More Permission, More Data, Better Marketing? OpEd by John Mack, Editor
This issue of Pharma Marketing News focuses on the effectiveness of DTC advertising, patient-level data vs. physician-level data, and out-of-the-box marketing (see Related Articles). Is there any connection between these topics? I think so.

Traditional DTC advertising may not be as effective as pharmaceutical marketers would like. Although awareness is up, DTC campaigns are not very good at motivating undiagnosed sufferers to visit their doctors (see “Understanding Drivers of Patient Behavior to Maximize DTC effectiveness”).

This is a not only a marketing problem, it is a public relations problem as well.

That’s because DTC ads have often been portrayed by the industry as an effective means of motivating consumers with undiagnosed conditions (e.g., “overactive bladder”) to contact their physicians.

It turns out that DTC ads are much better at motivating people already diagnosed with a problem or already taking medication.

This conclusion is based on the 2002 DTC Monitor study by Cozint. No doubt there’s a study with data to contradict this, but the fact remains that there are marketing opportunities that DTC advertising currently does not address.

This is where out-of-the-box marketing, especially permission based marketing (see “Out-of-the-Box Marketing: Will It Work for Pharma?”), comes in. The out-of-the-box premise is that these marketing techniques are more effective than traditional advertising (“Interruption Marketing”) and allow marketers to collect more meaningful data from consumers and physicians.

Pharmaceutical companies already use some permission based marketing techniques with physicians, but they don’t have much experience applying the techniques to consumers or patients. For this and other reasons, pharma has much more data about patients and physicians collected at the physician level than at the patient level.

Yet, there is a veritable gold mine of data to be collected at the patient level as this month’s feature article by J-P Tsang points out. Tsang is talking about prescription and other patient data collected from healthcare providers, but there is also useful data that can be collected directly from patients themselves with their permission.

How much better could Pharmaceutical marketing be if this level of data were available?

Adoption of these new techniques and data sources by pharmaceutical marketers depends, however, on good education, vendor cooperation, and success stories to prove that the effort is worth it.

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