If you’re not creating content for your brand that features real patients, you need to be. Beyond the well-documented need for authentic content, marketing materials featuring patients are proven to resonate more with target audiences than materials featuring traditional stock photography. Many pharmaceutical companies are starting to grasp this idea, if only on a small scale. For example, GlaxoSmithKline’s ViiV recently launched a partnership with Shutterstock featuring free-to-download images of real HIV patients living their best lives in order to help dispel the use of stereotypes in marketing for the condition.
As more brands begin to adopt these trust-building marketing practices, it’s important to note that there are a few rules of the road when working with patients to create content and ensure a positive experience for both brand and patient. Here are six of WEGO Health’s tips to help brands start these initiatives off right.
1. Ensure your recruitment criteria for patients are rock-solid.
Once you know the type of patient you’d like to work with for your initiative (e.g., age, gender, diagnosis), you and your teams can focus on the right patient for the job.
2. Clarity is key.
You want to eliminate any confusion the patient you are working with may have. Your goal is to make sure the patient you’re working with to create custom content fully understands your program and its goals. It will build brand rapport with the patient and also build trust, resulting in even stronger content.
3. Authentic content only.
Keep the content’s style in-line with what the influencer usually publishes; otherwise, you risk the content being poorly received by the influencer’s audience. If it feels out of place from what users organically see, it sticks out like a sore thumb, and it may have the opposite of the intended, trust-building effect. For example, if you force a patient who is not an actor to read a script in order to appease MLR, it’s going to be clumsy, awkward and stale. There’s prolific value in UG-style content where patients speak as if conversing with a friend over coffee—not struggling in front of a teleprompter.
4. Do your research.
Or be prepared to start from scratch. Take the time to learn about the audience you hope to reach. Invest in truly understanding their wants and needs from pharmaceutical companies. This means having conversations directly with patients, not assuming what their challenges may be. Is it support resources? Is it real patient videos? What messaging resonates most with them? If you are taking the time, effort, and resources to create content featuring patients, take additional time to ensure the content you’re creating is what your audience needs. If you’re unsure where to start, WEGO Health offers patient insights programs to help get you connected and informed.
5. Be flexible with timelines.
I know, not an ideal tip, but when working with patients (especially if those who have a complicated diagnosis), you need to be flexible. For instance, a symptom of lupus is severe fatigue. A lupus patient may be a day late returning content due to a flare, and you should be prepared by factoring in extra days to your timeline to be conservative. This is not always the case, but something to keep in mind.
6. Compensate patients for their time.
This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised that some companies are unable to do so and others don’t consider it a factor when building a project budget. Exposure for patients is not payment. To ensure patients take your program seriously and produce their best work, they need to know they are being treated fairly by being compensated for their time, insights and expertise. Be sure to set aside some budget for patient compensation.
Pharmaceutical companies still battle significant distrust from patients and patient communities, but brand teams work hard to break through. Building trust through meaningful relationships and engagements with real patients is a step in the right direction. By including custom content featuring patients in your marketing campaigns and a campaign narrative written in collaboration with real patients, you’ve already taken that first step, and maybe a few more. It’s a best practice to take the time to understand your target audience, hearing their wants and needs directly rather than assuming you are on track to developing valuable content without them. Pair that with having a patient (or caregiver) who has personal experiences and tips to share with a broader audience, and you’re well on your way to a successful patient campaign.
If you’re ready to kick-off a patient-centric campaign but still don’t know where to start, contact the WEGO Health team and let us help build a custom program for your brand.