how to craft a pharma content marketing strategy

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How To Craft A Pharma Content Marketing Strategy That Rocks

Do you have dedicated a content marketing strategy for every brand, supported by a content marketing budget that caters to today’s digital-savvy customers?

Can you communicate easily the benefits your brand provides in consideration of what government regulations allow, what consumers can relate to, and what search engines will rank high?

The pharma industry faces an increasingly informed and demanding audience in the quality of its offerings and transparency.

Some brands are experiencing problems with the public perception that hinder their ability to boost visibility, earn trust, become thought leaders, and promote support in the marketplace.

Content marketing is a proven way to showcase the expertise of your pharma organization. It can also help you inform and educate your target audience and stand out from the competition.

However, content marketing works best with a well-defined strategy and plan.

Posting helpful, relevant, engaging, and up-to-date content consistently will drive tons of traffic to your website and boost sales.

But without a well-thought-out strategy though, you could be wasting your time and money.

A content strategy plan that is up-to-date, innovative, and engaging for your prospects and customers – no matter when or how they intend to buy is highly effective.

So, before you even begin to think about content promotion, you need to research and design a workable plan of action.

In this article, you will uncover pharma marketing challenges. Also, why content marketing is important for the pharma industry.

You will learn a step-by-step guide to help you craft a content marketing strategy and plan.

And finally, you will get tips on how to create a content marketing strategy that rocks.

Are you ready?

Let's dive in.

Pharma Marketing Challenges

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The pharmaceutical industry faces the same challenges that are common to all marketers. 

These challenges include the need to be seen as different in a competitive business space and how to align results with business goals.

It is also concerned with the best ways to attract and retain the attention of the right target audience at the right moment.

However, the pharma copywriters face unique challenges peculiar to caring for people with illnesses or injuries.

And how to communicate life-saving therapies and technologies manufactured by their companies. 

As if those challenges were not enough, pharma marketing has no room for factual errors or marketing mistakes in an industry where human lives can hang in the balance.

Here are other challenges:

Pharma Regulations And Accountability 

One of the biggest challenges pharmaceutical marketers face is that pharmacy is a highly regulated industry.

Regulators like MHRA and FDA watch for product safety and efficacy, labeling, and messaging practices. 

Considering those reasons the pharma content needs to be error-free, credible, well-vetted, and also go through strict validation and approval processes. 

Unlike marketing for other brands, these processes make it more challenging to efficiently source, produce, and publish meaningful, relevant stories than most other industries.

Pharma Marketers Need To Be Sensitive To Consumer Privacy And Information

In a data-driven marketing world, data privacy has become a hot issue.

Consumers are aware and increasingly uncomfortable with the data is collected in their day-to-day lives. 

But why?

Consider these statistics from Statista:

In 2020, the number of data breaches in the United States was 1001 cases.

In that same year, over 155.8 million individuals were affected by data exposures - that is, the accidental revelation of sensitive information due to less-than-adequate information security.

97 percent of consumers are somewhat or very concerned about protecting their data.

This widespread worry about the collection and the use of consumer data is changing marketing as we know it.

When it comes to worrying about the misuse of personal data, people are protective when disclosing details of their health.

Many individuals are even reluctant to engage in conversations with people suffering the same ailment, let alone drug companies.

And more especially when they are suffering from a rare or misunderstood disorder.

Unlike companies that market less-regulated products, pharmaceutical companies are focused on treating and managing illnesses with EMAFDA-approved products. 

Therefore marketers have the added responsibility to communicate messages consistent with indications approved by government regulators.

Messaging To Consumers In A B2B World 

messaging to consumers in a B2B world

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Another challenge that pharma and life science companies face is that their sales processes are designed more for B2B than B2C.

Though their products are for people that need medical treatment, pharma companies are not allowed to sell directly to the patients themselves. 

Licensed healthcare professionals determine what treatments are best for their patients.

Pharma Marketers Have Creative Limitations

Regulatory-compliant issues and indirect pharmaceutical messaging prevent content marketers from exploring new creative initiatives or embracing social media. 

