Gentle Collisions in Marketing - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Gentle Collisions in Marketing

Pharmaceutical Executive


The Roadmap to Gentle Intersections

When reviewing options for complementing mass marketing with gentle intersections, consider the following:

Where does your target audience spend time? Specifically, where are they most likely to be thinking about their disease or condition management? The goal of a gentle collision is to provide something that adds value or somehow enhances that experience.

Does your audience prefer something that takes their mind off their condition? In that case, the goal is to be the source of a welcome distraction.

How can the brand intersect with a target audience during their leisure time? Is a branded sports sponsorship the right move?

What about intersecting with the patient's support network, especially with brands treating people who often don't or can't speak for themselves? In this case, the target for gentle, non-sales-driven intersections is the family or caregiver.

When the goal is to encourage at-risk audiences to self-identify, the gentle collision needs to be in familiar surroundings and via trusted sources. We once held a heart-healthy screening in a place called the "World's Largest Laundromat" in Chicago—a non-traditional venue to say the least, but the hub of the local Hispanic community, which was the target audience.

An additional benefit of gentle intersections is that they add balance to the trust factor of a mass effort. This should not be underestimated considering the results of a recent AdweekMedia/Harris poll. Respondents were asked to say which they trust more to ensure that advertising "is honest in its claims"—regulation by the government, self-regulation by advertisers and the ad industry, or neither. Nearly half (48 percent) said neither, and 55 percent of those "neither" answers were from the 55-plus demographic, the target audience of many pharma DTC efforts.

One could view this situation as an opportunity. Moving the needle in the right direction can be accomplished with the kind of blend that gets a brand both scale and reach in addition to a critical invitation into the worlds of your audience.

Sandra Stahl is a partner in jacobstahl inc., and director of the pharma practice of Vivaldi Partners, a global brand consultancy. She can be reached at


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