Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

First things first; the importance of taking one step at a time February 22, 2010

Lisa’s recent entries on the right time to start a direct-to-consumer campaign raise some great points. Since a DTC campaign should include public relations as well as advertising, I thought I’d bring up a few points to consider.

Typically, when an in-house marketing person is talking about doing a DTC campaign, they are thinking on a national scope. But just as it’s true that advertising campaigns are often best started and tested on the local or regional level, so too can—dare I say should—PR be started on a local level.

I was recently in conversations with a prospect. After several months of discussion, the prospect determined they were not ready for “PR.” What he meant by that was that he did not feel the company was ready for a national public relations effort. On one hand, he was smart enough to recognize that the company did not have significant physician adoption of the product, nor did the company have an adequate sales force, or even a well-staffed call center to handle the inquiries that would come from a national campaign. Unfortunately, this company never gave us the chance to show them how the right public relations campaign would have helped them drive both physician adoption and build awareness among potential consumers.

It all starts with building awareness among physicians who will use, prescribe or recommend your product. Many companies do this through trade shows or medical conferences.  Building relationships with trade media is key during this phase of the adoption cycle.

The second step often involves taking a local market approach to supporting physicians who have adopted your product or technology. Picking a physician to be a spokesperson can be tricky if more than one physician is using the product in that market. But the real key to success of this approach is often the patient.  Finding a patient who is willing to share their story publicly and who is articulate enough to do so isn’t always easy.  Still, it’s often the best way to build awareness and the emotional connection that would be completely missed if all we did was pitch a straight product announcement.

Look for more information and some basic rules to follow on selecting the best physician and patient spokespeople in a future entry.

 

She Who Must Be Obeyed February 11, 2010

Illustration by J. Howard Miller for Westinghouse

Horace Rumpole, the lead character in the British television series Rumpole of the Bailey, secretly refers to his wife Hilda as ‘She Who Must Be Obeyed.’ Hilda is considered formidable, thus the tongue-in-check endearment. The definition of She Who Must Be Obeyed, abbreviated to the acronym SWMBO, is a woman in authority’. The character Hilda could be easily considered the poster person for this title.

Companies promoting new healthcare solutions – products and services, would be ahead of the curve if they recognized that women hold collective membership in the SWMBO sorority. Women are formidable in their pursuit of answers to problems or healthcare concerns, particularly so in the management of their families health and welfare.

In a recently survey conducted in 2009 and published by the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, the use health information technology (HIT) in U.S. households was assessed. Some of the findings include:

  • 61 percent of the sample used the internet to search for health or medical information
  • Women are more likely than men – 58% vs. 43.4%, to look for health information on the internet
  • Women are more likely than men – 4.1% vs. 2.5%, to access online chat groups to learn about health topics
  • Women are more likely than men – 6.6% vs. 5.2%, to request a prescription refill on the internet
  • Women are more likely than men – 3.5% vs. 1.8%, to make an appointment using the internet
  • Women are more likely than men – 5.6% vs. 4.2%, to communicate with a health care provider over email

The findings of this survey indicate women are actively seeking information, interaction and resolution to health care issues, using online means to do so, much more than men.  The survey summary can be found here[1].

There are a few companies that recognize women customers control the success of their products. These are companies that market and distribute women specific products such as contraception, breast care, and incontinence treatments. Some of these companies make the effort to connect with women customers by directing communications to them, providing information about products and identifying resources that may be useful in their search for solutions.

Women respond to these overtures by sharing their experiences, out loud – with other women.  This sharing includes discussions about anything and everything related to the product experience – credibility of the information about the product, the availability of the product, access to the product, interaction with the medical provider of the product, and so on. Nothing is off limits. Women take the lead in the discussions, just as energetically as they investigated the products before they purchased or were prescribed them.

In a 2008 survey conducted by Burst Media, women were identified as heavy users of health related forums, blogs and other websites when searching for information about a problem. The summary states “They [women] tend to be more proactive than their male counterparts seeking out family healthcare solutions as well as personal ones.” More of the findings can be found on the BizReport.com site, here[2].

Women search and research healthcare concerns. Women lead the charge for treatment and care of healthcare concerns. Women seek resolutions for their families as well as themselves. The road to reaching the consumer dealing with a health concern is typically traveled by a woman. She may be the wife, mother, daughter or friend of someone who needs help or answers for that which they suffer.

