Creative Marketing: New Challenges, New Attitudes, New Tools

Contributed by:

Elisabeth Pena Villarroel

NOTE: The content below contains the first few paragraphs of the printed article and the titles of the sidebars and boxes, if applicable.

To meet the challenges presented by a number of converging factors that are impacting the status quo, marketers are turning to a vast array of tools. Experts view specialized direct-to-patient communications as the wave of pharma marketing’s future. Programs that include focused messages to targeted groups are expected to receive increased funding in 2006 and beyond as attitudes toward traditional DTC evolve. It’s no surprise that the hot tools in the marketer’s Toolbox are mostly patient focused instead of broader, mass-marketing approaches. By Elisabeth Pena Villarroel May 2006 Forum PharmaVOICE Thought Leaders Magid M. Abraham, Ph.D. President, CEO, and Cofounder, comScore Networks Inc., Reston, Va.; comScore is a global information provider and consultancy that offers consumer behavior insights that drive successful marketing, sales, and trading strategies. For more information, visit Glenn Byrd. Director of Regulatory Affairs, PDL BioPharma Inc., Fremont, Calif.; PDL BioPharma is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing innovative therapies for severe or life- threatening illnesses. For more information, visit Mr. Byrd also is Program Cochair, Drug Information Association (DIA) 18th Annual Workshop on “Marketing Pharmaceuticals in a Time of Change.” (Editor’s note: The DIA is a neutral, nonlobbying organization that provides a forum for industry professionals, researchers, academics, and regulators to discuss diverse perspectives and, therefore, does not advance any one position. Mr. Byrd’s responses are based on his personal and professional experience.) Nick Colucci. President and Chief Operating Officer, Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, New York; Publicis Healthcare delivers a full range of services, leveraging the strength and experience of the specialized companies within the Publicis Groupe. For more information, visit Jere Doyle. President and CEO, Prospectiv, Woburn, Mass.; Prospectiv provides customer acquisition, e-mail marketing, and data- analytics solutions to leading consumer brand marketers. For more information, visit Doug Drbal. Director, Corporate Accounts, U.S. Companion Animal Division, Pfizer Animal Health, Pfizer Inc., Belle Mead, N.J.; Pfizer discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets leading prescription medicines for humans and animals as well as many of the world’s best-known consumer brands. For more information, visit Adam Galloway. VP, Sales/Pharmaceuticals, GPI Anatomicals, Lake Bluff, Ill.; GPI Anatomicals manufactures anatomical models for pharmaceutical companies. For more information, visit Larry Iaquinto. President, Interlink Healthcare Communications, Lawrenceville, N.J.; Interlink is a full-service healthcare advertising and medical- education company. For more information, visit Ken Johnson. Senior VP, The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Washington, D.C.; PhRMA represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. For more information, visit David Kweskin. Senior VP, Practice Area Leader, TNS Advertising and Brand Performance, TNS Healthcare, Teaneck, N.J.; TNS Healthcare, which is part of TNS, provides globally consistent solutions and custom advisory services to support product introductions; brand, treatment, and sales performance optimization; as well as professional and DTC promotional tracking. For more information, visit Lawrence Liberti. General Manager, Astrolabe Analytica Inc. (AAI)/Pharmaceutical Information Associates Ltd. (PIA), Thomson Scientific, Philadelphia; Thomson Scientific is a unit of Thomson Corp., which provides value-added information with software tools and applications that help its customers make better decisions faster. For more information, visit Renee Mellas. Partner/General Manager, Wishbone, New York; Wishbone is an independent, full-service healthcare advertising agency. For more information, visit Terry Nugent. VP, Marketing, Medical Marketing Service Inc., Wood Dale, Ill.; MMS is a supplier of lists and direct-marketing services. For more information, visit Suzanne Ross. Chief Marketing Officer, CorSolutions, Rosemont, Ill.; CorSolutions, a Matria Healthcare company, provides health enhancement solutions across the healthcare continuum. For more information, visit Andrew Schirmer. Managing Director, McCann HumanCare, New York; McCann HumanCare, a unit of McCann Worldgroup, is a healthcare advertising agency that helps the makers of prescription and OTC brands communicate directly to the patient/consumer audience. For more information, visit Rajesh Singh. VP and General Manager, Formedic Communications Ltd., Somerset, N.J.; Formedic provides customized, professional medical forms to more than 175,000 physicians. For more information, visit Jeff Summers. Senior VP, Marketing, The Savo Group, Chicago; The Savo Group is a provider of enterprise sales enablement solutions. For more information, visit Ray Thibodeau. VP, Executive Publisher, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia; LWW is a unit of Wolters Kluwer Health, a group of information companies offering publications and software for physicians, nurses, students, and specialized clinicians. For more information, visit Tracy Tsuetaki. President, Quintiles Medical Communications and Consulting, Research Triangle Park, N.C.; Quintiles Medical Communications, a unit of Quintiles Transnational Corp., develops and implements programs that help customers improve patient outcomes and maximize product success. For more information, visit Marketing Trends — 2006 45% of respondents of an online survey about pharmaceutical trends believe cuts in DTC ad spending are somewhat likely, while 13% believe such cuts are highly likely. 38% believe a decrease in DTC TV advertising is somewhat likely and 18% believe it is highly likely. 