Do you have enough money to launch your drug?

LEAD IN: Pharma budgets are being scrutinized like never before, and DTC/HCP marketers must justify every dollar spent. I’m getting more requests to measure and justify spending for specific bucket tactics, and I believe once politicians get focused, they will scrutinize drug pricing and force negotiations with Medicare tightening internal expenditures even more.

Cutting through the noise is getting more challenging, and a “mass market” approach doesn’t work anymore unless you have a broad patient population. Here are some areas that are wasting your DTC budgets:

1ne: Paid Online Media – Digital spending is up. Digital advertising will account for 64.4% of total advertising in 2021, GroupM said, up from 60.5% of the total in 2020 and 52.1% in 2019 but what they’re not saying is that more than half of that digital spending is lost to fraud. I’m still seeing brands spend in the high six figures for SEO when online health seekers prefer organic search results. Rather than measure clicks, you should be measuring cost per targeted action.

2wo: Extending reach & frequency for TV – DTC marketer’s love affair with TV doesn’t make sense anymore. Once you have reached a certain level of awareness with your audience, your efforts need to be turned to key decision tree points (digital?).

3hree: Developing an HCP portal on your website – Too little is a bad reflection on your brand; too much is a waste of money. HCPs are using the web so take your message where THEY ARE and don’t make them come to you. Demand metrics that prove you’re reaching your targeted physicians.

Since metrics are essential, you should constantly be connected to your market research people. Raw numbers don’t mean a lot, so you need to focus on telling a story that supports your strategy. As a result of your online media buy, how many people came to your website and spent more than two minutes? Did our Medscape strategy succeed in reaching the high prescribing physicians, and what does that mean?

CPG marketers succeed at laser targeting new products, and DTC marketers need to do the same. The days of enormous product launch budgets are over unless a new mass-market product is introduced. You’re going to be spending a lot of time justifying your spending, and you need to push back on your agencies to get you good complex data that matters.

By the way, the marketing plan that you spent so much time on is a living document. It would help react to market challenges quickly, especially when they threaten your brand. One top-10 pharma company has created a “market launch metric” team to measure key launch milestones. As the manager told me, “we have to ensure we’re meeting the objectives and be ready to amend our plans as the market changes.”