SUMMARY: DTC message development and use is the most essential action to get patients interested in your product, but it can’t be based on unrealistic patient behavior modifications.
Yesterday I received a call from a physician who is a thought leader in the diabetes area. He had read my BLOG post from yesterday and wanted to add something that he thinks DTC marketers need to hear. “Don’t promise results that most patients will never see.” As we talked, he mentioned a diabetes product that promises to lower A1C, but in the fine print, it was noted that patients who had success lowering their A1C went on a strict diet and had nutritional counseling. The result, he said, was that patients who asked about the product became angry.
DTC marketers cannot pick out results from clinical trials without telling the “whole story.” If patients had counseling and went on strict diets, that needs to be communicated and not hidden with an asterisk that most people will not read.
Getting patients to change their behavior for 99% of health conditions is not going to happen. For example, new research suggests that at least five hours of moderate-intensity activity per week may prevent certain types of cancers related to the breast, colon, stomach, kidney, bladder, and esophagus. Exercise has been shown to address some causes of cancer, such as obesity and inflammation but does this mean people will listen?
Patients today want quick fixes to health issues, and if it means more exercise and changes to diet, most are not going to comply. If you promise something that requires modifications to patient behavior, there is an excellent chance it’s not going to work unless those changes are needed for life-threatening conditions.
DTC message development is critical, but it should also be based on realistic behavior expectations. Don’t promise something based on small print in the product label that nobody is going to read.