Columbus, Ohio—I read an article last month in MM&M that I can’t seem to shake: “Why Pharma Should Stop Marketing Products and Start Marketing Services”1, written by Zoe Dunn. It’s kind of a radical notion, especially considering the author has been in pharma for more than 20 years.

The idea is that instead of unilaterally promoting branded drugs, we should deliver transparent unbranded industry education and research; and instead of placating adherence issues, we should provide unparalleled customer service for our products. Turns out, that’s exactly what people want from us.

What do HCP’s want from pharma?

  • Make relationships less transactional
  • Deliver high quality and relevant educational material
  • Open channels to discuss potential research and innovation opportunities2


What do Patients want from pharma? 

  • Thirty percent of online consumers with a chronic condition and 38 percent of caregivers are interested in registering for a patient supportprogram that would give access to a range of services4
  • 76% of patients think pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to provide information and services that help patients manage their own health5.


So, how do we get there?

To stop marketing products, we have to change our objective.

Brand teams and their agencies are most often driven by KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). These success criteria are typically based on market share and Rx metrics (i.e. Total scripts (TRx), New Scripts(NRx)). It’s been the industry standard for quantifying achievement.

Brand managers who want to succeed stick to the program.And, so it follows that pharma marketing strategies that are designed to increase scripts employ tactics that promote the benefits of the brand to the HCP and the consumer.

But, what if the KPIs were different? What if Brand Managers were measured on patient outcomes in their disease state (albeit much harder to quantify)? What if we had patient experience as a success criteria? How about HCP satisfaction with their education and involvement at the category level?

To start marketing services, we have to change the conversation.

There’s a little saying among our team that’s becoming a bit of a mantra: Make things people want instead of making people want things. It’s shifting from push to pull. And, it requires more knowledge of the customer than our current model. Maybe that’s a good place to begin. 



About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for shaping the company’s perspective on the next era of healthcare marketing. Through thought leadership, strategic innovation workshops and new products and capabilities, Leigh focuses on identifying marketing approaches that will fuel that new era and generate significant growth for clients. Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for over 17 years. She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she had several leadership roles at one of our agencies, GSW. There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business. Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes. A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice, Leigh also was recognized as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.