It is well-known within the
pharmaceutical industry that one of the key elements in a company’s competitive
strategy is the ability to effectively manage the promotional mix. The
promotional mix is most often comprised of a
combination of personal selling, digital marketing, direct marketing, events
and meetings, and professional journal advertising among various physician segments.
In fact, the idea of
integrated marketing communications (IMC) is now being adopted by many
companies in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. This framework
implies that companies must take a cohesive
marketing approach for all communications
touchpoints so that the physician is exposed to a consistent story about the
brand or company. HCD Research has extensive experience in testing new campaign
concepts having tested more than 150 concepts in the last several years.
Despite the proliferation of DTC advertising and digital
marketing, results consistently demonstrate that detailing and journal
advertising have a positive and significant effect on the number of
prescriptions written. However, closer examination of the effectiveness of these
media has shown that among various physician segments, there is a “wear out”
effect, or better stated, diminishing returns on responsiveness to a specific
campaign. Generally speaking, campaigns that take advantage of an IMC approach
are more impactful at delivering key
selling messages. However, as physicians become
more and more familiar with a product, they have less of an incentive to thoroughly review ads or other promotional material.
Strategic marketing research
programs can help pharmaceutical companies understand how to best balance the effectiveness of an IMC campaign, post and pre
launch, and determine at what point there is message wear out, or even
potential carry over effects. When diminishing returns have been identified, it
may be time to implement a creative refresh as
long as it is aligned with the overall branding
strategy. Marketing researchers should
avoid treating promotions or advertisements as strictly new individual
materials. They should think about how materials can fit into the overall
integrated marketing communications framework to provide incremental benefits
from previous efforts.
Rather than implementing comprehensive campaign changes,
which may or may not produce short-term gains —
the long-term branding strategy should be reinforced. The
plan may consist of logos, headlines, taglines, graphics, personas, icons, etc.
that continues to strengthen the brand’s unique positioning. Marketing
professionals should consider campaigns as long-term investments with quantifiable
metrics that are correlated to the brand’s equity over time in order to make a
lasting impression on a target audience.
This does not suggest that pharmaceutical marketers should
invest in executing the same campaign without
any changes. However, it does suggest
that a continuity plan, one that builds the brand over time as a unique entity,
without huge radical changes, may have longer-term effects on the bottom line.
Until there are significant diminishing returns, and it has been proven using quantifiable marketing
research that an ad or promotional element has lost its effectiveness in
communicating the intended messages, should changes be implemented in the
In summary, strategic marketing research can be used to
effectively make decisions on diminishing returns of promotional materials while
the campaign is in-market. When a campaign is exhibiting wear out, using a
research tool such as HCD AdverTrak for campaign management and monitoring can
help marketers ensure that the overall branding strategy is supported and
equity will continue to incrementally build over time.