Return On Focus | | Return On Focus

Evidence-Based Marketing

Providing objective, independent analysis & insights

What We’re About

Return on Focus (ROF) is uniquely focused on telling brand stories that unlock a pharmaceutical brand’s potential.

Ultimately, launching a new brand or changing a brand’s trajectory requires behavior change on the part of physicians and patients. Behavior change is difficult, and most people actively try to avoid it. Our process is guaranteed to create the positive tension necessary to drive that change.

ROF has developed a unique approach that allows us to uncover each brand’s strategic value within its specific market. Once this is identified, we focus on helping marketers define the key story, messages, and strategic steps necessary to own that value in the minds of their customers.

What’s On Your Mind?

We believe that pharmaceutical and biotechnology marketers have fundamental, strategic questions that require better answers. Take a look at our list of common client questions below and select the ones most relevant to you and your brand.

What’s On Your Mind?

We believe that pharmaceutical and biotechnology marketers have fundamental, strategic questions that require answers. Review our list of common client questions and select the ones most relevant to your brand.

  • Market Assessments

    • What are the key drivers of prescribing within my market?
    • Do allied health professionals represent an untapped opportunity within my market?
    • Is patient experience a driver of physician and/or patient treatment selection in my market?

    Learn more about how we can help you objectively assess and validate opportunities within your market

    Market Assessments

    Objective evaluation of the primary and secondary data, research and published literature that supports or challenges a specific marketing opportunity for your brand

    Read below to find out more about how we think about assessing new marketing opportunities.

    Four Pitfalls to Sub-Optimal Launch in Specialty and/or Orphan Disease States

    by Dan Reinhardt

    We recently had the opportunity to perform a disciplined evaluation of specialty care products that never reached their intended market potential (as assessed by publicly available manufacturer sales expectations). Think Provenge by Dendreon or Benlysta by HGS/GSK as examples—although neither of these products were included in our analysis.

    During our analysis, four key pitfalls were identified:

    1. Marketing the drug, not the disease – abandoning the market conditioning strategy after approval and ignoring educational prescripts that are essential for internalizing your brand positioning
    2. Underestimating the role of the patient – confusing low incidence with low influence and therefore, assuming the underlying MD-patient relationship is doctor-dictated
    3. Over-Reliance on KOL Input – Presuming ‘ivory tower’ KOL opinions are representative of community-based treaters and building your communication platform and tactical investment framework around KOL input alone
    4. Minimizing treatment support system needs – immature reimbursement advocacy services that, at best, put the burden on the physician and, at worse, put the burden on the patient and their extended care network

    Part of running an evidence-based marketing company is applying third-party, retrospective evidence to assist new Clients with prospective needs. Let us help you apply some of these hard-learned lessons so you don’t have to become part of our next case study.

    Contact us to learn more about any of our services.

  • Positioning Development & Pull-Through

    • What can be done to educate and condition the market to rapidly internalize my brand positioning at launch?
    • How do I craft a compelling and differentiated positioning for my brand?
    • How can I strengthen the linkage between HCP and consumer brand communication?

    Learn more about how we can help you find the optimal positioning for your launch or on-market brand

    Positioning Development & Pull-Through

    Disciplined process designed to assist brands in gaining focus, clarity, and differentiation in their positioning by validating the optimal positioning focus and associated core messages

    Read below to find out more about how we think about creating the optimal positioning for your brand.

    Are Your Customers Telling You They Want ‘A Faster Horse’?

    by Dan Reinhardt

    The amazing thing about our industry is that every year we deliver new exciting products that have different mechanisms of action, biomarkers, tests, and endpoints that demonstrate the value our R&D provides. Unfortunately, most of the market research methodologies supporting the launch of these new products haven’t kept up with the spirit of innovation that our products are delivering.

    Faster Horse?Henry Ford is attributed with saying, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.’”

    This encapsulates a lot of the market research I see being done recently, especially with truly innovative products. Phrases like ‘game changing’ and ‘paradigm shifting’ get thrown around, yet most market research methodologies continue to rely on doctors and/or patients telling the pharmaceutical or biotechnology company how to sell the product or craft the story. A host of messages (sometimes dozens) are put in front of the respondent and they are asked to construct a story for the brand.

    The result is ‘a faster horse’ platform and pharmaceutical companies wonder why these messages aren’t ‘game changing’ or ‘paradigm shifting’ once executed in the marketplace. If your new brand is truly innovative, it’s counterintuitive to rely on your target audience to take you to a place that they themselves have never been.

    You’re the marketer! Don’t punt the responsibility for crafting the optimal story for your brand to your market researcher and certainly not to your target audience.

    Contact us to learn more about any of our services.

What We Think

The Latest from Our EVIDENCE bLOG
  • Well, I’m sure this post won’t win me many new friends among my fellow pharma vendors, but here goes anyway…

    Lately I’ve noticed a new trend where vendor partners bring numerous people to a meeting and all of the partners take seats at the main meeting table.  This, in and of itself, doesn’t seem like a big deal.  However, at many of these meetings, there is not enough room for all of the attendees to sit at the table.  In these instances, I watch in stunned silence as clients take seats along the back walls or in corners, while their vendors stay in their seats at the main table.

