Now that summer is unofficially over a lot of DTC marketers are going to be spending a lot of time and hours preparing their budgets for 2014. There will be the usual meetings and questions about where the dollars should be spent and some will rely on agencies to help them prepare arguments for certain tactics but before you open up that spreadsheet the first question you should be asking is “what has changed in the environment in which we market ?” and “what is likely to change ?”. Here are some of the things that we all need to consider for 2014..
(1) The shift to digital requires a lot of money to develop a digital marketing infrastructure – Sure you can hire an agency to execute your digital marketing but you really need to develop internal capabilities to understand what and why. Why for example would you allocate more money to paid search if your website is listed first in organic search ? Will a content strategy really drive more traffic and time on site and how can you measure that against brand objectives ? Having an agency partner is a great first step but you really need to understand every component of digital marketing as it applies to brand objectives or else you’re going to do nothing but make your agency a lot of money.
(2) The number one channel for building rapid awareness is TV – Despite all the talk about digital marketing TV is still number 1 for reaching a wide audience. However increased reach and frequency is not going to drive patients into their doctor to ask for an Rx. Once you build the awareness how are you going to get patients into your brand ?
(3) Employee wages are stagnant while most are paying more for health insurance – What will this mean in terms of patient behavior ?
(4) Insurers are going to continue the push for generic drugs and even new cancer drugs may be questioned because of high costs – Drug companies are buying small biotech companies because they believe they will be able to charge a hefty price for cancer treatments but I believe PBM managers are going to question cost vs. benefit against other less expensive options.
(5) Sure social media is still being talked about but the jury is still out as to its impact on DTC marketing – There is a difference between using social media for health like diet and exercise and to research health conditions and treatments. That is a huge unknown.
These are just some of the things DTC marketers need to think about for 2014. Above all marketing plans need to be flexible and markers should involve all their agencies while thinking about competitive gaming.