If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance it’s because someone mentioned it on Twitter, Tumblr, Quora, Facebook, on another blog. And if you are aware of these kinds of social tools, you’re probably already aware of measurement tools like Klout and Kred (I assume Kwality and Kwant are just around the korner). Even if you don’t check your Klout score, you’re aware that someone who has a high score is indicated to have a larger and more robust network than someone with a low score.
Yay! So what? Well, what if there was a tool that measured not just the value of a network, but that also determined the value of content depending on the scores of those who wrote it or read it? For example, when someone with a low-scoring network (a “nobody,” to use more earthy language) writes a post, it would sink to the bottom of the rankings, unknown and unloved, because that person hasn’t built a robust network for themselves. However, when a higher-ranking person (a “mover and shaker”) writes something, many people comment on it and share it., Why? Because being a part of such a high-profile post confers some status on the commenters and sharers. Perhaps even enough to nudge their scores higher.
This new measurement tool concept isn’t fantasy, this is something that is about to happen. And it represents a serious shift in the marketing landscape for pharma.
Part of what Google Plus is doing is allowing all authors, bloggers, commenters, posters, commentators and social-network “talking heads” to collect their total body of work in one spot. This spot, called a G+ profile, allows Google to figure out who’s writing the best content and give that person a score (much like how PageRank scores web pages based on their connectivity to other pages).
Very soon, Google will start adding a person’s G+ score to its complicated search algorithm as a means to weigh the value of that person’s page. Thus, the page by a “nobody” will move way down in the search rankings compared to one by a “power networker.” In fact, Google’s intention is to place a higher value on pages written by authors it can find on G+.
Can you see where this is going? Can you see how someone who has a solid network of fans and friends, who writes a lot and engages in a lot of online conversation, has more clout with Google than a faceless, authorless corporate page? Suddenly, Google has opened the door to someone who doesn’t work for your brand to rank very highly in a Google search on your brand. Your brand’s top search results are no longer guaranteed to be your page, wikipedia and the NIH. Someone who’s very motivated and connected will have a very good shot at making the top ten (or five!) of your Google search results. And there’s no guarantee the content they’ll be generating about your brand will be positive, or even accurate.
This search-scoring approach is called Google Authorship. It aligns with how Google sees the web. It wants an internet filled with hand-written content, built by people, not corporations. It wants more personal perspectives and fewer “talking points,” because it believes that’s how we create more authentic content for the world.
How serious is Google about all of this? Well, if it knows that you wrote a post, it will attach your name and picture to that post within its search rankings. That kind of visibility shows where Google is trying to take its idea of authorship. However, if you attach authorship to a company, Google will reject it. For example, if you try to attach authorship to your corporate page, where the avatar is a logo, it won’t show up. Google is using facial recognition software to verify that a “person” is being attributed as author.
Right or wrong, Google is a serious part of your marketing plan, and any change it makes is something you need to consider.
But how? In an industry where comma placements involve protracted Medical, Regulatory and Legal discussions, how can we let “regular people” talk about our brand? The fear of AE reporting alone is enough to make a mortal pharma marketer quiver in terror.
Well, one idea is to personalize your brand. Much in the same way Steve Jobs was the face of Apple and Howard Schultz is the face of Starbucks, you can designate someone in your company to be the “face” of the brand. Sadly, the second that person leaves, you’re in trouble.
Another idea is to build a G+ page for your brand, and select the caretaker of that page to be the face of the brand. Should they leave, someone else can simply take over the account.
You can ignore Google authorship at your peril, or you can see this development as the sea-change that motivates your brand to get serious about social communication. After all, what’s more social than having a “brand face” that people can engage with? The time of playing ostrich is over, folks. The time to finally figure out how to get our brands engaging socially is now.
Last night, Clint Eastwood spoke at the GOP convention, mostly by pretending to talk to an invisible President Obama, sitting in an empty chair next to him.
If you got a good night’s sleep last night and missed it, let me assure you that this happened and that every single word I write here is true.
Regardless of your political beliefs or like/dislike of Romney or Obama, this is something that will be remembered for a long time. Why? Well, let’s see what happened next.
Well, like with almost everything these days, things turned online. As the place where anyone can say anything and reach everyone in the blink of an eye for almost no money, this shouldn’t be a surprise.
First, we got “Eastwooding,” a meme where Eastwood pointed at different types of chairs (those of you about to celebrate your 40th birthday might agree that the choice of Pee Wee Herman’s chair Chairy was pretty funny). People added funny captions to pictures of Eastwood and the soon-to-be-famous chair. Maybe you saw the picture of a fake newspaper clipping of Abe Simpson was entitled “Old Man Yells At Chair.”
People made ever increasingly interesting/funny/pathetic attempts at humor inside the meme and it kept shifting, growing, morphing and evolving.
Then that shifted to old people pointing at chairs. And then anyone pointing to almost anything was “Eastwooding.”
But that event shifted the course of conversation not one, not twice, but three times overnight. Overnight.
