Jay-Z your DTC

Increase impact and save money

Jay-Z is a modern day master of media.  In applying public relations thinking to his use of traditional paid media, he makes every GRP work harder. When launching a product, whether it be a book or his recent CD, Jay-Z appears to have a three part formula: 1) develop a “talk-worthy” concept; 2) make a big but short-lived splash using traditional paid media and 3) employ digital and social promotion for long-tail promotion.

Consider Jay-Z’s approach to the launch of his album, Magna Carta … Holy Grail. It entailed:

  1. Talk-worthy concept: Jay-Z created a talk-worthy concept of providing his album to Samsung Galaxy owners 5 days earlier than to the general public
  2. High profile media: Launched the promotion in a highly visible, three minute commercial during Game 5 of the NBA finals
  3. Drive to digital: Drove people to the album website where they could download the free app

But the concept is not limited to Jay-Z. Starbucks used this three-step process to build sales using the 2008 election as a media hook.  Their talk-worthy concept was to offer a free cup of coffee to voters. Starbucks advertised this offer on a high profile Saturday Night Live’s “Election Bash” episode. And finally, they sustained their effort with what Howard Schultz calls in his book, “Onward”a torrent of digital and social media activity” to “amplify the 60-second spot.”

What this three step process boils down to is using public relations thinking rather than traditional media planning to deploy brand media spend. The benefit of this PR thinking is that the brand message automatically becomes more relevant to consumers because it taps into current culture.

Health care brands can also tap into popular culture. A well-placed, high impact unbranded communication that really connects with patients about a serious health issue could be an important wake-up call. The high profile unbranded splash would also serve as high impact “screener” to get the attention of your target patients and spark their curiosity enough to follow through to a branded site.

While the high profile splash is expensive, the opportunity to create an on-going drumbeat with digital makes the effort very measurable and affordable. Using this three-step process, extrovertic recently recommended a new product launch plan that relied on one-fifth the advertising expenditures of the brand’s closest competitors.

So how could this be employed on a pharmaceutical brand? Consider the straightforward Astra Zeneca Crestor print ad running in major magazines. A picture of a doctor asking the question, “Is your cholesterol at goal?”

How much more attention would Crestor get if they associated the product with the broader concept with setting and reaching goals and introduced the effort in a high profile sporting event followed by a deep digital push?

So here are two thought-starters on how to Jay-Z your DTC and save money in the process:

  1. Scour your brand for relevant hooks and events. What relevant anticipated governmental or healthcare organization announcements coming up? Can you link your brand to the news in a meaningful way?
  2. Have your agency cost out a media splash/digital long-tail type of plan. Can you save money and increase impact?

“Orange is the new Black”: what prisoners and patients have in common

While binge watching the second season of Orange is the new Black I was reminded of an important parallel between patients and prisoners. Both are victims of a “3rd party decider economy” where “the person selecting a product or service is not the person who will actually use it.”

OITNB

In a New York Times article entitled, “Orange Is the New Green,” Adam Davidson, wrote about the plot line where poor Piper waits weeks to get her shower sandals from the prison commissary. In an economically rational world, prison commissaries would try to maximize sales to inmates and minimize out-of-stocks.

After extensive real life research, Davidson concluded that the prison system wasn’t focused on meeting the prisoner’s needs, but rather the prison’s needs. And it was this emphasis on the 3rd party rather than the end user that was thwarting rational economic behavior.

To a large extent, the US health care system has been designed to meet the needs of HCPs rather than patients. Pharmaceutical marketing perpetuates this 3rd party decider distortion by allocating the bulk of marketing budgets to HCPs rather than patients. According to the 2014 MM&M/Ogilvy Healthcare Marketers trend report, pharmaceutical marketers spend over 50% of their budget on physician marketing. This is on par with last years report. Despite all the patient centric talk, spending has not changed.

Like prison commissaries with out-of-stock situations, allocating more money to HCP marketing is not rational economic behavior. There is significant evidence that HCPs’ sway over prescribing decisions is waning. Patients and Payers are increasingly calling the shots. But old habits die hard. Most of pharmaceutical decision makers today have built successful careers on face-to-face selling to HCPs. It is hard to divert budget from a technique that has delivered so faithfully for so many years.

