Is DTC marketing heading towards irrelevance ?

irrelevancePOST SUMMARY: Unless pharma marketers are willing to take risks and transform outdated business models and processes DTC marketing could be headed in the same direction as the dinosaur.   

I keep reading how more and more brands are transforming their organizations into digital marketing powerhouses, but once again Biopharma companies are far behind.  Rather than focus on what patients need and want to make healthcare decisions they are struggling with basic questions like “who should be responsible for product websites” or “how do we implement global emarketing strategies?”.  These are the discussions that should have taken place 5 years ago, but a newer version of musical chairs has taken place and rather than recruit people who have shown to be leaders they recruit people who “fit in” and move at a snails pace for fear of losing their status in the corporate hierarchy.


I know that there are some very smart and good people working within pharma, but it seems that more and more I am seeing LinkedIn updates that these people have left the industry or have gone to work as consultants or for an agency.  It seems that most biopharma companies are really great at weeding out people who put patients first with their actions rather than just say they “put patients first” while trying to be good little corporate politicians.

If I sound cynical please forgive me, but I could provide you with over a dozen examples of pharma companies whose action, or lack thereof, speak of their unwillingness to accept the fact that patients are hip to their “marketing scams”.  Product websites that have the earmarks of Web 1.0 with content that is great for putting people to sleep coupled with usability experiences that are unfriendly at best speak to the lag in pharma marketing.

In the end pharma’s lack of willingness to hire rebels and pirates is going to lead to a trip down the path towards more marketing irrelevance.  The people who have the courage to try and change the system are the ones that should be rewarded but today they are punished with 360 degree reviews via people who are afraid of change.