In the sometimes complex and always regulated world of transfusion medicine, marketplace conditions can change quickly as new healthcare regulations are adopted. Effective healthcare marketers are prepared to shift messaging and competitive focus at a moment’s notice to adapt to changing regulatory conditions.
How would you respond? For our client Verax Biomedical, that change came quickly in the form of a significant challenge to their primacy in the bacterial safety testing of transfusion blood platelet supply. For many years Verax had the only FDA-approved blood platelet safety measure – Verax’s PGD® test – on the market. Then, in early 2016, the FDA reversed long-standing course and proposed draft guidance to consider approval of an alternative technology, pathogen reduction, that can screen for bacterial contamination, but also screens for viral contamination Verax’s safety measure does not. For the first time in some time their market share was being significantly challenged.
Taking Things 7 Days at a Time
Verax engaged RDW to combat the impact of this new healthcare market challenge to very specific audiences: pathology and hematology lab directors, hospital C-Suite decision-makers, and hemoncs (hematological oncologists) and transfusion MDs. We devised a strategy to focus the campaign on the one clear differentiator potentially left to Verax: only their test was approved by the FDA to extend platelet viability from the former standard of 5 days to 7 days. Extending platelet inventory would save hospitals and blood banks huge amounts of money without diminishing the efficacy of the platelet supply for transfusion by significantly reducing so-called “out-dating” – viable platelet units that are discarded after 5 days. As a result, we built the initial campaign, launched last spring, around the uniqueness of the 7-day viability achieved only with the Verax test. This winter we evolved the campaign around the 7-day concept, but created greater urgency around the choice hospitals and related labs will have to make in how they safety test their platelet supply, given that the competitive pathogen reduction option is likely to be fully approved by the FDA in Q2 of 2017.
Our plan was to target highly-regarded journals (and their correlative web properties) read by target audiences with print and banner ads, supported by targeted email blasts to purchased lists aligned with our target audience.
The creative execution was intentionally clean and direct: our field assessment informed us this was a no-nonsense audience that took a Joe Friday approach – just the facts ma’am. The print work effectively communicates both the imperative and the differentiation. And the digital banners and email blasts parallel the message in surrounding media.
The campaign has produced results. Verax has closed more accounts than they did in the preceding year, and the anecdotal response has been favorable. Importantly, the pathogen reduction-based challenge has been slow in gaining traction, at least in part by the rapid deployment of the 7-day message.
Is your ad agency ready and equipped to adapt to dramatic shifts in the regulatory conditions of your marketplace?
Phil Loscoe is an SVP and account manager at RDW with a few decades of experience leading client strategies in healthcare, construction, higher ed, lottery services, and other industries. He also believes he is the world’s biggest Notre Dame football fan.