In today's world of pharmaceutical direct marketing, it has
become clear that the emergence of the Internet has changed the way direct
campaigns are executed. But, has the web zapped offline response rates or
merely forced brand managers to come up with even more creative ways to reach
According to Jay Bolling, president of Roska Healthcare
Advertising, the idea that offline direct marketing is being squeezed is very
much a misnomer. Sure the online space is growing, he says, but direct mail
remains king among doctors. And Bolling says he has the numbers to prove it.
When it comes to consumers, “there are just times when
people like to sit and have something tangible,” Bolling says. “In the past,
the whole thing was about patients raising their hand. It was about how
marketers were going to segment them. But now there has been an evolution of
direct techniques. The whole paradigm is shifting forward in the consumer
Bolling says pharmaceutical direct marketing should never be
simply thought of as “direct mail.” “With direct mail, in isolation, you are
not going to get tremendous response rates,” Bolling says. “Instead direct mail
should complement other media. You really have to look at a ‘surround sound'
As the Lunestas and Rozerems of the space continue to spend
large amounts of money on DTC advertising, there are a number of brands that
want and need to reach consumers but cannot afford the budget required by
building an awareness approach. What marketers find is that using direct
techniques up front as a core consumer marketing strategy can be a successful
“Let's face it, we are not only asking patients to be aware
of a potential disease state,” he says. “We are asking them to do a tremendous
amount, and the idea that we are going to use 60-second spots to take someone
all the way through that filter is a bit naïve.”
Case study: Tracleer
Pablo Przygoda, product manager, patient initiatives at
Actelion Pharmaceuticals, had five goals in mind 15 months ago when his firm
and Roska Healthcare Advertising jointly embarked on the “Sure Steps” program
behind Tracleer, an oral therapy for the treatment of pulmonary arterial
Przygoda needed to increase patient persistency, set
realistic expectations for success, help patients manage their disease,
maximize success with therapy and build trust.
Tracleer is an effective medication for PAH but it poses
certain challenges, according to Przygoda. Tracleer use requires monthly
testing and can cause side effects, and the drug's positive effect on the
patient can be slow and gradual. High drop-off rates occur as a result of these
challenges, Przygoda notes.
Bolling adds, “We needed to develop the messages to engage
the users. We couldn't just throw out messages and educational material. We
identified the barriers and addressed those barriers so that patients were
ready and interested in being educated.”
The Tracleer campaign started as an integrated effort of
in-office material, multi-wave direct mail, phone calls from nurse counselors
and some Internet and computer resources. A team of registered nurses trained
by Actelion on PAH and therapy were made available to patients on weekdays from
8 am to 11 pm EST.
The English and Spanish-speaking RNs offered one-on-one
phone support to patients. RNs handled day-to-day issues and basic questions
such as frequently asked questions, treatment questions, expectations about
therapy, insurance and financial issues, monthly shipments and
Actelion and Roska's use of the “surround sound” approach
helped the marketers of Tracleer increase persistency among 16% of all
patients, increasing Actelion's revenue by 23%.
According to Przygoda, patient adherence must be addressed
to maximize the full potential of your brand.
There are several factors that make the Tracleer unique and
successful, Bolling adds. “This campaign is fully integrated with the sales
force and the in-office element is also a very big part of it. Especially with
this type of therapy, where there is high-involvement from both the patient and
physician,” he says.
Bolling notes that the Tracleer campaign also integrates
nurses and the physcians into it by surrounding patients on the phone, in the
office and at home.
“All those things work hand in hand. We have been able to
collect a database and when someone is enrolled we immediately reach out to
them and start to set expectations. We have a nurse counselor who will call
them and we even have the ability where a nurse counselor can work with an
office to establish continuity of care.”
Direct marketing firm Harte-Hanks was recently tasked by
Teva to build a non-branded hypermarketing program to build a database of potential
patients and caregivers during the pre-launch stage for Azilect, a new therapy
for Parkinson's disease.
Patients and caregivers were engaged via surveys and a
specially designed newsletter Life in Balance to communicate important
information about the disease state and how to live with the disease.
The newsletter was made available both online and offline.
“The database continued to build during the pre-launch stage
through self-reported survey information,” David Zaritsky, managing director,
pharmaceutical markets, explains.
