The cancer survivor community has been especially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Many patients have had to delay treatments, while others have been forced to undergo their cancer treatments alone.
Reaching cancer patients with important marketing messages is very hard at any time. During the pandemic, it has been doubly hard. Yet at the same time these patients need even greater support. This is both a challenge and opportunity for pharma marketers, who can play an important role in providing much-needed information to the 1.8 million Americans who are diagnosed with cancer each year, and the 18 million Americans who are cancer survivors.
During the COVID-19 crisis and going forward, here are five key ways pharma marketers can better connect with patients.
1. Start by taking a cue from the doctor’s office. Perhaps more than any other category, cancer patients need support. Ads that talk at patients, rather than engaging them on their journey, are naturally less effective. Marketers must demonstrate deep sensitivity to emotional context.
2. Don’t scare your audience. Again, thinking of the doctor’s office, the setting where patients are accustomed to receiving information is often calm, minimal and supportive.
On the contrary, many cancer ads are placed around fear-inducing digital content. If the content surrounding your ad reads like the back of a pill bottle or resembles an encyclopedia from 1998 (as many of the popular health websites do), patients are going to have a difficult time creating a positive association with your brand.
3. Put your dollars toward engagement. Many cancer-drug marketers opt for the cheap reach rather than investing in advertising that truly connects with patients. When it comes to marketing, focus on quality, not quantity. Especially when marketing drugs that deal with rare cancers, it makes sense for marketers to invest in a more targeted, nuanced strategy.
4. Tap into your most powerful asset. Cancer drugs are truly amazing products. Many of these companies are saving lives and changing the world. The lives that you’ve transformed are your best advertising. Why not use your patients more often in your advertising?
5. Provide value. For cancer-drug marketers, good advertising and good ad buying can make a real difference in the lives of patients who genuinely need your products. A good way to measure the value you’re providing is to ask, “Would someone in my family find this ad useful?” and “Is the content in this ad going to help someone I love?”
The bottom line
Don’t make the mistake of approaching cancer-drug advertising with a strategy that overlooks the unique setting and needs of cancer patients. Cancer-drug marketers have an incredible opportunity to save lives, make powerful connections and provide engaging value to their audience.