Writing advertising copy is a common task for a pharma product manager. It is a job that requires creativity and calls for a good command over the language, usually English. Here is one way to go about writing better copy:
Study the Product
First and foremost, go through the available scientific material to develop a thorough understanding of the product and related diseases. Gather relevant clinical reports and peruse the whole pile, noting important points all along. If you are working on a new product, it may be a good idea at this stage to write the product manual for the field staff. The process of writing the manual will help you get a clearer idea of the product.
Know the Market
For an existing product, sales statistics, prescriber profiles and information on competitor activities and positioning will be readily available. For a new product, check out international data and match this with your own impressions for your product. Decide on the key indications, targeted doctors, possible positioning strategies.
Having done your homework, it is now time for a brainstorming session. Rope in other members of the marketing team, and perhaps the company’s medical advisor, to get the best ideas for the advertising copy. The office conference room should be a suitable venue, provided it allows for a few hours of uninterrupted brainstorming. All participants should be encouraged to contribute a thought, and even wild ideas should be allowed to flow freely.
Pick out the Key Features
For the benefit of the brainstorming group, write out the product’s salient features in one column on the blackboard/whiteboard. These could include twenty to thirty features or more, and should include the product’s main features, and any others that may contribute to deciding the communication strategy. Once you have all the salient features listed, pick from these the 2-3 “key” features that the group believes can form the core of the communication strategy for the product and are an integral part of its identity.
Let the bright ideas flow!
Now put on those creative thinking caps for slogans, opening lines and themes based on the “key” product features. All should participate actively in this exercise, because it is the very purpose of the brainstorming session. Note down all ideas in a second column on the blackboard/whiteboard. Do not pass a judgement on any idea at this stage, encouraging all to share their thoughts.
Now zero in!
Next, select the slogan or theme that most appropriately helps to convey the product’s identity. Get ideas for a communication strategy based on the selected theme, and think of effective ways of communication. Keep in mind the product’s identity when planning your promotional inputs. You can fill in the details of the communication strategy and advertising copy on your own, in the privacy of your chamber.
You can have the advertising copy field-tested by seeking the opinions of selected doctors and/or field staff. But remember that even the best copy can be rendered useless if poorly handled by field staff. They must therefore be adequately briefed, and more importantly, the communication should be satisfactorily rehearsed before it is passed on to the customers.
October 2000 Pharma Marketing Page. http://pharmapage.tripod.com/1.html
This article appreared in Pharma Business, November 17, 2000.
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