In part 2 of our 6 part series, Optimizing the Pharma Brand Life Cycle At Every Phase, the clinical trial period is explored as an opportunity to prime key influencers and prescribers for the approaching launch of a pharma product. As the preferred method of communication for HCPs, the email channel is ideal to deliver educational material, case studies, trial updates and supportive evidence to brand advocates.
The pharmaceutical market grows both more saturated and more diversified every year. McKinsey & Company estimates that pharmas will release more than 400 new molecular entities (NMEs) from 2014 to 2017, which represents a 146-percent increase from a decade ago. With so many products to compete with, getting the pre-launch strategy right has never been more important for pharmas.
Nevertheless, approximately two-thirds of NMEs fail to meet sales expectations in the first year on the market, and that failure tends to repeat each year thereafter. So what are pharmas doing wrong? By breaking the time before launch into discrete phases, pharmas can better tailor their marketing efforts to each unique period. We've already addressed the first — market development — and now we'll transition into the second, known as market conditioning, or pre-launch.
Market Conditioning: Shifting the Conversation from Brand to Disease
You want to begin market conditioning 12-18 months before launch — the product is moving through the FDA process at this point, but it isn't on the market yet. You've already identified advocates and key thought and clinical leaders in market development. Now, clinical trials are underway, and you want to start talking to prospective prescribers less about your brand and more about the condition your drug treats.
But how? Try doing research and publishing specific, educational materials on the disease that are not directly linked to your brand. Rather, the materials can focus on the impact the disease has in the marketplace — what are the pain points? For example, how does obesity or insomnia affect the workplace?
Develop an Influence Map of the Country and Identify Key Opinion Leaders
To lay the groundwork for an email campaign, try creating an influence map of the country. This map will help you identify areas of influence, key and potential brand advocates, and referral bases. You can also use this tool to identify key opinion leaders (KOLs) — physicians who influence their peers' prescribing practices — and the networks they influence.
Consider looking beyond just high-prescribing behavior in identifying KOLs; physicians tend to have the most respect for those in the medical community with academic standing and clinical-trial experience. If you recruit a KOL to run a trial for you or give a presentation on your behalf, those kinds of credentials tend to carry the most sway.
Deploy Unbranded Emails to Engage KOLs in Meaningful Dialogue
An integral piece of market conditioning is getting thought leaders in the space engaged. An effective way to do that is to initiate meaningful, ongoing dialogue by deploying unbranded emails. These communications help develop a deeper relationship that can be activated when appropriate. Email is a cost-effective medium that allows you to reach a broader audience and communicate consistently through multiple touch points with a single message in mind. Any of the following approaches might work for your market conditioning email campaign:
- Send unbranded emails on targeted disease-awareness months
- Continue clinical trial communication
- Update audiences on trial progression
Market conditioning is the last preliminary phase before you transition into launch marketing. This phase paves the way for a successful launch campaign by prompting unbranded, meaningful conversations with critical thought leaders in your targeted specialty.