As much as they want to market where their target audience is, they also recognize that they cannot control their messaging on these channels.

Worse still, a misstep might give their detractors a free platform for public criticism.

This may open up a can of worms bringing up issues to light before the company is prepared to respond to them. 

An unanticipated communication crisis is something that no company wants.

Pharma Brand Reputation Challenge

Pharmaceutical companies have a HUGE perception problem. And that is, they are more concerned about profits than being empathetic to human suffering.

For instance, the well-publicized story of Martin Shkreli and Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos comes to mind.

That story highlights legitimate concerns about executive greed and questionable ethics and by extension the reputation of the pharmaceutical companies in general.

However, even the thinnest pancake has two sides. Sadly, the other side of the story doesn't get told.

And so it does not get the same level of attention, and pharma content marketers are often challenged by how to shine a positive light on the industry.

Apart from pricing and the perception of greed, how clinical research and research are done are generally misunderstood by most people.

For instance, it takes about 12 years to bring a drug from a lab to the local pharmacy. Check out this video from Pfizer about drug development.

Pharma marketers need to tell a compelling story about drug pricing and ethical ways that drugs are brought to the market o change the ways the public sees the drug industry and its reputation.


Many people, even marketers are confused by content strategy, content plan, and content marketing. And so they use them interchangeably. But are they the same?

Pharma Content Strategy

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A pharma content marketing strategy is a plan for building an audience by publishing, maintaining, and spreading frequent and consistent content that educates, entertains, or inspires to turn strangers into fans and fans into customers.

It uses engaging content like audio, visuals, and or written text to achieve business goals.

It is the foundation on which every successful content marketing is built. 

But unless you are a content marketer for a big company, you don’t need an elaborate plan.

A small pharma company needs a plan to help it focus on its time, money, and energy.

You can document your content marketing strategy by answering the following questions:

  • Who is the target audience for this content?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What do you bring to the table?
  • What do you hear?
  • What type of content do you already have?
  • What do you want to achieve with specific content?
  • How often should you publish content?
  • How do you plan to promote the content after it is published?
  • Which channels will you use to publish the content?
  • Who will be in charge of your content?
  • Who is responsible for the results?
  • What is your destination (core strategy)?
  • How would you measure the success of content marketing?

Pharma Content Plan

A content plan is how you intend to implement the content strategy.

It determines the content you hope to create and sets expectations for how it should be.

So in a nutshell, it is the tactical part of implementing the content strategy. 

The content plan helps the pharma marketer answers questions like:

  • Who will create the content?
  • What is the reason for creating it?
  • What topics will you choose for the target audience? 
  • What content types will you create?


What Is Content Marketing In The Pharma Sector?

According to Content Marketing Institute, "content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action".

A pharma marketer doesn't pitch products or services but provides relevant and useful content to a target audience to help them solve their pain points.

Pharma marketers use content marketing strategies to help healthcare professionals and end-users get informed online.

The content they produce focuses on health. It could be blog posts, videos, quizzes, infographics, podcasts, and more. 

The pharmaceutical industry uses content marketing to improve brand awareness, increase engagement, and build customer loyalty.

Importance Of Content Marketing In The Pharma Industry 

importance of content marketing in the pharma industry

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target audience has. It also helps to build trust, develop relationships, improve conversions, and generate leads.

Today, HCPs and consumers expect high-quality, consistent content from their favorite brands.

And according to the State of Inbound report, content creation is a top priority for 80% of marketers. Moreover, on average, content marketing accounts for26% of B2B marketing budgets.

High-quality content helps manufacturers and distributors to engage with customers who were previously out of reach. 

And digital channels make it easy to offer a unique opportunity to expand, whether into new geographies or new segments.

It makes it simply easy for pharma marketers to reinvent, redefine, revolutionize the customer experience, and improve the productivity of pharma salespeople.

Since people go to the internet to search for health information and reassurance, providing them with highly informative content helps them make relevant decisions.