43% say an increase in nonbranded disease awareness advertising is somewhat likely and 28% say it’s highly likely. An increase in DTC regulation by the FDA is expected by 65% (somewhat likely, 38%, and highly likely, 27%). A decrease in brand differentiation is thought to be somewhat likely by 36% and highly likely by 7%. Note: Survey results represent 89 respondents from marketing agencies or consultants (32.6%), pharmaceutical manufacturers/biotech companies (22.5%), market research companies or consultants (12.4%), advertising agencies (10.1%), academia (2.2%), publishers (1.1%), and others (19.1%). Source: Pharma Marketing News, Newtown, Pa. For more information, visit Marketing Amid Challenges Although the pharma industry’s tarnished image has taken a toll on all areas of business, marketing is the public face of the industry, and the tools and tactics to spread the message are being intensely scrutinized. Industry experts discuss their most pressing challenges in 2006 and their plans of action. Byrd. The main marketing challenge for the medical product industry is coordinating and educating internal staff to make sure all departments know what the rules and regulations are related to the advertising/promotion of drugs, biologics, and medical devices. This means making sure that corporate communications, medical information, marketing, and sales are in tune and understanding the issues and the boundaries. Iaquinto. One of the challenges is to help clients align marketing efficiencies with salesforce execution. PhRMA and OIG guidelines have taken away some traditional marketing and sales tools. Because there is now a smaller toolbox, improving productivity through execution is even more critical. It’s important that marketing tools are integrated with the salesforce’s efforts. There is no reason to have a salesforce deliver a message that is not integrated with other campaign elements. Tsuetaki. In 2006, the biggest challenge for pharmaceutical marketers is identifying the right marketing mix in an increasingly scrutinized and competitive environment. There are more regulatory pressures and heightened concerns regarding marketing practices. These factors — combined with a narrowing of the market where most new products on the horizon are either specialty products or face same-class rivals — pose significant challenges for marketers. Product positioning and differentiation remain important, but marketers should make sure the science — the evidence — drives their marketing strategies. To effectively reach physicians, for example, marketers have to know the language of every specialty they serve. They need to know the levers that impact physician decision-making or motivate physicians. They need to know what issues in the medical literature catch their attention. Marketers can’t communicate with endocrinologists the same way they do with cardiologists. Ultimately, marketers have to give doctors the evidence they need, in the language and manner they are comfortable with, so they can make the right choices about products and treatments. Mellas. First and foremost, the biggest challenge for marketers right now is the regulatory environment. Because of the issues stemming from Vioxx and pressure from the FDA and DDMAC, it is more challenging than ever to be aggressive with promotion. This environment calls for greater innovation and creativity, which requires more than just coming up with big ideas. It is essential to have the clinical support to back up your claims. Schirmer. The level of scrutiny from all stakeholders on what we do as marketers has never been higher. This scrutiny retards risk taking, which is usually what creates the biggest breakthroughs in communications and advertising. As advertising professionals, we need to think about absolutely everything we do with a heightened sense of responsibility. Colucci. Credibility is the primary challenge the industry is facing. Almost all of the press about the industry is unflattering; 99.5% of all product information we pass on is positive, forthright, and well-balanced. The other 0.5% gets 99.5% of the press. This environment makes it very hard to get our messages heard, and it makes it difficult to be thought of as a credible source. Our organization is working with the Coalition for Healthcare Communication, which represents the industry and its communications organizations and works to help legislators and the media better understand pharmaceutical products, companies, and their communications. Johnson. The PhRMA Guiding Principles on Direct to Consumer Advertising About Prescription Medicines and the PhRMA Code on Interactions with Health Care Professionals demonstrate PhRMA member companies’ commitment to responsible marketing to healthcare professionals and consumers. Whatever challenges companies face in 2006, we are confident that they will continue to focus on patient and provider education throughout their marketing activities. Thibodeau. As a publisher, a substantial amount of revenue comes from journal advertising. My biggest concern is that pharmaceutical companies are operating in a hostile environment. There is tremendous pressure on them. Product pipelines are flat for late-stage development, and about $20 billion worth of product is scheduled to go off patent this year. The Changing Face of DTC Public and regulatory scrutiny on marketing’s most visible tool, DTC, has marketers rethinking their approaches to this communication channel. Schirmer. The industry has shifted its approach to DTC. Now there is an explosion of docs in lab coats in TV commercials. This is a swing away from fun and entertaining DTC communications. We know that entertainment is a good way into consumers’ hearts and minds, but now showing a doctor is viewed as being responsible. Companies, such as Pfizer, have stated publicly that they are going to increase the amount of disease-awareness advertising they do, and quite frankly some of those communications are going to be less effective in terms of selling products. But in some cases and categories, with the right CRM program attached, an unbranded campaign can be as effective. Even as unbranded work will continue, there are also many brands that are continuing to find success in branded work but may be moving into more targeted spaces such as cable, spot buys, or even geographic work. The money is not going away; it’s just moving around. Byrd. I am not sure the entire industry knows how significant the current anti-DTC sentiment is. Some companies are reacting to the change in the environment by increasing their disease-awareness communications and talking publicly about educating their target audiences about the disease separately from their products. For some in industry, part of the motivation for this effort is to improve the overall image of the industry. Some companies have made a