It seems that today a consumer marketing strategy has become a default part of the standard launch playbook. However, in our experience, many marketers don’t fully understand the role of consumer marketing in driving brand success. The effective use of a patient marketing strategy starts with understanding its role relative to the professional strategy. The inevitable truth that most biopharma marketers need to recognize is that the success of this strategy is inextricably linked to the success of the HCP strategy. In other words, the best consumer strategy can never make up for a poor HCP strategy. Why? Because the physician controls the last mile.
Last mile . . . what does that have to do with my consumer strategy? The ‘last mile’ is a metaphor from the telecommunications industry used to describe the final leg of communication connectivity to the end customer. Looking at the complex HCP – Patient communication ecosystems (see visual), today’s marketers need to recognize that while they may be the ‘sender’ on each side of the equation, ultimately the physician makes the final product selection. Because of this, your HCP communication platform, and its subsequent success in establishing a strong heuristic in the mind of the prescriber, forms the anchor for all of your patient marketing efforts. Articulated requests generated by any consumer activities must be aligned with MD perceptions created by successful execution of a validated HCP communication platform.
The true benefit of employing a consumer strategy is not in persuading patients in mass as most of the so-called DTC experts espouse. It is, in fact, persuading physicians through mass patient experience. Each patient request, if the articulation reinforces the core HCP positioning, serves to share and reinforce the perceptions established through your HCP marketing efforts. After all, the persuasion of one patient yields one NRx, but the persuasion of one targeted HCP yields an annuity of NRxs!
Ultimately, when done correctly, the effect of your patient marketing strategy is the de facto creation of a ‘second field force’ actively detailing your physician audience with a patient articulation of your core brand story over that last mile.