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When DoctorSolve Healthcare Solutions, one of the top-rated online Canadian pharmacy intermediaries, wanted to improve its Web sales, the company approached The Karcher Group, a Web development and Internet Marketing firm in Canton, Ohio, that specializes in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and online Public Relations, and PR Newswire, the leader in global commercial news distribution, targeting and monitoring services. DoctorSolve had to overcome a major obstacle: The average consumer was hesitant to believe that prescription medications imported from Canada were legitimate and safe.
“The biggest challenge for DoctorSolve was convincing consumers that purchasing prescription medications from their pharmacy was safe because the U.S. government, via the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was disseminating a contrary message to the general public,” says Melanie Broemsen, online Public Relations specialist for The Karcher Group. “We felt that when presented with objective information about the safety of these drugs, U.S. consumers would realize that not only were the drugs safe, but that DoctorSolve offered a valuable service to Americans that otherwise could not afford necessary, life-sustaining medication.”
After studying current trends and opinions on the U.S. healthcare system, The Karcher Group and DoctorSolve built an arsenal of factual information regarding the safety of imported prescription medications and collected additional patient testimonials. These would be used throughout campaign to build credibility for the company, as well as dispel myths circulated by the FDA about the safety of imported drugs. The extensive medical background of the two founders, Dr. Paul Zickler and Dr. Paul Assad, added additional credibility to the campaign.
DoctorSolve’s goal was to gain wide-range exposure, particularly in the senior market, says Phyllis Gerhardt, Marketing and Public Relations Director for DoctorSolve. Since the company was primarily Web-based, it needed to take its Public Relations campaign online in order to reach its primary audience. The Karcher Group planned an aggressive strategy which focused on developing news releases optimized for the search engines and distributed over PR Newswire, and educating consumers about the safety of drugs imported from Canada.
“The news releases not only offered our company a way to change the false perception that prescription medications ordered from an online pharmacy were unsafe, but also positioned DoctorSolve as one of the most credible online pharmacies, “ says Gerhardt. “At the same time, we were able to draw additional online traffic through careful optimization of the releases.”
The Karcher Group crafted monthly news releases that integrated information about the safety of Canadian drugs, as well as targeted specific key phrases that Internet users type in a search engine to find the company’s products. The news releases were distributed over PR Newswire's US1 national newsline because of its extensive reach into newsrooms around the country as well as its significant Internet reach. To ensure that the releases reached appropriate editors, the broad distribution of US1 was supported with distribution to PR Newswire's prescription medication and senior interest microslists.
To build additional momentum and help position the company as an authority, The Karcher Group provided daily monitoring of PR Newswire’s ProfNet Leads, queries that are sent out from journalists who are seeking experts for stories. Two such examples were stories that appeared on Fox TV in Phoenix and Bloomberg as the result of a ProfNet pitch. In addition, profiles of the company’s founding physicians, Dr. Paul Assad and Dr. Paul Zickler, were added to the ProfNet Expert Database for access by journalists.
Within three months of beginning the campaign, DoctorSolve experienced a 302 percent increase in new orders (August 2004 compared to January 2004) and a two percent increase in refill orders for the same time period, for a total increase in orders of 16 percent. Six months into the campaign, the company has maintained its initial growth and is averaging a 200 to 250 increase in new orders when compared to the same month in 2003.
As well as receiving numerous pick-up and mentions, both doctors have received interviews with national and local media, including:
Pickups & Mentions
• Newsweek, September 27 2004
• KING5.com, Seattle, October 22 2004
• Seattle Times, May 2004
• Business in Vancouver, February 17 2004
• Dallas Morning News, August 2004
• FOX TV News, Phoenix 2004
National & Local Media Interviews
• Inside Edition, 2004
• KING TV, Seattle, February 15 2004
• KIRO TV, Seattle, May 2002
• Boomer Times & Senior Life, September 2003
In addition, the Web site ranked 12th among all online pharmacy sites for the number of senior visitors (42.4 percent) by Hitwise for the week ending Sept. 11, 2004, and 30th most popular among all U.S. Internet users.