Big changes in DTC marketing warranted, but it comes with risk

KEY TAKEAWAY: Alexa’s monthly users have increased by 325 percent in 2017, equivalent to 2.8 million users. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] At the same time DRG reported that 1 in two people have gone online for health information.[/inlinetweet] The DTC playing field is changing, but can pharma marketers align their organizations to take risks?

If there is one thing the public is beginning to understand, when it comes to health care, its’s that they largely are going to have to become more self reliant. This represents a huge opportunity for pharma DTC marketers, but in order to get to the promised land they are going to have to blaze some new trails.

Most pharma marketers avoid risk at all costs.  Legal and regulatory people are great at redlining anything that pushes the envelope and might bring an FDA letter. As one pharma VP told me “the favorite word of our M L R team is no”.


“Healthcare’s undergoing unprecedented change,” GlaxoSmithKline US pharmaceuticals president Jack Bailey told Business Insider. “I think [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]the winners are going to be the ones who understand where it needs to go, hopefully, help contribute to thoughtful change, and drive some of the changes themselves.”[/inlinetweet]

The culture change..

The joke, that pharma marketers don’t get a cup of coffee without doing an ROI analysis on caffeinated versus decaffeinated is still true, but may not be relevant in an era where people have extremely low trust in what pharma has to say.

The biggest challenge for the outside digital marketers that some pharma companies have hired is going to be to get the organization to think more about customers and patients and less about doing things strictly based on the ROI.  In doing so, they need to convince executives that the health care marketing environment has changed and is still changing. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Pharma can’t wait at the airport for their ship to come in[/inlinetweet]; they have to be willing to take risks, yes, even get a letter from the FDA to reach people who want to have a bigger say in their health care treatments.

Those, like GSK< who foresee the winds of change and are being proactive are going to succeed.  Companies that see DTC marketing strictly as a “black and white” ROI tactic are going to lose.