During a conversation with a colleague the other day, I had an epiphany about a common question within our industry – whether or not to invest in DTC marketing. In recent years, the rationale and logic behind investing in DTC marketing activities has become very similar to another big conundrum in healthcare – end of life care. Let me explain.
Almost 28%, or about $170 billion, of Medicare expenditures are spent on patients’ last six months of life. I found this to be a shocking amount of money given the constrained resources of our healthcare system, but it’s only getting worse. Why? Because we want to make sure we try everything to save someone before we let go, among other reasons. While this approach may make emotional sense when discussing the lives of people, I’m not sure this line of thinking should be applied salvaging the life and health of your brand.
The reasons I hear supporting the investment in DTC are starting to sound a lot like those supporting logic behind the end of life care expenditures noted above (even when the marketing effectiveness research shows the likely return is negative).
Let’s talk a look at the reasons.
- To say ‘We did everything we could’ – in my opinion this is the main culprit, you want to neutralize the second guessing by those less informed so the easy way out is to throw everything ($$$) at it in the hopes you change the trajectory of the outcome and if you don’t, you can say you did everything no matter how wasteful it was
- To distribute the Accountability – throwing everything at the problem ultimately gets more people involved in the problem, which then let’s you distribute the accountability for the outcome
- Everyone Else is Doing It – clearly if other folks are doing it then the investment must have a positive return and ultimately, if I don’t do it someone else will recommending doing it or blame me for not doing it.
Let’s be honest. Healthcare decision may never become rational, as the lives of people can’t and shouldn’t be valued in an ROI model. However, the value of your DTC marketing initiatives can and should be objectively evaluated, or just agree as an organization that you’re comfortable throwing money at the problem regardless of whether or not it will provide an actual solution.