Styles Of Copywriting for Medico-Marketing: Know The 6 Most Important!

Styles Of Copywriting for Medico-Marketing: Know The 6 Most Important!

Written By: Vivek Hattangadi

Crimes in Copywriting – Part 2 

Styles Of Copywriting for Medico-Marketing: Know The 6 Most Important!

What makes you endear to the ads of Amul? When you see its catchy tagline, you smile, you laugh, or compels you to share it with your friends, right? You’ve just encountered effective copywriting which is so important for branding.

Says Jeff Bezos “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn a reputation by trying to do hard things as well.” 

The goal of medico-marketing copywriting is to build up the reputation of your brand and elicit an action from doctors. And that comes for your style of writing and that’s its importance.

First, let us see the nuances which make FMCG ads and medico-marketing ads similar and different. Let’s start with the similarities. 

1.   In both, messages need to be clear, concise, and compelling. The key points need to be communicated succinctly to capture the audience’s attention.

2.   Both must leverage emotional appeals to connect with the audience.

3.   Both medico-marketing and FMCG ads rely on strong branding to create recognition and brand loyalty.

While these similarities exist, medico-marketing and FMCG advertising also have significant differences due to the unique nature of the industries and their respective regulations and target audiences.

    i.       The target audience for the two are entirely different. Medico-marketing copy is aimed at doctors who need in-depth information about the product’s medical benefits, clinical studies, and safety profiles. On the other hand, FMCG advertisements target the general public.

   ii.       Medico-marketing copy deals with pharmaceuticals, or medical devices. This can be highly technical and complex. It requires a deep understanding of medical terminology and the ability to communicate scientific information in an amazingly simple manner. FMCG copy, on the other hand, deals with everyday consumer products, which are less technical and require a simpler, more accessible language.

  iii.       The promotion of pharmaceuticals and medical devices is heavily regulated to ensure patient safety and avoid misleading information. FMCG advertisements also have regulations to adhere to but are generally less stringent in comparison. 

But one significant similarity – both should start with the end in mind. Know the purpose of the copy or the ad. Or else how will you commence if you do not know its purpose? (Don’t say the purpose is “The boss told me, and he wanted it yesterday.” Then you may end up with a mediocre job). Aren’t you writing because you want to excel? 

I am always reminded of what Stephen Covey wrote 30 years back. “Begin with the end in mind,” a crystal-clear, unclouded, and nonambiguous vision of your desired direction and destination. It’s elementary, but very often we miss out. Before you do anything else, determine what you want to happen. So also “What is the goal of your medico-marketing copy.”

1.  Do you want to introduce a new product?

2.  Do you desire to enhance brand awareness and visibility? 

3.  Do you aspire to make your product move from the ‘recall’ level to the ‘top of mind’? 

4.  Are you craving to pre-empt a competitor’s new strategy? 

5.  Do you wish to revive and rejuvenate a product heading towards the decline phase in the PLC? 

6.  Has your medical affairs department told you the potential of a new indication and want to promote it?

7.  Is it to change your positioning after seven years? 

The reasons could be many. Once you know your purpose you can determine your style. The goal should not be to brag about you F&D’s achievement or the company’s accomplishments. It is to communicate the benefits of your brand. And how would it help the doctors, patients, and caregivers? 

And to enhance your credibility as a brand manager, ensure it is accurate, informative, and complies with legal and regulatory guidelines.

Let us now discuss a few styles. 

Style I. Scientific and evidence-based copy

This style focuses on presenting clinical data, research findings, and evidence supporting your brand’s efficacy and safety. You must simplify the technical data and present it in a form where the doctors do not have to burn their brain calories. Be clear and concise. Make ample use of scientific information, and references to clinical studies published in journals of repute. 

Caution! Do not make it too heavy. Never lose sight that your first customers are your medical representatives. And in turn they have to communicate the contents to the doctors. Recall the myths in copywriting we busted. Doctors are human and therefore not rational. You have to tickle their limbic system. Move from emotion to rational and logic and not vice versa.

The most famous example is Lipitor. “I trust my heart to Lipitor” was the emotional headline and then it moved to science and evidence-based communication. 

Style II. Educational Style 

This style is to educate doctors about the medical condition the drug addresses. You explain the disease or condition in simple terms. You then talk about the symptoms, causes, and potential treatment options. You then introduce your brand as a solution. Then you elucidate the positioning of your brand. The classic example is Prodep, and I was then the brand manager.

Prodep (fluoxetine) from Sun Pharma was introduced in 1989 at a time when depression as a medical condition was known only to psychiatrists. The first three to four companies that introduced fluoxetine made a mad rush to the psychiatrists. 

Surprisingly, secondary research in reputed medical journals indicated that many chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes had depression as a coexisting problem. But at that time consulting physicians, cardiologists, or gastroenterologists weren’t even aware of what exactly depression is or the difference between major depressive disorders and generalized anxiety disorders. 

