Discover more from Out of Patients with Matthew Zachary
Dear Pharma: Stop Wasting Money
Pretty please with sugar on top.
$22.4B was the 2022 total domestic healthcare marketing spend. And yet only 16% of patients believe healthcare communications are trustworthy. (Source: Maris Poll/Accenture)
It remains mind-numbingly ignominious how much wasteful spending there is on the part of the healthcare industrial complex – all for what?
For no one to visit a website? For no one to listen to a podcast? For no one to know about patient assistance programs? For no one to connect with support networks and communities? For the attempt at health literacy and DEI efforts to die on the vine?
Has anyone EVER clicked on a drug ad on Twitter? Seriously.
If even 1% of that preposterousness were to be applied consciously and strategically, we'd be in a much different situation with different things to kvetch about on the internet.
Case in point — quadrupling advocacy budgets for more thoughtfully considered nonprofit growth/upskilling, compensation to patients for collaborating with industry, and investment in less risk-averse avenues of genuine (and not jargony) innovation. The list goes on.
It frustrates me that spending dogma is still stuck in Einstein's Parable of Quantum Insanity, e.g., "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Since when has "Pay, Spray, Pray" ever worked? Marketing, especially in healthcare, should not be a Jackson Pollock painting.
Here's an anonymized real-world example. Company X spent over $500,000 on a non-branded website without any engagement, involvement, or input from the patients they created it for.
Lawyers sanitized it to the point of unreadable collegiate medical tongue twisters, and the overall design language and creative aesthetic were anathemas to patient trust or value. So, unsurprisingly, traffic was dismal.
"No one visits our website. Why?" are daily emails to me, and I am sure for others. And it all just wreaks off my endlessly repeated Jeff Goldblum trope from Jurassic Park: "You were so preoccupied with whether or not you could; you didn't stop to think if you should..."
Legit question: Did anyone audit this spend, holding the shop that produced it accountable to any KPIs? How many "I should have had a V8" realizations did anyone have, if any? What did success look like? Or was that not even a planning consideration?
Last question: Isn't auditing your spending and holding AORs accountable of economic benefit to the bottom line?
Consider this an invitation to work with us not only to do good, but to do well together. #RisingTide