Why DTC isn’t, and is, marketing

CPG marketers are trying to maintain market share amid price increases and smaller product sizes, leading to a more significant jump in consumerism. But, in pharma marketing, the changes affect every product category.

Consumers share more information online than ever as inflation cuts into their disposable income. I’ve seen posts on everything from opinions on detergents to the best and more inexpensive ice cream. However, DTC marketing is different, much different.

DTC pharma marketers must acknowledge that people’s days of seeing a TV ad and running to their doctor to ask for the product are all but gone. While trust in the pharma industry got a bump because of COVID vaccines, confidence about new drugs remains mixed.

Pharma’s attempt to derail Medicare negotiations for drugs has received a lot of negative press while the industry makes a LOT of money. If DTC marketers don’t believe this affects their marketing, they’re delusional.

Time and time again, I’ve found, in research talking with patients, that they want a lot more information before they ask for a new drug. The search for that information usually occurs online, in groups, or person to person. Why? Because the content doesn’t answer their questions in a way that “talks to them.”

According to media headlines, I’ve been following the “buzz” around the new diabetes drugs that promise weight loss. While there is a segment that sees the drug as a “quick fix” to lose weight, others are skeptical and want to know more about side effects and costs. So far, the companies marketing this drug haven’t addressed these issues in a way that talks to them. They’re using label and FDA-friendly language, which isn’t what patients want to hear.

This is an excellent opportunity to have a thought leader write content that addresses these questions as if they were talking with a patient. They should talk about realistic expectations of using the drug and the need for improvements in diet and exercise rather than media headlines saying a patient lost 50 pounds on the drug. Instead, patients are going online and spreading inaccurate information. Some non-diabetics are even thinking of asking for the drug to help them lose weight.

So what’s the opportunity for DTC marketers?

1ne: Don’t use label language in your online content. Use language that talks to patients as a physician would talk to them. Become their online source of information and make it shareable.

2wo: Content shouldn’t be stagnant. This is especially true for drugs in the launch phase of their life cycle. Monitor social media and identify possible topics for new content.

3hree: Analyze your content for reading level. It’s as easy as copying the content from your website and pasting it into a Word document.

4our: Map, reanalyze, and update the path from awareness to getting an Rx to identify the most significant challenges where DTC marketing can be more effective.

5ive: Think of DTC marketing as a tool to help patients make more educated, informed choices and stop trying to sell them.

DTC pharma marketing is unlike other types of marketing but does have similarities. A good DTC marketer understands these challenges.