Perhaps the upcoming 2015 planning season will take on this HCP market distortion. The US health care system is slowly being reoriented around patient needs. For example, the government is driving more patient focus with the Affordable Care Act and the FDA has initiated hearings on patient focused drug development.

Pharmaceutical marketers could redesign the 2015 planning process around patient needs. For example, why not use the patient journey to guide investment across all customer groups, not just patients? What are the HCP initiatives that have the most impact on patients? Invest in those! Think of the 2015 planning process as a binge session on the needs of patients, a productive binge session you don’t even have to feel guilty about.

Thanks for letting us share!

Dorothy

Beyond the C-Suite: 3 ways to build customer focus

One of the most encouraging signs of progress in Pharma is the addition of C-suite level Customer or Patient Officers. While the impact of this new position remains to be seen, making a change at the top is a good start (see blog post, “Chief Customer Officers: Fancy New Title or Path to Meaningful Change”).

Customer

But it may take some time for C-Suite initiatives to trickle down. Meanwhile, what can be done at the brand level? Here are three ways to jumpstart customer focus on your brand:

1.  Create unified view of all customer feedback and interactions: Outside of Pharma, this practice is known as “capturing the voice of the customer.” Marketers go outside their functional silo and collect information from any department that has customer contact. In pharmaceuticals, this should include digging into Adverse Event Reports, long the providence of the Safety and Medical departments. A unified view of the customer is created by collecting the following information in one place:

  • Incoming customer contacts. For added texture, your call center can enable you to periodically listen in on calls
  • Survey information. Does anyone beyond the brand manager responsible for CRM see the CRM survey responses?
  • Social networks and community conversations.  Are your social listening exercises widely distributed and meaningfully communicated?

Once the information has been sourced, there are many companies that can help you automate the data collection for a real time view of your customer interactions.

2.  Interact with customers every chance you get: Vertex was particularly good at this. They did everything from regularly having patients visit their office for small group meetings to spending full-blown research weekends with patients. It is one thing to read that your patients have trouble with basic life-skills and another to get a panicked call from the patient at 7 am because she is worried about her hotel bill.

3.  Change your metrics to reward customer centricity. The time has come for the pharma industry to adopt the net promoter score, which measures the degree to which customers would recommend your brand to a friend or a colleague. Extensive research across industries demonstrates that as the net promoter score goes up, so do sales and margin growth. Changing metrics will change behavior. Marketers will be incentivized and rewarded for solving customer problems rather than producing pretty PowerPoint presentations. Right now, Marketers serving the needs of internal customers, like the Field Force, get more recognition than those meeting external customer needs.

Customer focus isn’t intuitive for pharmaceutical companies. Many brand managers aren’t even allowed to attend customer research in person any more. While all the rest of health care is focused on getting closer to the customer, it often seems that Pharma does everything they can to separate their marketers from their customers. That has to change at all levels from the C-Suite to the brand manager.

Thanks for letting us share,

Dorothy

Chief Customer Officers: Fancy new title or path to meaningful change?

Now that health reform seems here to stay, pharma companies are racing to get on the customer focus bandwagon with new Chief Customer Officer (CCO) positions. The most recent example is Sanofi’s new Chief Patient Officer position, which is promoted as  “a First for a Top 10 Biopharmaceutical Company.” This announcement follows Intarcia’s creation of a Chief Customer Experience and Outcomes officer, publicized as “an officer level position for which there is no precedent or analogue in the Bio-Pharma industry.”  Companies are stumbling over each other to be seen as the most customer focused pharmaceutical company.

Image by Bill McChesney

What remains to be seen is whether these CCO positions actually alter the practice of pharmaceutical marketing. How many times in the past have pharmaceutical companies announced progressive new initiatives only to have the ideas wither on the vine from lack of resources and insufficient political clout? Think of the multicultural marketing plans gathering dust in bookcases all across Pharmaland.

It will be interesting to follow Sanofi and Intarcia as the two companies embark upon their customer centric journey. While both companies operate in the diabetes space, they couldn’t be more different. Intarcia is an emerging biopharma company with a novel diabetes treatment/technology in Phase III. Sanofi is a pharmaceutical giant with a full portfolio of diabetes medications and devices.

