Posts Tagged ‘digital marketing’

Digital Marketing for Pharma: Just Do It

I don’t want to be overly skeptical about the role of innovation in pharma, particularly in the digital marketing space. But a couple of experiences in the last few weeks have led me to wonder whether, a few outstanding individuals and companies notwithstanding, most of pharma will never really build that capability in-house.

Increasingly, what I’m hearing from pharma is, “I just need someone to do it for me.”

bell curve 3aA simple bell curve helps to paint the picture.

Where do you fall on the curve?
On the left hand side of the curve is a very small minority of digitally savvy marketers who know what they’re doing. That’s labeled, “I’ll do it.” The big hump of the curve, where most pharma marketers are, is labeled, “You do it.” At the trailing end of the curve is the “Do what?” segment, the laggards – those who haven’t even figured out the impact of digital marketing. They’ve heard about it, maybe they’ve done a couple of one-off projects, but they still don’t recognize that digital needs to be core to their strategy.

Most of the digital pharma marketing conferences and trade magazines champion those on the left hand side of the bell curve – the minority of marketers who get digital and are willing to experiment and try things. They have been given a budget to prove out digital – senior management has given them some rope to see if they will either make something happen or hang themselves.

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Big Pharma Makes Moves To Manage Disruption

What I liked most about a recent HBR article was what wasn’t mentioned.

The recent Harvard Business Review article, “How Merck is Trying to Keep Disrupters at Bay,” is all about disruption, and anyone who reads HBR on a regular basis knows that anything written about industry disruption or disrupters owes at least a tip of their hat to Clayton Christensen.

Christensen, a Harvard professor, has written extensively about disruption, innovators and the innovator’s dilemma, highlighting the fact that most large companies, including pharmaceutical companies, are not great at innovation or staying nimble enough to respond to changing customer needs and expectations.

Often it’s the small startup companies who aren’t respected by big companies that wind up disrupting the marketplace. They upend the value proposition in the marketplace, and by the time large and established companies can see what’s happening, they’ve lost market share – or maybe even the entire market.

I think it’s interesting and very compelling that Merck – a large and established company – recognizes this threat and is trying to work from both the inside-out and the outside-in to keep disrupters at bay.

babarThe HBR authors reference another large company, IBM, and how it essentially remade itself 20 years ago under the leadership of Louis Gerstner, who wrote his own best-selling book, “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?” on the IBM journey.

The way Merck is doing it really impresses me. Merck recognizes that as a firm it already has certain core attributes, capabilities and priorities that it isn’t going to throw out. But by creating an internal Emerging Businesses (EB) group, it’s also inviting a high level of innovation.

Merck has tasked this small group to look outside the firm, but also, and more importantly, within the firm for new ideas for both products and services. EB created a Strategy & Innovation Council to identify and scale new internal initiatives and a Global Health Innovation Fund to find external partnerships.

Fundamentally, Merck is a products firm. They’re a drug manufacturer, but they recognize that innovation extends beyond new Rx products and into the entire customer experience, which can include other revenue opportunities like services and technology.

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The Four Cs of Customer-Centric Marketing Culture, Part II

In the last blog post, I covered the first two Cs of Customer-Centric Marketing for pharma, Commitment and Courage. We need to make a Commitment to building a data and insight culture. This begins to build the foundation of customer understanding. But as we soon discover, not everyone appreciates this level of transparency, even in your own company. We need Courage to counter the various hurdles and vested interests that stand in the way of an open and transparent marketing culture.

4cs2The next step in building customer-centric marketing is to build the technology platform to integrate every customer touch point and marketing tactic. The project involves integrating every sales and marketing tactics into a Relationship Marketing (RM) platform. We call it “RM-enabling” each tactic. This is hard work and requires an investment in new Capabilities.

Capabilities
The job of RM-enabling every tactic to bring customer data and insight back to a centralized database is a simple idea to articulate but it’s complex to execute.

Moving to outside-in, customer-centric marketing will need new RM capabilities. Capabilities is the third C.

Seldom are marketing organizations or traditional agencies equipped to RM-enable every tactic to capture that outside-in insight, and they will need to develop or hire new capabilities to do it.

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The Four Cs of Building a Customer-Centric Marketing Culture

I recently participated in the Digital Pharma East conference in Philadelphia. At this annual event, 200 to 300 pharma marketers and their agencies gather to talk about digital pharma and trade important questions. Questions like, what’s the next big thing around the corner? What should our priorities be? Is anyone doing anything interesting or effective?

Half of the attendees are new to digital marketing and were sent by their boss to learn, the other half are experienced digital marketers looking to commiserate once a year with colleagues on how challenging it is to do marketing in a regulated industry!

DPE Panel

Bringing the Outside In
I was part of a panel that addressed customer-centricity. I called my introductory talk “Bringing the Outside In.” I discussed moving pharma from inside-out thinking to outside-in thinking. This means bringing the customer into every aspect of our business.  This will impact decision-making, define success, affect what user-centered creativity looks like, and influence what it means to develop relevant content. Simply put, it’s about making the customer – physicians and patients – the central focus of all that we do.

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Is Big Pharma Losing Its Innovation Brand? Not so fast…

The list of leading consumer electronics and telecom companies that have embraced digital health this year are all household brands: Apple, Qualcomm, Google, Amazon, Samsung, Verizon and AT&T. Funded startups in the tough guymobile health sector number in the hundreds.

We’re seeing a phenomenon in which the tech industry, specifically tech entrepreneurs, are spearheading health innovation, replacing the traditional players like biotech, pharma and medical device companies. And pharma seems to be acquiescing to these newcomers, despite the fact that there is no other industry player as intrinsically linked to both innovation and the delivery of healthcare as pharma.

