DTC marketing reliance on TV is puzzling

KEY TAKEAWAY: DTC marketers continue to spend heavily on TV, despite data from Princeton Research Associates for PhRMA only 11% of all adults has asked for an advertised prescription medication and only 38% have talked to a doctor about an advertised medication. Excuse me?

It’s great that GSK and Novartis have gone outside to hire digital executives but they are already starting five steps back.  The gap between awareness and a patient actually asking for, and receiving, a new Rx is a huge one.  However, the good news is that pharma can improve its digital marketing, but a culture shift is definitely needed and don’t think for one minute that these new executives are going to have an easy time trying to change the mindset of “TV first”.

First and foremost someone has to stand before a lot of people and say “the current investment in TV is not warranted once we reach penetration in awareness with our target audience”.  They then have to say “dump any marketing book written in the 20th century . Traditional marketing tactics and strategies based on “one- to-many” communication are obsolete. Common acronyms such as ROI, USP and CRM are headed for the alphabet graveyard . The Internet has revolutionized the way people communicate. Mobile technologies and the explosion of social media exacerbated the level and pace of change.

To produce communications that provide real value, think in terms of your customers’ problems . Instead of delineating benefits, focus on clients’ problems that your products can solve.  Keep in mind that there is no, one, universal way to do this.  As DRG, formerly Manhattan Research, has shown each health condition is its own mini market segment with unique characteristics.

New executives are also going to have to bring a great process to developing a digital strategy that starts with research and is continually refined as the organization embraces new marketing.  It also means taking risks which means the legal and regulatory people are going to need to loosen their pants.

Finally, these new executives cannot go it alone.  They are going to need to bring in people who have a great background in digital marketing which means that they are going to need to hire some pirates who can challenge the status quo.  They will have to get past HR and hiring managers that may see digital as a “threat” to their budgets.

It can be done and frankly, if these people fail pharma has thrown in the towel to embrace new media and empowered patients.

 

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