Target audience: know it like the back of your hand

Get to really know your target audience says Drew Desjardins, Dudnyk's CSO

All too often, target audience is overlooked within the positioning statement or defaulted to the specialty treating the condition. Yet understanding the subtleties of your target audience is paramount to effective positioning.

Here are a few tips for getting more out of defining your target audience.

1. Don’t just think about prescribing behavior.

Of course, we’ll direct sales reps to focus on high prescribers, but prescribing behavior is more closely aligned to targeting and less so to positioning. Instead, consider attitudes and beliefs about the disease, patients, and therapies.

2. When it comes to behavior, ask questions.

Questions like, How do the specialists interact with patients? How do they interact with other HCPs? When learning about new therapies, how do they prefer to have information presented?

These kinds of questions will provide you with a different perspective on your audience’s routines and preferences, and will give you insight into the things that matter most to them.

3. Think about the role that various customers play in the treatment pathway.

The dynamics of your market segment may compel you to position your brand in a way that will attract the attention of key influencers or gatekeepers instead of the ultimate prescribers.

Alternatively, understanding customer dynamics may provide an important context for positioning to the ultimate prescribers.

4. Consider the role of patients in the way that HCPs think about brands.

Kantar Media provides rich data on many different conditions and diseases including what patients are concerned about and how they interact with their physicians.

Having this kind of knowledge can provide important clues as to how HCPs think and behave and, ultimately, interact with your brand.

5. Understand that not all members of a given specialty think, feel, and behave alike.

Audience segmentation is one of the most valuable exercises you can undertake to help you effectively position your brand.

Forget about segments like “early adopters” or “crowd followers.

Instead, push to develop segments that provide insights across specialty boundaries, transcend simple prescribing behaviors, and establish the habits and preferences of HCPs who can truly affect your brand. 

We recently worked with a client to develop a segmentation approach that helped to inform positioning, which then helped to establish messaging. Given some of the unique challenges of this particular rare disease, we thought it would be important to look at a mix of behavioral and attitudinal data.

The analysis considered the use of competitive agents, the likelihood of belief in elements of the brand’s MOA, a willingness to switch patients onto competitive therapies, and the attitudes about overcoming challenges to initiate patients on our brand.

The process yielded four distinct segments, with rich descriptions of each audience’s characteristics, preferences, and tendencies. From those segments we were able to hone in on the one that became the focus of our positioning and led us to a much more specific target audience definition.

All of this may seem like a lot of work.

It is.

But, can you position your brand without going to this trouble? You can.

However, the dividends that you can realize from understanding your customers at a very deep level can prove to be immeasurable.

Marketers in the consumer packaged goods industry wouldn’t dream of positioning their brands without practicing the type of discipline required to completely understand their customers’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s one of the primary ways in which companies like P&G are able to effectively position a complete line of laundry detergents.

Healthcare marketers can benefit from the same kind of approach―and the results can be remarkable.


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