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November 30, 2017 0

“Content” has replaced “digital” as the biggest buzzword in marketing today—and is now at the core of all communications plans. According to a report by Accenture published late last year, 78% of pharmaceutical and biotech marketers now produce a “moderate to enormous” amount of digital content—from patient testimonials, social posts and news articles to shareable videos.

The truth is that content marketing can be one of the most effective ways to change audience behavior and move the needle on business objectives—but it can also easily fall flat. That’s why it’s more important than ever for marketers to develop clear objectives and strategies for their campaigns and avoid what I call the Seven Deadly Sins of Content Marketing.

SIN #1: You assume people care about your brand story

Let’s be honest; people don’t wake up saying “I’d like to sign a pledge today” or “I’d like to watch a patient video called Sam’s Story.”  When developing content, you have to put yourself in the mindset of everyday people (yes: patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals are people, too) and ask yourself a critical question: Why should they care? People are exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day, so for a brand to make an impact, its content has to be rooted in what people are already interested in, searching for and sharing.

Simply put, to work well, content must be as on trend as it is on message. Through social listening research, you can determine the conversations patients and healthcare professionals are already having about their condition and everything that surrounds it so you can enter those conversations authentically. For example, consider structuring your patient stories as listicles, hacks, and memes to build a library of valuable and snackable content that breaks through the clutter.

SIN #2: Your content is socially embarrassing

Every time we ask a person to engage on social platforms, we are asking them to do it publicly. While we work hard to remove the stigma from conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and vaginal atrophy, we have to recognize that there are just some aspects of people’s lives they don’t want to share in a public forum. Does that make social content off limits for conditions like these? No. But brands have to find ways to produce content that people would feel proud—or obligated—to share with other patients, caregivers and everyday friends.

For example, I helped develop a campaign for injectable dermal fillers. While millions of women use fillers, it remains a behind-closed-doors conversation because of the cultural bias associated with facial aging treatments, so we knew women would be hesitant to share social content. To overcome this, we tapped in to the pop-culture trend of mother-daughter “generation” photo shoots and asked daughters to re-create photographs of their mothers at the same age they are now to show how looks change as we age. The program sparked widespread engagement with consumers and media and authentically included discussion about treatment options to help women fight their genes and maintain natural-looking beauty as they age.

SIN #3: You are too focused on the subtleties of your execution

Pharma marketers already have enough hurdles to jump through to get their content out into the world. Obsessing about font type and rounded edges of photos that patients will never notice (or care about) just further delays getting content out while it’s still relevant.

Your attention is better spent on evaluating whether or not your content is relevant to information and conversations your target is interested in. Is it bringing real value to their life? Will they feel smarter, more hopeful and more connected after engaging with it? If the answer is “no,” then no amount of tweaking the color gradient is going make a difference.

SIN #4: Your content requires too much time and money

Authentic content that resonates isn’t always highly produced. In fact, very little sharable content is. Successful content strategies include a variety of production levels, so strike a balance between a well-produced “hero brand video” and a less expensive Instagram story. This will allow you to quickly enter conversations in real time and effectively use your budget to produce more content that keeps your brand top of mind (and top of feed).

I also believe it’s important to lean on agencies beyond your traditional ad agency for content. Your other partner agencies, including digital, social and PR, may have a stronger and more authentic way to understand what your patients are looking for and talking about and therefore can craft content that authentically engages, changes behaviors and moves your business.

SIN #5: You think that, if your content is good, it will get seen

Ensuring that your content is seen requires a mix of earned media attention and paid media boosting. For better earned media exposure, consider giving influencers and media a “first look” (before distributing it broadly to consumers), which can enhance its “hot off the press” appeal and incentivize them share it on their channels. Investigate partnerships with popular publishers to co-create content, which will give it even more credibility. Boost your content’s appeal through search optimization and simple but effective tactics like crafting a compelling title and robust description.

From the paid perspective, it’s important to remember that, for marketers, social media platforms are “pay to play.” There are very limited instances when your audience will see your content without paid support. My rule is to allocate at least 15% of the cost of the content for promotional dollars to ensure that even existing fans see it.

SIN #6: You are asking consumers to generate content for you

Let’s be real—how often do you “Share Your Story” on a social channel? Brands that set out to source real consumer stories as the cornerstone of their marketing campaign are destined to be disappointed in the results.

To make user-generated content (UGC) work for you, keep the following in mind:

  • Tap in to moments when consumers are ALREADY sharing photos and videos, and ride that wave of existing conversations and content.
  • Use an existing community of like-minded content creators to spread your story. You can access these through a myriad of vendors.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of offering an incentive. Coupons, gift cards and surprise-and-delights don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful and compelling and can easily fall into pharma guidelines.

