Technology and marketing are moving rapidly now as interactive marketing becomes more of a necessity than a luxury. Marketers are learning that they can no longer take customers for granted and this has extended over into prescription medications where patients have become active consumers of healthcare. If DTC marketing is to evolve into an empowered patient environment, the traditional agency/client relationship has to change and DTC marketers are going to have to become more skilled.
Hiring an interactive or advertising agency can be a long process thanks to the folks in procurement. But in the end you hire an agency to help you execute your marketing objectives. You should not hire an agency to come in and “teach” you about social media or online marketing. You should hire an agency based on what they can do for your brand.
FOCUS ON OUTSIDE, NOT INSIDE
DTC marketers need to spend more time learning about how consumers (and other brands’ marketers) are using the Internet (and less time preparing Power Point presentations that add no value for patients and customers). You don’t need an agency to teach you how customers and competitors are using new media: The information is readily available online through a wealth of marketing sites, such as eMarketer.com, Marketing Charts and Marketing Vox. You want the agency people to know as much about your brand and target audience as you do. They should come in with recommendations on how best to reach this audience. If, instead, they come in with a Social Media 101 presentation, they’re not adding value. Win over reluctant executives by showing success with new marketing initiatives, not with charts that show how many people are using which social media.
DEEPEN THE SKILLS
Biopharma has to keep its skilled DTC marketers in DTC marketing. We cannot afford to move them to new jobs and new departments every three or four years. DTC marketing is becoming too knowledge-intensive and too valuable a skill to lose that experience. If the company pulls someone from sales into a DTC marketing position, the brand (and the company and, indeed, the new marketer) loses valuable time as that person gets up to speed on the latest marketing trends and increasingly frustrated agency people spend their time explaining what they do rather than doing it. We just don’t have the luxury of learning marketing on the job anymore. To reach increasingly empowered, sophisticated, and skilled consumers, we need increasingly empowered, sophisticated, and skilled marketers with ever-deepening experience with that audience.