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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.

Targeted Personalization

It's about being personal ... just ask any healthcare marketer. "Greater relevance and personalization will become ever more important to forming trusting relationships in healthcare," Kuzel says, contending that her team at STAR strives for this personalization using its digitization program, which allows communications to be tailored for interactive video, landing pages, E-mail, social networks and more.

"A personalized landing page can become a patient's one-stop shop for all things regarding their disease. Information provided by patients can be used to respond to their choices and actions in real time," she adds.

"In so many categories, mass media doesn't make any sense for a communications strategy," says Marty Laiks, managing director of wellness practice at G2 Direct & Digital, a New York-based direct marketing company. "Increasingly, online and relationship marketing programs are the way in which the brands are creating a dialogue."

More targeted marketing not only benefits those who suffer from a disease — since each person's experience with a disorder or disease is different — it is also a better use of creative dollars, says Laiks, adding, "Everything from the creative through to the offer, it's about talking to the right person at the right time, with the right message."

Laiks says the Internet has been a driving force in this switch to more targeted messaging. As more consumers go online to learn about a condition or just to seek healthy lifestyle information, it has gotten easier to create communications that individuals can digress onto with just the click of the mouse.

"In the first 10 years of DTC (direct-to-consumer, a healthcare industry description of direct response marketing), so much was spent on TV commercials and it was the only tool in the kit. It meant spending a lot of money to reach a big audience to find the few who have the relevant condition. Today you have a shift in focus to offer more educational information, more social media and more ways of engaging the patient," says Laiks. "What's great about the Internet is that you're not just reading, you're engaging in a conversation. And as a consumer engages, he or she is learning."

Laiks also sees a trend in relationship-building marketing. No longer does the healthcare or drug company want to talk at the consumer, but rather build an ongoing two-way dialogue. "The idea is to give patients support for treatments, side effects, symptom management and beyond-drug benefits to diet and exercise," says Laiks.

The best way to do this is one-on-one with a patient. Laiks says that paid search engine marketing, contextual advertising, sponsoring and being a part of a third-party Web site, and banner ads can all be successful in maintaining this relationship.

"Brand response," is the phrase that Quigley-Simpson, a Los Angeles-based advertising agency that runs DR campaigns for several healthcare clients, uses to show the marriage between direct response marketing and relationship building. "Brand response does mean one-to-one communication with that consumer," says Evan Lazarus, senior vice president of interactive, Quigley-Simpson. "Opening up dialogue so the consumers' voices can be heard, the brand communicates with them."

Lazarus says that Quigley-Simpson uses a mix of media to reach potential customers. However, it is online communication that has opened the ability for health experts and patients to take part in a dialogue and actively form a brand ambassador. "Web 2.0 gives marketers the ability to spread messages in multiple ways," Lazarus contends. "In the digital ecosystem, search works with display, works with online forums and blogs, and, in turn, creates an effect for TV."

Lazarus predicts a lot more healthcare marketing will move into the digital realm. "One of the beauty for advertisers is the repurposing of TV content to be distributed in pre-roll online," he says. "Recording to a digital video recorder (DVR) or watching something the next day on Hulu or YouTube — that affords the opportunity to take that 15 seconds and implement it as a pre-roll, with up to four spots per episode."

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