To make Prodep stand apart from the competition, we decided to promote it as a co-prescription along with the main therapy for CVS, diabetes, and gastroenterological conditions. 

But then there was a big challenge. How do you educate the learned consulting physicians, cardiologists, or gastroenterologists on this subject through the field force? 

I once again checked with the medical affairs team. “Can we use humor and caricatures to promote Prodep?” They loved the idea. 

For the first time, a 3-year-long campaign using humor and caricatures was used to educate the non-psychiatrists on the various facets of depression and how it is strongly associated with many chronic medical conditions. The field force danced with joy. Doctors loved it. Now do I need to mention that the implementation was super-terrific? Prodep soon became the darling brand of all. 

Prodep went on to be a super hit. And what’s more, the market size of antidepressants expanded exponentially. As per ORG (now IQVIA) it was Rs. 12.23 crores, in 1992 it became over Rs. 27 crores. Today, it is close to Rs. 450 crores. 

Doctors are first human beings. They too have emotions like you and me. They too want to smile. They want to laugh. They too enjoy lighter moments. Leverage this trait of doctors to build your brand. Don’t miss that. Your copy need not be poker-faced even for a serious product. 


Style III. Storytelling 

Storytelling is a fundamental part of being human. Who does not enjoy stories? My grandson Aham who is one and a half does, and so does his grandfather at 74, (that’s me). Stories let us share information in a way in a playful way that creates an emotional connection.

Right from the cave ages till the age of Generative AI, telling stories has been one of humankind’s main ways of sharing information. In those days it was around the bonfire, painted on cave walls, and passed down from parent to child. Today it is in the boardrooms or brainstorming in a brand managers meeting. Or even during cocktails during CMEs and CPhEs. 

Stories create emotional bonds that make it easier to recall information and store memories. It is easier for our brains to pair information with emotion. You might laugh, cry, feel anxious or angry, but the outcome is the same: powerful and memorable experiences.

Good storytelling helps doctors to absorb vital details, remember them, and act upon them (i.e., write an Rx). It also allows you to develop a stronger connection with them.

Doctors are more likely to retain information if it’s told in an engaging, relatable way. A quote that I love the most is, “A story’s most important function is to remind us we are not alone in this world. 

Can I tell you a real story I weaved around Colimex Drops which I made up from a real-life incident. And how a paediatrician from Pune, Dr. Jyoti Sabnis became loyal to Colimex Drops. This was when I was a District Manager with Carter-Wallace. 

“In the dead of midnight, my neighbor, Shilpa’s heart sank. Her 3-month-old daughter Anjali writhed in agony with severe colicky pain. Desperate to ease the pain, she knocked my door at 12.45 am and told me about the misery of Anjali. I gave her a bottle of Colimex Drops. Holding Anjali close, she administered 5 drops of soothing Colimex Drops. With tears in her eyes, she felt an overwhelming sense of relief as her Anjali’s pain subsided. In that tender moment, the bond between Shilpa and Anjali grew stronger than ever before.”

Shaunak Gokhale, the medical representative who was with me heard it intently. The word spread in my team. Colimex went on to be a super hit. 

This is the magic of storytelling. 

Style IV. Differentiated Style Copy

Your pantoprazole, Brandex, is similar to another 500 pantoprazoles in the Indian market. You are in a dilemma. How should I differentiate my Brandex from the rest? There are as many differentiation styles as you can imagine. The skill lies is developing and applying the most effective brand differentiation strategy in a way that appropriately reflects your brand’s personality, values, promise, way of doing things, and key characteristics coupled with your core business objectives.

A powerful way to differentiate is to create a niche. The advantages are clear. Niche markets see competition of a lesser degree, as early birds have historically ruled the roost here. The way Dr. Reddy’s Labs launched ofloxacin + ornidazole combo is a great lesson in branding. 

The ofloxacin + ornidazole combo was widely prescribed for treating mixed infections like aerobic and anaerobic infections. 

Dr. Reddy’s combo wasn’t the first nor second nor even the third brand of ofloxacin + ornidazole. It was a very, very late entrant. This combo was very widely prescribed by general surgeons, gynecology surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, chest physicians, and consulting physicians. Dr. Reddy’s was entering an enormously crowded market. 

Dr. Reddy’s think tank went into action. They wanted to stay away from this red ocean. Through the prescription audit, they observed that a niche that had an enormous potential to prescribe the brand was completely missed out by the leader brands. It was the dental segment, a segment where aerobic and anaerobic infections are quite common. 

“What an opportunity,” exclaimed the brand manager. The brand name decided was Ordent, ‘dent’ suffix suggesting it’s for the dentists and only for the dentists. They didn’t stop at that. Along with the F&D, they developed a strip that had the shape of a tooth, as you see in the image below. The dentists became emotionally close to Ordent. It was the dentists ‘first love.’ 

