Can DTC marketers withstand the dreaded ROI storm?

man-withstanding-storm-w-umbrellaPOST SUMMARY: In 2014, Express Scripts knocked 48 branded drugs off of its formulary, and it upped this number to 66 for 2015. The model of high drug prices could be in trouble which could lead to more cuts in DTC marketing.

If there is a key learning in digital marketing in 2014 it’s that consumers are tired of being sold. For brands, future value in this new consumer culture means continual reinforcement of the brand’s commitment to its customers’ interests, values and beliefs. … When brands figure out how to give consumers what they need through their new brand systems in a transparent and meaningful way, they will win. Does this hold true for prescription drugs?  With more competition and consumers of healthcare I would argue yes it does.

DTC marketers are going to challenged to show that everything they do, on and offline, provides ROI.  While I understand this consumers and patients don’t want drug websites that sell them or emails inviting them to drug company sponsored dinners.  What they do want is help in navigating the world of online health information; they want health information that’s easy to understand and they want empathy from drug companies rather than a sales pitch.


When I meet with clients I have a presentation that shows that putting patients first actually increases ROI measurably. However a lot of clients are under enormous pressure to show ROI that they make bad decisions that actually decrease ROI.  That, in addition to the drain of talent, is hurting the pharma industry.

But Rich, we have to show ROI because we need patients!  OK, I understand that, but a big part of your job in the next year is to sell non-marketing people on how consumers and patients are making healthcare decisions.   That means becoming the go to brand when they have a health question..that means optimizing your website content rather than just putting up static vanilla content.

23 - Time For Change

Will DTC marketers have the courage to change their approach to marketing? That is a good question, but I believe too many are going to play it safe and then present at conferences to pat themselves on the back.

1 thought on “Can DTC marketers withstand the dreaded ROI storm?

  1. Spot on Rich. As the saying goes, you cant irritate people into liking you. Or respecting you for that matter. I would add that, in addition to values, pharma needs to communicate the value of their products and services to payers, providers, and patients. Our best products are life savers–that message needs to be sent loud and clear.

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