Business history would suggest that Sanofi has the steeper climb to meaningful transformation. Corporate culture has proven to be an innovation killer across industries. Take for example, the News industry. Online journalism has flourished in independent start-ups but proved to be an uphill battle in established organizations like the New York Times and Washington Post. According to former Washington Post journalist, Ezra Klein, the reason is in part due to an entrenched “culture of journalism,” centered around the print product (see recent New York Times article Vox Takes Melding of Journalism and Technology to a New Level ).

Similarly, pharmaceutical companies have deeply rooted cultures in direct sales to physicians. This direct sales culture explains why “non-personal promotion” took so long to take hold despite the explosion of no-see doctors. Much like the newer media companies who designed their news organizations around the Internet, new pharmaceutical companies like Intarcia have the opportunity to build an organization from the ground up around a patient focus.

But even emerging companies need to be vigilant against importing internally focused sales cultures into their organization. Witness Vertex pharmaceuticals. Despite an early focus on developing an innovative commercial model, the traditional sales force culture managed to marginalize many of the newer, patient focused initiatives. The Antidote by Barry Werth, which chronicles the Vertex INCIVEK launch, is a good read about stymied efforts to create a new kind of pharmaceutical company.

As large pharmaceutical companies go, Sanofi has embraced change, altering how it organizes its R&D (see extrovertic blog post “Four Lessons in Change from Inside the R&D Organization), rapidly adjusting the pricing of its medications in the face of market outrage and its adventurous approach to social media. So I wouldn’t count them out in the race to be the most patient/customer focused diabetes company. What remains to be seen is if the practice of either company changes enough to make a meaningful difference in patient lives, at a reasonable cost.

Thanks for letting us share!

Dorothy

 

3 ways to take your marketing to the street

Learning from the retail health movement

This is the ninth blog post in a twelve part series that transforms ideas from the marketing world at large into practical plans for pharmaceutical marketing in the time of health care reform.

Sometimes all you have to do to come up with an innovative idea is to watch what your customers are doing. And increasingly, payers and hospitals are hitting the streets to both sell and deliver services.  Consider the following examples:

  • Western Maryland Health Systems is a hospital system whose goal is to try to keep patients out of the hospital. According to a New York Times article, the hospital has “opened a diabetes clinic, a wound center and a behavioral health clinic all outside the hospital walls. They have hired people to go out into the community for follow up with discharged older, sicker patients. Primary care practices have been added in some neighborhoods.” All of these outside adventures are driving down costs and improving the quality of care.
  • Major payers are experimenting with retail. United Healthcare has sold Medicare plans through “pop-up” retail stores, and at retail community centers. Aetna has a presence in Costco stores. And Florida Blue has 11 retail stores “where people can shop for coverage, ask a question about a claim or see a nurse to check their blood pressure.”
  • Retail drug stores are expanding into medical care at a rapid pace. CVS plans to have 1,000 MinuteClinics by 2016. Duane Reade has doctors practicing out of their New York City Stores. According to a 2009 study by the Rand Corporation, retail clinics are able to offer equivalent care at costs of up to 30% less for three common conditions when compared to physician offices, urgent care centers and emergency departments.

The core idea behind these innovations is enabling easier access to products and services. But with any innovation, risk is involved. It is certainly more secure to offer health services in a hospital prepared for any unlikely emergency. Economic bravery is also involved in renting out space additional space when the current physical space could be more easily utilized. But payers and hospital systems have taken the leap to make their services more convenient to their customers.

What can pharmaceutical marketers do to make their products, services and information more readily available to patients and caregivers? Here are some thought starters for exporting your marketing to the street:

  1. Explore partnership opportunities with health care retailers. Can you partner with a payer to offer services or information in their retail outposts? For example, partnering with Florida Blue on a smoking cessation or diabetes care initiative? Could you offer a “white-labeled” version of your compliance program with an in-person component at MinuteClinic?
  2. Create your own  “pop-up” presence. Using the store within a store concept, could you raise awareness about the need vaccinate against HPV in retailers that cater to teens and 20-somethings? Many stores such as the Lush cosmetic stores have a social activism bent that would lend itself to health promotion. Or if your business has a seasonal aspect to it, you could take over a storefront for a limited time on your own.
  3. Partner with a relevant advocacy group on a retail presence. While visiting the United Kingdom, I was struck by the number of advocacy groups with retail presences, primarily thrift shops such as Arthritis Research UK Shops that dot the English countryside. There is even a Charity Retail Association.  There is so much more than fundraising that can be done in a retail space.