concerted effort to improve their images, partly by reaching out to consumers strictly through disease-related educational materials. It certainly follows that if companies are making this shift some of their marketing dollars are shifting too. Tsuetaki. The current sentiment around DTC advertising has produced more demand for medical education and communications. The PhRMA DTC Guiding Principles call for more physician education before DTC campaigns for new drugs are launched. The industry already is reacting. Bristol-Myers Squibb, for example, announced a moratorium on DTC ads for the first 12 months after product approval. The pharma industry has heard the concerns and recognized that physicians don’t want to be surprised by their patients asking for a drug they saw on TV. Doctors want accurate, data-driven information so they can make evidence-based decisions about the therapies they prescribe. Medical education that is grounded in science gives this information to them. Iaquinto. The fall out from DTC advertising was self-inflicted. There are some excellent DTC programs, yet there continue to be a significant number that are bad for the industry and just poorly executed. Being an informed consumer is part of our culture. In my parent’s day, what the physician said was gospel. That paradigm is being challenged by today’s consumer, and it should be. Good DTC can continue to play a role to inform consumers in a highly ethical manner and to provide information to them that is specific to them. Customization of information will be the key improvement in this area. TV is not a customized media channel. Linking a well-informed and motivated consumer to a well-informed and motivated physician will result in the best healthcare possible to all parties. Thibodeau. The negative perception toward DTC depends on who one is asking. The FDA has called for comments, but no definitive opinion has been issued either way, at least for now. I think that DTC budgets may not grow at the same pace as before and that the media types may shift around. The bottom line is that I doubt that prior approvals for DTC will be reversed. We have done several different focus groups that indicate that physicians think direct to patient is a good thing and that it encourages patient/provider discussions. DTC is not going to go away, but it is being tempered and is moving toward an educational venue versus one that is strictly promotional. DTP communications fit this educational strategy a bit closer. Several society publishers happen to believe that patient education is a service to members and to patients if the messages are controlled, reviewed, and based on scientific evidence. Colucci. Consumer communications have become a lightening rod for negative press; but if we look past the headlines, the questions are circling more around whether enough information is being relayed to the physician and consumer audiences. Communications to consumers are a relatively small percentage of the industry’s communications efforts to its entire audience. The real issue is whether all of the information that is available is being disseminated to the target audiences. Tsuetaki. Many new drugs and those on the horizon are specialty products and not primary-care drugs that can be marketed to the masses. It doesn’t make sense to communicate the benefits of a specialized drug to a broad patient audience. For example, communicating the features and benefits of a new antithrombotic regimen for use in coronary stenting is clearly best done by communicating directly with the cardiovascular specialist, not the patient. The reality is that communicating with thousands of consumers may not be the most cost-effective way to disseminate messages, especially if the likely prescriber can be reached first. Physician education can be very powerful. Reaching just one doctor can mean reaching hundreds of patients. Johnson. Each PhRMA member company must decide for itself whether and how it will execute DTC campaigns, and PhRMA does not get involved in those decisions. PhRMA does believe that DTC is one important tool for informing patients, and we hope that those who have criticized DTC will give the new principles a chance to work. The principles, which went into effect in January 2006, encourage companies to sponsor disease and health-awareness ads as another way to educate patients. Mellas. There is a trend toward more unbranded educational ads. The bar has been raised in terms of higher expectations and more stringent regulations, and there is going to be more scrutiny over each spot. In terms of what type of DTC campaign is most appropriate for a brand, it really depends on the category and the position of the brand. For example, if a product is the leader in a category, it makes sense to do an unbranded spot because if the overall market grows, the brand leader reaps the rewards. For a brand that is not in a leadership position, unbranded campaigns don’t make as much sense. In those cases, I think the DTC spend may be redirected into another channel, such as direct to patient. A Shift in Direction Current DTC campaigns are reflecting a more cautious stance toward the medium and a shifting focus to patient education-based messages. Byrd. From an FDA perspective, the agency has publicly stated that it is very encouraged by the current change in direction of some DTC ads, and there has been an increase in DTC disease-awareness campaigns. The FDA really applauds this change in direction because promoting the public health is its mission. Disease-awareness messages can be very powerful educational tools if industry does them the correct way. Companies have to be very careful with these educational campaigns to ensure the messages are purely educational and not promotional to a particular product or class of products. Schirmer. There are many tools in the creative team’s toolbox to engage people; and if we don’t engage healthcare patients, we won’t get our message to them, and we won’t be able to help them. We have to be careful we don’t embrace artificial restrictions, for example moving completely away from promotion that is deemed “entertainment” purely because we’re concerned about sounding irresponsible. This new category of physicians speaking to the audience on TV will eventually phase out because patients will ignore the spots. Colucci. These new types of consumer and unbranded ads are a fair reaction to the criticism that there wasn’t