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Standing Out in a Saturated Market: Q&A with Matt Titus, VP & Chief Commercial Officer, epocrates


Fran Pollaro chats with Matt Titus about successfully navigating in crowded therapeutic markets with tailored messaging and data-driven strategies.

In today's competitive pharmaceutical landscape, marketers face the challenge of standing out in saturated markets. Fran Pollaro, senior editor, recently had the opportunity to speak with Matt Titus, VP and Chief Commercial Officer of epocrates, who shared his insights on how pharma marketers can effectively differentiate their products and resonate with healthcare providers. From understanding the unique needs of different medical specialties to leveraging data-driven strategies, Titus provides valuable advice for pharma marketers aiming to establish their brand as the top choice in a crowded market.

Pollaro: Where should pharma marketers start with marketing a drug product in a saturated market?

Titus: When up against a crowded therapeutic market, it can be daunting for pharma marketers to determine an effective strategy that truly differentiates their product. The first step is to determine how exactly a product differentiates from competitors in the market, and from there, ensure that message remains top-of-mind to prescribers at the point of care. This effort comes down to strong product marketing messaging and strategy that resonates with a target audience. It’s important to remember that you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to messaging, especially in a crowded market.

Matt Titus, VP & Chief Commercial Officer, epocrates

Matt Titus, VP & Chief Commercial Officer, epocrates

There’s a good amount of nuance as healthcare providers across specialties and practice type can react to messaging differently. A message about a drug that resonates with a primary care provider might be drastically different than one that resonates with a neurologist.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a therapeutic area with a very saturated market – how have you worked with MS drug manufacturers to advance marketing efforts?

MS therapy is indeed a very saturated market. Several therapies exist to manage many MS manifestations – there are treatments aimed at controlling symptoms, acute exacerbations, and relapse. Additionally, there are pipeline products that offer various modes of action that increase market competition.

At epocrates, we had a biotech client who was looking to drive brand awareness and increase their MS product’s market share volume. Understanding they had to stand out in a saturated market, we partnered to advance their messaging to prescribers at the point of care to ultimately inform prescribing decisions. We have an offering called "monograph messages", which are actionable brand messages surfaced within Rx and OTC drug monographs when prescribers are actively seeking product information. The client could reach prescribers who were looking up their drug’s monograph.

Additionally, we have extensive data on prescriber engagement, so we could support by providing informed content topic guidance that would effectively engage prescribers at points of care. These tactics fed into the wider strategy of establishing this brand as the therapy of choice for MS.

What role does data play when developing an effective strategy?

It’s difficult to overstate the value data offers in developing strategy. Indeed, data uncovers the slightest incremental patterns that unlock the key differentiators among a sea of seemingly similar behaviors and trends.

The first step truly begins when you set up the mechanisms to ensure we understand the user journey and experience. We then examine how different users interact with features across our platforms to gain a better understanding of personal preference among our key cohorts. It is in this data that we are able to reveal discrete differences that can have a major impact on engagement across epocrates. We leverage this information to build strategies that step outside of a one-size-fits-all approach and truly help practitioners uncover information that is crucial to their day-to-day jobs.

Data is the core foundation to effective marketing strategy whose intention is to stand out in a saturated market. Strong data on prescriber preferences, behaviors and tendencies can help answer a pharma marketer’s number one question: how can our message resonate with prescribers?

When developing marketing content, how can drug manufacturers ensure they’re making content that will resonate?

With data at the helm, pharma marketers need to develop messaging that provide value-added information and differentiate the brand at the point-of-care. For example, as we were working with the MS drugmaker, we evaluated data on areas of interest to neurologists. We found that dose information is an important aspect to a neurologist’s prescribing decision. Therefore, a convenient dosing message would be strong in terms of brand strategy as well as driving engagement.

We also found that information around the appropriate patient types drives high engagement, which led to the development of content to help prescribers select appropriate patients for the therapy.

What were the results of the marketing strategies leveraged with the MS drug manufacturer? Are there any lessons pharma marketers can take away?

Through the content marketing strategy, the drugmaker shared meaningful messages to healthcare providers at the point of care and saw high engagement. The number of total impressions per content topic exceeded the expected average, meaning that the branded monograph messaging was accessed often among prescribers engaging with the app. Additionally, the drugmaker saw above average click-through rates on their content, which indicated that headlines successfully enticed prescribers to read more.

The key lesson for pharma marketers is that tailored messaging to healthcare providers resonates and is a pivotal tactic to keep your brand top-of-mind in a crowded market.

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