In the age of enlightened consumers, marketers need to find new
ways to enhance their brand’s value in the eyes of their target
audience.

Richard Meyer has worked in healthcare marketing for more than 12 years and is the author of www.worldofdtcmarketing.com and www.newmediaandmarketing.com. He is a Principal Healthcare Analyst with eMarketer and can be reached at richardmeyer@me.com.

Over the last two to three years a lot of very talented people have left DTC marketing. Their jobs have either been eliminated due to patent expirations or they have left on their own accord because they are simply tired of working in an industry where consumer marketing seems to be stuck in the past. Whatever the reason, the lack of real DTC marketing talent in the industry is leading to a decline in the quality of patient marketing and smaller DTC budgets as executives tighten spending.

Biopharma executives need to realize that DTC marketing is not something that can be executed by following an outline or checklist. Marketers today need an in-depth understanding of how patients are making healthcare decisions, but more importantly they need to be able to take data from market research and identify business opportunities while also meeting consumer needs. All too often in big pharma managers are put into DTC roles without any consumer marketing background. There seems to be a belief that working in the sales force qualifies someone to be a DTC marketer. That is just not true, especially today.
We keep hearing about “empowered patients” but what does that exactly mean? It means that consumers have more information at their fingertips than marketers, and when it comes to choosing healthcare treatments they are going to fact check marketers’ claims and go to a lot of sources to determine when they should go to their doctor and what treatment options they are willing to take. But the rise of the empowered patient is only a small part of the bigger picture.

Consumer packaged goods marketers are realizing that it’s difficult to push marketing to consumers who don’t want advertisers invading their space online. Instead, establishing a dialogue to go along with socially responsible marketing is an essential part of branding today.

Nowadays, DTC marketers should be, above all, people who understand consumer behavior as it goes through cycles. They must be passionate about marketing their products because they truly believe it can help patients lead better quality lives. They also have to be teachers in order to educate their organization on what’s happening in marketing, but more importantly why it’s happening.

Biopharma companies need to step to the plate and take more risks when it comes to marketing to patients. It’s essential to start thinking about the capabilities that need to be developed now so that DTC marketing can be properly leveraged in the near future. For example, marketers need to consider if they should invest in mobile apps, what is the future of health content consumption and what can they do to ensure they’re part of the conversation.

 
If you’re an executive at a biopharma company you need to do everything that you can to both retain and recruit new marketing talent. Stop thinking about what it costs your company to relocate someone, and start thinking about the strategic value a great marketing person adds to your company and its shareholders. Until biopharma companies commit to this, there is going to be a sharp decline in DTC marketing talent at a time when more and more people are trying to make healthcare choices on their own.

  • Richard Meyer

    Richard Meyer has worked in healthcare marketing for more than 12 years and is the author of www.worldof dtcmarketing.com and www.newmediaand marketing.com. He is the Director of Online Strategic Solutions.

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