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bulletOptimize the role of the consumer in marketing and lifecycle
  • The Power of the Patient Continues to Increase:  How can you leverage it throughout the marketing process, including traditional and non-traditional marketing tactics? How do you ensure optimal conversations between physician and consumer, caregiver and patient and consumer to consumer?
  • Consumer power early in your clinical development program  strengthens potential claims, differentiation and Physician marketing
  • Improve your uptake and lifecycle curves with an early start on life cycle planning
bulletDriving Marketing excellence is critical to success
  • Relevance and resonance build a differentiated position: make sure your brand story is set to strengthen results.
  • ‘Surrounding’ the customer in our ever-changing environment: creating maximum synergies across media, off-line, and web, and across multiple agencies.
  • Optimizing Direct-to-Consumer, Patient, and Physician Efforts to Avoid  ‘Leaky Buckets’:  a key to improving up ROI
  • Critical marketing and agency skills for managers to strengthen brands across customers

bulletOut-maneuvering the competition
  • Competitive Gaming: Staying a step ahead of market and competitive changes — When it makes most sense, how to improve results

bulletDoctor as consumer: Often a missed opportunity
  • Are you missing an opportunity to market to your doctors as both Consumers and Physicians?
  • Do you have a firm understanding of which messages speak to doctors as physicians and which as consumers and which fit into their perceptions of how they want to be perceived by their patients? Where might you also expose messaging to them as consumers too?

bulletCross-Industry Learning to hone marketing skills
  • The Ten Ways Pharmaceutical and Traditional Consumer Marketers can learn from each other to improve marketing results.

bulletThe 10 Costly Pitfalls of DTC Marketing

Sidestep the 10 Costly Pitfalls in Direct-to-Consumer/Patient (DTC/P) Marketing

Direct-to-Consumer marketing is moving into its second decade. Earning maximum ROI from consumer marketing dollars is more challenging than ever — and generally under greater scrutiny than traditional physician marketing budgets. 

Furthermore, Consumer marketing in pharmaceuticals is both costly and ever-more important in the consumer-centric Digital Age.  Identifying a few powerful actions that will move key segments is key. And following a disciplined process makes a huge difference in producing strong Consumer Marketing results every time.

Upwards of $5 billion dollars was spent on DTC advertising alone in 2007. We invite you to sidestep the 10 costliest pitfalls in marketing to consumers and patients. Your competitors will be sorry you did.
1. Believing you’re a swan when you actually might be a duck.

Ensuring comprehensive organizational understanding of DTC/P as a complex marketing discipline is mission-critical to a winning brand strategy. Undertake an internal assessment of consumer marketing strengths and weaknesses, and where your brand/category fits within the company portfolio: you’ll uncover important implications for ROI and resource allocation. 

  • What is your product/category’s strategic importance to the company’s larger goals and objectives? What is their experience with the product-disease/market?

  • Does the organization view the consumer as a critical customer?

  • Is the organization structured to be able to maximize ROI across all consumer programs? Are you able to influence all key tactics and touch points of DTC/P for your brand?

chutes and ladders2. Thinking that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

Engage a thorough upfront disease/brand assessment to identify a baseline understanding of consumer ecology: knowledge gaps, opportunities, and potential “leaky buckets”. Thinking beyond the broad audience, and digging into segments to better understand targeting opportunities and priorities, will allow you to focus on what will best power your brand’s growth.

  • Have you prepared an upfront DTC assessment that identifies the optimal role of the consumer for your particular business and stage of lifecycle? Chart the landscape, consumer attitudes and usage, potential target opportunities and issues, and how your brand benefits might fit in.  

  • Who are your most profitable targets?  Do you expect that to change?

  • Are you armed with a thorough understanding of your targets’ treatment or “buying” process to understand their barriers, timing, expectations --  and where you might encounter “leaky buckets” to ROI?

3. Cutting before you measure.

Putting in everything but the kitchen sink will sink you every time. Thorough, incisive Market Research will enable  critical consumer insights and interpretations along the treatment pathway, and among potential segments and targets.

Ensure that you gain insight to prioritize target opportunities, learn how best to tell your story, and how the conversations will go between physician and patient, caregiver and patient. Your communications will require top relevance to break through the noise in peoples’ lives and motivate action.

  • Have you discovered the critical insight(s) to unlock your product promise, to drive communications that will resonate?

  • How do your target customers relate to their condition, the issues it raises, and the possible treatment options?

  • What impact does it have on their lives and those of their families, friends, and co-workers?

  • How do they feel as they move from awareness to diagnosis to treatment,

  • How long does it typically take?

  • What’s important to them in telling their story?

4. Creating a plan without actually planning.

Plans are nothing; planning is everything. A rigorous planning process allows you to identify the least number of tactics for the biggest bang. Pausing frequently to scrutinize objectives, strategies, and tactics before committing to action – with a sharp red pencil for sacred cows and other habits that may be obsolete, and a sober eye for how much your resources will allow you to do well - will reward you with better ROI.  

Do you have the least number and right mix of strategies and tactics, matched well with objectives and budget, to generate the highest possible return?

  • Do you have the resources, skills, and processes in place to execute well?

  • Are strategies and tactics well integrated across all Consumer partners, from awareness to PR to web and direct marketing, and with physician and possibly managed care partners?

5. Presuming that you can’t be broke since you still have checks left

Identify meaningful metrics for tracking program performance: both during the development process and once in-market. The right metrics for your brand will enable ongoing learning and continuous improvement. Your product will become more competitive, and you’ll enjoy a team of growing professionals. 

