In the last part of our 6 part series, Optimizing the Pharma Brand Life Cycle At Every Phase, we examine a scenario where an unexpected market event requires an immediate distribution of information. The email channel provides pharma companies the opportunity for damage control with targeted messages, reassuring the public with case studies and clinical scientific evidence.
Imagine getting jabbed in the face suddenly. You're stunned, and your nose starts gushing blood. Your first priority is to stop the bleeding. You'll do almost anything to make that happen.
Metaphorically, this situation is not uncommon among pharmas. Out of the blue, companies will encounter bad PR, negative scientific findings, or FDA issues. These incidents are usually sudden and, if the company doesn't act quickly, devastating to sales. Thus, a figurative bloody nose.
Children's Tylenol Scare: Making a Bloody Nose Worse
When an unanticipated market event occurs, you want to be prepared to address it immediately. That way, you control the event; the event doesn't control you. As in the bloody-nose analogy – the sooner you react, the less blood you'll lose.
Let's start with an example of how not to react. Remember the 2010 debacle with tainted children's Tylenol and Motrin? Manufacturing defects in these over-the-counter medications eventually forced Johnson & Johnson to recall 136 million bottles.
Johnson & Johnson made two mistakes with this bloody nose. Yes, lax oversight at some of its drug plants caused the problem. However, Johnson & Johnson could've stopped the bleeding from this lapse much sooner had it not made mistake #2: not being proactive and admitting fault right away. Consequently, some estimates put sales of children's Tylenol down by 90 percent.
The Oral Contraceptive Scare: Staying Ahead of Market Events
Pharma marketers are riddled with examples of how not to handle these inauspicious events. So, how do you handle them? Interestingly, our example of how to stop a metaphorical bloody nose also involves Johnson & Johnson, albeit in a much finer moment. Many years ago, the New York Times published an article that linked oral contraceptive use to ovarian cancer. At the time, Johnson & Johnson was the biggest manufacturer of oral contraceptives.
Wisely, the company immediately went on the offensive. It activated a strong scientific and professional clinical network of subject-matter experts to quickly and credibly defuse the situation. The message contextualized the news, emphasizing that the risks of unintended pregnancies far outweighed the miniscule risks associated with using the contraceptive. Prepared from the beginning to implement a bloody-nose strategy, Johnson & Johnson never missed a beat.
The Personal Email Channel Bolsters Outreach Advocacy
Another solution to stop the bloody nose is the personal email channel. First, bolster outreach advocacy to deliver a credible, scientifically accurate email message from clinical subject matter experts.
Second, there are half as many sales reps today as there were ten years ago. The few who remain face the challenge of connecting regularly with audiences who can't meet with them in person too often due to time constraints or practice restrictions. Extend the value of your sales reps by incorporating rep-triggered email, so that sales reps can continue the conversation with their audiences, when live meetings aren’t an option.
Third, in addition to effectively supporting the field staff, email can work independently of sales reps. Email can cover difficult-to-see, no-see, or low-see healthcare professionals, while assisting field managers in reaching high-value targets in open or vacant territories.
An email campaign can accomplish all three of these tasks with customized messaging at a fraction of the cost.
The right strategy can make the difference between a brief bloody nose and a serious hemorrhage. Reacting quickly and proactively, while also leveraging the email channel, willstop the figurative bleeding ASAP.
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