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Building Pre-Launch Pharma Audiences

How brands with a plan win with digital

Given the time and expense required to bring a drug to market and its limited exclusive lifespan, every moment counts. Marketers can take steps to ensure that launch propels a brand to its full potential. Here are four keys to achieving that:

  • Building and engaging a pre-launch audience
  • Creating an effective day-of-approval (DOA) website
  • Preparing and expertly staging paid search (SEM) campaigns
  • Fully utilizing owned social presences to connect with key audiences

pharma marketers building relationships hcp patient

Building Relationships

Well-prepared brands ready the market with educational content about the problem the product solves and make it top of mind. From a media perspective, disease awareness opens an otherwise closed door, allowing ads that target seekers of disease information. Unbranded messaging can go deep into the scientific underpinnings that physicians need to know when the product launches.

A key goal for commercial teams should be collecting contact information of qualified targets, so that they can be alerted as key availability milestones occur. Today such lists can be leveraged far beyond direct mail, email or professional platforms; in addition, specialized social media and pharma-safe programmatic campaigns can exponentially increase the reach and impact of such exposure at launch.

Breaking News

A DOA site affirms the product is approved and provides a way to learn more as updates are available – it is the rare instance in which you as a pharma marketer are literally breaking news. In fact, you become the most authoritative source on the web for the story, living proof of the drug’s approval. This means the most important aspect of a DOA site is its timing, launching immediately upon FDA approval. Any complication to the design or content that might delay its timely launch should be avoided.

Mining Search Intent

An effective pre-launch plan requires a spotless paid search effort. SEM must align with digital strategy and content development during concept review, and the review, approval and rollout of assets must be fully integrated.

For a new site with limited content that the engines have not had time to index, paid search is critical for a successful launch. Relevant cross-device searches should trigger strong ad copy directing to the site, ensuring that traffic from top first page results belong to the brand.

Leveraging Social for PR

Healthcare professionals subscribe heavily to social feeds of medical journals, providers and influencers who actively share and publish news. Marketers should promote news of approval on owned social profiles. Given the limitations on branded content prior to and on the day of approval, press releases, social posts, and related coverage provide a huge assist in filling the gap in available information as a secret weapon when marketing and communications are aligned.


A well-conceived pre-launch plan pays off at launch and beyond, fueling the trajectory of the entire product lifecycle. Every drug made will have a varying lifecycle, with someone being used to treat patients for years to come and others only being used for so many months before a new treatment comes along. By using services from companies such as CBX, pharma companies and monitor their drugs by using Product Lifecycle Management resources:

  • Disease education in the market ensures that the desired target will already be better informed and receptive to the new product’s unique story
  • Qualified pre-launch professional and consumer audience databases allow brands to generate immediate awareness at launch
  • Market conditioning campaign serves as a living laboratory for marketing insights that inform short and mid-term go-to-market strategy

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Wanting more digital pharma insight? Access my whitepaper 8 Things Every Pharma Marketing Plan Needs to Thrive for examples of current best practices, case studies and anecdotes illustrating real-world applications of all 8 principals for digital pharma marketing success.

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