Watch Brand Trust Skyrocket When You Tell Customers Not to Use Your Product

Dear House Rules,

As marketers, we’ve been trained to send the message to potential customers that our product is the best option in every circumstance—but with pharma brands and devices, that’s not always the case. How can we be forthright without sending out customers running to the competition?


Is honesty always the best policy?

Dear Honesty:

In a word: yes. Patients are accustomed to companies—especially big companies—encouraging them to use a certain product no matter what. You can set yourself apart by your true concern for patient welfare by telling customers when it’s not appropriate to use your product.

  • Use the PI as your guide: Most patients will never read the PI you so carefully sent through seemingly endless rounds of approvals. Nevertheless, you can build a vast reservoir of goodwill by highlighting the contraindications, safety precautions, and drug-drug interactions found with your product. Chances are that patients will have already been told about any potential issues by their physicians or pharmacists, but it’s always good to be the brand that tells customers “of course we want you to use our product, but your health and safety are our highest priorities.”
  • Your MLR folks will love you as much as your customers do: Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a potential marketing tactic sail through medical/legal/regulatory review without the addition of multiple disclaimers and caveats? In the current age of “marketing message overload,” have yours be the communication that stands out. Instead of skirting around the fact that patients with type II diabetes shouldn’t take your product, or that magnetic or electrical devices don’t allow patients to receive MRI testing in most cases, lead with it. You’ll probably notice a shortened approval timeline, and your patients will notice your unusual marketing strategy.
  • The power of reverse psychology: Customers don’t just want brands to work anymore; they want the companies that manufacture the brands to view them as individuals. When you position your product as right for a very specific type of patient and not for others, it sends the message “we care about you” loud and clear. Your customers receive that message, and even if your product isn’t a fit for them, they won’t soon forget the name of the company that cared so much it was willing to forego a sale in the interest of patient wellness.

We’ve all heard of “snake-oil salesmen.” These sleazy purveyors of dubious remedies were the personification of the “I’ll say anything to get your business” mentality. And what were they were selling? The forerunners of modern medicines. The pharmaceutical and medical device industries have always faced an uphill battle for the public trust. A refreshing dose of honesty can only help. It is certainly counterintuitive, but it’s also brave, forward-thinking, and a strategy that can yield big dividends in customer loyalty.

It’s especially vital to partner with an experienced branding company when you want to convey a delicate, meticulous message in a way that enhances the reputation of your brand.

About Xavier Creative House

Founded in 2013, Xavier Creative House (XCH) is an award-winning healthcare creative agency specializing in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device. XCH’s global team of brand builders and healthcare marketers, tech-savvy go-getters, and innovative dream-vetters are passionate about the big idea that changes behavior in the healthcare marketplace. They believe life is about connections and that healthcare is about life. That is why XCH delivers bold and evocative creative solutions, amplified by meaningful technology, to energize brands and authentically connect with patients and HCPs.

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Sunny White
Founder & CEO of Xavier Creative House