Why inbound is the new DTC: patients are the best physician detail aids

As our marketing excellence month continues, Malcolm Bohm provides his thoughts on how the pharma industry has moved away from direct-to-consumer marketing towards Inbound Marketing. Find out what this is below…

The goal posts have moved in healthcare marketing. For years, the industry has focused primarily on detailing physicians. But those doors are closing fast to sales reps and the sales forces are being slashed across the board.

Outside of the physician’s office, the US pharma industry has spent fortunes on traditional Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) TV, radio and print advertising. Often referred to as ‘spray and pray’ these campaigns are no longer as effective. Consumers have tuned out.

Old DTC casts a very wide and expensive net. Inbound Marketing, arguably the New DTC, is hyper-targeted and highly cost efficient. New DTC is extremely agile and reactive to the various needs of the target disease personas through their disease lifecycles.

Today, the consumer is in pole position and forced to be much more selective in their healthcare choices. The internet provides immediate access to information and consumers are empowering themselves like never before. According to Pew Internet, 80% of consumers seek health information online and 40% seek information from others on the social networks. Most, 70%, will take the information they gather to their physician. Informed patients are proactive patients. Healthcare system changes are forcing consumers to become empowered patients.

Well, if sales reps can’t get to docs, consumers have tuned out from old DTC and instead are consuming tons of information online and taking it to the physician’s office, who is the best detail aid? I guarantee that a patient will get an appointment with their doctor. It may not be as timely as they would want, but they will get their 7 minutes, which is a whole lot more than reps are getting.


“Healthcare system changes are forcing consumers to become empowered patients.”


So how do we get healthcare consumers empowered with the right information about your brand, your device, your hospital, your plan etc?

This is where Inbound Marketing comes in. It’s been around since 2006 and is the best way to attract, engage and retain consumer interest. Instead of the old outbound DTC marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, Inbound Marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be.

By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and turn into advocates over time.

Put another way, Inbound Marketing is marketing to consumers on their terms, in the places they spend their time in – the internet, in search, social networks, video, blogs, forums etc.

There are a series of steps to Inbound Marketing:

• Attract visitors

• Convert visitors into leads

• Close leads into customers

• Turn customers into advocates

Attracting the right visitors is critical. These are the people who are most likely to become leads and ultimately request your product at their next physician encounter. The ideal visitors are those with the target disease personas – expressing symptoms, discussing diagnoses, seeking or comparing treatments and or procedures, selecting physicians, hospitals, health insurance etc.

Developing these personas requires detailed intelligence so that you publish the right content and advertise to the right people. The most important tools for attracting the right audience include Blogging, Social Media and Search Keywords. These are all the intersection points of your potential visitors.


“By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic…”


When they click to your landing page, this is where you can convert visitors to leads and leads into customers. Optimized landing pages that ensure an informative, immersive and valuable experience are the payoff.

Calls-to-action on the landing pages must be clear and easy find. Above all, make the experience consumer friendly. Visual storytelling versus text dumps. Apply the intelligence you have gathered about the disease community and address the items they express and seek, upfront.

Done well, your landing page is essentially a honey pot for the target audience. You have credible, authentic, approved materials that are consumer friendly. You have clear calls to action that offer an advantage to the visitor.

The incentive and value proposition must be very easy to understand – “Download the Symptom Tracker”, “Call for a Free Consultation”, “Join the Support Group”, “Get Your 30 Day Co-Pay Card”, “Find a Doctor” etc… are just some examples.

Make it easy for visitors to share their experience with others. Turn them into advocates. If what you offer is of value they will share it. Disease communities tend to be very willing to spread good information. They will be your most powerful asset for campaign velocity and reach. Word of mouth is omnipotent in Inbound Marketing.

Healthcare choices are complex and take time. Just because they visited your landing page and perhaps downloaded or signed up does not mean they have finished their online journey. Consider using some form of tracking tool to better understand the subsequent places they visit and the time it takes for conversion. This information can help you better refine content and retargeting of ads.

What does all this mean for DTC marketers in this new age? They better learn quickly because any brand team or company that doesn’t take the time to understand how use Inbound Marketing to attract, convert and close the empowered consumer is not going to get their healthcare spend.

Give your target audience a reason to take your information to their doctor’s office and be your best and most effective detail aid.

About the author:

Mr Malcolm Bohm serves as Chief Executive Officer, President, and Director at Liquid Grids, Inc.

Mr Bohm is a recognized expert in Life Sciences. In 2006, he created Trialytics, an industry leading software solution leveraging electronic healthcare data to redefine clinical R&D strategies eventually selling the company to SDI Health Inc. In 2005, Mr Bohm established a successful US affiliate for biotech firm, Aspreva Pharmaceuticals. In the industry since 1993, he served in increasingly senior positions at major pharmaceutical companies including Astra, Pfizer, and Novartis.

Mr Bohm has a Master of Medical Sciences degree in Renal Physiology and Pharmacology along with advanced training in analytical data modeling and achieved a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology.

Is Inbound Marketing the new DTC?