enough information about the disease state or the product being relayed. As an industry, we are beginning to understand our audiences better and, therefore, are tailoring messages in a more effective manner. There is no official regulation or statute that is geared specifically toward consumer advertising. The brief summary that was devised for professional communications in advertising was adapted for the consumer venue, and we are beginning to realize that this doesn’t work. The regulatory bodies should be evaluating a more effective way to provide, or ensure, that the general public has a more appropriate discussion about fair balance. Iaquinto. The basic challenge, and one that is easily resolved, is providing each consumer with the information he or she needs. This is better suited through a CRM model than broad-reach media, such as TV or radio. There is an art and a science to providing this information. The science is relative to the channels; the art is apparent in how the communications connect with the consumer. Recently, we’ve lost a little on the art side in our haste to broadcast. Tsuetaki. DTC ads will continue to take on a more educational tone, but unbranded disease education through broad consumer campaigns is only an effective marketing tool if you have the “perfect storm” of circumstances. The drug has to be for a common condition, such as asthma or diabetes. It has to offer something different from other therapies, and it has to be the physician’s first choice. The value of branding is hard to deny, and it will still be an influence on the marketing spend. The more public-health oriented DTC ads are, the happier consumers, doctors, and the government will be, and the better off the industry will be image-wise. DTC focusing on patient adherence to prescribed treatment regimens will become more prevalent. Companies recognize that more than 50% of patients don’t take their medicines as prescribed. That’s a public-health issue, and it represents lost sales. Catching on to the Consumer-to-Consumer Trend Pharma marketers are cautiously observing the consumer-to-consumer communications trend that has taken hold in other industries. They are learning lessons about who consumers trust and the channels — blogs, online discussion groups, and Websites — through which they prefer to communicate. Tsuetaki. Working with patient-advocacy groups to ensure that they have the right information to share with their constituencies is a good way to contribute appropriately to the consumer-to-consumer dialogue. These groups are a credible, independent source for patients and physicians and a safe buffer between the companies and the free-flowing discussions found on the Internet. Byrd. Blogs are becoming more commonplace, and these online postings pose some dangers for pharma marketers. If industry provides a forum, for example, or oversees the content of these discussion areas the perception is that the information is not objective. And if industry sponsors the content, from the FDA’s perspective, this would be considered promotional. There are some dangers in the consumer-to-consumer information sharing area that industry has to be very, very careful to avoid. At the same time, just as marketers perform focus groups and other market-research activities, these channels could provide valuable information for industry. In focus groups there is more control over the specific questions that are asked to generate certain feedback; but if the objective is to try to gauge what public perceptions are, monitoring these areas is wise. Colucci. Marketers need to pay close attention to consumer-to-consumer marketing trends, especially because part of the message is inherent to human nature; some of the most trusted sources of information about anything are friends or peers. The Internet has made access to peer groups much broader, and the industry has to pay closer attention to monitoring the medium and understanding the types of conversations that are happening and why these sources are deemed more credible than information coming from the manufacturer or even the healthcare professional. Also the industry needs to focus on the advocacy groups that represent the larger body of individuals who are suffering from different disease states. By working more closely with those advocacy groups, the industry will gain a better understanding of the needs and desires of the groups in general, and the advocacy groups will gain a better understanding of the pharma industry. Mellas. We are operating in a totally different age now, and it is important that we recognize these new communication media, not necessarily as a venue to advertise but as a way to gain insights. We can tap into consumer-to-consumer channels from a research perspective, which could keep us in constant contact with honest, uncensored feedback. Right now we spend a great deal of time and money on market research, but often the environment is artificial and the questions, which are intended to be objective, are often loaded. Creativity Wins Despite the challenges and emerging communications channels, successful marketing always requires creativity. Experts interviewed for this Forum discuss the creative tactics and strategies expected to come out on top in the future. Tsuetaki. Creativity goes beyond visual elements — the videos, graphics, or the multimedia show. It extends to insights into the science, coming up with unique and effective ways to communicate the relevance of molecules, mechanisms of action, and safety and efficacy to targeted physician audiences. These are the types of creativity and insights that customers want beyond the style and look of the slide kit or another medium in which this information may be communicated. While payers and patients are increasingly influencing prescription decisions, the physician is still a key customer, and physicians need compelling evidence before trying a new product. Just as marketers have become more sophisticated in the last 20 years, so have the physicians. Part of this increased sophistication relates to an audience that has become specialized in nature. What determines which marketing mechanisms are winners or losers goes back to the products themselves. If the science and evidence support a product’s use and if this information is conveyed to the right audience in the right way, marketers will find success. Mellas. Successful creative is all about what helps move the brand. It is not