At launch the campaign morphed into an Azilect-branded
program, letting patients and caregivers know that Azilect was available
through physician specialists.
Combining acquisition, conversion and retention tactics, the
results saw a significant database of potential patients and caregivers built
over time during the pre-launch stage and at launch.
“The product messaging went out to all those who opted into
the program,” Zaritsky said. “The database continues to build to ensure that
new caregivers and patients become aware of Teva's new therapy for Parkinsons.”
According to Harte-Hanks' Zaritsky, “The whole essence of
direct marketing is to find out what information is important to consumers or
Marketers have to ask how their audience prefers to receive
information and how often? It is for this reason that integrated marketing is
the most effective way to maximize desired results, namely, driving TRx's and
maximizing patients'/consumers' lifetime value.
Offline pushes such as direct mail pieces allow pharma
marketers to provide an audience with a feeling of control and motivation
similar to which they experience online. And, of course, there does remain a
segment of patients and healthcare providers who continue to prefer the offline
channel and have made that choice known to the marketer. “For example, it makes
no sense to communicate with elderly patients using e-mail if they are not
comfortable with the Internet,” says Zaritsky. One true innovation in the
offline direct marketing space lies around what Zaritsky has termed “personas.”
“The tech markets and retailers have had this right for
years,” he says. “Essentially these personas are built around individuals—
depending on who they are—and several of their characteristics.
In this way we can formulate ‘buckets' of varying ways to
communicate offline, as well as different deliverables to the different
personas, based on who they are. This gives the patient and healthcare provider
the opportunity to receive the materials they want with the information they
need…not just a shotgun blast of information coming from a faceless
manufacturer. Today when you walk into Best Buy they know that you fall into
one of seven buckets or ‘personas' and they interact with you accordingly. The trend
in pharma is that to become more ‘client-centric,' we need to speak to these
Zaritsky says offline direct marketing can be used as a
relationship builder in pharma as effectively, or even better, than online
methods. “Again, if the consumer indicates their preference for offline
materials and information, this is the way marketers need to provide it.…Some
consumers might opt to receive information both online and offline, which
ensures that this segment gets the information via two different channels,” he
says. “For example, product information can be provided offline and persistency
reminders can be sent via the digital channel. Recipients of medical information still prefer something
they can hold and interact with, and the value behind a physical piece is still
Don't expect new media to replace old media any time soon or
vice versa says Nick Moore, chief creative officer, Wunderman.
“The fact that you've got something new means that consumers
are using it to enhance their experiences, their expectations and their contact
with brands but not necessarily replace them,” Moore says. “Just in the same
way television did not replace radio, the relationship between different media
certainly alters media but those media don't go away.”
In with the old and in with the new
According to Moore, the Internet is not the only place where
technology is changing. Computerization has also revolutionized the digital
print arena in the past five years.
“We can do things now which are well beyond what we could do
just a few years ago,” he says. “Just as importantly, you can do them at high
volume and you can do them at a reasonable cost, which was not necessarily true
a few years ago.”
“Another thing that is extraordinary,” Moore adds, “we also
work with (electronics firm) HP and they will tell you that the advent of the
Internet means that people are using more paper than they ever have in the
history of the world. People like paper. When things are important and they
like to keep them, they print them out. When we send people things on paper
that they find useful and relevant, they keep them. I think irrelevant
material, whatever medium it comes in, is going to be ditched.”
Moore notes that most people say they don't respond to
so-called junk mail but points out that when you listen to the language people
use, whether they are physicians or airline pilots, the language changes from
‘I never read that stuff' to ‘I got sent some information.' The materials are
essentially the same stuff, Moore says. “It's direct marketing material but
there are times people find it useful and informative and they do respond and
they are very willing to engage in some sort of dialogue or exchange.”
And when it come to physicians who get a lot of e-mail every
day, it can be a very cluttered environment to work within.
“They spend an enormous amount of time on the web, visiting
particular places. So, there's not a huge opportunity to reach them with
relevant online messaging. That's why mail still has an important role in the
physician space,” he says.
Moore adds that the trends he sees
growing in the pharmaceutical
space are about blending media together. “That's when you get your optimal
results,” he says. “It's about being able to follow where the consumer leads.
This has been going on for quite some time. It's a mix of media that is giving
you your best results and your maximum adherence.”