Health tech leadership evolving
Pharma has always been a health tech player. But in just the last few months as health tech has been redefined as digital, it’s become blatantly obvious that health technology leadership is now in the hands of big brand consumer electronics companies. And while the focus of companies like Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung has initially been the largely unregulated health and wellness sector, there’s nothing inherently limiting them from moving to the clinical side.

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More Than Half of Doctors Refuse to See Reps

A recent report from ZS Associates affirms a decade-long decline in pharmaceutical rep access to physicians. The reasons are well known: doctors have busier schedules, they’re joining large practices or hospitals with “no-see” policies that prevent reps from coming in, and in many cases doctors simply don’t think it’s worth seeing reps.

Although physicians don’t have time for reps, they do need their content. It’s just that now they would rather get it through digital channels.

There has been an evolution in the role of reps from someone who delivers a promotional reminder to someone who is more experienced and savvy and who serves as an account executive helping to provide doctors with the resources and content they need and want.

It’s no longer just an evolution
But what was once a gradual change is now accelerating. According to ZS, in 2008, 23% of doctors put restrictions on reps; now it’s 49%. Basically, half of the doctors in the United States now have moderate to severe restrictions on rep visits.

What we’re beginning to see is a business model evolution. Driven by technology and economics, the role of the traditional manufacturer’s rep is dying.

How fast will this happen?

diffusionDiffusion of Innovation
We have a tool that can predict what will likely happen. It’s called the Diffusion of Innovation theory. The theory, first published in 1962, outlines how a new idea, innovation or technology becomes diffused throughout society.

The theory addresses the questions around how innovation spreads. How connected is the social system into which this innovation is being introduced? How tightly knit is the social system of users, and how much do they talk to each other?

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Is it Digital Marketing or just Marketing?

In a recent article about the future of pharma, Craig DeLarge was quoted extensively about how to organize a “center of excellence” within a pharma company to ensure it is taking advantage of digital tactics and multi-channel marketing. He sees this as the first step in the process of digital transformation for pharma.

marketing dig ageWhat his remarks drive home is the fact that digital and marketing aren’t separate disciplines. “We are marketing in the digital age,” says Craig. This means that marketing and digital marketing shouldn’t be seen as two separate initiatives or even act in a parent-child relationship. Yet very often that’s what happens as evidenced by the typical marketing budget process.

Marketing in the digital age is still marketing, but technology now enables a custom marketing mix that’s appropriate for our product and our audience. It’s not simply a case of adding a few new online or mobile tactics to the marketing mix. That’s just a recipe for adding more promotional noise, without the benefits that we can get from digital.

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When did Pharma miss the Innovation Pride Parade?

A recent article identified four basic skills that new leadership in pharma needs to be successful in the arena of consumer health. The author, Michael Winter, addresses the topic from his perspective as an executive headhunter, with the expertise and obvious vested interest in helping to find, source and
pride paradeplace talent.

Winter observes that the capabilities, talents and skills that built pharma into the very successful industry sector it has been aren’t necessarily the same attributes that will make pharma successful over the next 5, 10 or 20 years.

“What got us here won’t get us there,” has never been truer than it is in pharma today.

The Skills Needed
The clinical research and development skills needed to produce new drugs will always be critical to pharma’s success, but our approach to the marketplace needs to be rethought and adjusted. The kind of marketing expertise needed in today’s environment has more common with successful consumer goods companies than traditional pharma.

This realization has spawned a growing contest for talent between pharma and consumer goods companies. In some cases pharma is trying to poach senior consumer executives. To be successful, however, pharma needs to first make itself an attractive destination for this type of experienced hire.

Most consumer executives look at an industry like pharma and say, “I don’t know… It looks complicated. It’s a highly regulated industry. They’ve got business model challenges. They’ve got brand issues. I’ve done well on the direct consumer side. Why would I ever leave my successful career here and move over into health? That just seems like a recipe for disaster.” Read Full Article Now »

Expectations on the Rise for Digital Marketing in Pharma

ExpecatationsI’ve begun to observe among our clients a distinct shift in expectations for the role of digital marketing. Even though pharma marketing budgets continue to invest in the traditional channels of television and print, I’m seeing a change in how digital is viewed, and that’s a positive sign.

Smarter Marketing Talent
The caliber of marketing talent in key pharma leadership roles has improved, bringing higher expectations for technology and digital-based marketing. Marketers in both so-called centers of excellence and at the brand level are demanding measurable goals for what technology can be and should be doing for their company and their products. They reward success and fire agencies or technology partners that don’t meet expectations.

The Amazon Effect
Online retail and social media companies have raised the bar of consumer expectations for access to information and the ability to search and buy in a very seamless way. But until recently, consumer expectations didn’t impact pharma. Now, the online consumer experience is raising the bar on healthcare.

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Traits of a Healthy Marketing Agency

As closerlook passed 100+ employees last  year, I began to reflect on what makes (and keeps) an agency healthy. Although there are many qualities that one might attribute to a healthy agency, I’ve boiled it down to four main traits or characteristics that I think are key, at least in my experience.

traitsBusiness Clarity
The first trait of a healthy agency is clarity. The agency should be clear about what they do and don’t do. A healthy agency’s focus is rooted in deep expertise and a clear understanding of its business value.

In other words, a healthy agency knows what role they play in the business of their client. They know what kind of influence they have. Healthy agencies don’t think of themselves as just executors of strategy, but thinkers — they have brains, not just hands. Successful agencies want to have impact. They want to move the needle, not just deliver on tactics. They really see themselves as a business partner for their clients. Read Full Article Now »