Also, patients go online to search for information and learn about a drug or treatment.

However, content marketing helps marketers meet the needs of patients with clear, consistent, and reliable information.

Providing consistent educational content is more effective than pushy direct sales.

Marketers use social media networks to build strong relationships with patients and healthcare professionals.

They make it easy for brands to continue the conversation with their audience beyond the point of sale. And provide solutions to their pain points.

A healthcare brand can use content marketing to position itself as a thought leader, boost audience engagements, and skyrocket sales.

How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy For Your Pharma Brand

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you develop a content marketing strategy and plan.

#1. Establish Your Brand Goals

The first step in creating your content marketing strategy that rocks is to understand the goal you want to achieve.

That will help you determine what your intended return on investment would be.

Define the challenges you are trying to overcome with this strategy.

  • What is it that you want to achieve?  
  • Do you want to generate more leads and boost sales? 
  • Do you want to drive insane traffic to your website? 
  • Are you interested in establishing thought leadership and dominance in your brand?

How much of your pharma marketing budget would be devoted to content marketing?

Who are the stakeholders involved in the marketing or need to be informed?

The answers to these questions will help you create an editorial strategy. 

Once you have figured out your objectives, you will need to set some targets.

If at all possible, those targets should be quantified so that you can measure the success of your content marketing campaign.

#2. Define Your Pharma Audiencedefine your pharma audience

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Before you start creating your content, identify your target audience.

For instance, if you want a specific audience to read your content, you will need to understand their likes and dislikes. 

You will also need to know the type of content that will appeal to that target audience.

That leads us logically to defining a persona for your typical customer.

What are buyer personas? 

According to HubSpot, buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research.

They help you focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers, and align all work across your organization (from marketing to sales to service).

They will help you identify your customers’ needs and the best way to meet them.

Use the following criteria to create your buyer personas:

  • Demographic information: geographic location, age, gender, income, and (possibly) ethnicity.
  • Professional position of your customers: are they CEOs, decision-makers, employees, freelancers, etc.?
  • Social characteristics: income, married or single, family size, budget, etc.
  • Consumption behaviors: the communication channels they use (email, social networks, etc.), their interests, and also their consumption habits.

#3. Research Your Competition

The next step is to find out what competition you will face when you want to attract the attention of your target audience. 

Your pharma competitive content analysis will help you stay one step ahead of your competition.

It ensures that your target audience gets unique and valuable content.

And doing a competitive content analysis is not as difficult as you might think.

Follow these steps:

  • Make a list of your competitors.
  • Review the business core and positioning of your competition.
  • Analyze key SEO metrics.
  • Review their on-site content. 
  • Turn your competitive content analysis into action.

Your competition is more than traditional. It includes competing for the attention and time of your target audience.

As you research your competition, look at news sources, references, and entertainment sites that cover the same topics as your posts. 

When you research your competitors, pay attention to the type of content they are producing.

Find out what appears to have been their most successful and the keywords they are targeting.

#4. Conduct Topic And Keywords Research

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After you've figured out your objectives and understand your audience, it's time to find out what your target audience is searching for online.

Research the keywords your audience uses to look for the information you're writing about. 

Begin your research by investigating the search volume for the keywords that you believe are relevant. 

Here is how to conduct topic and keyword research in a nutshell:

  • Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business. 
  • Fill in those topic buckets with keywords.
  • Understand how intent affects keyword research and analyze accordingly.
  • Research-related search terms.

#5. Review Your Existing Content

Gain valuable insight from the inventory of the content you have already produced.

Find out what types of posts generated the most interest. And also, which pages of your website currently receive the most traffic.

Research the keywords readers used to find your website.

Reviewing the performance metrics of existing content will help you understand the type of content that interests your target audience the most.

#6. Develop Your Pharma Strategy

How would you use the information that your review uncovered?

Developing your pharma content strategy will involve the consideration of the platforms you will use to publish your content.

It also involves coming up with the methods you will use to promote your content. 

