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
  • As the Summer of 2023 enters full swing, the world has officially shaken off the remaining vestiges of the pandemic years.  While we are all enjoying this return to normalcy, it’s critical that those of us who have the privilege and responsibility to craft policies for the workforce don’t forget some of the lessons we learned when life slowed down more than 3 years ago.

    ·       Mental health matters.

    ·       Personal and family time is important.

    ·       Less in-office time and fewer meetings does not mean lower productivity.

    Even though the world seems increasingly focused on improving mental health, research uncovers that full-time employees’ mental health has declined in recent years. U.S. employees regularly log longer hours and cite feeling that they are always on call.

    Read on

  • When we’re conducting positioning work with Clients, we often hear a blanket statement that a pharmaceutical/ biotechnology brand cannot be successfully positioned based on its mechanism of action (MOA). It’s likely that repeated comments from physicians to the effect of, “I don’t care how your drug works. I only care that it works.”, have made this way of thinking near gospel among Industry executives. While it is true that not every brand can be positioned based on MOA, it is inaccurate to say that no brand can.

    When examining marketing evidence, we have found that a brand can successfully  position based on MOA if(and only if) the mechanism allows the brand to deliver a unique and clinically relevant benefit. 

    Read on
  • As pharmaceutical manufacturers increasingly focus their corporate commitment within a limited number of therapeutic areas and disease states, their marketers face greater complexity and new commercial challenges that may ultimately limit their success.


    The marketers entrusted with launching the next treatment within a therapeutic franchise are frequently not given the latitude needed to develop the brand positioning and subsequent go-to-market strategies necessary to maximize their molecule. More often, considerations for the on-market brands, which are delivering today’s revenue, serve to limit the market opportunity for tomorrow’s product. This is a real-world example of what the late Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, called ‘the innovator’s dilemma.’

    Read on

  • Most products being launched in Oncology and Immunology these days are “pipeline in a product” assets. In fact, the average number of indications for each new product in development has increased steadily since 2014.

    This shift has led to a dramatic impact on positioning development, with Brand Teams often more focused on developing “positioning” that is actually a long-term vision for the molecule instead of focusing on successfully positioning the lead indication. It’s like going on a first date and talking about marriage and names for your eventual children. It’s just too soon, and this vision-based focus may cause you to lose your chance to make the best first impression. From our experience in pharma positioning, focusing primarily on what the clinical development program might provide results in inexecutable brand positioning that is generally incompatible with the initial indication. For example, focusing on “first choice in first line” when you’re launching with a third-line indication isn’t the best approach.

    Read on

  • The importance of proper patient identification at launch cannot be overstated. The feedback from the initial patients prescribed your product is one of the most important factors in determining how physicians perceive its utility vs. the competition.  Multiply this by all your target physicians, and these initial experiences have a huge impact on your initial launch curve and ultimately launch success. While patient experiences may be channeled through nurses, other healthcare professionals or even office staff, they always finds their way back to the physician. We consider these invisible product ‘details’ to be among the most important initial drivers or barriers to physician prescribing at launch, and they take a couple of forms.

    Read on
  • Zone of Credibility

    Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Marketers increasingly frustrated by the limitations of the package insert and desperate to seek value-added services, have tried to engage their target HCPs by offering content that extends beyond the product itself. When examined, this attempt to reach beyond the product has been met with resistance.

    In assessing the marketing effectiveness of a HCP CRM program from a biotechnology company, ROF quantified huge perceived credibility gaps among HCPs on a variety of non-drug content topics. An illustrative quote from a physician pinpointed the issue.

    “I view the manufacturer as the experts on their product
    (e.g., effectiveness, access, side effect management, administration)
    but this does not extend to other content areas.”

    At ROF, we refer to this as the ‘zone of credibility.’ HCPs pointed out in the research that there are timelier and more credible sources of information for such common content areas as:

    Read on
  • Tags: Adherence

    Of all the predictive questions one faces in launching a new biologic or pharmaceutical product, the ceiling of your product’s adherence curve may be one of the easiest to tackle with a high degree of accuracy. The answer to this question is buried within your clinical study report(s).

    Trial Adherence Curve

    The fact is that the ceiling for your adherence curve is revealed by carefully examining the ITT (intent to treat) analysis by time increment, preferably monthly for most brands. Once you’ve plotted this curve, you can safely assure your Senior Management that it won’t get any better after launch.

    But wait, why can’t your adherence curve get any better?

    Read on
  • ROF Positioning Triangulation

    The decision to reposition your brand should not be taken lightly and shouldn’t be solely linked to a change in brand management or agency. The evaluation of your positioning should occur yearly during brand planning using an approach that we call positioning triangulation. The three key coordinates that you need to triangulate are the following:

    Read on
  • Crowdsourcing

    According to Wikipedia, crowdsourcing is a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people. The most common type of crowdsourcing assignment that you might be familiar with is running a logo design contest. This is where you share a common creative brief with a diverse, distributed set of graphic designers that provide potential solutions for payment.

    At ROF, we are starting to see pharmaceutical and biotechnology marketers embrace crowdsourcing with their most sensitive element – strategy. The approach boils down to gaining input on the brand strategy from all corners of the organization and deriving the final strategy based on this ‘disciplined’ approach.

    However, the disadvantages of this approach are many, including*:

    Read on
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