    These clients refuse to pull rank and make their vendor partners feel bad in a public forum, which makes them good and sensitive human beings.  So, for my clients who are too polite to say what should be said, let me do it for you. Read on

  • Busy DoctorOur industry is making significant progress in many therapeutic areas, especially with the promise of immuno-therapies and personalized medicine. However, even with these advances, prescribing inertia or as one client calls it ‘muscle memory prescribing’ continues to be a significant competitive threat to new product launches. I believe the reason for this inertia is “decision fatigue.”

    Most marketers lack a sincere appreciation for the number of prescribing or prescribing-like decisions that the average physician has to make in a single day. The processes that Clients traditionally engage in to develop or examine positioning and marketing strategy often look at prescribing without this important context, even with the ubiquitous multiple page buying process in hand. Read on

  • Doctor & Patient TalkingThe importance of proper patient identification at launch cannot be underestimated. I previously wrote about it being the key to a successful launch from the perspective of physician marketing and targeting. Yet, the biggest impact proper patient identification has on the physician is not from your marketing efforts at all, but from an invisible detail that most biotechnology companies don’t even measure – the feedback from the patients initially prescribed your product after launch.

    What we see is that marketers obsess over the volume of scripts on a weekly or even daily basis, but virtually pay no attention to the attributes of those early patients until it’s too late.

    The patient feedback comprised in this incredibly impactful invisible detail is based on two different types of evidence:
    Read on

  • Individual in a crowdThe explosive growth in the number of filings and associated approval of drugs to treat rare diseases has outstripped the supply of qualified, experienced rare-disease marketers. Unless you are retiring in the next 5 years, there is a strong possibility that you’ll be working in a rare disease market. So, it’s critical to consider how rare disease marketing is different from traditional biotechnology marketing.

    There are four key differences that immediately come to mind that any marketer or company getting involved in rare disease should keep in mind. Read on

  • superheroHow interesting would a superhero movie be if it immediately jumped right to the part where the hero fights the epic battle, defeats the villain, and saves the day? Although the action might captivate your attention for a few minutes, you’re ultimately not likely to remember much about it once it’s over if you haven’t been provided with the backstory. The backstory gives you context, and more importantly, it explains why you should even care.

    Yet with the heroes of our industry, ahem our pharmaceutical brands, we consistently feel the need to just jump right to the part where our brand saves the day. This archaic approach leaves our customers, whether prescribers or patients, in the same quandary as my fictitious moviegoer – trying to figure out on her own why she should care. Read on

  • Patient SelectionBeing able to clearly articulate to both physicians and patients ‘who is’ and ‘who is not’ the optimal candidate for your drug is probably the single most important task a Brand Team must execute in the days following FDA approval. In order to accomplish this, your marketing efforts to clearly identify and articulate the patient-types best suited for your drug must start early.

    Unfortunately, inflated sales forecasts and launch expectations developed during the pre-launch phase often push Brand Teams to cast the net as wide as possible. The resistance to focus during pre-launch often leads to quotes from physician and patient launch research like the following: Read on

  • chicken nuggetsCongratulations! You’ve just completed your brand positioning, and it’s wonderful. After many weeks (or likely months) and hundreds of man hours, the wording has been expertly selected and refined to effectively communicate your brand’s unique benefit(s), it’s been validated with your targeted customers, and the result is a thing of beauty.

    But now someone at your agency, or worse within your own organization, tells you that it’s kind of hard to remember. They want you to develop a short moniker to help the troops understand the essence of what you hope to communicate, but without having them have to work too hard to decipher. You know what I mean, s/he wants a catchphrase like, “confident control” or “best balanced” to throw around at the launch readiness review or sales meetings, because let’s face it, the catchphrase is just easier than reciting that whole mess of words that your team created.

    So, what’s the harm really? It would make it easier for everyone to remember and rally around. It can’t hurt, right? WRONG . . . Read on

  • Rubick's cubeSince our founding in 2006, Return on Focus’ Evidence-Based Marketing approach has appealed to specialty care and biotechnology companies looking to mirror the evidence-based medicine philosophy already established on the clinical side of the house. This has alignment in thinking has enabled us to garner a wealth of experience in Oncology and Immunology over the years.

    Within these two areas, a common marketing challenge is how to effectively optimize the ‘pipeline in a product.’ A molecule that has the benefits of demonstrating activity across a broad spectrum of indications also poses the challenge of serving a diverse set of stakeholders with a product profile that doesn’t perform identically across all indications. Avastin in Oncology and Remicade in Immunology are the typical illustrations.

    The marketing goal for these ‘pipeline in a product’ brands is to successfully plan for and optimize the portfolio through astute marketing. To assist Clients in visualizing the challenge and the opportunity, we use a Rubik’s cube metaphor. The three dimensions of the cube most commonly represent the following: Read on

  • I’ve recently worked on two projects in separate therapeutic areas where the challenger brand had unique clinical data that was met with apathy despite high unmet need in both categories. Why would this be the case?

    Filling data gapsThe physicians in each category had assumed that their current brand already had the data in question when it, in fact, did not. This belief by the prescribers basically eliminated the rightful clinical differentiation for these new products. The physicians had given the benefit of the doubt (or filled in the missing data) to their trusted brand.

    So, how does something like this happen? Read on

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