I don’t need any charts to tell me that DTC marketing is becoming less effective, all I have to do is watch the national news to see the decline in TV ads for prescription drugs. I spend a lot of time networking with industry people and again and again I hear the question “why is this happening?”. One only needs to look at the challenges facing big pharma to understand but I would also argue that another reason is the lack of talent within DTC marketing. Marketers just don’t know how effectively manage smaller budgets to product great results.
When it comes to healthcare marketing I read everything I can get my hands on to see what’s happening within the industry. Once you get past the PR propaganda, such as a game to develop a new drug and get it to market, you realize that it’s more of the same old same old. More and more marketers are checking off the box and not rocking the boat which is leading to mediocre marketing.
While all this is going on patients are embracing consumerism within healthcare. They are using social media to talk to each other and rate doctors and treatments. They are spending time online going from one health portal to another to collect information and they are choosing which medications go into their bodies. In the meantime pharma marketers continue interrupting consumers without really acknowledging the behaviors of online health seekers.
The challenges facing big pharma are forcing change but they also are forcing marketers to be more efficient. They can’t carpet bomb media channels in hopes it will lead to some new business they have to laser target their audience, talk to them and give them good tangible reasons to say “I want this product”. They have to look at micro-segments of people and realize that consumers know just as much as they do about their drugs (just look at the top page within your product website and you’ll see that visitors are going to the safety page).
Until more people are willing to let their passion drive change within the organization and until senior executives embrace consumers of healthcare DTC marketing is going to become more and more obsolete until it’s just a line item to be cut. Marketing is an art not a science and bringing salespeople in from the field and putting them DTC marketing positions is probably one of the worst things any pharma company can do. They need to hire talented people who want to change the world and understand that what we do and how we do it is too damn important to just go “with what we have always done”.