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.