The Magic of Marketing: Creating the Perfect Patient Recruitment Solution
Marketing and advertising are an art form. And as is true of all art, it evolves and adapts to the world around it (And enter the famous question: Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?). Reaching patients for clinical trials is quite a task. Creating awareness, providing education, and garnering true interest is a multi-pronged approach that requires an in-depth understanding of the needs and communication styles of your targeted population. Even with doing deep research and knowing everything from you could possibly know ad libitum on your patient population, this effort could be deemed useless until you actually impress upon and engage them. This is where the magic of marketing comes in, but…
…this is also where it gets tricky. Do you need to recruit patients with niche conditions that are less than .001% of the population? How about pediatric populations with heavy exclusion criteria? How about a minority population whose first language isn’t English and who may be distrustful of Western medicine?
There is a near infinite amount of combinations of marketing challenges that can arise from trial to trial. First things first, as mentioned above, you do your research. Great. (Struggling with patient research? Don’t worry, we’ll cover that in another blog for you soon!) But how do we now market to these patients to ensure successful enrollment and recruitment? That’s the hard part. This is where we review all possible campaigns and cater up (or down) to your trial’s own customized solution.
Patient Awareness Kits (PAKs)
Patient awareness kits are some of the most important aspects of a campaign. These are materials that not only begin the informed consent process but can be the early stages of awareness for your targeted patient population.
Now, what exactly consists of patient awareness kits? What does this usually include?
Typically, patient awareness kits are geared to both the patient and clinicians. This can take the form of: study brochures, study flyers, study site visit guide, doctor-to-patient letters, doctor-to-doctor letters, and ideal patient profiles. This is not all inclusive, as specific materials may bring in increased patient screenings over others.
Do you always need to include physician facing materials for a PAK? Certain trials may only need patient interacting materials while on the opposing end, some trials absolutely require heavier clinician facing tools. Enter your market research from earlier! Initial decisions may have you leaning one way over the other, but the great thing is if what you initially believed isn’t working, an expert patient recruitment team (like CSSi!) can adopt and adapt existing or new materials.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Traditional media has been a true staple in patient recruitment for decades and there is a reason why: it works. Tried and true methods like print ads (newspapers, magazines), out-of-home visuals (billboards, public transportation, public benches), standard television ads and radio ad breaks are able to access many targeted patients across a broad range of demographics. While these methods do hit many patients across different generations and other identifiers, there is noted increased/decreased impact for specific patient populations.
As of 2020, American adults watched television an average of 4 hours and 16 minutes a day.1 In terms of generational focus, current statistics show a wide range of television consumption in accordance with age, with retired persons being the highest consumer. This could be a wonderful tactic when recruiting for age-related disease trials.
Print magazines are still a high consumable, showing that advertising in magazines should not be overlooked. Actively, there is an estimated 228 million magazine readers in the United States.3 Likewise with print newspaper readers, of 2020 there was an estimated 51% preference for print newspapers only their digital counterpart.4
Starting with billboards, the average American spends 300 hours in their car each year. Of these Americans, over 50% stated they have been highly engaged with billboard advertising. In the same vein of transportation, public transportation is utilized an average of 34 million times every week day. To only improve on that amount, 9.9 million Americans had used public transportation in 2019.5
A whopping 92% of Americans listen to the radio every week, which translates to about 240 million people. An additional positive aspect of radio advertising is the ability to reach more individuals in specific regions, as there are over 6000 individual radio stations in the United States alone.6 Radio is a free medium (as long as you have listening apparatus) which makes it an accessible source. Concerns on medium accessibility for certain populations makes radio a wonderful resource.
The media of the future, and one with almost limitless bounds! Digital marketing has become an integral part of advertising since the 1980s, and with each passing year we see increased growth in the digital world. As of 2021, there are: 5.22 billion global individual mobile users, 3.96 billion global individual social media users, over 5.4 billion global Google searches a day and over 232 million American streaming users.7,8,9,10 If those numbers seem high, it’s because they are! Digital marketing is a powerful, wide-spread tool that is able to reach and interact with nearly every demographic.
Social media is a multi-pronged approach where different platforms can be used and exploited for specific needs. If you want to reach the most people in the shortest amount of time, social media is the way to go. Current numbers show that there are 3.78 billion daily social media users. This shows that most users who have a social media account interact and use that platform on a daily basis.11 There is a noticeable generational approach to social media as well for age-specific targeting.
Search Engine Advertising
Google has reigned king in the search engine world for almost two decades now and it has no signs of giving up that title. Globally, Google accounts for 76% of desktop and 86% of mobile searches.13 The remaining percentage is shared by Bing, Baidu, Yahoo and Yandex. Directing search engine results in your favor via sponsored Google Ads will greatly assist in assuring users end up at a trial associated website. The use of geotagging and SEO will greatly increase the numbers of impressions and clicks for the trial website.
As earlier mentioned, nearly the entire population is a mobile user… but how is that user using their mobile device? The average person uses 9 apps per day and a total of 30 apps per month, with a total of 4.2 hours a day being donated to using those apps.14 By placing targeted messaging into specific app platforms, ultra-targeted marketing efforts take place.
So, what’s so ‘over-the-top’ about over-the-top marketing? For starters, it implements video streaming services such as Hulu, YouTube, or Amazon Prime. Video streaming services are quickly becoming the alternative for traditional television, over 55% of American households have multiple streaming platforms, with 80% having at least one streaming platform.15 With this expected-to-grow population, focusing on targeted messaging using these streaming platforms can prove useful. Another interesting aspect of OTT marketing is the ability to make advertisements interactive. This can provide useful information regarding decision making and perceptions of targeted populations.
While it may seem tricky trying to go a-la-cart with your patient recruitment marketing efforts, remember that treating it more as a ‘buffet’ will help! Instead of immediately going all in for one method, feel free to pick and choose the amount of budget dedicated to multiple medium outlets. Finding your study’s perfect marketing style shouldn’t be difficult, reach out to CSSi today for recommendations and creative deliverables to ensure your best patient recruitment season yet!