What’s the future of DTC marketing?

QUICK READ: DTC is not going to go through a revolution it’s going to be evolutionary. Now is the time to get the right people in place and understand how people are going to verify your product claims.

I’m frankly amazed that some of the same old DTC commercials are airing but that’s what happens when you buy media time too far in advance and have to fill the spots to lose money.

Any DTC commercial whose product compromises a patient’s immune system should not be running now period. DTC TV ads have been in a funk for a long time. Too many DTC managers are fixing slides that show a correlation between DTC spots and new Rx’s. I can show a correlation between new Rx’s and sales of bottled water if I could massage the data.

DTC marketing is changing

The idea that someone is going to see a DTC TV ad and ask for the advertised product is myopic. I’ve been following search trends onGoogle and healthcare topics are all over the place. You would think that most would be COVID-19 related but I’m also seeing a lot of searches around medications and other health conditions like diabetes.

It’s time to move beyond TV and think about an online integrated strategy beyond paid search. Here are my top takeaways:

1ne: Your website needs to focus on a message that it’s important for patients to take care of their health in addition to safety measures against COVID-19. These messages need to be tested with your audience first and please don’t let heavy marketing messaging get in the way.

2wo: Launching a new product? TV still is beneficial but you need your market research people to measure awareness of your brand with your target audience and be ready to move online when awareness reaches a certain level.

3hree: Your website alone is not going to drive brand objectives. You need to be where people are going to fact check your product claims. You also need to monitor social media and be ready to respond, via your website, to concerns and wrong information about your product.

4our: EVERY pharma website should have a warning about COVID-19 safety precautions. Pharma can’t and shouldn’t stay out of the bad information circulating and warn people that going to the pool or crowded beach has risks. Every pharma product and corporate website should have a page dedicated to COVID-19 safety.

5ive: The key to successful DTC is going to be a decision tree analysis of what your audience is going to do when they are either newly diagnosed or if they become aware of your product. You need to be a key milestone decision points but if you “sell” too hard you’re going to lose effectiveness.

6ix: Digital is not meant to be stagnant. You need to keep optimizing your strategy and for goodness sakes please walk away from programmatic ads.

7even: It’s time to ramp your brand DTC digital team. One dedicated person is not enough. You need an analytics person, a content person among others because digital is THAT important now.

8ight: Online health seekers are going to continue to rise. There is a lot of mistrust of everything from the government to big business right now. Don’t fall into the trap and think people are going to suddenly feel good about pharma because they are working on a vaccine for COVID-19.

9ine: You need a dedicated content writer. Most copy on product websites sounds like a medical journal. Your content should be equivalent to a one-on-one conversation.

Finally teach patients the importance of working with their doctor when exploring treatment options. This is especially true if a patient is going to use telehealth to request a new Rx. It has to be done in a way that is both educational and doesn’t undercut a doctor’s knowledge.

DTC is not going to go through a revolution it’s going to be evolutionary. Now is the time to get the right people in place.