Now, I’d suggest that a meme like Eastwooding won’t much legs and will probably be a “hey, remember this meme” two months from now. But think how these two memes will affect the presidential coverage and thus the election. Memes. Helping us determine who the next American President is.
So if you don’t think the internet is serious business, doesn’t have the power to change minds, start and destroy careers and businesses, you are wrong. If you think your business’s 12-month plan for how to manage social media is adequate, in a world in which the tech changes weekly and the ways to use it changes minute-to-minute, you’re in trouble.
And it’s only going to get worse/better (depending on how you look at it). What happens if your brand, in an effort to generate awareness or change the news cycle ends up in a similar meme-hole? What can you do about it?
Ignoring the ad hominem attacks, I’d like to dive deeper into Mr. Mack’s argument against the likelihood of the FDA ever approving a game as a proper treatment, the likelihood of a doctor prescribing a game, and the likelihood of an insurer paying for any of it.
The truth is, there is no proven science that games can, in any way, treat a patient’s condition better than a drug. Mr. Mack drills that point home pretty hard, which is fine because it isn’t the point I’m making.
The point I was making is that just because something doesn’t work now, it doesn’t mean that it can’t work in the future. In fact, the entire pharmaceutical industry is predicated on the idea that this particular clump of atoms form an unusual molecule, which when applied to certain people, cause certain outcomes. At one point, penicillin was just mold that grew on bread. It didn’t cure anything until we applied some science to it and learned what it could do.
And, like games, the first time we tried penicillin, it didn’t work. We learned, through trial and error, applied via the scientific method, the best way to use it to stop infections. I wonder if there was a Mr. Mack in 1928, claiming that no one would ever eat the mold off of bread because no one had ever been cured by it before. Or that no one would pay for moldy bread bits.
This all gets even more interesting in light of Mr. Mack’s post today in which he is supportive of the idea that people play games in order to stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. You’ll excuse me for being confused by his position. Regardless of what the FDA will or won’t do tomorrow (as my crystal ball is in the shop), pharma’s reason for being is to discover find whatever solutions to people’s health care issues they can, no matter how unlikely or unusual the source. They were skeptical of tree frog venom, once. Video games seem obvious in comparison.
Frankly, the day pharma can build a game that treats a disease (in a scientifically-provable manner) nearly as well as a brand, is the day pharma finally realizes how much money can be made from this. That’s when pharma takes gamification seriously and issues about the FDA will be figured out.
Also, since games probably won’t have much in the way of side effects, does the FDA really need to be called in to do anything more than verify that the game does what it says it does? Indeed, proving one’s claim hasn’t stopped, say, magnetic jewelry makers and vitamin salespeople from edging in on what should be solely pharma’s domain.
The real issue is that pharma, by playing ostrich, is letting tech get a huge head start. Kodak used to believe that no one would want digital pictures to much the same effect. Acting outside the traditional pharma section puts tech in a position to be a true disruptive agent. Ten years ago, no one thought a guy with a list named Craig would be able to put thousands of journalists out of work. So let’s not assume the protective force-field of the FDA will stop tech companies from trying to do to pharma what Craigslist did to classified ads.
So, in an honest attempt to learn where Mr. Mack stands on the issue of gamification, I will ask that he define his stance free of argumentative distraction like the FDA, insurance providers, and things not necessarily germane to the issue at hand. I think that would be very enlightening.
Who's Scared of Gamification? (Besides pharma, I mean)
It’s hard to remember, but there was a time when the idea that disease came from unseen microscopic organism that moved from person to person (or from water well to person) was something akin to “magic.” Disease was a function of luck, karma, the god’s displeasure, or some secret failing of one’s own soul.
You know what changed all that? Science.
So, if I told you that there was a tool whose regular use lowered (and even eliminated) a patient’s symptoms, and I could back it up with a set of clinical studies, you’d have to assume that I had a viable product on my hands, right? That’s the rule that pharma follows for the pills, topical treatments and injectables right?
Now, I’m not picking a fight with John Mack (oh, wait. Yes I am), but he seemed to take actual joy in pointing at it and calling it names.
I’m not calling for pie-in-the-sky (mmm… pie) thinking that leads to rose-colored glasses (so hot this year), but in science. If I can prove that a divining rod is far more likely to predict water than a placebo, it may seem like mysticism, but science proves that there’s something there (not that I have any proof that divining rods are any more than drought-based snake oil). And it’s the same with all sorts of things that aren’t pills and topical treatments and injectables and whatnot. I can’t see how penicillin works, but science proves it does, so that’s that.
Why can’t we apply the same rational thinking to games?
It seems like Mr. Mack is focusing on the politics of funding, testing and reviewing a game like a drug, and I agree that it’s a long road to follow, but pharma follows the path where science leads. What if playing a game every day really lower or eliminate the need for taking Ritalin?
Let’s not forget that games probably won’t have a lot of side-effects like nausea, heart palpitations and addictions (like Ritalin does). And what kind of adverse events would a game cause? Yeah, that doesn’t seem like a path worth following, does it?
