Keep abreast of our marketing and media insights about what’s shaping digital pharma, healthcare communications, marketing tech and the future of brand/consumer dynamics.


Orphan Disease Marketing: Hyper-Targeted Micro-Engagement

2018 was a ground-breaking year for orphan disease with the FDA approving a record 34 new therapies for rare populations. Clearly, the steps laid out by the FDA in 2017 to modernize orphan drug designation status are not only working, but changing lives. As pharma marketers, such strides come with great responsibility as we work to connect these niche patient groups with new therapeutic options as early as possible in their journey.

At CPM, we have worked on numerous orphan disease launches and campaigns targeting 2-3,000 patient and professional audiences. No media planning challenge quite compares with effectively finding and influencing a rare disease audience, effectively cultivating micro-engagement Orphan Disease Strategies for patients living with a rare disease and the healthcare professionals responsible for diagnosing them.

ODM Strategy 1: Leverage Unbranded and Branded Education

In the United States, a rare disease is defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people. That rarity creates two unique challenges: patients are often misdiagnosed or remain undiagnosed, with precious time lost on both accounts.

Our response? Branded and unbranded disease education served when and where it matters most to patients and HCPs. Branded content helps educate and empower HCPs to determine the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. By nature, these campaigns make claims, so full FDA/OPDP regulatory compliance is required. Fair balance is mandatory, and your media partner needs to know the rules.

Thanks to nuanced targeting and thoughtful campaign delivery, engaging HCPs on the channels they prefer with personalized messaging has never been easier and more effective. Digital is optimally suited to target, engage, and convert tiny patient groups at each touchpoint throughout their treatment journeys.

From search and social to programmatic and beyond, the omnichannel experience can and should align with a patient’s individual needs – wherever they, whenever they are there. A patient who finds support through an unbranded social campaign, for instance, will often turn to search, where they can be served contextually-relevant branded information. With appropriate tagging, patients can be re-engaged with the content that matters most at each relevant touchpoint throughout their treatment journey.

ODM Strategy 2: Implement Thoughtful Research and Segmentation

Each rare disease community has different needs and goals, so successfully aligning resources with the patient and HCP journey hinges on two essential criteria: thoughtful research and segmentation. When executed in harmony, messaging can be automated based on the patient’s treatment journey and the HCP’s disease knowledge and prescribing deciles.

Audience segmentation best practices are discussed at length in this post – here we  summarize a few key considerations:

  • Identify and Engage at Appropriate Treatment Journey Milestones: Where is the patient in their treatment journey? Symptomatic? Diagnosed? Compliant? Non-compliant? Consider the content that matters most at each stage, keeping in mind that engaging caregiver segments may also be necessary.
  • Establish and Stay Focused on Your Brand’s Unique Positioning: Identify your drug’s key differentiators as they position you in the market, such as superior efficacy and/or safety, administrative convenience, market access, support programs, etc. Then make sure your messaging and modalities cut through the online noise with unique benefits.
  • Understand Audience Behaviors and Distinct Segments: Examine research revealing statistically notable differences between patient segments; for example, some may rely on their doctor’s advice while others search online and make treatments decisions independently (possibility correlated with demographic or geographic characteristics).
  • Target Based on Demographic and Behavioral Data: Measure significant differences that can occur by region, local market, ethnic group, and country differences — especially when cultural differences result in different beliefs about disease state relevance, motivation to treat, and adherence; location also plays the determinant role in reimbursement and market access.

Use these foundational strategies to make a real difference in the lives of those living with rare conditions. A combination of smart approaches, proven experience, and deep knowledge of the pharma marketing landscape, even small budgets can maximize engagement and maximize your ROI. 

At CPM we specialize in engaging rare disease audiences and welcome the opportunity to discover our unique and proven strategies with you. Schedule time for a brief chat with us here.

Get Started

Learn if your target audiences are able to effectively find your brand, and how your website and brand measure up against your full-stack audience activation and engagement potential.