How can DTC be relevant again?

QUICK READ: DTC ads are getting worse. Throwing more money into a different bucket is not going to help. The market in which we advertise has changed dramatically in the last year. We need to be the light in the search for online health infirmation. Start earning trust by listening and talking and stop pushing.

Throwing money into digital DTC is not going to make it relevant. The environment in which we market has changed dramatically in the last year. It’s time to take a step back and look at DTC through an online health seekers POV.

First, let’s acknowledge a truism; nobody is going to see an ad and rin to their doctor to ask for the product. There are too many barriers between awareness and action such as the cost of copay while health insurance costs keep increasing. So the question then becomes “what can we do to ensure that DTC drives brand objectives”.

To better understand DTC ads we need to stop asking so many questions in research and develop an empathetic understanding of how people are making healthcare choices.

DRG will tell you that more and more people are going online for health information. The online experience of searching for health information is fraught with misinformation and outright lies. Even on social media one can see a lot of bad suggestions from other patients when it comes to selecting treatments. Therein lies a huge opportunity.

Pharma product websites have to be fluid. They consistently need new content that is driven by what online health seekers are looking for by listening to social media. The buzz around certain topics only lasts a short time before people read it and form opinions. It takes pharma way to long to get new content on their websites and by the time they do people have moved on.

Pharma websites need to be balanced as well. What do I mean? I mean they need to have as much or more information on living with chronic health conditions as product information. Wellness is growing and pharma needs to help clear the misinformation around whacky wellness claims.

We also need to stop throwing so much money into digital thinking it’s less expensive than TV. A good digital campaign has a lot of different messages tested by website and audience.

Let me also be clear about another huge lie. Anyone, who is good at PowerPoint, can show a correlation between DTC TV ads and new Rx’s. Hell, I could show a correlation between DTC and people who eat burgers! Trade magazines who make money by telling people that DTC works are lining their own pockets with these lies.

Finally, there is “one formula for effective DTC for all health conditions”. They are all their own micro-markets. What works for MS patients will not necessarily work for patients with diabetes. DTC marketers need an in-depth understanding of why patients chose their product and why others did not. Behavior mapping is a must and for goodness sakes stop moving people around within DTC marketing and hire people who have a broad consumer background.