necessarily what makes the best ad. At the end of the day, it is not about creative awards; it is about ROI and what helps build the brand. What an account person might showcase as a creative success story may not be what an art director would feature in his or her portfolio. Thibodeau. The differences and advantages between DTC advertising and specific patient population communications or DTP need to be clearly defined. The question of the return on investment for DTC is still to be determined; no one yet has a great answer. We believe there are more opportunities and a better return on investment for direct to patient versus DTC. Iaquinto. The winners in the new environment will be able to find the essence of a brand and how it relates to the customer and be able to develop advertising that taps that connection. The winners will be able to create a marketing platform that effectively blends personal and nonpersonal tools to physicians and consumers that is consistent with that platform. The winners will be able to execute brilliantly and will be constantly measuring where they are in terms of the ROI and make a course correction if expectations are not being achieved. Schirmer. The hot topics today relate to the end of TV as a communications medium and the massive fractionalization of media channels. The core audience of pharma consumers that I have been talking to for the past 20 years is primarily made up of a 50-plus demographic. Although this group continues to use the Internet at rates that alarm most people in the industry, the baby-boomer audience didn’t grow up with all these media communications options and doesn’t mind network television and commercials. So while we will continue as a company to find a multitude of ways to engage consumers, three to five years from now I think we will still be driving awareness through television and print and secondarily through those other media. Colucci. Advocacy communications will be one of the hottest marketing trends. One could make an argument that marketers need to be more creative when speaking to these groups. The real shift in creativity will center on how to take volumes of complex information about disease states and mechanisms of action and present them in a compelling, complete, yet concise manner. We always want to get people’s attention, hold their attention, and leave them with something memorable. PharmaVOICE welcomes comments about this article. E-mail us at Glenn Byrd PDL BioPharma The main marketing challenge for the medical product industry is coordinating and educating internal staff to make sure all departments know what the rules and regulations are related to the advertising/promotion of drugs, biologics, and medical devices. Marketing toolbox Andrew Schirmer McCann HumanCare Online marketing is going to evolve from Websites that have the same information as brochures to an environment that is linked with home health-monitoring equipment, primary- and secondary-care providers, managed care or insurance partners, and a trusted online healthcare resource. Larry Iaquinto Interlink Healthcare Communications The biggest challenge related to healthcare is the education of physicians. With the seventh leading cause of death being misdiagnosis and mistreatment, the continuing medical education of the healthcare community will place a significant challenge on the system. Ken Johnson PhRMA Whatever challenges companies face in 2006, we are confident that they will continue to focus on patient and provider education throughout their marketing activities. Renee Mellas Wishbone There is going to be an increase in investment in direct-to-patient communications for the waiting room and the exam room, where patients are a captive audience. This environment is similar to point-of-purchase advertising in the consumer arena. Nick Colucci Publicis Healthcare Communications Group Communications with, by, to, and around advocacy groups may be one of the biggest and hottest marketing trends. Sound Bites from the Field PharmaVOICE asked pharmaceutical marketers if it’s possible to create brand loyalty with the convergence of more generic competition and the price-sensitive environment of Medicare Part D. PharmaVOICE also asked what it takes for a brand to stand out in a market that is leaning toward personalization of messages and away from DTC and mass-media communications. Converging Forces Jay Carter is Senior VP, Director of Client Services, AbelsonTaylor Inc., Chicago, an independent healthcare advertising agency. For more information, visit “Brand loyalty isn’t created; it’s earned, initially by addressing unmet medical needs. The ability to address these needs is one of the reasons that brands such as Prozac, Prilosec, and Rituxan — true ‘first-in-class’ brands — are considered ground-breaking treatments. Our industry continually seeks to improve upon itself. Pharma marketers can enhance brand loyalty by being true to the benefits the brand offers the customer. Using an example from consumer marketing, while Toyota cannot price itself like a BMW, it can and does command a 16% price premium over a competitive Hyundai brand; this is done mostly by reinforcing the Toyota brand throughout all of its communications and interactions with its customers. Like Toyota, we in the pharma industry must clearly articulate the essence of a pharmaceutical brand — its key benefits and advantages — and then communicate these advantages in everything we do.” Mark Perlotto is Executive VP, Chief Marketing Officer, of Adair-Greene Healthcare Communications, an Atlanta-based healthcare agency, which offers a full range of promotion and advertising services for pharmaceutical, biotech, and device manufacturers nationwide. For more information, visit “Marketers of marginally distinctive products will have the toughest road in this environment. They may have to write off segments of their potential market whose decision drivers (e.g., price-dominant choosers) or third-party control (e.g., Medicare Part D exclusion) impair their ability to maintain margins and support brand building. All marketers will have to make tough choices with respect to which customers represent the targets that best foster brand loyalty. Marketing success may require marketers to focus on market segments whose customers appreciate brand differentiation and are unwilling to compromise performance for price.” Standing Out From the Crowd Jackie Herr is CEO of Ignite