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Healthcare Marketing is Moving Fast, but Where?

Marketing Horizons Healthcare Marketing is Moving Fast, but Where?

The term “Healthcare” covers both the medical and the life sciences industries, and marketers in these fields enjoy all kinds of opportunities. Professionals are navigating the dynamics of an increasingly engaged and empowered end-user patient base, while also juggling a complex and diverse channel strategy—all within a highly regulated environment. While this may stunt the speed of change in other industries, there’s no such slowdown here. Our guest, Jean-Francois (JF) Denault, shares with us what’s going on in Healthcare marketing, from AI-driven chat and social media, to the move from cost-based to value-based messaging. JF has worked in Healthcare and life sciences marketing for over 20 years, and has his own consultancy working with big names in pharma and medical devices. JF has written two books on the subject and is located in Montreal, Canada. Join us for a lively, informative conversation.

Ruth Stevens: I hear a lot about healthcare marketing, life sciences marketing, pharma marketing and medical device marketing. What's a good way to categorize this?

Jean-Francois Denault: We can split these into two broad categories. When we talk about healthcare marketing, we're mostly talking about providers — hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, physiotherapist, dentist. They're the people that are providing care directly to a patient. When we look at life sciences, it's a little broader category. It'll vary from one person to another. From my perspective, life sciences include all companies that are developing these technologies, being drugs or medical devices for the care of the patients. It will include the pharmaceutical companies, the biotech, the Med Tech, digital therapeutics, digital health.

Cyndi Greenglass: Is healthcare marketing more B2C, and life sciences more B2B?

Jean-Francois Denault: From a broad perspective, yes. But, one of the complexities we have in this space is that the end users is not always the payer. We have this whole chain of different people interacting in this final purchasing decision. We have the patient. We have the doctor. We have the nurse. We have the hospital. We have the insurer. When a company goes to market in that space, there is a whole strategic decision of saying, who will I be targeting primarily? Is it something that's going to be paid by the patient, or is it something that's going to be paid by the insurers?

Ruth Stevens: What are the big issues that are vexing marketers today in both of these spaces?

Jean-Francois Denault: One broad issue that we've been kind of struggling with is making cost-based decisions versus value-based decisions. For the longest for a long time, a lot of the decisions that were made in healthcare were cost-based – what is the product that is the least expensive? I'm saying these decisions should be made from a value-based perspective. This drug might cost a little bit more, but the quality of life is significantly more, or the recovery period is shorter. This device costs more but increases mobility.

Cyndi Greenglass: If we're going more outcome or quality of life, but it costs more, what's the argument or the positioning that marketers have to take to get their marketing budgets approved, if it's not going to necessarily turn into more profit?

Jean-Francois Denault: Profits may go down, but you are increasing your velocity of how many patients you're able to treat, or how many patients you're able to see. You’re benefiting more people. You have to stop looking at it from a single individual. That's one of the new approaches.

Cyndi Greenglass: What kind of emerging technologies are you seeing for marketing that we should know about?

Jean-Francois Denault: This sector has been traditionally a little slower to adopt social media as part of its marketing mix. I think it's due to having a huge advertising regulatory framework around us in this space. While I've seen some very nice examples on social media, I remember reading an article where a person in a hospital posted his journey as a patient on Twitter. But these kind of examples are very far in between. I think one of the issues is we are an industry that is very word-of-mouth, trust -based. I've seen two things. I've seen big Pharma set up closed spaces, and they do a lot of monitoring into them. The other things that I've seen is a more traditional ambassador that people can contact and call.

Key Takeaways/Three Little Piggies

  • Healthcare requires complex marketing strategies since the end-user patient is not always the purchasing decision-maker. Just like B2B, marketers need to consider the influencers (insurance providers), specifiers (physicians), and a multitude of others.
  • To supplement marketing metrics around a financial ROI, innovative healthcare organizations are moving away from cost-based messaging to the more productive direction of value-based messaging, while also bringing in quality-of-life outcomes.
  • Despite being highly regulated, healthcare companies and institutions have figured out how to implement social media, word of mouth, and social proof, as patients become more empowered to take control of their own health.

Marketing Communications Today presents Horizons, it’s forward-thinking, looking ahead, through the front windshield and beyond, into the marketing future. Join Cyndi and Ruth bi-weekly for new ideas, technologies, tools and strategies that are emerging to help marketers navigate over the marketing horizon.

Meet our guest

Jean-Francois Denault

Jean-Francois (JF) Denault has been working with innovators and entrepreneurs in life sciences as a professional consultant for over fifteen years. Through the years, he has worked with over 40 different clients in life sciences (including larger companies such as J&J, Denka Seiken and Chemo Group). His clients are located worldwide, as he has completed projects with clients in over 25 different countries.

JF specializes in the life sciences market. As such, he has completed pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, nutraceuticals and healthcare projects. Most of his recent projects have been in the market research, marketing strategy and competitive intelligence space.

Meet the hosts

Cyndi Greenglass

Cyndi W. Greenglass is a founding partner and president at Livingston Strategies, a data-informed, strategic consulting firm that helps clients develop, execute, and measure their customer communications with a close focus on results. Cyndi has razor-sharp strategic skills matched by impeccable on-the-ground savvy and tactical abilities. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Data Marketing Communications online master's degree program from West Virginia University.

Greenglass has twice been named into the Top 100 Influential BTB Marketers by Crain’s BtoB Magazine and was the 2012 CADM Chicago Direct Marketer of the Year. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for BRAND United and has taught, trained and presented at over 50 conferences throughout the world.

Ruth Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.

Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City.

Interested in growing your career with a master's degree in Data, Digital or Integrated Marketing Communications? Request more information today!

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