Education: The Creative Differentiator

March 31, 2020
Jason Kirshenblatt, Brand Insights Contributor, Group Creative Director, CultHealth
Brand Insights - Thought Leadership from Marketers I Paid Program

Everything has an MOA. Bourbon has an MOA. There’s nothing unique about that. What’s differentiating is the benefit associated with the molecule’s MOA.

“Everything has an MOA. Bourbon has an MOA. There’s nothing unique about that. What’s differentiating is the benefit associated with the molecule’s MOA.”

I took a sip of my bourbon and considered the benefit, knowing full well that wasn’t the point our Medical Director was making.

That statement became one of many guiding principles we use in educating people about disease states. Prescribers, patients, nurses, and payers all use education created by pharma marketers (and their agencies) to make better healthcare decisions. And while the specific focus of the content may differ by audience, we believe there are two qualities that distinguish our educational programs: first, the ultimate need, regardless of audience, is not just information but actionable guidance; and second, “educational” doesn’t mean “un-creative.” In fact, the opposite is demonstrably true.

“We’re not training contestants for Diabetes Jeopardy!” This insight focused the development of a patient education series we created on YouTube. Existing diabetes education was technical and fact-rich, but not especially useful. Understanding organ systems, for instance, doesn’t lead to behavior changes; however, understanding the progressive nature of diabetic organ decline helps people recognize the need for different therapies at different times. This focus on actionable education led to a video program that succeeded across numerous KPIs, including reaching more than seven million viewers and a measurably strong impact on prescriptions. In fact, Google/YouTube uses our series as a “gold standard” case study when presenting to their pharmaceutical clients.

Similarly, attracting prescriber attention is not easy, and market research will repeatedly “prove” that physicians don’t want communications that are creative, adding to the challenge of standing out. Our experience shows not just the value, but the critical importance of creative engagement in education. Creativity isn’t what they object to; promotion, hype, and a sense of “being sold” can turn off anyone. However, creative presentations of science and data are engaged, appreciated, valued, and retained if they are relevant and offer actionable information.

How can we turn medical science into creative educational expressions? Consider a women’s health brand that invited prescribers to find education in a simulated, intimate bedroom setting (which received enthusiastic engagement from leading KOLs), or a migraine therapy that presented professionals with a crime scene–type experience, providing the “body of evidence” to educate about migraine’s effects throughout the body. 

One significant way we ensure educational content is both creative and scientifically relevant begins with that MOA discussion. Prescribers, and even patients, want to understand how a molecule works. But if everything (even bourbon) has a mechanism of action, the part that makes the mechanism educationally significant is the benefit it delivers; rather than the Mechanism of Action, it is the Mechanism of “Benefit” that leads communications into an entirely new creative discussion. 

One of our clients offers a new therapy for a rare disease affecting the muscular development of young boys. Data clearly show the drug’s efficacy in treating this disease, but we needed to add more urgency to previously satisfie­­­d prescribers. So, we presented them a “Mechanism of PreservationTM.” The “MOP” spurred a dynamic educational direction: asking prescribers to consider the benefit that preserving muscle fiber today has on their patients years from now. Beyond what the medication does, the MOP is a platform to discuss why it is so important that it works this specific way. Yes, we still incorporate MOA content, but in the context of a defined, long-term patient benefit, the mechanism becomes differentiating and meaningful.

Armed with creative and qualitative successes, CultHealth takes every opportunity to guide our clients into exploring what we now call “MOBs” (Mechanism of Benefits), rather than MOAs.

CultHealth’s uniquely successful educational programs remain founded on providing actionable guidance to our audiences, and leveraging out-of-the-box creativity to promote higher levels of engagement. And of course, our methods continue to evolve, because the more we educate, the more we learn.