Pharmaceutical direct mail is the perfect way to educate and persuade physicians and consumers that your company’s drug is the top-performing medicine available. Direct mail showcases your company’s brand, offers detailed information and benefits about the product, and enables companies to directly interact with customers.
While sending direct mail packages of perhaps boxes of brochures about the newest drugs for epilepsy or diabetes to physicians, your letters to consumers should be more targeted.
Here are several tips on how to run a successful direct mail campaign for pharmaceutical companies:
Send pharmaceutical direct mail to both physicians and consumers.
Direct mail is an integral method of education for physicians and other healthcare workers, plus advertising to doctors can reap high returns for drug companies. In a 2012 study, 60 percent of physician assistants responded they personally read mail from life science companies, while 77 percent of nurse practitioners reported they read pharmaceutical and life science information mail.
A 2016 HealthLink Dimensions survey revealed approximately 79 percent of healthcare professionals use patient education and support materials provided by healthcare companies and patient advocacy groups. Additionally, the Annual Healthcare Professional Communication Report 2018 found 73 percent of respondents prefer to receive these materials by mail.
Although most of a pharmaceutical company’s marketing budget goes toward marketing to medical professionals, these companies should never forget about the consumer. There’s something to be said for physically holding a mail piece full of information directly. Case studies have shown “tangible materials leave a deeper footprint on the brain” and support memory and brand association, meaning the experience of receiving a mail piece can motivate the consumer to take action or recall the brand when making a decision.
If a patient is given an informational brochure by their doctor and then sent a letter directly from the pharmaceutical company a few days after, your company can remain top of mind. Of course, the presentation of the materials sent to consumers and physicians must differ and there are some extra regulations to consider when sending directly to the consumer.
All materials must be HIPAA compliant.
This means all direct mail must be in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and HIPAA Privacy Rule, which were designed to ensure Protected Health Information (PHI) is handled securely. The regulation doesn’t preclude pharmaceutical companies from marketing products directly to targeted consumers, but it does ensure PHI, which includes all patient information from medical history to test results to insurance information, is concealed.
For example, if your company is marketing a new form of insulin to a segmented list of patients with diabetes, you’ll want to use a letter to get your information into the hands of the consumer. If your company were to use a postcard or self-mailer to showcase the drug, it would reveal the recipient has diabetes, going against HIPAA regulations and disregarding that consumer’s right to privacy.
Design Distributors is a HIPAA compliant direct mail partner. Contact us today to ensure your data won’t be compromised.
Although you’ll need to use a generic or minimally designed envelope with a white front panel so PHIs aren’t visible, you can add some flare inside to catch the recipient’s attention.
Use lifestyle images.
When the consumer opens the envelope, they should be greeted with bright, positive lifestyle images such as a man hiking, a woman playing with her children in a park, or a couple biking.
Lifestyle images depict people participating in life activities ranging from basic human functions such as sleeping or eating to more complex actions such as working or traveling. These photographs tell a story, sell a lifestyle, and accentuate the benefits of your product. They show our company’s drug is the remedy to their condition, enabling them to take part in everyday and once-in-a-lifetime activities.
You’ll want to accompany this graphic with a supporting message about how this new drug can change the recipient’s life for the better.
Your message must be indirect and follow federal regulations.
Consumers can’t purchase drugs directly from pharmaceutical companies, so the mailer’s message isn’t trying to convince the receiver to purchase the product. Its purpose is to convince the consumer of the drug’s benefits and make them understand your company’s drug is the one they need. The letter’s text should ask the receiver to tell their doctor they want to take your drug.
The text of a pharmaceutical direct mail piece must also follow the Federal Drug Administration (FDA)’s print advertisement regulations. Some information that must appear includes:
- Both the brand and generic name for the drug
- One or more FDA-approved uses for the drug
- A brief summary, which addresses who should not take the drug, when the drug should not be taken, possible serious side effects of the drug, and non-serious but frequently occuring side effects
- The following statement: “You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.”
However, the format in which this information is provided isn’t specified, so it can appear larger or smaller than the rest of the text.
Check out the basics of the FDA regulations for drug advertisements here.
Despite the many federal rules, companies can and should include coupons in their mailers.
Add a coupon to the mail piece.
Even though recipients can’t make a purchase through the pharmaceutical company itself, they’ll be able to take the coupon to the pharmacy and use it upon purchase.
Whether or not you decide to include a coupon may be the determining factor in your recipient’s purchase. For example, if they receive a letter about Drug 1 without a coupon from Company A and a letter about Drug 2 with a $10 off coupon from Company B, the consumer will most likely advocate for Drug 2 because it’s a bit cheaper, especially if it’s an expensive drug.
The overall design of the direct mail campaign should work in conjunction with advertisements running on other channels.
Direct mail pieces should be one part of a larger marketing campaign, which is created with one cohesive design and message. Pharmaceutical companies can develop multiple touchpoints, including digital (email, website ads and social media), broadcast (television ads), and other print materials (magazine and newspaper ads and brochures at physician offices), for the consumer.
This ensures you’re reaching the consumer on every possible platform: when they’re watching television, when they’re browsing social media, when they receive a letter in the mail and when they’re flipping through the morning newspaper. Your brand becomes top of mind the next time the consumer goes to the doctor. Then, maybe they see a brochure about your drug and they ask their physician about it.