It’s time to get back to basics in DTC marketing

LEAD-IN: “What is the reason to believe?”. It seems like a simple question, doesn’t it yet? In today’s micro-segmented audience environment, it’s often hard to come up with one reason that might resonate with everyone in your target audience.

I’ve noticed a trend that’s been emerging in the last couple of years. The messages that DTC marketers develop and usually tested, again and again, aren’t as effective as we thought they were. I decided to research why this is happening at a client’s request, and I found two reasons.

First, people have been putting off going. To their doctors for problems, follow-ups, and treatments because of the pandemic. This, in turn, has led to an increase in online health seekers. Second, I see that in most markets and health conditions, micro-segments have different needs from online health sites, including pharma product sites.

The other issue that is making DTC marketing more could be data overload and balancing ROI with online health seeker needs. Not surprisingly, ROI tends to win over what your audience needs and wants.

Every brand team should have at least three reasons to believe in DTC marketing and a list of which segments they appeal to. It’s easy on the Web to segment your audience by giving them different entry paths through your website, but it’s not easy on TV unless one segment has a huge slice of the pie.

Identifying each segment with a persona can help a lot. Each persona should have an easy-to-remember name like “David Denier” or “Tammy treater,” along with distinct characteristics for each. This can help your agency develop a more effective media strategy to reach each segment on and offline.

New DTC Directors are often overwhelmed with market research data that can confuse issues and make marketing a lot more complicated than it should be. In addition to message development by segment, it’s also necessary to ensure your message stays relevant as your product moves through the life-cycle and is challenged by competitors.

The ROI versus Patient Needs Battle

This is usually a sore sticking point for a lot of DTC people. I typically attack this with the following:

1ne: The most important metric of any pharma website is not visitors; it’s time and pages viewed, better known as engagement. If you don’t provide what online health seekers want to know, your bounce rate will be high and time on site minimal.

2wo: DTC today is not about “selling”; it’s about informing and giving them a reason to go through the maze of choices to asking for your medication. Repeat visitors to your website should not see the same page as first-time visitors.

3hree: Don’t ignore the negative buzz over pharma and politics. It’s been more active as pharma has been showering politicians with money to fight the government’s proposal to negotiate prices for Medicare. The good news, however, is that people believe in the drugs we develop. Talk to them instead of at them, embrace conversational content and show your audience that you care by providing them with content THEY want.

I have also found that when DTC marketers empathize with their audience and understand the complexity of online health and make treatment choices, their DTC performs better.

Marketers in all categories are overwhelmed with data, but marketing is NOT a science, and consumers often don’t make choices based on rational decisions. Get back to the basics.