Growth Marketing: Pharmaceutical & Health

To the uninitiated, even to experienced marketeers, health and pharmaceutical marketing may seem like a dark art: arcane, mysterious and full of jargon and complexity.

While it’s certainly true that, when it comes to the weird and wonderful world of pharma, marketing companies with lots of previous experience make for great agency partners, the fundamentals of marketing still apply.

In many respects this discipline can be treated in the same way as the marketing of other products: it’s certainly one where our Growth Marketing mindset is every bit as valuable and relevant as it is across every other sector.


What makes marketing pharmaceutical products so different to other types of marketing?


When it comes to marketing pharmaceutical products, it’s important to remember that target audiences are varied, distinct and demand a high degree of specificity in both targeting and messaging.

Depending on the therapy area, product or the brief at hand we may need to operate on a B2B basis, reaching healthcare professionals who may choose to prescribe or recommend a specific product. In other situations, there will be a B2C proposition where we work to create consumer interest in a brand through educational content, which typically precedes any active promotion of a specific treatment prior to it receiving its licence. This serves to build brand recall and trust, especially at the crucial point of prescription. This level of activity aims to address every stage of the product lifecycle from R&D, clinical trials through to launch. In many cases it’s both, with our pharmaceutical marketing campaigns being designed to create a push and a pull, with differentiated messaging for each discrete audience.

We also do a good deal of work with over-the-counter brands, where the consumer is the only decision maker, but a broad range of lifestyle, demographic and attitudinal targeting criteria come into play. This is also a particularly competitive and demanding space for brands to operate within.

Adding additional complexity to many briefs is the mass of granular targeting available (and very necessary) among the healthcare community: our activity must recognise that this is not one homogenous group of professionals and that advertising budget supporting a new drug treating Arthritis would be wasted targeting an oncologist, for example.


What is closed loop marketing?


The B2B aspect of pharma marketing requires us to leverage specific trade media environments, within which users have demonstrated their credentials and/or paid a sizeable fee. Consequently, these websites know a huge amount about their audience and are able to offer advertisers hyper-segmentation within an exclusive, extremely high-quality context. This media typically has an extremely high cost per thousand due to the nature of the targeting available, however wastage is extremely low for the same reason, and the potential basket value considerable.

This is where the value of having first-hand experience in healthcare marketing will really come to the fore: when niche traded platforms are traded in a different way to most other media, and when the values for most metrics are wholly incommensurate with recognised norms, it can be challenging for the uninitiated to know what to buy, how to buy it in the most cost-effective fashion, and what a good deal looks like.


How else can you reach an audience?


The high CPM demanded by closed-loop platforms makes other channels, such as open access medical journals, a viable option; less efficient targeting and lower conversion rates are offset by a substantially lower cost per thousand. Further, we generally advocate multi-touchpoint campaign planning wherever possible: the impact of our messaging within Medscape for example, is likely to be significantly greater if the person seeing it has already been exposed to the brand messaging through other, cheaper means.

Location-based mobile display is increasingly valuable in this context, particularly when major conferences are taking place: if we know that a given venue is going to host the annual EULAR conference for example, we can geo-fence the location on the appropriate dates and capture an audience of phone IDs for subsequent targeting.

Other channels available to us include programmatic display with a rigidly controlled whitelist of sites. This is less precise than closed-loop platforms, wherein the media owner has first-party data concerning the user’s exact specialism, but this is reflected in the trading metrics, and it can still be extremely effective.

The high cost of some of the paid media options in this space also makes proper collection and use of first-party data all the more important. This might be as straightforward as communicating properly with a CRM database and taking every opportunity to nurture this audience in a fashion that reflects the high cost of recruiting it in the first place, or it may concern integrations work that secures learnings from first party data that will inform or directly influence the targeting of other media activity. This is an example of where Space & Time’s diverse range of capabilities is of particular utility to our pharma and health clients: having an in-house Technology business allows us to support our clients in capturing, connecting and visualising their data so that we can develop a truly omnichannel pharma marketing campaign.


What about the regulatory context?


Knowing what’s what is vital here too. Both prescribed pharmaceuticals and over the counter health products are subject to far greater legislative rigour than most other products, concerning both their production and sale, and their marketing. Our clients derive a good deal of comfort from Space & Time’s certification with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and comprehensive understanding of the requirements of Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, all of which is grounded in a demonstrable legacy of first-hand experience.

Whilst being vital to ensure compliance, a thorough working knowledge of the regulative environment can also have tactical advantages in the crafting and activating of media campaigns. For example, we’re practised at the rapid turnaround required when the regulatory circumstances of a given product change at short notice: amending go-live dates if approval is delayed, or putting together an educational campaign quickly during the clinical trials phase.


How else do we add value?


Data visualisation is as valuable for our pharma clients as it is for every other sector. We’re able to homogenise and warehouse data from a range of sources (our paid media activity, the client’s owned media campaigns, third-party platforms, CRM, sales data, telemetrics) and then mesh this together to give aggregated views of the performance of campaigns or of the health of a product more generally, tailoring specific dashboards to the needs of various stakeholders across the client and partner agencies.

Our training division is also well received within the pharma and health sector: the demands that this specialism places on agencies and marketeers ensure that our clients and our partner agencies inevitably have questions and knowledge gaps that we can help to plug with our in-person or virtual sessions.

In summary, Space & Time Health represents the intersection of our Growth Marketing commercial mindset with our rich heritage of experience marketing pharma. We’re able to leverage our diverse range of capabilities to unlock growth for our clients, using our Full ExperienceTM model to ensure a relevant and cost-effective range of deliverables is available at all times, with a strategic and regulatory expertise that offers a significant competitive edge to all our pharma and health clients.