SIN #7: You give up on content because of regulatory hurdles

In a highly regulated environment, it’s understandable that pharma marketers throw up their hands in frustration when it comes to developing content and opt for an unbranded campaign that may not provide the same ROI. Good branded healthcare content requires incredible diligence. But it is possible.

Whether your content is branded or unbranded, you can help your program succeed by collaborating with your legal/regulatory team early in the process. To enhance compliance, consider using the latest platform tools like comment turnoff and static Important Safety Information on images and video, and keep up to date on the current cost-effective monitoring capabilities from your agencies and partners.

By keeping business objectives and consumer behavior top of mind, we can ensure that content does more than flood our feeds with more things to scroll past. There are many ways you can produce quality content that your target audience will want to see—and turn every post, every video, every story into an engine of conversation and engagement that drives your business forward.

Edwin Endlich

November 30, 2017 0

Peter J Solomon’s Marketing Services Group released a whitepaper recently on the importance of standardization and auditing practices within the point-of-care (POC) space. With POC being such an important piece in educating patients and aiding the HCP-patient conversation, “marketers and healthcare professionals are concerned about the verification, standardization and auditing of network content and scale,” noted Mark Boidman, partner and managing director for the company.

Boidman highlights efforts by the Point-of-Care Communications Council (PoC3) to combat these issues. (PoC3 is working to create verification and audit standards as well as increased transparency.) The POC space, as Boidman mentions, has an advantage in that “various elements of the channel are measureable, including the number of locations in a POC network, as well as the resulting ‘script lift’ (increase in number of prescriptions written) or ROI of a particular campaign.” He urges that standardization will be needed for POC to “reach its full potential as an advertising medium.”

PoC3’s work on creating an industry set of guidelines is currently underway, with the draft version being reviewed by “client and agency advisors serving on the Verification and Validation Standards committee,” noted the council in a recent industry statement. Boidman advised that these guidelines, once finalized, will then need to gain traction and be universally embraced by the POC industry. “These developments, which are already in motion, will provide a firm framework on verification, standardization, and auditing in order to maximize the value of POC channels and the education that this platform provides for its patients and healthcare providers nationwide.”

Peter J Solomon hosted a PoC3 Town Hall earlier in the fall to discuss the importance of these items. Select members of PoC3 will speak on these issues, as well as share the latest on their developing ethics guidelines and auditing standards, at the 2018 DTC National Conference, held April 18-20 in Boston.


November 30, 2017 0

Susan G. Komen announced this month that it has partnered up with Data Does Good to support breast cancer research via purchases made by holiday shoppers. As outlined in a news release, “for every dollar participating supporters spend on Amazon annually, Data Does Good will donate 1% to Susan G. Komen to fund breakthrough research to prevent and find the cures for breast cancer.” There is no extra cost to the shopper, they simply add the Data Does Good extension to their web browser and answer some basic demographic question. Data is anonymized and automatically capture when the user shops for products on Amazon. This data helps reveal shopping insights as well as identifying any relevant trends, which retailers and brands can receive for market research. Any related proceeds received by Data Does Good are then donated – and matched by an affiliated partner – to Susan G. Komen. Depending on when a user has added this extension, either 1% or 2% of their Amazon spending is donated (up to $3,000 annually); Data Does Good and its matching partner have guaranteed a minimum of $100,000.

Last month, Susan G. Komen took another innovative approach to raising funds – launching its first crowdsourcing effort to support metastatic breast cancer research, This initiative was created to help the organization’s Bold Goal, which is to “reduce current breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026.” According to the news release, “[crowdsourcing] donors have the opportunity to contribute directly to the pioneering work of four scientists and their teams who are dedicated to making discoveries that will ultimately improve outcomes for patients suffering from metastatic breast cancer.” These donations will also be matched dollar-for-dollar, by Odonate Therapeutics™, a company dedicated to the development of therapeutics that improve and extend the lives of patients with cancer, and an affiliated partner, up to a maximum of $1.5 million.

A new marketing campaign, created by Dalton Agency, was launched in support of The multichannel PSA launched in October, and features Valynda Planeta, a 38-year old mother of three battling stage IV cancer. One of the TV spots shows Planeta writing letters to her children that are to be opened at special momentous occasions – their graduation days, weddings, and births of their future children – moments she will not be there for. Another TV spot shows her removing her wig, false eyelashes, and eyebrows, as she has lost all of her hair due to chemo. The ads conclude with the donation information.


