Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? January 23, 2010

Filed under: Lisa,Market Planning — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 6:57 pm
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Image credit: Matt Windsor/

In an earlier post I outlined criteria useful in determining if your product is ready for a DTC campaign. The first of which is ‘the product/procedure is widely available through providers’. Most of our healthcare is delivered to us through the physician [provider], and as needed, the physician refers us to another provider, or another healthcare service. When we are sick or hurt we go see a doctor.

If our symptoms are tolerable, or we feel like it will pass and we are not yet at death’s doorstep, we may delay calling the doctor. We may first consult family or friends. We may do an internet search to try and match our symptoms to something described on a reliable site. However, if the symptoms persist, and our armchair doctoring fails – we go to the doctor. It is common and proper to defer to the expert and for health and wellness concerns, it is the doctor we should consult, they are supposed to know what to do for us.

We do not typically turn on the TV, or flip through a magazine or even tune the radio, seeking an advertisement about that which ails us.

Therefore, it is a logical conclusion that before broadcasting product availability to consumers, the doctor should be made aware of the product, the application and the appropriate patient for whom the product is best suited. In the medical device field, this awareness may also include product use training so that the doctor is prepared to treat the patient. The next likely questions might be ‘how many doctors must be aware and prepared?’ and ‘how fast can this happen?’

The answer to the first question is likely answered in the company business plan. The number of doctors that require preparation equals the number of doctors who serve patients with the healthcare issue for which the product is labeled. This is especially true if the healthcare concern is rare, and physicians who treat patients with the concern are few in number. This is also true if a goal of the company is to achieve a standard of care declaration that references the product.

However, the real number is that which represents a significant enough population of physicians to serve the patients in a timely manner, to which you direct advertising. To determine how many, who they are and where they are requires a clear understanding of the specialty, patient referral patterns, and regulatory and reimbursement environments. Defining these market aspects is fundamental to establishing good marketing strategy.

Solid marketing strategy supports well coordinated marketing planning. Planning before spending will more likely result in the laying of a golden egg.

How fast can this happen? Stay tuned for that post.

Comments welcome.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting


Is it time yet? January 22, 2010

Filed under: DTC,Lisa — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 6:28 pm
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Lately, I’m often asked this question, “When is it time to do DTC advertising?” Usually the question is followed by statements like these:

Our sales people keep asking for it.

Customers are calling and want to know why we haven’t yet advertised like company X.

The Board suggested we consider the impact of DTC advertising.

Occasionally there is also the admission that nothing else has really worked to skyrocket sales. Beneath the timing question, is always the implicit assumption that DTC marketing will most certainly result in increased sales.

Over the years, I have been involved in a number of medical device DTC advertising campaigns, delivered in a variety of form and magnitude.  Every campaign resulted in successful and interesting outcomes – much of an unexpected nature. Some were successful in terms of revenue returns, and others successful in highly valuable learning that served to refine and optimize the follow-on campaigns. Some of the outcomes were just plain interesting – human behavior type interesting – a blog topic for another day.

Having experienced successes with DTC campaigns, I am a firm believer that they can be very useful in the life science – medical device industry; they can help to drive product demand and increase revenue. Before my campaign successes, came the campaign trials. From these, I learned a few things about timing. Before deciding if the time is right for a DTC campaign, there are two key questions to answer.

  • First, is the product/procedure ready for a DTC campaign?
  • And second, but equally important, are you ready for a DTC campaign?

Because you are reading this, it’s quite possible that you are considering a DTC campaign. To assess if your product/procedure is ready for a DTC campaign, I’ve honed in on six key criteria that should be affirmative.

1. The product/procedure is now widely available through providers.

2. The consumer can access your product/procedure by making a specific request to his/her provider.

3. The product/procedure is affordable or covered in reimbursed medical expenses through a majority of insurance plans.

4. There is a body of published medical and scientific literature that contains significant effectiveness and safety data.

5. There is an abundance of positive chatter about your product/procedure.

6. The provider community understands the product/procedure can confidently converse with patients about it.

Of course, this is only an initial list of considerations for use when deciding whether a DTC campaign will be productive for your medical device/procedure – but it’s a great place to start. Feel free to add others in your comments.

In closing, just as you might expect, in-depth assessment before you decide to move ahead with a DTC campaign will be well worth the time investment. In the future I’ll tackle the issue of how you know you are prepared to launch a campaign.

Comments welcome.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting


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