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Direct Response Marketing

Healthcare Marketing 2.0

1 Feb, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

Web-savvy consumers push DR marketers to break down emotional, physical and digital barriers.


Thus far, the bulk of Microsoft's marketing of HealthVault has been geared toward the ecosystem participants: healthcare providers such as Aetna and HealthScan, as well as fitness and health manufacturers.

"It's not a tangible product that people can hold and feel, so we rely on building one-on-one relationships," says Marguerite Yeo, director of product marketing, Microsoft HealthVault. HealthVault builds the relationships through: face-to-face marketing at healthcare events; some online marketing and E-mails; direct mail; and an online newsletter. In addition, display ads have appeared on NYtimes.com, Everyday.com, Mayoclinic.com and other health Web sites.

Yeo adds that she's noticed this fundamental shift, where consumers are now in control. "In the past, many people felt physicians or the government managed their health and owned their data," says Yeo. "Patients these days want access to health information."

HealthVault launched a Web site for the CVS MinuteClinic, which enables patients to access their information in order to pass it along to a primary care physician at their next visit.
HealthVault launched a Web site for the CVS MinuteClinic, which enables patients to access their information in order to pass it along to a primary care physician at their next visit.

So far, HealthVault has partnered with more than 100 companies and has a directory of tailored applications to offer customers. Recently, to make the applications and devices more consumer-friendly, HealthVault bundled them into five categories: looking at weight loss; get fit and stay fit; blood pressure; organizing health information; and emergency situations.

Why are consumers so invested in controlling their healthcare choices? "Today's health-seeking patients and caregivers often approach their situation with 'life vs. death' intensity rather than the 'likes vs. dislikes' mindset of typical consumers," says Maryann Kuzel, the president of STAR Healthcare — a marketing agency, founded in 2007 as a division of Omnicom's STAR marketing, that does work for pharmaceutical and healthcare clients. "They will search exhaustively for dozens or hundreds of hours, may visit 40 or more Web sites, chat rooms and message boards as they search for and verify information that is personally relevant to them, and then verify it through additional sources."

In addition, while most consumer goods are purchased to satisfy desires, no one wants to be sick, and so healthcare products or drugs are a necessary evil. "Brands must understand and break through a complex set of emotional and psychological barriers, as well as health beliefs and behaviors, that have been formed by a lifetime of experiences," she adds.

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