Does pharma have the talent to crack new DTC marketing?

QUICK READ: It’s going to take a lot more than ads to get patients into their doctor to ask for prescription medication. Only a combined on and offline effort is going to work today and the message has to be so relevant and motivating that patients will risk going to their doctor to ask for the brand.

Most doctor’s offices are empty right now. Even immediate care clinics are cutting back their hours. There is a growing fear that too many people are skipping essential doctor visits for health issues that could become more serious over time. For DTC marketers, however, the challenge of getting patients to ask their doctor about an advertised prescription medication is going to become almost impossible.

Of course not ALL new prescriptions require a visit to the doctors office. Some can be prescribed via email or Telehealth calls but getting a patient to ask for a new Rx when there are so many barriers is going to require real marketing talent.

What can DTC marketers do?

1ne: The message for the brand has to be really compelling to get a patient to switch or ask for it. Don’t expect them to do any online research unless your message begs for more research.

2wo: Your website needs to reinforce the compelling message and help overcome other barriers like costs and making a trip to the drugstore. It should focus purely on product benefits as it relates to patients.

3hree: You need to reach HCP to educate them on the best patients for your medication so they can quickly qualify them via email or telehealth. You need to particularly focus on patient benefits and outcomes.

4our: Teach patients how to ask their doctor for your medication via email or telehealth. If a patient has done their research and understands the risks there is a good chance their doctor will prescribe the medication.

5ive: Get involved in social media. Listen to what patient groups are saying and get involved in the conversation. Yes, there is a risk but if you really believe your product is better than the competition it’s worth the risk.

6ix: TV just for new product awareness; multi-digital strategy for action. Right now is probably not the best time to be airing DTC spots for Rx medications that weaken someone’s immune system but these spots are still running and it’s a waste of money.

The current environment os going to test DTC marketer’s capabilities like never before. There isn’t anyone approach for every drug. It depends on the category and patient characteristics but right now people don’t want to visit drugstores or their doctors. The current DTC model is not going to work so you need to be creative and work with telehealth and email providers to get important information into patients’ hands.

Too many DTC marketers are afraid of social media and most pharma social media is being used for investors and is being followed by the media, not patients. For example MS patients are keenly aware of the new MS drug that was just approved by BMS and are looking for information on Twitter but it hasn’t launched yet so there is a lot of bad information being circulated.

The challenge of marketing to patients is going to derail a lot of DTC marketers and agencies. Those who act like nothing has changed are in trouble.