I know these descriptions of women and their pursuit of information and solutions to be true. I experienced these activities first hand marketing women’s healthcare products. I am also a daughter, aunt, godmother, sister, partner and friend of many, for whom I have done the same. I have gathered information from far and wide, and then armed with it I have navigated and negotiated the best available solutions for many a healthcare concern.  We women are resolute and formidable.

Companies that want potential patients to request their products, would benefit from remembering there is quite likely a woman in the mix, looking for answers for the patient. It is not just women specific products that women research. Any product or service that is intended for a patient, will be subject to review if relevant to someone they care about. Developing a well-planned strategy and communication plan, that takes into consideration how and where women go to get answers, makes good sense.

The declaration that ‘women rule the world’ may be ever-so-slightly premature at this point; however, if a direct path to the right patient is desired by a manufacturer, making it easy for her to gather information and access the product is strongly advised. Crafting a strategy that submits information and resources at her fingertips is the best way to enlist She Who Must Be Obeyed.


[1] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/healthinfo2009/healthinfo2009.htm

[2] http://www.bizreport.com/2008/07/women_rely_on_internet_for_health_information.html

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

Expect the unexpected – what happens when the DTC campaign is launched February 3, 2010

Filed under: DTC,Lisa — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 11:28 pm
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You’ve launched your campaign and the phones are ringing – and among the many calls you’d hoped for are those you least expected.  Some reactions are anticipated, some will leave you gobsmacked!  These are a few that caused our heads to turn:

  • To capitalize on the DTC campaign, a physician invests in a local advertising to promote his practice and the new procedure; when interested patients with no contraindications or insurance issues contact the physician he convinces them to have an alternative procedure.
  • After being refused an elective procedure by a physician who promotes performing the procedure, consumers go to chat room sites and ‘teach’ each other the questions and responses to ensure getting what they want.
  • A non medical group successfully discourages physician adoption of new and safer techniques because of the implications to the group tenets and governance.
  • Advertising is dropped by a broadcaster because of one complaint received from a listener about the use of anatomically correct terms in the description of the procedure.
  • Competitors began advertising their unrelated products with our message.

Plan to be surprised from the most unexpected of experiences.  And remember to chuckle at the things you can’t control.   Comments welcome.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

The velocity of revenue is a direct result of the speed of confidence February 2, 2010

Filed under: DTC,Lisa,Market Planning,Physician Preparation — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 11:16 pm
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Image credit: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

New products released into the market have cleared many hurdles. Clearance from the FDA indicates that the product meets safety and efficacy requirements. This milestone in a product life cycle typically follows extended research, development, design, testing, and refinement phases. Companies that have invested and toiled over the development challenges in anticipation of a market release are understandably eager to realize revenueAs much and as soon, as possible.

To that end, planning discussions turn to training, distribution and marketing. This is frequently the point in time when the acceleration question is raised.

How fast can we ramp up sales?

Should we do DTC advertising to increase demand?

What kind of promotions can we offer to encourage volume purchases?

I believe these questions are premature. Ideally, DTC advertising and promotional programs are part of marketing strategy that includes market development and preparation. They are most effective when conditions for market adoption of a new product have been optimized.

The best time to advertise to patients and consumers, introduce promotions to encourage purchases and increase sales activities, is when physicians have reached a state of confidence with a new product. Confidence represents the final stage in customer adoption of new technology.

New product introduction requires physician training. The three stages of adoption are defined by the state of accomplishment the physician achieves during training on a procedure with a new product.

Stage one – Capable
The physician understands the product concept and purpose. They can successfully deploy the product with support of a trainer. Use of the product is occasional.

Stage two – Competent
The physician correctly performs the procedure using the product with limited training support. The physician is proficient performing the procedure and use of the product is intermittent.

Stage three – Confident
The physician has mastered the procedure and product use. No support is required.

Confidence occurs after the physician has enough positive experience and good patient outcomes with the product. The confident stage is also recognizable beyond performing the procedure without support. Two hallmarks signal the physician has reached a state of confidence.

1. The physician routinely incorporates the product in their treatment regime.
2. The physician proactively discusses the product with patients in which treatment including the use of the product is appropriate.

When physicians reach this stage, DTC advertising and promotional programs are good strategies to employ. The physician has been appropriately supported by the company and is well prepared for new patients investigating the advertised procedure. The questions regarding increasing revenues should first center on the physician and accelerating their state of confidence. The best time to do advertising and promotional programs is when the market is optimized with confident customers.

Comments welcome.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

 
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