learning.  Champion marketers know that listening without action is as dangerous as acting without listening. Continue reading

A New Reality in DTC Advertising?

The last few months, I’ve been deeply entrenched in “Execution” for an important client. So needless to say, I’ve been thinking A LOT about what it takes to move from strong strategy to superb execution, and more specifically, what it takes to achieve what I call “High Return Execution” (HRE).    Look for more thoughts on HRE in the upcoming weeks… (And my sincere apologies for the resulting lack of blogging and staying connected with many of my friends’ blogs these last few months)

Today, I want to share a personal experience.  Last week my team led an advertising shoot for a prescription product’s new multi-channel campaign we are intimately involved with.  There was much to feel good about – the creative idea tested very well and is strong. We also had a terrific creative and production team, a wonderful photographer who we’ve all worked with before, and we were shooting in a venue that turned out to be magical…not to mention the beautiful picture- perfect, dry sunny days … [How can you  complain about spending two days on an unspoiled 200 acre ranch in northern California?]

But as I flew home from the shoot, reflecting upon the previous few days, I kept feeling there was something even more special … something that I rarely feel after shoots … and then I realized … Continue reading

2010 Outlook: 10 Ways to Win With Patients and Improve DTC Efforts

[Full article: 2010 Outlook: Doom and Gloom For DTC? 10 Points for Winning with Patients, published in DTC Perspectives, December 2009]

Despite many gloomy predictions for DTC advertising and the pharma industry overall, there’s never been a better time for marketers to forward their brands and consumers’ lives with new thinking about what constitutes patient marketing in the 21st Century (DTC 21).  Ten prescriptions can help improve focus and strengthen DTC efforts in 2010.  Important media and technology trends are also “musts” to actively consider for those who want to bump impact and value.

  1. Adopt an updated definition for DTC that considers the full picture of how consumers will interpret and interact with a brand TODAY. This calls for attention beyond “big bang” marketing spends, and begs for identifying meaningful levers to drive education and growth. DTC is no longer just an awareness or acquisition vehicle to move “eyeballs” through a linear marketing funnel; it’s every influence and touch needed to bring new information and education, help convert, instill loyalty and inspire advocacy.  Continue reading

Pharma: Are Current DTC Ads Meaningful?

I just finished reading Bob Gilbreath’s new book “The Next Evolution of Marketing. Connect With Your Customers By MARKETING WITH MEANING.” Given my roots in package goods consumer marketing, I found the book and the examples ‘meaningful’…

I whole heartedly agree that the next evolution in marketing is to move from ‘telling and selling’ to providing value and ultimately, to improving people’s lives.  I think too, this is one reason that so many consumer package goods marketers made the move to pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing-to help save and improve people’s lives and well being…

What are marketers to do when consumers are not just immune to our messages, but they’re ignoring us completely?

Create marketing that’s meaningful.

What is meaningful marketing?

Continue reading

Pharma: Is Your Marketing Designed To Engage And Educate Or Sell?

As Marketers, we’ve long been conditioned to “sell”, also known as the fourth Marketing P: Promotion.  Increasingly, however, the world of Marketing is shifting from a model of selling and shouting to one of listening, engagement, dialogue and education. Pharma is no exception to this change.  A recent study by about.com outlined in eMarketer points to success with current pharma advertising, but also highlights opportunities for improvement that are consistent with the continued shift in consumer mindset.

Key Takeaways

Following diagnosis from their Physician, most consumers use the web to find more information about their condition, a smaller percent use search engines to better understand treatment options or the particular medication that they’ve been prescribed.  Only 35% trust what the doctor says and fill the prescription without further search or education.

Currently, more than four in 10 Internet users told About.com that pharma ads made them aware of treatment options and educated them about symptom and conditions; 17% felt like they could speak more knowledgeably with their doctor because of pharmaceutical advertising.  Continue reading

Pharma: Should DTC TV Have A Place In Your 2010 Budget?

Everyday it seems that someone is reminding us of the demise of traditional DTC TV and broad based media in favor of the web and social media.

While web 2.0 continues to power health care today–critical to consumer health care information learning and sharing (How Social Are HC Consumers with their Info)–there are many who believe that traditional TV (when creatively executed) can still play a vital role, as part of the media mix, to help ‘surround the consumer’ and drive awareness, education and action, including engagement online and off. ( Trend Report 2009, MedAd News DTC Alive and Well,  May 2009, Magna Forecast, 2009

  • Interestingly, the recent debut and success of Hulu.com’s traditional TV advertising on this year’s Super Bowl has many online leaders, including Amazon, Zappos and Kayak, reconsidering traditional agencies and offline tactics to help create ‘fast’ awareness and define more broadly what they do (Adweek: Online Brands Turn to Traditional Ads)…”What we’ve found is that if we layer in a little bit of off line brand advertising, it improves  the ROI of our online direct response campaigns,” Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh said. (Many Pharma brands have also found this to be true; TV helps drive web efficiencies in addition to generating quick awareness and MD requests…)  Continue reading

Traditional DTC Media Is Alive and Well–But Not In A Vacuum!

“Even as digital marketing channels and platforms become increasingly important and pervasive in Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising, traditional ‘mass’ media channels can still be effective and efficient (especially for larger brands)… The key to success is a well-integrated marketing strategy that takes advantage of old and new media alike,” writes  Steven Niles in the May issue of MedAd News.

While the industry largely continues to label DTC merely as ‘broad-based advertising’,  there are many who subscribe to DTC in the 21st Century (DTC 21) as a key strategy to educate and engage consumers through push and pull touches, including old and new -media and relationship building – tactics alike.  Continue reading

New DTC Ad: Grow your eyelashes!

I was SURPRISED to see this new DTC print ad by Allergan for  Latisse–the first and only prescription product to help with “hypotrichosis”–another name for having inadequate or not enough eyelashes!

With the economy in the dumps and Pharma and DTC advertising under increasing scrutiny, here’s a new print campaign for what might seem like a pretty trivial and ‘soft’ medical condition. Adding to this is the fact that they are using a celebrity endorsement in their advertising-Brooke Shields- which adds an extra level of scrutiny these days– and they’re advertising to the consumer within the first six months of introduction (I guess their thinking is that this is a safe cosmetic treatment and therefore shouldn’t follow the latest PhRMA Guidelines. It contains the active ingredient of the glaucoma drug Lumigan, which is also made by Allergan).

They’ve tapped Brooke with terrific testimonial video and great ‘before and after’ photos (not retouched of course) demonstrating results at 12 weeks…hoping women will return to see her results at 16 weeks. (Honestly, I can’t ever remember ever thinking that Brooke’s eye lashes were ever deficient…I do remember her for her stand against postpartum depression which I think was greatly admired by many. ) There’s also a fund raising effort for ‘make a wish foundation’ on the website.  Continue reading