10 things DTC marketers should focus on in 2021

KEY TAKEAWAY: Consumer behavior has changed due to the pandemic, and DTC marketers should be aware of how consumers will evaluate and choose prescription drugs.

Many organizations have postponed market research due to the pandemic but knowledgeable DTC marketers should be aware of the progressive trends in healthcare. Here’s my list:

1ne: DTC should focus more on providing health information about advertised medications and less on “selling.” The overwhelming majority of consumers have become online health seekers, and DTC marketers need to help them cut through bad health information online. Become the “go-to” health site for new health information on the condition in which you compete.

2wo: To ignore telehealth is a huge error. Yes, the telehealth numbers are high, but they will level off when people feel safe to go back to their doctor. DTC marketers need to be ready to understand and help patients who request new medications via telehealth or email. This means an in-depth understanding of how HCP’s will react to a new medication request via email or telehealth and how to communicate full expectations to patients.

3hree: Don’t just market to potential patients; market to existing patients. The age of social media has proved that people like to share experiences around brands. A magazine called MS Connect from the MS society is a goldmine of information on how to live and fight MS. It’s a great example of communicating with a very targeted audience.

4our: Measure your reach and frequency on TV and set awareness goals. Running TV ads over and over because you bought media time is counterproductive. Know when to shift dollars to other channels.

5ive: Your website needs a content strategy. Enough is enough; please develop a relevant content strategy to help people navigate false and misleading health information.

6ix: Don’t measure each channel; measure all of your DTC as one integrated engine designed to help people chose your product.

7even: Every brand team should have an integrated digital marketing person. They should not rely on a “digital team” who meets with the brand to launch digital initiatives. Digital has the most influence in choosing a new medication.

8ight: If you need to validate every decision and tactic with research you’re already losing. Some decisions do require research but far too many others should be understood by every marketer.

9ine: Your digital and media agencies should integrate seamlessly with your brand team and should not be treated as just a vendor.

10en: Expect the media to be hostile towards pharma. Earn the trust of your customers through actions and empathy, not through some PowerPoint slides.

What scares me most is that DTC marketers will continue to market as though nothing has changed or that consumers have radically changed. People really want to get back to “normal, ” but what that new normal will be is up for debate. Change tends to be evolutionary, not revolutionary.