Behavior and the Bottom Line

May 01, 2009
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."

Jay Bigelow
John Wanamaker, the famous Philadelphia retailer, made that comment more than a century ago. Today, as the global financial crisis continues to gather force, his words resonate loudly with pharma marketers, who are being pushed to do more with less and be more accountable for every dollar they invest.

Changing marketers' behavior requires understanding customer motivation and the ability to implement strategies and tactics that drive customers to engage with the brand. Behavioral science-based relationship marketing can be highly advantageous for the marketer determined to meet this challenge.

Not to be confused with "online behavioral targeting," behavioral science–based marketing goes deep into the human psyche to understand what motivates people to act as they do. This approach also builds models that show how to shift underlying beliefs or change resulting behaviors.

The insights and models behavioral science gives us, coupled with solid relationship marketing—including creative, planning, and execution—can provide a powerful glue that connects overarching brand positioning and awareness efforts to everyday tactics. And because behavioral-based relationship marketing uses a targeted approach, this strategy is extremely cost-effective, providing measurable results and demonstrable ROI.

Science Behind the Strategy

As the name implies, this form of relationship marketing is based on scientific data. A behavioral science-based approach begins by collecting information in order to unlock insights about the customer. It identifies proven, validated behavior models that are shown to predict outcomes and determine how to change behavior. Examples include the patient's or even the doctor's perceptions of the illness, severity of the condition, the patient's sense of control, and the healthcare provider's preferred learning style. Understanding these factors is critical to creating a dialogue and personal brand experience that will be likely to inspire behavioral change.

Applied to a marketing strategy, the predictive nature of behavioral science is used to understand a person's attitudes, preferences, and barriers to action; identify and engage the right customer for the brand; develop a blueprint for communications and creative strategies; and deliver focused, relevant communications on an individual level and maximize ROI.

Behavioral science can sharply focus targeting plans and provide information that is relevant to each specific customer who inquires about the brand. With this knowledge, pharmaceutical marketers can begin to build a relationship with their customers.

The Impact Factor

Developing a Strategy
If it's done well, behavioral science-based marketing can address hidden attitudes and translate product benefits into assurances that are meaningful for the patient. For example, in the case of a breast cancer drug, the brand team sought to increase adherence among survivors taking a medication designed to help prevent the cancer from returning. An analysis of patients' behavioral motivators determined that for the brand to be accepted as a trustworthy source of that information and increase the likelihood of adherence, it was necessary to understand three things. First, the breast cancer survivors' community; second, the challenges women with breast cancer face every day; and third, what motivates breast cancer survivors to be adherent. Research also showed that patients need support throughout their lives, and that stress— caused by fear of recurrence as well as the stress of daily life—could be a key barrier to adherence.

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