Health, Irvine, Calif., a healthcare advertising agency with a strong patient-centric focus that uses the latest technologies to help marketers expand their reach and accessibility to those living with chronic diseases and the people who care for them. For more information, visit “The best way to make sure a company’s name and/or brand stands out in today’s healthcare marketing environment is through a comprehensive, integrated program of both traditional and nontraditional media that has the patients’ best interests at heart. To be most effective, marketers must make each person’s experience both personal and private. This means speaking directly to the needs and concerns of these patients and providing the information they need, when, where, and how they want it. Marketers also need to allow patients the ability to access and control their own communication experience through comprehensive, easily accessible data about the disease state and the brand’s relationship to the condition. And they need to be sure that the experience centers on the patient — not the brand — which will, in turn, generate greater credibility and trust. Finally, marketers should make patients’ experiences actionable, so people can get the facts they need to ask the right questions and talk to their healthcare providers, family members, and caregivers and get more appropriate treatment and support.” Kristin Keller is VP of Client Services for Compass Healthcare Communications, Princeton, N.J., a full-service online marketing agency focused exclusively on brands in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry. For more information, visit “Pharmaceutical marketers must respond to the specific needs of each target audience. Brands that stand out will be those that best meet the growing information and support needs of each audience. Marketers must continue to evolve their messaging from promotional to educational. Successful brands will be those that deliver messages in the way targets want to receive information. This will include customizing communications and language for each user by medium — mail, online, and personal contact. This can be taken a step further by leveraging the interactive capabilities of online communications to ‘show’ as well as ‘tell.'” Marketing Meetings In this changing landscape, marketers need to keep abreast of the trends and regulations impacting this arena. In addition to the events listed on the PharmaVOICE Industry Events calendar in print and online, below are several annual events where marketers can hone their skills. Drug Information Association Annual Meeting — June 18-22, Philadelphia “Locating this year’s meeting in the center of the Eastern U.S. pharmaceutical industry corridor makes it convenient for industry, regulatory, and academic participants to attend, which makes the annual meeting a great networking and marketing opportunity for all attendees,” says Lisa Zoks, DIA Worldwide Director of Marketing and Communications, Drug Information Association. For more information, visit The DIA Annual Meeting addresses issues that directly impact the marketing of pharmaceuticals. Twenty-four sessions specifically address hot marketing topics, with an emphasis on regulatory affairs and pharmacovigilance. Overall, the meeting’s 29 content tracks will enable marketing professionals to increase their knowledge of the clinical-trial industry and provide opportunities for them to extend their success as marketing professionals in this industry. Healthcare Marketing and Communications Council, Annual Development Conference — October 12-13 “Since HMC is a nonprofit organization founded 71 years ago with the single mission of providing professional education, the conference meets the needs of participants, giving them unbiased information and job-specific applications,” says Marie Mickey, Principal, The Avery Group LLC; and Board Member, Healthcare Marketing and Communications Council. In 2004, the Healthcare Marketing and Communications Council (HMC) launched its first Annual Development Conference with the goal of extending access to its professional development resources for pharmaceutical marketers; advertising account managers; medical-education professionals; medical publishers; and medical public-relations specialists. Integrated Relationship Marketing for the Pharmaceutical Industry — February 2007, Philadelphia “The event has received high praise from industry executives on the success stories highlighted and the networking opportunities available,” says Bryon Main, Managing Director, Conference Development, ExL Pharma. For more information, visit To maximize the opportunity for one-to-one contact with customers, the development of personalized marketing strategies that enhance relationships with consumers and physicians is critical to success. The Integrated Relationship Marketing for the Pharmaceutical Industry conference has guided marketing and e-business executives to overcome the lack of fluidity between their online and offline marketing channels, a key component to developing valuable relationships with both customer segments. Pharmaceutical Marketing & Sales Summit — spring 2007 “The two-day meeting features six focused tracks, and attendees are able to tailor the sessions to meet their individual needs,” says Seth Fritts, Production Director, Life Sciences Division, Strategic Research Institute. For more information, visit The annual Pharmaceutical Marketing & Sales Summit, developed by pharma for pharma, provides an excellent opportunity to learn cutting-edge marketing strategies while networking with industry leaders. The two-day meeting, which was designed to provide the entire marketing and sales team a chance to learn about a broad variety of topics, features six focused tracks that will encourage a dialogue between the speakers and the attendees to provide a take-away message to better leverage a company’s marketing and sales dollars. Attendees are able to tailor the sessions to meet their individual needs. Pharmaceutical Marketing Compliance Congress — January 29-30, 2007, Washington, D.C. “The 2007 Congress will once again offer insights from more than 50 opinion leaders on how to safeguard against the risk associated with noncompliance,” says Jackie Harrington, Team Leader, Pharmaceutical Marketing and Medical Affairs, The Center for Business Intelligence. For more information, visit As the industry continues to be scrutinized, it is mission critical for