Commentary

Merz: Search and Patient Journeys, Neurosciences

In order to reach most consumers, Merz markets at a fifth-grade level. For example, it puts spend behind the term “drooling” rather than the technical term for that physical problem. People are looking for solutions after diagnoses, going on “Dr. Google.” Merz looks at which keywords are popping up and their definitions, where people are looking for treatment.

There is a lot of restriction in the pharma space. In a 60-second ad, 60% has to be dedicated to safety information. Companies that deal with diabetes and oncology treatment spend money on ads because so many patients resort to them. Merz competes against that. It markets Botox on the aesthetic and therapeutic sides. It’s marketing on TV is all about migraine and its solution for that.

Our challenge is not only to get you to our website but, once you drop off, how do we figure out whether you followed up with a healthcare provider? We work with companies that track consumer behavior with our digital tracking, and monitor activity. We know it takes 6 to 9 months to drive a patient from that first interaction to receiving an injection. 

Because of HIPPA laws, Merz has to go through a third party to purchase competitive terms in order to gain traction through competitive search. “It’s a battle every day at 12:01 a.m. when bidding for the words begins,” said Burke. 

Christie Brinkley has been a spokesperson for 18 months because one of the owners of Merz, a 110-year-old company based in Frankfurt, Germany, crossed paths with her. Merz’s patient journey was about fillers and older females. But it now sees a different generation. Millennials are becoming more attuned to themselves. The average age for Botox injections is 32; it used to be 54. “We have identified the folks in my market, typically, as females 25 and 28 to 40 and then 55 plus.” 

While it might be tempting to target people living in, say, Hollywood, pharma cannot hyper-target. Therefore, “we’re piggy-backing on aesthetics to target markets using audience data. Women are the ones taking care of aging parents and/or sick husbands. Merge is getting info through search, through Facebook communities and digital online influencers. 

Merz works with the FDA and the FTC, etc. “We work with review committees. Our marketing team takes whatever we want to design into this panel on a weekly basis. Marketing assets such as search, landing pages, YouTube, must be filed with the FDA. It’s a wonderful industry,” Burke says, “there are lots of not known information. We’re finding that when patients are more educated, they have a better relationship with their healthcare providers. Whatever we can do to increase education around disease states ... it is vitally important that we advertise across social and media platforms.”

Merz uses patient ambassadors, people who have diseases that it treats, to help those who are getting a diagnosis for the first time. “You can activate folks that you don’t pay, bloggers that will get your information out there.”

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