Healthcare reform driven marketing challenges to “stimulating product interest”
Last post we discussed raising awareness and the next step in the adoption process is stimulating interest in your product. People may become aware of your product but if they are not interested they will ignore the rest of your message and may not even remember your product. You don’t even get a chance to convince them they should be interested. This is one of the steps that are most likely to be impacted by evolving market because of the change in customer focus from prescriber to payer and because of the increasing constraints on traditional marketing and sales tactics.
Stimulating interest is about understanding the needs of your customers and finding an effective way to cut though all the market noise to grab their attention so you can let them know you can fill that need, solve their problem by treating a disease or condition safely and effectively. Sounds easy enough, especially if you really have a product that can do this better than anything else out there and you can advertise and promote that you are better. The “better than anything else” is often the challenge for pharmaceutical marketers primarily because few products have the data to support such a claim and even if they have the data, they may not have the regulatory label to allow the promotion of that difference.
Previous tactics targeted primarily at physicians:
- Their need is to provide the best, affordable care (including prescription drugs) for their patients
- Graphics and copy implications in journal advertising could stimulate interest in a variety of ways including simply putting the word “New” in the ad.
- Persuasive sales people could imply or make outright claims in their discussions that could stimulate interest
- The sheer volume of advertising and promotion could stimulate interest by implying to the physician “there must be something I don’t know”
- Public relations was great for raising awareness but they were masters at creating interest by making sure corporate communications clearly communicated the reason people should be interested in this new product, new study, most prescribed product, etc.
- The size of an exhibit booth and the value of the tchotchkes could stimulate interest at medical conferences
- You could build an impression of better by careful crafting a story around the product features and benefits that were important to the prescriber
Payer targeted “stimulating interest”:
- Their need, while similar to the prescriber will be more bluntly driven by the cost of therapeutic alternatives. This can be summed up as “why should we use your product rather than other therapeutic options we have available and why should we pay more when a generic drug (or less expensive competitive product) option is available?”
- Payers will be less influenced by traditional advertising and promotion tactics
- Payers will demand and be more rigorous in their review of data to support any claims being made that might stimulate their interest
- Limited and gatekeeper encumbered access to payers may require new tactics for stimulating interest with this group
- Traditional tactics will still work where prescribers can still be influenced but the effectiveness of these tactics will diminish as the market evolves.
- Clinical utility described in a credible peer-reviewed scientific publications can get payer attention as can credible podium presentations at scientific conferences
- Innovative products with data to support clinically meaningful differentiation will make stimulating interest easier
- Have well prepared, data supported answers to “why should we use your product rather than other therapeutic options we have available and why should we pay more when a generic drug (or less expensive competitive product) option is available?”
- A data supported cost benefit story will almost always get payer attention but again, it better be credible and applicable to their situation
- You can always create enough market noise that payers feel compelled to take a look at what you have, but you better have something worth looking at or it will just further alienate them, potentially compromising a future opportunity to get their attention
In the next post we’ll discuss “Evaluation” the single most important step in the adoption process which will represent either the greatest opportunity or biggest challenge for pharmaceutical companies in the evolving new healthcare market.