Belief-Based Marketing: Anticipating, Not Just Analyzing Behavior
In pharmaceutical marketing, three industry/structural conditions have combined so that companies compete by outspending: the R&D monotony of chasing after the same targets in the same markets; monotony of information--using the same market and customer information to make identical prioritization decisions; and application monotony, in which regulatory oversight, consumer privacy issues and established industry practice cause marketers to create similar commercial programs against the same targets. Marketers can outsmart, rather than outspend, by exploiting the belief structures of physician or consumer targets, to develop differentially targeted and segment-tailored campaigns that greatly enhance ROI.
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Traditional databases marketed by IMS and NDCHealth are not patient-centric and therefore can only describe what happens to a prescription, not a patient. But managed care, driven by the Medicare Modernization Act, will force drug companies to focus on a new view of customers-and in particular, keeping them longer. But drug companies aren't by and large using the new patient-centric data available in a variety of forms from a variety of vendors. The problem is as much habit as awareness.
Drug marketing is increasingly expensive and decreasingly productive. WebMD Health, the dominant health portal, argues it is not merely another advertising forum, but a more effective influencer of consumer and physician behavior than detail reps and DTC promotion. So far, drug companies remain on the sidelines, having been burned once by similar arguments about the marketing value of neutral channels, represented by PBMs, of which many of WebMD's managers are alumnae.
The pharmaceutical industry is facing increased pressure to improve its performance and efficiency as the challenges of an increasingly dynamic and complex marketplace have conspired to erode the robust sales and profit growth of the 1990s. Marketers' measurement tools often don't help them improve productivity because they track past performance of existing programs. Rather, marketers need tools to help them predict which programs will be the most effective in the future. Marketers should combine refined adoption funnels and more sophisticated segmentation, to help identify factors that drive key physician segments to prescribe.