Disease awareness should be replaced in the healthcare marketing playbook with a new approach. Marketers need to reach beyond awareness to activate the target audience—not merely broadcast to it. They need to create campaigns consumers and patients want to be a part of, rather than just ask their doctors about.
It's time for a "movement."Tap Unknown Territory
A September 2008 article in BrandWeek noted that Big Pharma's spending on unbranded drug ads has dropped dramatically over the past two years, from $660 million on health education and corporate image ads in 2006, to $341 million in 2007, to just $138 million in the first six months of 2008. In the article, Nielsen Monitor-Plus cited the lack of effectiveness of unbranded awareness efforts in a competitive environment for this significant decline in spending. While still standard, unbranded awareness efforts seem to be losing their appeal as the centerpiece of a communications campaign. Even when well conceived, the best these efforts can do is move the needle on awareness for all players. The value of these campaigns is limited, therefore, to the market leader.
Tough economic times call for a new approach. An examination of the Obama campaign, for example, provides some valuable lessons on how a movement strategy can coax the undecided into action. Movement strategy, vocabulary, and platforms can all be employed as tools to enhance patients' and consumers' feelings of authenticity about a campaign's messages and forge a closer bond with the brand, the disease, the cause, and the sponsor.