Pharma Content Marketing and The Art of Storytelling

The heavily regulated industry of pharmaceuticals is facing a challenge like it’s never seen before — healthcare consumers. Wait, of course, pharmaceutical companies have always had to deal with patients, but technology has changed how these individuals approach their health. Today, healthcare is consumer driven. It’s an industry focused less on taking care of sick people and more on educating them and preventing disease.

There is a psychology in pharmaceutical marketing that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Marketers in this field must engage the public the same way any consumer and service industry does and that means getting personal with them.

Bio Content Marketing News: Making Use of Episodic Memory

You probably see at least one of those commercials every time you sit down and watch TV. Some guy talks about how his life changed when he took a certain drug. His family jumps in to tell you how wonderful he is now that he takes the drug and then you see him throwing a frisbee to the family dog as some announcer talks about all the possible side effects and contraindications. Finally, the guy comes back on and reaffirms his devotion to this wonderful, life-changing drug.

Storytelling is the hottest trend in pharmaceutical marketing, but why? The simple answer is that the human brain stores information better when it is presented in an episodic format. It’s a theory that psychologists refer to as episodic memory. That is what’s new with Bio Writing — great storytelling.

Why a Good Story Matters

People remember events better than they do brand names and drug definitions. By embedding the information about the drug into a story, viewers not only remember its name but what it is used for, as well. Healthcare consumers will recall that tale when sitting in a doctor’s office strategizing about their own health needs. By making the drug the hero of the story, pharmaceutical marketers also make it memorable.

The storytelling approach goes beyond TV ads, though. It is something content writers use in many industries to pull in a target audience. It translates well to every marketing channel including blogs and social media.

Bio Writing Insights: The Challenge of Social Media

Most industries use social media as a way to directly communicate with their target audience. The regulatory environment of pharmaceuticals makes this harder, though. Mainstream social media networks like Facebook are a minefield for drug developers because of the lack of control there. In an interview with Forbes,  Lux Narayan CEO of Unmetric and author of 7 Social Media Trends in the Pharmaceutical Industry, talks about the focus on four major silos when it comes to social media content:

  • Corporate Social Profile
  • Careers in Pharma
  • Over the Counter Brands
  • Community Pages

They hire bio writers to tweak content in these specific areas, as opposed to promoting products via social media or blogs. For example, a blog on careers in pharma draws in a diverse group of readers including students and parents of students. Rather than talk specifically about a drug, the company discusses the creative process. Community pages might focus on increasing awareness about a disease like asthma or diabetes to engage a variety of people concerned about it.

My Pet Peeves in Pharmaceutical Marketing

Frankly, there is a lot that can go wrong here. I’m sure anyone that writes in this industry has a few bio writing tips and a list of pet peeves, so here are mine:

There is No Me in Pharmaceutical, or Is There?
The pharmaceutical industry is a competitive one. Some companies, especially those that focus on wellness products like weight loss or dietary supplements, spend too much time boasting about the brand and too little talking about the product. Discussing the lab, the awards and the never-ending brand testimonials takes away from the hero of the story — the product.

The exception to this rule might be a blog that discusses the company’s involvement in the community or in public health awareness. Otherwise, those few extra paragraphs about how great the manufacturers is will just distract from a well-written story.

Doctors Say That…
A side effect of the drive to create healthcare consumers is that they don’t always believe what doctors say anymore. The phrase “Doctors say that” inevitably leads to the question: Who are these anonymous doctors and why do I care what they think?

People want information that is backed up effectively by clinical research and data. That is what the doctors look at when prescribing a drug and it’s what consumers trust.

Too Much Clinical Research Jargon
Although presenting research data is important, there has to be a balance. Too much is confusing and, frankly, sounds made up. Bio writers know how to present the data in a way that anyone can understand. That’s why hiring a professional writer makes sense for most campaigns.

Pharmaceuticals is one of those sectors that is always changing because people evolve in their thinking. It’s important that companies that market for this industry evolves, as well. Today, it’s a good story that wins over the healthcare consumer. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Darla F is a full-time freelance writer published internationally and an award-winning author. Over the last decade, she has ghostwritten memoirs for a successful entrepreneur and created byline pieces for USAToday, Jillian Michaels, USARiseUP, New York Times — About.com, Multibrief, MedCity News, LiveStrong and AOL. Darla is known for her ability to take complex topics and make them clear to anyone. 


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