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Emotional End Benefit – Earned Not Given

Hi. We just met. You trust me, right? You have confidence in the work I’ll do for you. Now that we’ve met, you’re willing to give me all your strategic business over other people you’ve worked with for years. Right?

Well, obviously this idea is absurd. I have to work hard and deliver consistently to earn your trust, your confidence, and your business.

Circle of TrustIf we all agree that this is how things work in the business world, then can anyone explain why do pharmaceutical brand teams seem to think this rule doesn’t apply for a brand that is new to the market?

All too often, I see positioning statements for new brands littered with cliché emotional end benefit statements that supposedly fulfill a long-standing unmet need. Things like, “so doctors can confidently make a difference in the lives of their patients” or “so you can trust that you’re helping to improve their overall quality of life.”

The problem is that these emotional end benefits will not be granted right out of the gate, but have to be earned over time.
Don’t believe me? Well, ask yourself a few questions.

  • How can a physician have confidence in your brand and what it will deliver if they have never used it?
  • Why should they trust your product when they haven’t seen how it compares to the brands they’ve relied on for years?
  • How do they know how they will feel when they prescribe this product if they haven’t heard patients play back their first-hand experiences?

The value of physicians connecting with brands on an emotional level is undeniable. In fact, it was validated in a recent survey from Harris Interactive in early 2013 (Harris Poll Physician PulseSM). But what was also clear from this study was that the pharmaceutical medications highest ranked in terms of trust have been on the market for years, if not decades, and physicians have had significant prescribing experience with each one.

So when you’re working on positioning your brand, keep in mind that you need to give physicians a practical benefit to prescribe when you initially enter the market. You can then work to uncover a highly relevant emotional benefit for your brand once they’ve had ample time to actually establish a connection to your product.

At the end of the day, prescribing is a lot like dating. If you say, “I love you.” on the first date, you’re likely to scare them off before the relationship even gets started.

Understand The ‘Zone of Credibility’ for Your Brand Before You Make Content Investments

Zone of CredibilityPharmaceutical 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:

  • Disease state information
  • Clinical data releases
  • Conference information and meeting summaries
  • KOL Interviews
  • Practice & Treatment Guidelines

In short, HCPs viewed the elements above outside the manufacturers zone of credibility and therefore, discounted (or more likely, ignored) the value the manufacturer was trying to provide.

On the flip side, our research confirmed the content areas that are considered within the brand’s zone of credibility as measured by HCP responses. These areas included:

  • Dosing and administration
  • Side effect management
  • Patient assistance
  • Benefits coordination and reimbursement services
  • Clinical trial information about your brand
  • Patient education materials

You may be asking yourself, why is this the first time I’m hearing of this? The answer is few brands actually quantify the zone of credibility afforded by their customers. However, once you clearly define the credibility zone for your brand, the marketing effectiveness of your commercial investments can only increase.

Time to Re-Position? Positioning Triangulation Is A Key Diagnostic

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:

  1. Planned Positioning – This is the brand positioning and corresponding message platform that you have written in you brand plan and should be populated in your creative briefs
  2. Promoted Positioning – This is the gestalt of the messaging that actually clears your organization promotional review process and is communicated to your target audience through field force and promotional materials
  3. Perceived Positioning – This is the playback, usually via your ATU, of how your target audience internalizes the messages you’ve communicated about your brand

ROF Positioning TriangulationThe 3 elements above form a virtual triangle reflecting the success of your brand positioning. By ‘measuring’ the distance between each of the legs on the triangle, key diagnostics are revealed that help the brand manager determine the right course of action.

For example, large discrepancies between the planned and promoted positioning within the triangle could reveal different potential culprits such as:

  • Brand Team – Planned positioning is not only emotionally aspirational, but also clinically aspirational making successful execution all but impossible
  • Ad Agency – Creative development process does not use the planned positioning as the central yard stick
  • Promotion Review Team – Regulatory viability of the planned positioning is suspect watering down promotional claims developed by the advertising agency

So before someone announces that it’s time to reposition your brand, take a step back and look at the evidence. Better yet, hire an expert who can objectively evaluate the evidence and make impartial recommendations.

You may be surprised to find that your brand doesn’t need a complete overhaul in its communication platform. If it does, at least you’ll know which leg of the triangle you need to attack.

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