Pharma marketers often turn to disease awareness days, weeks, and months to inform campaigns as they strategize for the year ahead. With the sheer number of official awareness days out there, it’s no wonder they’ve become a pillar to a marketer’s early plan development. To the pharma marketing industry, these days and months present a clear opportunity to shed light on a particular condition or therapeutic area. However, despite their collective prevalence in pharma marketing efforts, it can be difficult to measure how truly impactful these campaigns are.
For pharma marketers to truthfully evaluate the state of disease awareness campaigns and implement impactful strategies, it’s important to understand the reason behind the growing number of awareness days and recognize the purpose they serve to the impacted communities.
Why Do So Many Awareness Days and Months Exist?
We’re seeing more and more awareness days, weeks, and months emerge in large part due to the rise of social media. Within the past 40 years, 202 new awareness days were introduced to Congress—71% of these were introduced after 2005. This is right around the time social media was really taking off. In 2006, Facebook boomed in mainstream popularity and MySpace was one of the most visited websites.
The rise of social media and the influx of disease awareness days that followed isn’t a coincidence. It’s because social media networks proved to have tremendous power in fostering communities. A woman with breast cancer could suddenly share her journey with a network of people in the same situation, or a person caring for a loved one with a rare disease could now find education, resources, and a community of others impacted by the same condition. The disease awareness initiatives that emerged spoke directly to these impacted populations, so social media became a vessel for reaching both niche and widespread patient communities.
Where Should Pharma Marketers Begin?
To succeed with a pharma marketing campaign around disease awareness, marketers need to define the intention of the campaign. Oftentimes, these campaigns are centered around providing resources and support to the impacted patient groups. Additionally, pharma marketers need to evaluate and understand which portion of the population is impacted by the therapeutic area they’re addressing. Is this a widespread condition or is it more niche? What social network channels are these patients leveraging to find community? Social media is increasingly becoming the place for people to discuss their health—whether that’s through long-standing Facebook Groups or TikTok feeds—and meeting patients where they are is the most impactful aspect to a strong campaign.
In a world that is so driven by metrics, data, and ROI, it’s easy to write off awareness campaigns as unsuccessful or unimpactful if they aren’t driving sales or directly leading to better outcomes. However, I challenge that notion because a disease awareness campaign’s success should be measured by its intention—oftentimes that intention is centered around building community and providing people with resources and support.
Additionally, a pharma company’s share and power of voice on a certain therapeutic area can’t be overlooked when measuring success. Awareness campaigns put pharma companies on the frontlines of empowering patients and caregivers with support, education, and resources. In turn, those impacted become champions of awareness themselves.