Not only that, but you will also need to think about the type of content your target audience will enjoy consuming. 

For instance, would white papers or blog posts appeal to them, or would videos and infographics be more appropriate?

A combination of many different media options may just be the best approach.

#7. Plan Your Pharma Resources

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After your content marketing research, you will no doubt have plenty of ideas to work on.

Planning your resources will help you see what you can realistically achieve.

That means deciding whether you will produce your content in-house or if you are going to outsource content creation to an agency.

Part of planning your resources also involves delegating a team member to manage your content marketing campaigns and another to respond to the comments and questions that your content gets. 

Understand that content marketing is time-consuming. Be realistic about how much time you can devote to your campaigns.

#8. Plan Your Pharma Content Production Schedule

You will need to bring all your ideas together in planning your content publishing schedule.

The content planning schedule should have a calendar of publication dates and a team member assigned to create each piece of content.

Having a publishing calendar helps you publish content consistently and on time.

And that is one of the things that your target audience loves in content marketing.

#9. Create, Publish And Promote Your Content

Have your goals clearly in mind each time you create your pharma content. Incorporate the keywords or keyphrases that you found in your research.

Above all, create high-quality content that your audience will love, and search engines will rank high on their search engine return pages.

That means that you will not be in a rush to publish content just to meet the deadline on your content publishing calendar.

After your content is published, promote it massively and consistently.

Share it on your social media accounts, and send it to anyone you think might be interested in benefiting from the value it provides.

#10. Monitor And Refine

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The final step in your content marketing plan is to monitor the success of your campaign.

Based on the results you get from the monitoring, replicate what has been successful.

Refine and improve your strategy as appropriate. As you rinse and repeat, your content marketing strategy will evolve.

Monitor, refine and have a flexible approach to your content creation.

Tips For Creating A Content Strategy That Rocks

If you have followed the step-by-step guide in this article, you know how to create the right pharma content marketing strategy.

But how do you turn your strategy into action? 

Share Real-Life Experiences

Many pharma brands use their content to talk about themselves and not their HCPs and patients.

A content marketing strategy that rocks should focus on the target audience.

Every post should provide a solution to at least one pain point of your reader.

On the other hand, focusing only on your products and services will disengage your target audience from your content and your sales will suffer.

Pro tip: Focus your content on providing solutions to the real-life pain points of your audience.

Interact With Your Target Audience

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Interacting with your audience is at the heart of engagement. Sharing articles, blogs, and videos informs and engages your audience.

But interacting with your audience on their favorite social media platforms enhances their emotional responses and compels them to act.

Social media networks are the ideal channels for creating a close relationship with your audience by answering their questions and interacting with them at any time.

Set And Monitor Your KPIs

A content strategy makes it easy to monitor your KPIs.

The metrics help you optimize your content according to its performance and make the necessary improvements.

Create Consistent And Contextually Relevant Content

With the ever-changing current events, companies operating in the healthcare industry need to craft content based on the context and news of the moment. 

Newsjacking in the form of a blog can be part of your content strategy.

In case you're wondering, newsjacking is what happens when brands piggyback off the day’s biggest news stories to draw attention to their content.

Your pharma marketer should promote news jacked stories across all channels on the day of the event to maximize engagement when it is still relevant. 

Many people today want more educational, reassuring, and inspiring health content. 

Therefore, pharma brands should support these needs with innovative practices centered on content marketing.

After Thoughts About How To Create A Pharma Content Strategy That Rocks

As you have seen from this article, pharmaceutical companies have serious marketing challenges that savvy marketers can overcome.

The pharma industry should incorporate content marketing as part of its overall marketing strategy. 

However, developing a content marketing plan is a cycle rather than a one-off task.

It entails learning more about your audience and the content that works. You will need to refine your plan frequently. 

The tips above should help you create a content marketing strategy that rocks!.

Our specialized pharma content marketing agency can make a real difference by creating and implementing a content strategy that helps you achieve your business goals.

Do you want to implement a successful content strategy and achieve your business objectives? Contact us to get started.

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