Ordent went on to capture a share of 90% in the dental segment.

One drawback in targeting niche segments is that they are generally smaller in size. Hence, opportunities are limited. But the positive side is that there are fewer players to compete with. 

For a differentiated niche brand, it’s crucial to develop a copywriting style that not only displays the uniqueness of your brand but also resonates with the target audience. Here are some suggestions for a style of copywriting that could work. 

                   i.       Use words that are emotional and truly sets your brand apart. Example “Brandex is Inspired by You, Driven by Purpose”; “Brandex Elevates Your Experience Beyond Expectations.”

                  ii.       Be authentic and narrate your differentiation through a story.

                 iii.       Emphasize the Unique Selling Points – focus on the aspects that distinguish you from competitors.

                 iv.       Appeal to the limbic system to create a strong connection.

                  v.       Humorous, playful, and witty copy can leave a long-lasting impression and makes your brand memorable.

                 vi.       Avoid jargon and complex language. Simple and straightforward copy ensures that your brand’s message is easily understood.

                vii.       Show empathy and care; doctors are dealing with health challenges.

These 7 tips are valuable in any communication. 

Style V. Patient-centered Styl

In reality, the pharmaceutical industry should be working on keeping patient’s benefits and outcomes in focus. Paradoxically, patients have been neglected, although they are the revenue generators – those who actually pay for the medicines. 

Fortunately, this is changing. Patients are getting more attention and coming into focus. Consider patients as your core consumers and stop viewing them as passive recipients. This would help pharma achieve patient-centricity in the true sense. 

And this should be loudly visible in the copy. 

The patient-centered style in writing medico-marketing copy is an approach that focuses on the needs, preferences, and experiences of the patient, rather than solely emphasizing the features and benefits of your brand. When you adopt a patient-centered style in medico-marketing copy, you can foster trust, improve patient engagement, and ultimately contribute to better and total health outcomes.

Know what the patient wants. The end goal in this style of copywriting is to offer a “better patient outcome” rather than just a ‘pill.’ You should take care of the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the patient and the caregiver and help them for a better outcome of health.

In this style, use emotional triggers. Emotional triggers are words, phrases, images, or stories that evoke a specific feeling or response in patients, and their caregivers at home. First, identify the patient’s pain points. Then use emotional words or phrases. Tell stories that trigger emotions. Finally, evaluate your copy. 

Style VI. Call to Action Style 

A call to action (or CTA) medico-marketing copy inspires the readers to take the action they desire. It could be to ask for more science and medical information, contact the medical affairs or brand management team, encourage doctors to ask patients to join the patient-support group, and so on. 

A CTA is an important part of marketing communication because it engages the doctor in your brand. A few examples. 

“Ask your patient to log on to ‘V R With U’ and join the patient support group.”

“Scan the QR code now to get complete information on the new EXCEL STUDY” which was published in the British Medical Journal.

“Log on to the microsite of ‘www.Ovulen-28’ so we can send you a full month’s course for 5 women who want to delay pregnancy”.

These are typical examples of simple calls to action. The possibilities are endless. Here are a few tips to have a vibrant CTA. 

Simple language: A great CTA should use language that’s easy to understand. It should be straightforward and tell the user exactly what they need to do.

Eye-catching design: CTA design should be visually appealing and stand out on the page. It should be easy to find and draw the user’s attention. For instance, in your microsite, a bright-colored button with bold text that contrasts with the background would be helpful to the doctors. Similarly in the printed promos. 

Urgency: Create a sense of urgency by using time-sensitive language, such as “This free course on Ovulen-28 for 5 women who want to delay pregnancy is available only for 1 month”.

Benefit-oriented language: Focus on the benefits the doctor will receive by taking action. For example, “Ask your next pre-diabetic person to join ‘The Prediabetic Club’ to delay progression to diabetes.”

Action-oriented language: The language used in a CTA should encourage users to take immediate action. For example, “Join our ‘Elite Doctors Club today.” 

The possibilities are immense. However, use emotionally motivating language to prompt engagement. 

Finally, is there a difference between copywriting and content writing? It differs in the intent. The purpose of copywriting is to sell something or encourage the reader to take a desired action. This action might be prescribing your brand, selling an idea, or signing up for a paid online seminar. Content writing, whether is designed to create awareness, educate, inform, or inspire readers. Content writers tell stories through longer-form copy, like an online article, white paper, e-book, or case study. 

Now what you have read in these seven pages, can you guess if it is copywriting or content writing? Please do write to me. 

Your style must be dynamic. Choose the one which suits your purpose, the reason for creating the medico-marketing material. Whichever style you use, adhere to medical regulations and ethical guidelines. Claims and statements should be supported by evidence. Show your professional integrity. Be transparent when communicating indications, contra-indications, adverse effects, drug-drug interactions, and so on. Do everything which will enhance your credibility and your brand will be viewed as an honest brand. 

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