the Promotional Dollar
Your biotech start-up needs to trumpet its latest breakthrough.
Your agency has to develop a low-cost promotional plan for an
older drug. Your marketing department is under new orders to
Let's face it—unless you're working on a mega-blockbuster
brand, you need to watch your promotional pocketbook. Here
are some tips:
1. Go paperless when possible. Printing
of all kinds—from glossy brochures to photocopies of
clinical references—devours communications dollars (not
to mention natural resources). So consider doing as much as
you can by electronic media or in person, using techniques
- Business-to-business/peer-to-peer email.
- Interactive website where visitors can download product
fact sheets, clinical trial data, abstracts and posters,
investor education, or state-by-state managed healthcare
- Web conferences with targeted prospects/investors.
- CD-ROM sales aids, catalogs of clinical findings, and
- Word-of-mouth/personal communications, such as teams
of speakers, local/regional seminars promoted on the web,
focus groups, and advisory panels.
When promotional materials must be supplied to Pharma regulatory
with highlighted reference sets, highlight references electronically
on PDFs rather than on hard copy. This can save significant
amounts of paper, although it is a technique that needs careful
management to remain time- and cost-effective (see ROI clinic,
2. Be smart about mass media. Having an
ad in a professional journal, a consumer magazine, or on TV
makes you feel oh so cool—but it's the advertising world's
Conspicuous Consumption. For many companies, products, and
services, an ad is not necessary. Ads build awareness to a
large, diverse audience. If your target audience is small
and homogeneous, if your product is specialized, or if your
immediate need is to close a sale or secure an investment,
you don’t need an ad.
3. Target without mercy. One of the best
ways to save money is one of the most obvious: send your communications
only to those people most likely to use your brand/invest
in your company. Research your targets exhaustively—and
don't be tempted to expand the target list to groups beyond
what your research suggests.
4. Get personal. The small or start-up firm
with a very technical product has a secret weapon—its
passionate leaders. Leaders who get out and speak, call, meet,
and socialize within business circles do a lot for brand promotion—and
5. Measure and modulate. Whenever possible,
choose communications media you can measure: response rate
to an email, number of online registrations or requests for
information (not just "hits"), returned business
reply cards, calls to an 800 number. When you find something
that measures out a great response, keep doing it. When something
bombs, dispense with it quickly and ruthlessly.
Read about it—Check out the book by
Jonathan Bond and Richard Kirshenbaum, Under the radar.
Talking to today's cynical consumer, New York: John Wiley
& Sons, 1998.