The Business of Psychedelics: The Art and Science of Marketing in the Mental Healthcare Space

Pintaya has over a decade working in the healthcare advertising space. We have worked with a spectrum of clients from medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical producers, health authorities and both inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities. Relevant to todays discussion, we have worked with over two dozen practices in the US, Canada and the UK who offer advanced mental health treatments including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Ketamine (IV, IM and intranasal esketamine *Spravato*) and who are venturing forth into the world of Psychedelic Assisted Therapies with optimism and caution.

Throughout the past decade, we’ve gained some valuable insights that go beyond best practices for lead generation and extend into medical business structure and personnel management for a scalable, sustainable and thriving business.

A Pointed Message About This Customer Base.

The number one take-away we can offer businesses in this space is this: be very aware that your customers are astute. They may be distinct from other consumers in this way. These are no impulse buyers. They are researching scientific journals, voraciously reading reviews, asking loved ones for advice, watching online testimonials before finally price shopping and hunting for financing etc. They are resilient, well-informed, and are very aware that they are in a vulnerable condition. They don’t want to be taken advantage of and they don’t want to be sold to. They’re comfortable searching for help online from the comfort of their own home. They will be hesitant to reach-out and if they do some will be keen to speak to a human-being over the phone while others will be too anxious to do so and would appreciate a discrete form to fill out on a website. Dealing with some “flakiness” from this customer base is to be expected. Businesses that treat patients like regular online consumers come across as sales-oriented and ingenuine and therefore do not convert well. Instead, expect to have to build a relationship with these online consumers through your content. They may not engage publicly but your data analysis tools will be able to demonstrate that they are therewatching, consuming, warming-up to the idea of reaching out.

Compassion ‘Sells’ Well.

Caring, effort, intention…these are elements that make businesses more attractive to consumers in any industry. We have seen with our own eyes that the businesses that succeed long-term in the medical arena emphasize transparency between patient and provider and quality of care above all else. Compassion is a word we’ve seen stitched into many a medical businesses tapestry of marketing strategy. It’s a challenging offering to deliver on and an impossible one to fake.

Technology: Friend or Foe?

Without a doubt, technology is a friend. However, we’ve seen the most successful businesses integrate new technologies only when there is a direct and measurable impact for the patient, the practice or both. For example, the 2019 Covid-19 pandemic spurred many medical businesses to invest in telehealth software. Many did so to such an efficient extent that they’ve continued offering telehealth services in a post-pandemic environment. Integrating new technologies whether it’s a new telehealth platform, a new piece of medical equipment or a brand new EHR take time, money and patience to execute. However, the businesses that persevere do tend to see their efforts pay off in spades down the road (with Pintaya at the helm of marketing their modernization of course). We’ve helped many navigate this arduous process and we’ve accumulated quite a list of recommended software’s and technologies to make make the process smoother.

To Pivot or to Hold Steady as She Goes?

Research and development departments at all major universities and big pharma corporations are constantly advancing medicine and healthcare. Medical business strategies have to be forward-looking, adaptable and open to the possibility that todays “advanced” treatments could be old news by next week. The medical businesses that we have seen succeed maintain their core tenets despite industry changes.

An example here would be Jansen’s 2018 launch of their intranasal esketamine product: Spravato. The buzz leading up to the product launch was significant and it made the IV ketamine market very nervous. In the end, Spravato bolstered awareness of IV ketamine as a more affordable option to the drug. The businesses we were working with during that launch, leveraged the buzz around the new product while maintaining their standard of care and dedication to providing whatever treatments were best for patients. Now, many of them offer both IV Ketamine and the intranasal esketamine for those who are more comfortable with that modality.

So it Goes with Psychedelic Assisted Therapies…

Psychedelics is the latest in a long line of advanced mental health treatments to come to market and includes all modalities of ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin assisted therapy. At Pintaya, we see it as yet another opportunity to execute on the principles expressed above with no doubt that our extremely knowledgeable and patient clients will incorporate those elements of this new market that best serve their patient populations.