7 Tips for Improving Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing Inspired by Past Presidents
In the spirit of American presidential politics (historically speaking), we thought we’d turn the discourse to some memorable presidential quotes to help guide a discussion on what patient-centered marketing should look like.
- “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!”1 –President Ronald Reagan
President Reagan’s edict to Mikhail Gorvachev to tear down the Berlin Wall in order to bridge the Cold War divide between democracy and communism could actually have applications to marketers. Specifically, the conventional way of learning is to sit behind a wall with a two-way mirror in order to observe a group of consumers. Observation certainly has its place, but it’s not enough on its own. The patient experience is something we need to feel to truly understand. It’s time to tear down that wall between the patients and marketers, stop holding patients at arm’s length, and actually engage with patients in meaningful ways.
- “The economy, stupid.”2 –Sign in President Bill Clinton’s office
This phrase came from Clinton campaign strategist James Carville during the 1992 presidential election, and served to remind Clinton of what the American people cared most about. Applied to healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing, the phrase might convert to “It’s the patient, stupid.” Everything we do should start and end with the patient in mind, with the patient’s perspective being woven into every step in between. These questions should always be top of mind: How does a program or a piece of content serve the patient? What unmet needs can it fill? Is the information provided practical and useful in patients’ daily lives? Does a message resonate with patients because it matches their actual experiences?
NOTE: We do not endorse using terms like “stupid” beyond self-deprecating internal reminders.
- “Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education.”1 –President George H.W. Bush
Provide patients with the resources they need to understand their condition and potential management options. Whether it’s the tried and true brochure or a digital tool, such as a microsite, CRM program, or an unbranded Facebook page, be sure to provide information that is not only factual, relevant, and helpful to a patient’s life, but also infused with the voice of patients living with a particular condition. Education is also critical when it comes to healthcare provider marketing. Rare diseases are often not on the radar of physicians, so educating them with succinct, data-rich information is critical to ensuring patients with rare disease receive optimal care.
- “A pen is certainly an excellent instrument to fix a man’s attention and to inflame his ambition.”1 –President John Adams
Marketing materials–their words and images–are powerful tools to grab someone’s attention and to inspire or even empower them to take action themselves. If we apply President Adams’ quote to the 21st century, the pen might be replaced with a blog or a Facebook page.
The PEP understands the journeys of patients, especially those with and complex and rare diseases, are often complicated and marked by considerable physical, emotional, social, and financial challenges. Many patients and caregivers feel isolated and alone. Although their need for treatment is profound, they also crave connection and support from others in similar situations. Providing patients with a voice through a Facebook community, an opportunity to write a blog about their experience, or an online connection to others just like them, serves to create a sense of community, and often, a sense of purpose that sees them through tough times.
- “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”1 –President Franklin D. Roosevelt
In his first inaugural address given during the Great Depression, FDR strove to inspire Americans to look past the nation’s dire economic circumstances toward a better tomorrow. Through our work with patients and caregivers dealing with rare and chronic diseases, we have learned that hope is a powerful and positive force that can often be a lifeline for families. Doctors we have spoken to acknowledge the power of a positive attitude and a 30-year study3 by a Mayo Clinic researcher concluded that a pessimistic outlook is a risk factor for early death.
So when working with communities of patients and caregivers, look for messages that spark optimism, relay useful options, or provide a vision to help them see a path forward. With countless marketing messages bombarding consumers at an overwhelming rate in today’s digital age, consider what is most meaningful to patients (their health and hopes) and turn your attention to ensuring these concepts shine through in your final creative. Cut through the clutter!
- “It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.”1 –President Martin Van Buren
Don’t forget about analytics. Marketing campaigns may include dynamic creative, but they also have to demonstrate a return on investment. The beauty of digital strategies is that they make measuring a tactic’s performance more straightforward than ever. Plan all of your marketing and communications strategies with corresponding analytics. Measure them, report them to your client on a regular basis, and make adjustments, as needed, to truly move the needle with your marketing campaign.
- “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”1 –President John F. Kennedy
Marketing, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries are big businesses, but more and more companies in these industries are endeavoring to give back to the communities they serve. Corporate philanthropy should be part of the business equation for reasons we think are self-evident. Whether it’s sponsoring an advocacy event, making a contribution to a patient-focused charity, providing support through pro bono work, or fielding a team to participate in a fundraising walk, there are various ways to get involved and make a difference.
What does your organization do to make your work meaningful, build morale among employees, and motivate you to come to work each day to do good work that also feels good? The answers will likely be more rewarding than you expect.
Who knew presidential politics could teach us so much! Perhaps there is something of value in the 2016 election, after all (we’re channeling the power of optimism here). We’ll let the dust settle after the November election to decide if any of our current presidential hopefuls have lasting insights worth adding to this list.
If your brand could use an effective patient-centered marketing approach, contact the Patient Experience Project.
- “Presidential Quotes. Words from each American President.” Compiled by David Johnson. Infoplease website.
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/presquotes1.html. Accessed May 3, 2016.
- “THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: The Democrats — Clinton and Bush Compete to Be Champion of Change; Democrat Fights Perceptions of Bush Gain.” By Michael Kelly. New York Times website.
http://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/31/us/1992-campaign-democrats-clinton-bush-compete-be-champion-change-democrat-fights.html. Accessed May 3, 2016.
- Maruta T, Colligan, R, Malinchoc M, Offord K. Optimists vs Pessimists: Survival Rate Among Medical Patients Over a 30-Year Period. 2000 (Abstract). Mayo Clinic website.
http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(11)64184-0/abstract. Accessed May 3, 2016.