Six Proven Tips for Online Cut-Through In Pharma Marketing

Issue 9, September 2020

"Six Proven Tips for Online Cut-Through In Pharma Marketing"

The COVID-19 pandemic is evidencing a stampede of pharmaceutical marketers embracing digital channels more than ever before.

Marketing online runs the risk of becoming ‘wallpaper’ if the content is bland, undistinctive, or undifferentiated. Pharma companies need to think of a unique, creative value-add to stand out online.

The Golden Rules for Online Marketing Success

Rule #1: Be Useful

Cut-through starts by making sure your communications are ‘useful’. The biggest message from consumers to all marketers during COVID is simply this: be useful to me, don’t sell to me. Add value to customers and patients by plugging pain points and gaps of knowledge, and providing them with something relevant to their issues, that takes them closer to achieving their treatment goals.

Rule #2: Emotion and Science Works

Use emotion, always! Use your brand’s unique mix of science and emotion to tell your story and connect with customers and patients. We, humankind, make decisions based on emotions. That’s why corporates invented procurement departments: to take the emotion out of buying! The most powerful way to connect with humans is through story-telling. Your online marketing content must be ‘story-rich.’

Multi-Channel and Digital Marketing Top Tips

1. Determine your target audience and channel-plan

The first tip is to make sure you’re going after the audience with the right focus or breadth to achieve your company, business unit, sales or communications goals. We often find that the GP, the HCP, the patient isn’t the only important audience to consider.

  1. Who are you targeting?
  2. Who are they engaging with to form opinions?
  3. What channels are they using, what content are they looking at, what keyword phrases are they searching for?
  4. Which of your competitors are indexing well for those search terms?
  5. Where are the gaps in the channels, content, stories being used and told? Focus on filling the gap competitors are not active in so you can stand out.

And finally, as you build out your strategy to cut through make sure you don’t miss out on trying to engage with the KOLs, the carers, pharmacists and other specialists that could help you achieve your objectives.

2. Understand your customers’ journey  

When trying to solve the First Golden Rule, Be Useful, you’ll need to give the audience what they want and need. But if you don’t know what that is, you may want to map your customers journey and work out the opportunity for your brand to stand out.

  1. What is the customer (HCP/Patient) diagnosis and treatment pathway?
  2. What happens along this path, what is adequate and what are the problems?
  3. What role does your brand play and how can it add value that’s differentiated from your competitors?
  4. How does your customer read/view/interact with content along the journey? What channels, formats, frequency, voices?

At the end of completing this tip, your brand will be in a stronger position to fill the gaps and to dial-up its greatness.

3. Get your ‘Science and Emotion’ message right

When trying to solve the Second Golden Rule, Emotion and Science Works, you’ll need to start by using your audience insights to develop a compelling brand story.

  1. Start by developing a brand story with the right balance of science and emotion. Clarify how a brand is positioned around a particular therapy area: scientifically, clinically and from a research view. Separately, build powerful, persuasive ‘stories’ to bring the brand promise to life that address the audiences’ key drivers. It’s these stories that fuel the online marketing campaign.
  2. Stand, Story, Strategy™ is Bastion Brands’ unique emotional branding methodology proven to drive results for RX brands around the world. It’s part emotion, part science – all for the success of your brand.
  3. ‘Stand’ is about the brands mission, vision, values, direction -where this brand is going. ‘Story’ is how you articulate that, value and purpose, how you explain the story of that brand. ‘Strategy’ is the channels and how you intend to execute that brand story.


4. Integrate your channels

When thinking about how to deliver a great impact, plan how your channels should work together to engage the audience at the right points in their journey. When channels are integrated, the customer’s experience is improved and the brand can achieve better results.

  1. Ensure your channels connect with one another and have synchronized messaging that funnels through awareness, engagement, and conversion.
  2. Involve your sales reps – ensure they understand your digital channels and can promote them.
5. Engage with your audience

If there is an opportunity to engage with an audience while being useful, take it! It will help your brand better understand your customer and potentially generate insights which in turn could add future value and improve health outcomes.

  1. Have a two-way conversation with your audience online, not just a static presence.
  2. There’s a significant opportunity for your audience to interact with you through chat-bot, social, Q&A submission.
  3. Ask: What are they (my customers) looking for, are they getting it, can we offer it to them, and are we interesting?
  4. What is the creative potential? Is there an opportunity for a brilliant idea, a really well-crafted design, something interactive?
  5. Engagement contextually in channel and medium.
  6. Influencers and KOLs are a key leverage here – our target customers listen to each other, and pay attention to the views of like-minded sources who they respect.
6. Keep up-to-date

If you want to stand out in digital, you need to know what is going on and what the opportunities and trends are that will capture the attention and form opinions with our audience.

  1. Measure the success of the digital channels and adapt. Collect and use data, always.
  2. Keep on top of industry and global digital trends – these can quickly change.
  3. Get your strategy right. Don’t jump too quickly to tactics.
  4. Make sure you are updated on media trends, search trends and make sure that our brand takes advantage of those opportunities when relevant

COVID-19 has pushed pharma companies into accelerated digital change and applied the pressure to work out how to use digital.

But most importantly, follow these tips so your brand can stand out, be useful, and tell an engaging story with science and emotion.

For more information, contact:

Simon Davies
M: 0402 425 545


Dan King
M: 0439 190 700


We are always interested in hearing from great people dedicated to making a career in pharmaceutical communications. If you’re ready to make a positive impact with Bastion Brands, get in touch today.