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Are You Really Rocking Your Differentiator?


This digital strategy helps pharma marketers flaunt their USP to earn the switch

Whether preparing for a breakthrough launch or injecting new energy into your current marketing strategy, effectively differentiating your treatment from competitors is critical to lasting market success. How do market leaders truly capitalize on their built-in advantages?

Let’s consider a seemingly straightforward example. If your new product wins on the merits, like its inherent efficacy against the reigning standard of care, congratulations – you’re in the pole position. Most marketers get this intuitively, of course, but a crucial notion is often overlooked when it comes to audience targeting:

your best prospects are more interested in your established competitors


The rigors of FDA guidance shepherds marketers into siloed thinking, their awareness messaging plopped in either of two big buckets – branded, for those already awakened and actively seeking information about your shiny new drug – and unbranded, for those exploring treatment options or dusting off clinical minutiae with respect to the disease state writ large.

Savvy marketers will quickly spot a third opportunity – the concept of “efficacy” itself in the context of treatment. Ambitious stewards of their brand’s unique selling proposition (USP) diligently ensure their message appears every time a physician browses clinical research on overall response rates or studies what’s in the R&D pipeline. Ads will pop up on search results for clinical trial names and in ad-supported professional journal articles about new research. Have these precocious marketers gone the distance? Not even close.

Missing from this trinity is the entrenched behavior of top referrers, diagnosers and prescription writers loyal to your competitors, not to mention their patients on treatment who’ve been around the block throughout their trying journey, relying on the sage advice of these seasoned professionals. Far from outliers, these groups are in fact the core market for hot new entrants. Consider the irony:

your biggest opportunity lies among those who already consider themselves experts on the subject


They also know your competitors like nobody’s business, which means they can skip the beginner’s formalities of searching for treatment options and reference entries on the available classes of drugs. How does this influence your strategy?

1. Copy development: target the competitive brand as directly as possible within the bounds of trademark law and fair balance, including the class of drugs and specific competitive vulnerabilities.

2. Competitive keyword bidding: bid on competitive keywords and serve ad copy that features the relative strength of your brand.

3. Contextual programmatic placement:

fish where the big, slow fish are

By inertia, your audience will be lurking around content about the tried and true standard of care, it’s brand name and its use cases.
4. Professional list targeting: go beyond ICD-10 codes and develop customized messaging speaking directly to competitive writers.
5. Dynamic EMR messaging:

win the switch at the “convergence point of care”

…by which I mean serving your ad not only at the place but also the precise moment an individual patient presents as eligible for your product.

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