Certainly, some risks would be involved in taking pharmaceutical marketing to the street. Traditional delivery of messaging (print, video, audio etc), is highly controlled. In-person messaging certainly has the potential for more variation. But relating in person has the benefit of more immediacy and convenience for the patient. And making the trade-off to the benefit of the patient is what patient focused marketing is all about.

Check back on Tuesday for the tenth post in the twelve part series5 lessons in reinvention from Encyclopedia Britannica. In this post I explore how the approach this 244-year old company used to transform into a digital educational giant can be applied to shake-up the pharma business model.

Thanks for letting us share,

Dorothy

How to Jay-Z DTC

Learning from the mastermind of media

This is the eighth blog post in a twelve part series that transforms ideas from the marketing world at large into practical plans for pharmaceutical marketing in the time of health care reform.

Can Jay-Z help DTC advertising? (DTC-Z anyone?)

Turns out he can, or at least his promotional approach can be applied to DTC advertising. Jay-Z is a modern day master of media.  When launching a product, whether it be a book or his recent CD, Jay-Z appears to have a three part formula: 1) develop a “talk-worthy” concept; 2) make a big but short-lived splash using traditional media and 3) employ digital and social promotion for the long-tail promotion.

Consider Jay-Z’s recent launch of his new album, Magna Carta … Holy Grail.

  1. Talk-worthy concept: Created a talk-worthy concept of providing his album to Samsung Galaxy owners 5 days earlier than to the general public
  2. High profile media: Launched the promotion in a highly visible, three minute commercial during Game 5 of the NBA finals
  3. Drive to digital: Drove people to the album website where they could download the free app

But the concept is not limited to Jay-Z. Going back a few years, Starbucks used this three-step process during the 2008 election. They used the formula as follows:

  1. Talk-worthy concept: Get a free cup of coffee for voting
  2. High profile media: Run the ad once on Saturday Night Live’s “Election Bash” episode the weekend before the election (Remember Tina Fey’s hilarious imitations of Sarah Palin?). 
  3. Drive to digital: As Howard Schultz says in his book, “Onward” a torrent of digital and social media activity would amplify the 60-second spot.”

 

By creating a talk-worthy concept that is introduced in a high profile way, the brand automatically becomes more relevant to consumers. And relevancy and emotional connections are hard to come by in pharmaceutical marketing these days. Tightening interpretations of the commercial content by the Office of Prescription Drug Marketing (OPDP) make it hard to go beyond the basic product facts and create an emotional connection with a traditional DTC ad.

Without some way to make a meaningful connection, it is hard for a traditional branded DTC ad to be the type of triggering event that can prompt change in a health habit.  A well-placed, high impact communication unbranded communication that really connects with consumers could be an important health care wake-up call. The high profile unbranded splash would serve as high impact “screener” to get the attention of your target customer and make them curious enough to follow through to a branded site.

 

While the high profile splash is expensive, the opportunity to create an on-going drumbeat with digital makes the effort very measurable and affordable. Using this three-step process, extrovertic recently recommended a new product launch plan that relied on one-fifth the advertising expenditures of the brand’s closest competitors.

So how could this be exported for use to a pharmaceutical brand? Consider the straightforward Astra Zeneca Crestor print ad running in major magazines. A picture of a doctor asking the question, “Is your cholesterol at goal?”

How much more attention would Crestor get if they associated the product with the broader concept with setting and reaching goals and introduced the effort in a high profile sporting event followed by a deep digital push? (The winter Olympics will be here before we know it!).

So here are two thought-starters on how to export this idea to your DTC efforts:

  1. Scour your brand for relevant hooks and events. What relevant anticipated governmental or healthcare organization announcements coming up? Can you link your brand to the news in a meaningful way?
  2. Have your agency cost out a media splash/digital long-tail type of plan. Can you save money and increase impact?

Check back on Thursday for the ninth post in the twelve part series3 ways to take your marketing to the street.” In this post I explore how hospitals and payers are making their services more accessible to patients and how pharmaceutical marketers can get on the retail bandwagon.

Thanks for letting us share,

Dorothy