Feb 21, 2012

Einstein On Pharmaceutical Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Advertising

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

Was Albert Einstein thinking about DTC advertising in the pharmaceutical marketing space when he uttered this famous quote? Probably not, but it’s certainly applicable to the current DTC advertising model.

Traditional DTC marketing is based on the premise that consumer 'awareness' of a problem will propel them to take 'action' (usually in the form of asking their doctor about an Rx brand or inquiring about a medical condition). The reality is that most consumers are caught in a gap between awareness and action. They never go and see their doctors based on traditional DTC advertising and marketing campaigns (to be completely truthful, about 1% actually take action, which is still abysmal).

So, as communication experts, if our goal is to maximize the number of patients who take action, we need to engage them, gain their acceptance, and form the bridge between awareness and action—

  • Acceptance that their conditions and/or symptoms require medical intervention
  • Acceptance that Rx treatment is a positive step toward better health
  • Acceptance that their physicians’ recommendations and treatment plan is the right course of action

Being the scientist and intellect that he was, Einstein probably would have approached the problem of acceptance through research and insights (and then develop a theory, model and prove it out to ‘law’). Several pivotal studies he might have looked at would have examined the psychology of acceptance—the Health Belief Model, the Prochaska Transtheoretical Model, the Kübler-Ross Grief Theory— all indicating that acceptance is not a single event but a mindset continuum. And from these studies, three distinct stages (patient mindsets) along this acceptance continuum would be defined:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Assessment
  3. Acknowledgement

While Einstein never sought to figure out how to bridge the acceptance gap, a group of very smart people at our agency took on the task and proved out a solution.  It’s called The Catalyst Brand Acceptance Model and it’s designed to move patients from awareness to acceptance and ultimately action.


It is important to understand that each stage along the acceptance continuum presents different, often difficult hurdles for patients as they grapple with all aspects of accepting their medical conditions. However, it is these patient challenges that also provide real opportunity for us to offer engaging, proactive solutions.

Uncovering the motivating factors and developing communications that specifically apply to all three stages (denial, assessment, acknowledgement) propels patients along the acceptance continuum toward taking action. As marketers, by motivating patients through these stages of acceptance, we accomplish three important things:

  1. Help drive the patient decision-making process
  2. Increase the number of patients who take the desired action
  3. Maximize the brand ROI

By understanding the psychology of acceptance and creating more effective healthcare communications, we motivate more patients to take action, talk with their physicians and initiate appropriate treatment to address their medical conditions.

Do you think Einstein would agree the Catalyst Brand Acceptance Model can improve your direct-to-consumer campaigns? Contact me directly, or drop a comment in the box below and let me know your thoughts.

By Kurt Mueller, Chief Digital & Science Officer

Feb 7, 2012

Pharma Marketing: What Are We Measuring and Why?

Metrics and measurement are more important than ever. Management is increasingly focused on accountability and ROI, and metrics dashboards powered by multiple sources ensure that we can measure anything.

Google Analytics tallies, rolls-up, drills down and dissects whatever you tag. Internal data like rep territories, sales calls, patient databases, etc. can be married with external databases like physician prescribing data, census data, disease incidence, allergy indices, etc. Add it all up and you get data soup.

The Dashboard Trap
Just because your dashboard can measure everything doesn’t mean you should. We’ve become so obsessed with what we can count that we’ve lost track of why we’re counting. You need a carefully thought-out measurement plan that’s tied directly to your objectives, one that provides only actionable information that drives decisions.

An account manager asked me, "How should we code the various opt-in vehicles to track how many patients opt-in from each?" My question back was, "Why do you want to know? What decision does it drive? You won’t eliminate any opt-in vehicles because you want to give patients the opportunity to opt-in at every touch point."

The manager replied, "Well, don’t you think that would be nice to know?"

As you evaluate what data to collect ask yourself: What is nice to know vs. need to know? Is the information actionable? Does it relate to my objectives?

4 Key Measurement Questions
When putting together your next pharmaceutical marketing or advertising campaign, here are four questions to ask that will streamline your measurement plan:

1. What are we trying to accomplish? Clearly define your objectives and get management’s buy in.

2. What are the key metrics? Only track metrics related to your objectives. You’ll find you need less than "everything but the kitchen sink".

3. Where do I get the data? Be selective with data points, especially online metrics. Of course you’ll need more metrics to define website engagement than you will just to count opt-ins, but focus on the most important points of engagement. You don’t need to track every possible navigation path and page view.

4. How quickly and how frequently do I need the data?
Some things you need to know right away; others can wait. A basic tenet of decision analysis is calculating the value of information. The cost of obtaining information should be less than the value of the information itself. You’ll pay a premium to get IMS Rx data earlier, and staff hours add up quickly to generate daily or weekly reports across all metrics, so choose wisely.

Why Less Is More In Pharma Marketing
You might think it’s best to collect all the information you can get just in case you need it. If you think that senior management appreciates all this data, you may want to reconsider. Efficient measurement is tied to objectives. Management will appreciate your concise focus when you report back only the metrics that are related to your objectives.

If this post got your analytics juices flowing, go here for the blog post I did last year on unbranded DTC promotion and measuring the ROI. Or. access the full article published in PM360.

How are you measuring your pharma marketing and advertising campaigns? Email me or post a comment below.

By Chuck McLeester, Senior VP Planning, Metrics & Analytics
Roska Healthcare Advertising

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