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Unbranded Websites: What’s Your Strategy?

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Today I gave a presentation on “The Basics of Unbranded Site Strategy” to a group at our agency — many of them wide-eyed young account staffers refreshingly new to pharma, interactive, and agency life. I’d pulled together the presentation back when we realized that many new folks and other “traditional” marketers from other industries here at our agency didn’t necessarily understand the role of unbranded websites in pharma marketing (or any unbranded tactic for that matter). And I’ve met clients along the way who felt they needed an unbranded website, but didn’t really know why.

The confusion is understandable. Why spend money on tactics that don’t even mention your brand when you could be using that real estate (and budget) to drive home all those product features and benefits? McDonald’s wouldn’t spend money on a generic “Eat Fast Food” message any more than Colgate would push a “Toothpaste Cleans Your Teeth” campaign. So here’s my take on the question of “What’s the Strategy Behind Unbranded Websites?"

  1. Acquire leads by registering patients/caregivers/HCPs into a CRM database (and have a follow-on strategy surrounding what to do with those leads!).
  2. Raise disease awareness; increase diagnosis. This works for some products, useless for others.
  3. Educate patients and caregivers.
  4. Drive patients to prescribers ("ask your doctor if Product X might be right for you").
  5. Link to branded product site or branded information. Some companies are more comfortable with blatant linkage than others. now sports the Cymbalta logo right on the home page!
  6. Support public affairs/goodwill campaigns. More of a PR approach.
  7. Market in countries where branded DTC is not allowed.

And on top of all of the above — let’s face it: Unbranded sites typically don’t contain product claims so are therefore less regulated. And that means unbranded sites can often be quicker and less painful to take live.

Did I miss anything?

There’s lots of good examples of these types of sites out there. Here are a few that I’m most familiar with since they represent (full disclosure) a sampling of Intouch work:

Of course, strategy should be driven by a number of factors such as overall objectives, competitive landscape, market position, disease category, etc etc etc. There is definitely no "one size fits all," and often several strategies work in tandem.

So hey pharma marketers — what’s your strategy?


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