pharmaceutical companies to comprehend the complex regulatory and legal issues impacting their marketing efforts. The annual Pharmaceutical Marketing Compliance Congress provides a single platform for information sharing and networking with industry peers and advisors. The 2007 Congress will once again offer insights from more than 50 opinion leaders on how to safeguard against the risk associated with noncompliance. Unique features of the 2007 event include a number of market-driven workshops, tracked programming, and an exclusive, closed-door summit for chief compliance officers. Tracy Tsuetaki Quintiles Medical Communications and Consulting Maximizing the market for a drug in today’s environment hinges on a tailored strategy that determines what’s appropriate for a particular drug: the right audiences, the right vehicles, and the right messages. Ray Thibodeau Lippincott Williams & Wilkins In the direct-to-patient space, many companies clearly recognize that educating patients and driving patient awareness is a win-win for everyone. Tools of the Trade To better communicate a brand’s message, pharmaceutical companies are turning to a vast array of patient-based marketing tools to supplement more traditional marketing tactics. The following examples represent a variety of tactics in the marketer’s toolbox. Direct-to-Patient Marketing — Anatomical Models “By physically holding anatomically correct models, patients get a better sense of what their problems are, which is an important key to improving patient understanding,” says Adam Galloway, VP, Sales/Pharmaceuticals, GPI Anatomicals. Anatomical models allow doctors to physically demonstrate and explain a patient’s condition and show the patient the consequences of not taking a prescribed medication. The most important aspect of anatomical model marketing is making sure the model is anatomically accurate. “Doctors are going to want to use the model as a tool to demonstrate certain pathologies to their patients; if the model is not accurate then the patient won’t fully understand what the doctor is trying to communicate,” says Adam Galloway, VP, Sales/Pharmaceuticals, GPI Anatomicals. According to Doug Drbal, director of corporate accounts, U.S. Companion Animal Division, at Pfizer Animal Health, other marketing efforts do not leave the same impression as a model. “Traditional marketing spends on radio, print, and TV advertising do not have the closing impact of an anatomical model,” he says. “In addition to the strong visual impact, branding the models allows a veterinarian and Pfizer to have a lasting impression in the consumer’s mind.” Direct-to-Patient Marketing — Patient-Record Forms “Patient-record forms allow companies to reach patients with targeted messages directly before the interaction with the physician,” says Rajesh Singh, VP and General Manager, Formedic Communications. Patient-registration forms are a direct-to-patient communication medium provided to a patient at a physician’s office. These forms are formatted for patients to provide health insurance information and patient history. The four-page format allows marketers the opportunity to reach patients with their message on their product or related therapy on a full page and in vivid color. Reaching patients with targeted messages directly before their interaction with the physician, a time when the patient is most receptive to messages concerning their health, is an effective use of DTP targeting. “Among others, a marketing tactic that works very well on these forms is a symptom-score approach where the patient is provided with four or five questions and receives a score that indicates whether he or she should discuss the advertised product with the physician,” says Raj Singh, VP and general manager at Formedic Communications. Mr. Singh says when the patients’ attention is focused on health, they are more amenable to product messages that may impact them or someone they know, and there is no better time for reaching them in this state of mind than just before an appointment with the physician. With regard to the physicians, it gives them an opportunity to discuss the product at length in relation to the patients’ condition. Direct-to-physician Marketing — E-mail Lists “It would behoove companies to circulate information to health professionals a month or two before a new program is launched,” says Terry Nugent, VP, Marketing, Medical Marketing Service Inc. It is important to educate professionals about DTC campaigns before product launch. The last thing pharma companies want is to advertise a new product on TV and have physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who are unaware of the product when a patient asks about it. Direct marketing through print mail and e-mail can allow companies to provide health professionals with the opportunity to learn about a product before patients do. “Print advertising and DTC are major parts of the marketing arsenal; companies build brands with advertising and exploit the brand awareness with direct marketing through mail and e-mail,” says Terry Nugent, VP of Marketing at Medical Marketing Service Inc. (MMS). By reaching health professionals through e-mail in advance of a new DTC campaign, prescribers can learn about a program, understand the program, and be in a position to request samples in advance of patient inquiries driven by DTC. “It would behoove companies to circulate information to health professionals a month or two before a new program is launched,” Mr. Nugent says. “A great way to do this is via e-mail because they can have the professional link to the Website and view the spot. So, when the patient comes in and asks about a product, the doc is aware of the latest information. And this would eliminate a big part of the negativity that is associated with DTC by the medical profession.” direct marketing — online Customer Acquisition “An in-house list of consumers who have already expressed an interest in the drug treatments a pharmaceutical company offers is invaluable to a marketer,” says Jere Doyle, President and CEO of Prospectiv. Marketers can begin direct-to-patient permission marketing campaigns with prequalified consumers by sending them informative e-mails or e-newsletters containing information relevant to their specific ailments. “This approach provides pharma marketers with the opportunity to build direct, one-to-one relationships with individual consumers and build loyalty over time,” says Jere