Swipe right on… Twirla? Creating ads for a contraceptive patch on dating apps is emblematic of the innovative approach that Amy Welsh, the Vice President of Marketing takes at Agile Therapeutics. Welsh has no shame in working with marketing agencies to utilize the advantages that they offer, while also maintaining close control of her brand’s integrity. It’s safe to say, Welsh has no shame in taking a different approach that spurs traditional marketing tactics
“The novel — the different ways of doing it — is strategic media partnering,” Welsh said. “For instance, [at Agile] we were able to be the first contraceptive to advertise on dating apps like Match. I couldn’t have done that if I didn’t have somebody outside who was street-smart, and partnered with us to appropriately come up with a plan for that.” Welsh continued, “I want to ensure that the marketing team is the brand steward. We better know our brand better than everybody. And I want to use my agency for things that I don’t know or can’t do. It’s a bit of a hybrid but the marketing team better be the brand stewards and the strategists a hundred percent.”
Launching a contraceptive in the middle of 2020 might not have been the tactical dream for Welsh, but she did it anyway. Welsh has always acted quick on her feet. It’s part of what makes him a good marketer and it’s part of what made this conversation with her so fun.
Throughout her career in big and small pharma Amy’s launched many products and is a fountain of wisdom for having had all that experience. As she creates a new team, for a new company, in a new product market, her thirst to innovate is high. She’s found a need to create new roles for people who can specialize in marketing on popular new tools and apps. On this episode of Marketing Trends, Welch explains the unique challenges of marketing to Gen Z as well as creating awareness for an entire product class; she also talks about how she is creating new roles on her marketing team. I hope you enjoy this episode.
- Marketing to Gen Z: New iterations of media modalities require tailored marketing tactics. Marketers are treading water and testing out the best ways to market to this upcoming generation. Thinks that worked for millennials, don’t necessarily work on younger generations with different values and needs. Getting in front of your audience via advertising on apps and other new media is the way of today.
- Campaigns that are Purely Educational: When your product market is so young and largely unknown to your target audience, you’ve got to embark on some educational campaigns. You’ve also got to listen, which means asking the right questions — actually talking to people so you can learn what they are looking for and gathering feedback and data from those conversations is priceless for marketers. It’s a brandless campaign that’s teaching consumers about what it is and it’s an important foundation for marketing in a product field.
- Creatively Building Teams: Sometimes the positions that you need to be filled don’t really match with traditional job descriptions. As new needs in new markets arise, CMO’s and VP’s of Marketing are creating new roles in their teams to address advertising on new social media platforms.
- Marketing Needs to Learn from Sales: Market research, focus groups, and other methods of gathering information about your audience are all helpful but if you have sales reps that you can talk about the reaction and perception of your product to your customers, you can learn so much about what you’re doing right and how you need to shift to address the needs of your customer better.
“This felt like an opportunity to authentically connect and not push the brand. Pharma loves to push our agenda. Let’s just sit and build a community and listen, ‘Does she even know patches exist?’ or ‘Does she know 15 or more options exist?’ And almost even more importantly, ‘Does she know things are changing? t the time, the ACA allows you to get any one of these options for free,’ so we started this campaign, shortly after I got on board in the middle of the summer called the ‘I’m so Done’ campaign where we just really wanted to have some fun and educate, and build a community before we were going to be all in.”
“[In this industry] understanding Planned Parenthood and Student Health Clinics [which] are big in my world and the different marketing challenges there [are critical.] How do you make yourself meaningful there? It’s telemedicine, but bigger than telemedicine. It’s understanding the digital entrepreneurial world. What are the new businesses out there and what’s next for either Twirla or Agile? Because we’re not just a patch company, we’re a women’s health company.”
“The novel — the different ways of doing it — that is strategic media partnering. For instance, we were able to be the first contraceptive to advertise on dating apps like Match. I couldn’t have done that if I didn’t have somebody outside who was street-smart, and partnered with us to appropriately come up with a plan for that. I want to ensure that the marketing team is the brand steward. We know our brand better than everybody. And I want to use my agency for things that I don’t know or can’t do. It’s a bit of a hybrid, but the marketing team better be the brand stewards and the strategists a hundred percent.”
“I only have so many dollars, so every bit of it better go to the person that actually can and will consider my product. In the beginning for Twirla, my challenge was to let [the consumer] know that a patch even exists as a birth control option. And a patch named Twirla is the better option for you to consider. Twirla is not only getting new patients, but they’re all staying (no pun intended), they’re sticking with us. For the first year, I needed to make sure that everything we were doing was firing on all cylinders against the right eyeballs and no wasted space.”
“You have people that may defer to timelines rather than thought. You have people that worry about budget — you should always worry about budget — but [they] maybe sit on a big idea that could have advanced things. So, how do you set up an atmosphere [respecting] the budget, but [also] let’s talk about something that we love every month. Let’s talk about something that we were inspired by every week.”
Amy Welsh is Vice President of Marketing at Agile Therapeutics, a position she has held since May 2020. Welsh brings more than 25 years of industry marketing experience to Agile with a proven track record in product launch and lifecycle management. Prior to joining Agile, Ms. Welsh served for 3 years as the Vice President of Marketing at Antares Pharma Inc., a public specialty pharmaceutical company, where she oversaw the launch of its flagship brand XYOSTED, as well as the commercialization of products, strategic planning of developmental assets, as well as new M&A opportunities. Before Antares, she spent over eight years at AstraZeneca in brand management and marketing roles of increasing responsibility. Ms. Welsh also brings perspective and experience from her time working at a digital advertising agency dedicated to serving the life sciences industry. Ms. Welsh earned a dual B.A. degree in Marketing Communications and English Literature from LaSalle University.
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