November 17, 2017 0

ViiV drug Triumeq for HIV just launched a television campaign. HIV drugs have not used television historically choosing instead targeted print as its main media. The number of people who have HIV is about 1.1 million in the United States. HIV can be successfully treated and newer drugs have turned what was once a deadly path to AIDS into a manageable chronic disease.

ViiV is a company formed as a joint venture between Glaxo and Pfizer to specialize in treating HIV. Glaxo owns the majority stake. What is very interesting is ViiV’s decision to use television for a relatively small category. The price of the drug is one reason ViiV can afford to go more broadly in media. The cost is about $2900 a month. Of course, insurance companies negotiate lower prices but assuming ViiV is getting over $20,000 a year per new patient, it makes sense to cast a wide net for new patients.

Bob Ehrlich
“ViiV will know fairly quickly if the ROI is positive.”
-Bob Ehrlich

The Triumeq ad features real patients discussing their moving forward with their lives. They say they decided to use Triumeq to treat their HIV. The benefits cited by the real patients are once a day dosing taken any time of day and that it can be taken with or without food. The fair balance for Triumeq is lengthy starting after the first 25 seconds and lasting about 60 seconds. That makes these ads expensive to run requiring 90 second buys. Most DTC ads use 60 seconds.

The ad is upbeat and well executed. The use of real patients is a good technique. It will be interesting to see how much ViiV invests in television given the fairly limited target audience size. They have taken a category that has kept away from mass media and taken a shot at television. Other specialty category drugs have done this in recent years for cancer and hepatitis. ViiV would need about 50 new patients per million invested in television to break even. That number seems achievable and I am sure ViiV will know fairly quickly if the ROI is positive.

The HIV category is highly competitive with multiple drugs used and promoted. Triumeq has decided to up the media ante by choosing television. We will see if anyone else follows.

Bob Ehrlich

November 3, 2017 0

A week ago, my wife Debra broke her hip in a fall. The experience has given me a better appreciation of our health care system. While not perfect, I am impressed with the speed and quality of the care American style. That is, the for profit hospital was interested in her satisfaction as a customer. They were interested in making her happy, so they can be known as a customer centric facility. In today’s social media world customer ratings matter. They touted their ratings on billboards placed in their lobby from several sources such as Healthgrades and US News and World Report. They were aware that she may go to customer rating sites after her discharge and did whatever they could to ensure good feedback.

Bob Ehrlich
“I am impressed with the…quality of Care American style.”
-Bob Ehrlich

I frankly expected the typical poor hospital experience based on past interactions with emergency rooms and being admitted for surgery. The last time I was hospitalized was about 20 years ago. That experience was characterized by a diffident nursing staff, a cramped double room with a moaning roommate, and of course lousy food. Move ahead 20 years and everyone at this hospital was interested in ensuring a positive experience.

My underlying point in this is that those who advocate the federalization of healthcare may not like the result. I have had few positive experiences with government agencies. It is not that they are staffed by bad people, it is that they do not make customer service a priority. They do not have to. We have one choice for paying our taxes, getting our passport, getting through airports, and that is Uncle Sam. Sometimes he can be slow, unfriendly, rigid, and lacking in empathy.

In the case of my wife’s emergency surgery I had choices and could accept or reject the hospital and surgeon. Admittedly, once my immobile and in agony wife was brought in, we were kind of a captive audience. Still they knew she could request a move to another hospital and went the extra mile to ensure she stayed. My personal physician did not have privileges there so it was a serious consideration to move.

What I noticed most was the staff always asking if she was satisfied. This was from the ER nurses to the aides taking her meal orders. She felt like a valued customer rather than a burdensome patient. While she was anxious to get home she felt comfortable staying there. The lesson I learned was the enormous opportunities that still exist in healthcare to delight the patient. The hospital staff explained that all the rooms in the new wing were now singles because they knew patients valued their privacy. The visitors have free valet parking. Nice touches.

I know Bernie Sanders thinks government would do a better job running the healthcare system. Somehow I doubt single rooms and valet parking would be part of their plan. I also doubt customer satisfaction would be anywhere as a top priority. Yes, I am confident care would be adequate under a government run system. For my wife the stress of breaking her hip and going through emergency surgery was enough, and adequate care was not what we wanted. We wanted customer centric care and the for profit model provided it.

I thought about how much more we can do to unleash free market customer centric care. We can lower costs and improve care just by letting for profit companies compete. Profit and free choice are powerful motivators for innovation. We should encourage more of it rather than hope government is the solution. Just think the post office versus FedEx as the analogy. I know which I would choose.

Bob Ehrlich