QUICK READ: DTC is going to be a bigger challenge now than ever before. You need to be able to quickly shift resources from one channel to another to increase your metrics. Be pearled to fail if you don’t listen and keep talking to your audience for feedback as well.
Marketing has changed because of the pandemic and nowhere has it changed more than in healthcare marketing. TV advertising for prescription drugs is going through a transition. The model of heavy up TV and a website is not relevant anymore.
As an example, a new oral drug to treat psoriasis is airing now. Among the side effects are the drug’s ability to lower your immune system. At a time when COVID-19 is running amok does anyone relate think that patients might want to compromise their immune system?
Then there are the “side effects” of TV ads. If anyone believes that someone is going to see a TV ad for a new drug and run to the doctor to ask for it they are more delusional than Trump.
Think that a patient can just email their doctor? Doctors and therapists all have emails, but many physicians are hesitant to allow patients to contact them via email. Sure, telehealth has increased but HCP’s are concerned about its use with some patients. As one doctor told me “I’m very hesitant to prescribe a new drug to a patient via email without talking to them in person”.
So what’s effective in DTC?
Think of DTC as an engine. When the engine is tuned and optimized it performs to its maximum but when one cylinder is not working it can degrade performance dramatically.
A lot of pharma companies have stopped qualitative research but we just held a session last week via Zoom. What surprised us was that individually, online, people were more willing to share their opinions.
Right now every DTC marketer should be charting the line from awareness to Rx to see where the greatest opportunities are and where patients are dropping out of the healthcare transaction model.
As many people are working from home the use of PCs has increased dramatically. That translates into more people doing health searches and your website is only a small piece of that puzzle.
Is all TV a waste of money? No, but if you conducted a BASES Nielsen simulated launch scenario you can optimize the mix to determine which buckets are going to lead to the greatest ROI. The challenge, after that, is to ensure that your market research people measure EACH bucket.
Your message needs to evolve over time
Sticking with one message, once you have reached an awareness goal, is a waste of time and effort. Return website visitors, for example, should see a different message than a unique visitor.
What I’m seeing is that online health seekers want to know “what’s in it for them” beyond efficacy. They read side effects and messages and apply it to their quality of life. Images of ordinary people, not stock art, can help plus you need short content that “talks to them like consumers” not patients.
Here’s an example. The Humira website reads and looks likes a doctor’s brochure. At this time in the life-cycle maybe a headline of “X number of people are using Humira to enjoy life” could be more effective than “How Humira Works”.
DTC is going to be a bigger challenge now than ever before. You need to be able to quickly shift resources from one channel to another to increase your metrics. Be pearled to fail if you don’t listen and keep talking to your audience for feedback as well.
DTC can work but TV, alone, is no longer the answer.