Doyle, president and CEO of Prospectiv. “Traditional marketing channels, such as television or print ads, are one-way mass communications vehicles that have a broad reach and can help build general brand awareness.” Combining online customer acquisition programs with traditional mass-market advertising campaigns can help pharmaceutical brand marketers improve results by not only building general brand awareness, but also building direct-to-patient relationships with interested consumers who are likely to purchase their drug treatments. Market Research — Brand Commitment “Effective marketing goes beyond the rational aspects of a brand to strike an emotive chord,” says David Kweskin, Senior VP, Practice Area Leader, TNS Advertising and Brand Performance division. Tools that assess a campaign’s rational elements, such as key performance indicators, and the emotional elements, such as brand commitment, provide the most complete understanding of promotional effectiveness. “With information that reveals which patients will stick with a brand and which are likely to switch, marketers know what part of their market share is secure and what part is in peril,” says David Kweskin, senior VP, practice area leader, TNS Advertising and Brand Performance division. “They can determine how they can grow opportunities by exploiting a competitor’s vulnerabilities; they learn how they can protect against threats; and they can plan what to say to win over those who are attracted to their brand but not yet taking it.” Another way market research can integrate commitment insights is through a communications evaluation service that allows marketers to align their messages with high-potential audiences they may not have previously recognized. For example, by identifying the most motivating messages for competitive users, they can determine whom they can easily convert to their brand. Market Research — Point-of-Purchase Research “Insights into patient behavior and attitudes regarding health conditions and treatments can help pharma marketers improve the effectiveness of their marketing and advertising programs,” says Magid M. Abraham, Ph.D., President, CEO, and Cofounder of comScore Networks. By accurately identifying large samples of known prescription purchasers — including high- and low-incidence drugs — marketers can understand the motivators that drive patients to comply, or not comply, with specific drug therapies. “By using survey invitations that are printed on the back of each prescription’s product information sheet, which carries 80% readership and is attached by the pharmacist to every prescription dispensed, respondents can participate from their homes by visiting a Website address or calling a toll-free phone number,” says Magid M. Abraham, Ph.D., president, CEO, and cofounder of comScore Networks. “By enabling pharma companies to understand request rates, patient-physician interaction drivers, and levels of campaign exposure, marketers can gain an edge. ” Technology Solutions — Brand Management Metrics “The ability to measure the potential impact of scientific information on products from the point of view of the prescribing clinician provides insights that help companies benchmark their messages, plan their research and publication strategy, differentiate the position of their product in the market, and benchmark their product messaging against that of their competitors,” says Lawrence Liberti, General Manager of Astrolabe Analytica Inc. One of the most critical aspects of the drug- development commercialization process is understanding how published information supports or detracts from the key clinical concepts and themes that uniquely distinguish a product. “By assigning an evidence-based credibility score that aggregates a range of key message metrics to deliver key graphic and statistical analyses, companies can make critically important go/no-go decisions on things such as products, licensing, new indications, and more,” says Lawrence Liberti, general manager for Thomson Scientific’s Astrolabe Analytica Inc./Pharmaceutical Information Associates Ltd. businesses. Analyzing information from scientific literature and medical meetings from the perspective of the healthcare professional allows marketers to critically evaluate key concepts in terms of their strength, diversity, and value. Technology Solutions — Sales Enablement “The ultimate goal is to enable every sales person to clearly articulate the problem being solved for the customer, the value being provided, and why his or her company is different from the competitors,” says Jeff Summers, Senior VP of Marketing at The Savo Group. “The challenge, from a marketing perspective, is to ensure that each sales person is able to articulate these messages in a clear, consistent, and compelling way.” Marketing organizations are becoming increasingly focused on driving message consistency across the channels that interact most directly with their customers and prospects — namely, the sales organization. The process of driving this consistency, as well as providing relevant, customizable content that sales people will leverage in face-to-face selling situations, is an emerging discipline referred to as sales enablement. “In the past 18 months to two years, we have witnessed a real shift in the focus of many marketing organizations away from a big branding and advertising mindset to a much more tactically focused approach on what their salespeople are saying about them in the marketplace and how are they representing the brand,” says Jeff Summers, senior VP of marketing at The Savo Group. For Suzanne Ross, chief marketing officer for CorSolutions, the customization of The Savo Group’s Sales Asset Manager (SAM) application is a key attribute. SAM allows sales people to identify the most effective sales assets — presentations, documents, coaching aids, internal resources — based on the situation — customer profile, solution, sales stage, methodology, and competitive landscape. “Our sales and marketing teams were challenged to deliver a consistent message and positioning for our products and the company,” she says. “Maintaining the most up-to-date assets was the greatest issue. We needed a solution that provided an easy-to-use, dynamic, searchable, central location for all sales and marketing materials. This was something our Intranet couldn’t do but the Savo product did.”

Posted in:

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a Comment.