Monday, December 31, 2012

The Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) Axiron Dropped Ball Story--Part Two

I've consulted to some Fortune 100 companies during my career so nothing shocks me at a big company.

Most employees are trying to keep from getting fired rather than doing something extraordinary that will advance the company they work for. I get it.

I recently wrote about how screwed up Lilly's process of selling their new testosterone gel Axiron was and today I have more bizarre activity to share with you.

Eli Lilly's lack of execution is a great lesson in what not to do in direct marketing, direct marketing medical devices, direct to consumer medical marketing, and direct to consumer medical device marketing.

Let's go over what Lilly is doing and aside from a great lesson in direct marketing you will probably laugh your ass off unless you are the person running this campaign.

Grey Group, their ad agency, has won a lot of awards for ads.  The 60 second ad they shot for Axiron probably cost $300,000-$500,000 to produce.  I could have done it for $75,000; for $300,000 to $500,000--I would have shot four to seven ads and tested the ads to see which one worked the best in actual responses.

Lilly is a big company and Grey Group is a big agency so spending a lot of money is expected--it's part of the territory.  In all fairness the shots and the script are pretty good--on a scale of 1 to 10, I give the producer a 10 for production quality, and a 7 for copy writing.  The copy writing is nice but the big penalty that causes HUGE points off is that there is no urgency to act now!  There's no mention that this ad will discontinue without notice, or that this is for just two weeks, etc. Very basic DR stuff that can be done tastefully but make folks get off their rear ends and order.

The copy writing could also be more compelling but their copy writer probably doesn't need the product nor spoke to fifty people who do.  When you hear people's problems before you write copy you become incredibly passionate and the copy just pours out of you.

The FREE 30 day trial offer of Axiron is huge and obviously that's Lilly's incredible asset here but pay attention because you will see how the brilliance of the FREE offer (it's easy to get hooked on this product) is dissipated by their (Lilly's) lack of follow through.

Lilly has outsourced their inbound telemarketing.  I understand this and in many cases it makes a lot of sense.  However when you are trying to compete with Andro Gel it would be wise to take and monitor the inbound calls yourself.  If you're really smart and you are running the campaign internally you should take one hundred calls yourself, or if you are outsourcing go to the outsourced company and grab a seat and brown bag it.  You'll learn so much from the experience of taking the calls from consumers that will translate into more sales and much stronger ads with awesome testimonials in all mediums.

So they initiate the FREE trial and the consumer gets hooked, now what?  The answer is the consumer has to figure out what to do next.  Let's take my Doctor is kind of hot but she's younger than the fictional Doogie Howser, MD and busier than Neil Patrick Harris so she didn't explain to me that if I like the FREE trial how to get the prescription for a refill for $25 rather than over $300.  I had to figure it out. In all fairness I didn't expect her to guide me through the co-pay approval process.  I expected the drug maker, they failed in this regard.

My pharmacy was a little bit more helpful on the subject of insurance approval, then after four calls to my Doctor's office a young lady finally explained to me how I can get my insurance to approve it for co pay status.  Again it's easy to get hooked on this stuff that's why the dropped balls and the difficulty to get more of Axiron is so tragic.  At 55 I actually feel like I'm 45 when I'm working out and that's huge.  I'm also sleeping better.  I know the side effects and am careful but the upside is the difference between night and day.

Now here's the part where Lilly has really screwed up, again it's tragic but laughable.

Lilly has a FREE $25 co-pay card.  Awesome, isn't it?  I make the call and wait for a couple of weeks thinking that because of Christmas they either didn't send it or it takes more than two weeks for the card to go 800 miles to my address.  I just called back and guess what?  The morons in charge of mailing the $25 co-pay cards haven't printed any new cards up and it will be a few weeks before they are ready!  Are you KIDDING ME?  

Axiron (Lilly) is running media everywhere for this product.

I'm sure persistent lifetime prospects (like me) are getting insurance approval for their co-pay for Axiron and are really bummed Lilly didn't have enough sense to print the cards up and close the sale?  Come on are the people in charge of the co-pay cards in rehab after the Christmas party?  Here's what's worse they can't even give you a date when the card will be sent to you.  This means that thousands of great long term customers who have been asking for the card like me are left hanging.  How many will try Andro Gel instead?

I asked the inbound operator if they were getting a lot of customer service calls like mine.  She said, "oh yes, but there's nothing she can do."  She's right.

What's the lesson here?  Make sure that you flow chart a campaign and button everything down.  Never trust someone to tell you how it's going.

Take your prospects by the hand through every step of the customer acquisition process, build rapport with them (and sell them some Cialis or other drugs while you're at it).

Go in and check every aspect of your campaign and buy from yourself just like a regular prospect to see if the campaign works the way you intend it to.

Employees almost always lie when they drop the ball and if you don't try to buy from yourself you will never know if the ball is being dropped.

Moreover Lilly could help the consumer understand the step by step process of getting their co-pay approved.  This could be done with direct mail as a follow up to their redemption of their FREE 30 day Axiron trial offer. They could even include the co-pay card with your name printed on it

Funny, but tragic especially with an awesome product like Axiron.

I wonder if Andro Gel has their co-pay cards printed up?  I'll call them and get back to you.

                                               written by Brad Richdale Author
                                             copyright 2012 all rights reserved