What is effective DTC marketing?

UnknownKEY TAKEAWAY: Most pharma DTC managers will say that effective DTC marketing is one which drives business and brand objectives, but can those objectives coexist with what consumers want and need?

Consumers, today, have a lot of choices when it comes to health care treatments.  Recent research has indicated that 41% of consumers said that social media would affect healthcare choices  yet, for the most part, pharma has ignored social media.  Yet marketers of consumer products have learned that social media marketing is in fact a myth.

Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be. When Gallup asked more than 18,000 consumers about the influence of social media on their buying decisions, 62% said they had no influence at all . Even among Millennials (those born after 1980), whom companies often think of as the core social media audience, 48% said these sites were not a factor in their decision-making. Bit with healthcare there is a major difference.


Effective DTC marketing has to do more than raise awareness about health conditions and new treatment options.  It has to give patients a compelling reason to enter the maze of getting an Rx.  That maze starts in trying to get an appointment with their doctor, asking about the health condition, getting an Rx with insurer approval, filling it and taking the medication as prescribed.  In this aspect DTC marketing has failed.

Some companies, like Biogen, offer to pay high co-pays for their drugs and offer dinner seminars on living with MS but that may not even be enough.  Patients today want reassurance that they have made the right choice when choosing an Rx and they want advice from others living with health problems on how to maintain a quality of life based on their terms.  That is where pharma fails and continues to fail.


Pharma websites should be a catalyst of information and discussions yet they continue to push out, DTC marketing dribble while magazines like DTC Perspectives reinforce their value.  Patients want and need more because they often feel alone when they re diagnosed with health issues and feel there is nobody that they can talk to.  Believe it or not, talking with others actually helps our anxiety over health issues.

DTC marketers will check off boxes that show they met their KRA’s but that’s doesn’t mean that their DTC marketing is effective. Marketing effectiveness starts with a satisfied customer, patient, who then is so happy they become a brand advocate via social media and word of mouth.  It means pharma websites answer ALL their questions and become a “go to source” for new information rather than medical DTC gibberish. I’m afraid we’re still a long way from that point…

One thought on “What is effective DTC marketing?

  1. Interesting write up. I think we have to go back to he basics. Each medium has its purpose. Social media was built on the premise of “socialization” not sales or dare i say directangular influence. As noted with the 41% affecting their healthcare choice how it effects them is dependant on who, where, and what they are interacting with.

    More interesting is the 62% no influence at all data point. We have to remember that social forums was never intended for promotional push, but for gatherings and sharing of stories and experiences. A direct question is not the best way to see influence as whether this same people realize it or not they are being influenced. They are researching sharing and being heard, whether they move forward on that action or not that’s an influence. This goes much deeper into the the behavioral economics of our consumers.

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