With budgets being cut will DTC evolve?

KEY TAKEAWAY: GSK and Novartis are just two pharma companies that have indicated they are cutting budgets at a time when healthcare is going through an enormous disruption.  Will these cuts limit DTC’s ability to evolve to meet the needs of the connected patients?

Novartis execs are rolling up their sleeves for another round of cost cuts. “Very significant” cost cuts, CEO Joe Jimenez tells the Financial Times, partly from the company’s ongoing overhaul in back-office operations–and partly from its sale-and-swap with GlaxoSmithKline which closed last week.

 It’s apparent that pharma CEO’s will do anything to meet the needs of Wall Street but it comes at a time when DTC marketers should be ramping up new ways to reach connected patients. I’ve already started to hear from clients who say “budget dollars are going to be tight”.

This all comes at a bad time. Continued research shows that TV ads for prescription drugs have little impact in driving new Rx’s and online marketing with most pharma companies is a mess.  This week, Ogilvy released a report showing that pharma was becoming more active in social media when people are losing trust of social media.  What the Ogilvy report didn’t mention is that a lot of pharma social media are followed by industry insiders and analysts instead of patients.

How can DTC evolve?

1ne: Focus on content that talks directly to people about the key benefits (quality of life) of products.

2wo: Integrate with disruptive health record companies like Apple.

3hree: Content should be less medical and focus more on a direct conversation with your target audience.

4our: People want to hear from other patients.  Use REAL patient images on websites and invest in patient testimonials.

5ive: Start thinking about growing channels like text messaging.

6ix: Guide people through the complex maze of our health care system.

7even: Help patients pay for medications beyond coupons.  Even people making a good living have a problem paying for expensive co-pays.

Finally, invest in digital marketing and your website.  If you’re not getting good metrics, like time on site and pages viewed you need a new approach.   

Those companies that invest in trying new things, even if they fail, are going to win .  Those that cut budgets will limit new ways to reach today’s wired patients.

 

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