In part 3 of our 6 part series, Optimizing the Pharma Brand Life Cycle At Every Phase, we explore how to optimize the product launch, and the pivotal role that the email channel plays in supporting cross channel marketing across the span of the pharma brand’s growth and maturation process.
You've worked for years developing and conditioning the market. Now, it's time to launch the product. Strategic marketing at launch and immediately thereafter is especially critical to keep a drug's release on track. Remember the McKinsey statistic: two-thirds of new drugs fall short of first-year sales expectations. That initial failure is hard to shake in most cases. Drugs that underperform the first year also tend to miss sales goals for the next two years.
To match your marketing efforts with the various stages of launch most effectively, try breaking up the process into 30-, 60-, and 90-day intervals. These intervals allow you to analyze performance at various phases to make course corrections as necessary. For instance, based on performance, do you need to adjust your promotional mix? Add audiences you haven't looked at in the past? Increase the frequency of communication with existing audiences? Here are some guidelines to help you steer your drug's launch in the right direction 30, 60, and 90 days after its debut.
30 Days After Launch: Hit the Ground Running and Capitalize on All Premarket Development Initiatives
Right off the bat, try deploying emails to all primary audiences (first-tier prescribers) and secondary audiences (second-tier prescribers), such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The purpose of email at this stage is to build rapport among your key opinion leaders (KOLs) and networks of influence. For example, you might offer your audience samples and/or copay cards as appropriate.
60 Days After Launch: Continue with Launch Strategies and Evaluate Efficacy
At 60 days, you want to continue with all your launch initiatives and begin evaluating your efforts. Have you reached all key audiences via personal (e.g., email) and non-personal (e.g., print media) channels? At this phase, consider accelerating trial use and converting trialists to brand advocates.
90 Days After Launch: Reevaluate Launch Plan and Make Adjustments as Needed
Now, it's time to reassess your launch plan to see if it's still appropriate. Look at your brand uptake, payor acceptance, and competitive response to see if you need to make changes. Keep in mind that your goal is to secure a larger loyalty base of advocates and begin converting users to loyalists. To reevaluate your initiatives, consider the following questions:
- What is the product status on formularies?
- How is the competition responding?
- Did anything new happen in the marketplace to warrant a shift in strategy?
- Should you consider any adjustments in pricing?
- Have all key audiences received at least one to four "touches" (personal and non-personal)?
- Do you need to adjust the promotional mix in any way?
- Do you need to add audiences that you haven't considered based on market/audience/payor feedback?
- Do you need to increase frequency and reach with existing audiences?
An email campaign can help you correct any course deviations you discover in answering these questions. You might try developing a series of defensive messaging in advance based on business intelligence research and market conditions (e.g., if this happens, we'll respond this way). Also, try making your emails more specific to your brand, offer, and target to determine and address the appropriate responses to the above questions.
A drug's launch is the moment of truth, but you're far from helpless once the drug debuts. By reevaluating at 30-, 60-, and 90-day intervals, you can make course adjustments as needed.
Optimizing the Pharma Brand Life Cycle At Every Phase is a six-part blog series on how to market a product from market development to crisis management:
Part 1: Market Development: Begin To Tell Your Product Story
Part 2: Clinical Trials: While You're Waiting, Warm Up Your Market
Part 3: Hit The Ground Running: Optimizing Your Product Launch
Part 4: It's Not Groundhog Day: Amplifying New Indication Reach
Part 5: Don't Jump! A Patent Cliff Is Just Another Opportunity
Part 6: Crisis Management: Taking Control of Your Brand Message