  • Do you have brand-tailored and objective-tailored performance metrics and reporting in place before campaign kick-off? (E.g. if you’re measuring an awareness tactic, is your primary measure awareness- not response?)

  • If predictive ROI techniques were used prior to DTC spending, are these metrics in place to help you monitor in-market results during roll-out?

  • Once in market, are you consistently reviewing metrics and learning with a cross functional team to assess performance and adapt to learning as quickly as needed?

  • Do you have consistent measurement techniques across all customers, tactics and media? (Is a DTC tactic ROI measured the same way as a physician tactic ROI?)

6. Approaching consumers as one size fits all.

Creating high-value-added relationships with key stakeholders in the consumer ecology requires careful differentiation.  Strategies, tactics and dialogues will succeed only if they’re based on the unique wants and needs of each segment: not yours, and not each others’.

Beware what may have worked in a previous campaign. Speaking to targets in their language, in a way that works for them, in a unified and integrated dialogue, across tactics, is what will get you heard.  Nothing less will do.
Whether through direct mail or emails, it’s one relationship that you’re building.

  • Have you created a meaningful story for each segment that speaks in their language and is consistent with their view of your category and themselves?

  • Is the story delivered across all tactics and medium, regardless of different agencies executing?

  •  Are your communications honest and two-sided?

  • Have you explored new ways to get consumers involved, speaking to other consumers on your behalf?

7. Imagining you can fool the devil in the details.

Consumer marketing involves enormous detail to ensure effective execution. Be thorough and stay doggedly focused to insure that the elements of your program rollouts are effectively coordinated and synchronized. The best strategies can - and often do - fail in delivery.

  • Are your briefs tight enough, distinctive enough, and challenging enough to inspire exceptional execution?

  • Will each target touch point reinforce your branding and messaging, and get the results you desire? (It often takes more than one touch point to get consumers into action.)

  • Is your backend operation ready to support your tactics?  (E.g. Are the phones ready to be answered; scripts optimized to generate maximum lead generation? Fulfillment and email ready to go out as planned to ensure timely contact and re-contact support?)

  • Is your media budget sufficient to impact and “surround” your targets?  Are creative media strategies in place to maximize impact? With the right mix of branded and educational efforts?

8. Dreaming that time will stand still if you need it to. 

Effective time management is critical. DTC/P is a very complex, time-consuming, and time-sensitive undertaking. Start early to ensure higher payouts.

Excellent execution takes time to create, refine and nurture. Notch up your brand’s performance by allowing time for honing a creative brief or identifying a breakthrough, motivating ad with agency partners.  Great work often takes rounds of creative development and research. Ads with higher ‘stopability’ mean more efficient marketing spends and better ROIs.

Most brands start too late. Two years is not too early to start.

  • Is the consumer an integral part of early planning? Are you considering the consumers’ point of view early in clinical planning such that the claims and messages that you have for marketing can be most relevant and differentiating?

  • Is Consumer and DTC/P Marketing set to begin early enough in the launch process to allow for consumer feedback and interpretation at every phase? Are you set up for true integration with physician marketing?

  • Does your timeline allow for creative refinement and collaboration, to get it right?

9. Grabbing a tiger by the tail when you really need a bull by the horns

Select your partnerships as though your success depends on each one. Then make sure that you take the time to communicate, collaborate and get to know what will enable each partner to do their best work.

Organizational and cultural differences between your company and external resources, like advertising agencies, can add a layer of complexity to your DTC/P efforts. If you can figure out how to make working with you their favorite project, your brand will enjoy an extra notch or two.

And don’t overlook selecting partners that know how to collaborate with other partners; it’s a must for today’s marketing success.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you approach your external resources as collaborators and partners or simply as vendors?

  • Do you have the skills and experience on your team for top-drawer collaboration with external marketing resources? Leading a collaborative process among creative people is a special skill.  Are you providing the right level of experienced thinking on your end to drive exceptional results?  

  • Are you managing consumer programs and teams as well as the professional side? (They require a different approach than what might work for a professional agency or a POA.)

10. Believing that being smart pre-empts taking time to learn

Design an ongoing, disciplined learning process that allows for real time adapting. The world is changing so fast: what worked in the past may not work in the future.  Don’t allow your people to be too busy to participate in your learning process – you couldn’t do your competitors a bigger favor.

  • Do you have a process in place to capture and disseminate best practices and ideas across all brands and managers? (That cuts through how busy everyone is?)

  • Do you have bimonthly or quarterly “deep dives” for each brand to review what’s working and what’s not - that incorporates learning from all key customers and tactics? And a process to apply the learning quickly?

  • Have you included learning about the physician in your regular education? (S/he is both a consumer and a doctor every minute of the day.)

Are you in shape to side step the 10 costly pitfalls?
Can you focus on the least action for the most return?


Ellen Hoenig-Carlson founded AdvanceMarketWoRx®, a small consulting firm known for powering growth in consumer and healthcare categories.  A team of savvy pros - with a signature combination of elegance, creativity, and rigor — they’re skilled at all stages of product lifecycle. Their results are sourced by  identifying, testing, and leveraging critical customer interpretations and feedback at key points,  enabling brands to navigate effectively, grow profitably, expand market possibilities, optimize resources, and take team learning to a whole new level.



Copyright © 2015 Advance MarketWoRx LLC. All rights reserved.


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