The best part is that pharma can and should be making money marketing these new kinds of treatments. If pharma doesn’t get on ball and start playing with these ideas, the tech world is going to beat us to it and shut us out of the market completely. We’ll be busy playing an outdated game while tech moves the playing field out from under our feet.
Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t apply a critical eye to games like we do any other brand, but declaring them dead before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves like any other brand is short-sighted and closed-minded.
Or maybe Pharma Guy thinks washing one’s hands before an operation is lunacy.
Facebook is serious about getting pharma on board with social media.
You remember Facebook, right? The number one or two website in the US and the world? The place where people spend insane amounts of time playing games, posting photos, and chatting with their friends? I know you know of it, because I’m almost certain that you have a personal profile on it.
You may have wiped it from your professional memory because for the last few years, Facebook spent a lot more telling us that it wanted our business than actually learning what it was like doing business within pharma. They were playing B2B footsie, occasionally bending their very retail-oriented rules about commenting and interaction when a brand reallyreallyreally needed them to turn off comments (read: spent a lot of money buying ads on Facebook).
But you were probably right for writing the FB off as a place where pharma should fear to tread.
So it was surprising to see that Facebook has taken itself to the woodshed and returned a changed company. They really are serious about bring pharma into the fold, going so far as to put together a team of six full-time staffers dedicated to pharma. This team will teach any brand manager or agency willing to listen the lessons learned from the early adopters. They have regular newsletters describing new ways of targeting customers, building brand awareness and driving engagement. They will sit you down and walk you through a deck describing all the ways they can help you achieve your brand goals.
You might be interested in hearing that FB can reach hundreds of thousands of pharmacists, nurses and doctors (and based on numbers I’ve seen, assume 60-80% penetration). They can segment pretty well by specialty type, demographic-type, and geography.
They can also help you build a page that abides by your particular MLR needs. No longer is Facebook pretending all companies are the same: they are serious about getting pharma into social.
And that’s great news. Except one small detail.
While I’m all for getting pharma to embrace the twenty-first century and admit what we all already know (everyone, including your doctor, your mother, your pharmacist, your nurse, your support group, your physical therapist, your KOL, and your pharma executive are all on social media and using it quite a bit), Facebook may have a bit of problem: clicks on their ads aren’t all by people.
Someone has uncovered evidence that as much as 80% of ad clicks that businesses pay for on Facebook are by “bots.” Now, in this world of indexing spiders and other crawling bots, we expect a few clicks on any ad to be worthless because they aren’t being made by a person (good luck persuading a piece of software to ask their doctor about Humira). And it’s safe to say that this traffic is about 1% of traffic we end up paying for. But 80% is outrageous.
It would be easy to say that this is how Facebook is artificially inflating click numbers to charge you more (and if last month’s earnings report is any indicator, everyone in FB is aware of the value of charging clients money: Zuckerberg lost more than $420 million yesterday!), but there’s no real proof. It’s just as likely that bot-writers focus on their software on Facebook because that’s where people are. However, it’s not obvious what their motivation would be to fake-click on links.
As this story grows (and it will, as the “GM says FB ads aren’t effective” story is still fresh in our minds), Facebook will have it’s hands full managing the PR. They will need to prove 1) that it is not doing the fake-clicking and 2) that it is working towards eliminating the problem. Otherwise, all their hard work in building a targeting system we want to leverage will be almost worthless.
Provided it can fix both parts of the fake-click issue, Facebook will be well-positioned to become an effective pharma marketing partner.
If you haven’t spent 60 seconds reading this article on how Google Fiber is the biggest thing BigG has done since Gmail, you probably should. Why? Because it underlines how important the next big disprupting to tech is going to be, even to (and maybe even especially to) pharma.
Tech specs: First there was dial up. Then there was DSL, which was about 10 times faster than dial-up. Then came modern cable internet (what most of us think of when we think of broadband) and that’s like ten times faster than DSL. But we’ve been stuck at eking out a few more bits per second from cable for the last ten years. Fiber (meaning fiber optics)? Well, if I said it’s going to be ten times faster than cable, I’d be lying. Because fiber is far faster than that.
In a world where we’re all very very used to downloading massive files and streaming Netflix, why do we need more speed? Well, remember when you couldn’t understand why you’d need more than a 486mHz processor to run Windows (to be fair, it was Windows 3.1)? Then came photo editing, and music downloading, and movie editing, and movie streaming.
There are new technologies on the horizon waiting for the bottle-neck of internet speed to get fixed. How will fiber everywhere change things?
Well, we’re start with wifi everywhere. No more dial-up like speeds at the Startbucks because 3 dozen people are leeching on a single connection (and one is on a video chat — who does that?!) to a computer in your pocket (who’s bottle-neck is also internet speeds via 4G). So that means any two people in America with two decent mobile devices can have a video chat pretty much anywhere with a high-res screen interface. Congrats, you just invented a way for a doctor to consult from anywhere: virtual office hours.
Or take EMR to the next level: the ability to collect patient data from anywhere. Not just from doctors, but a simple API would allow my health chart to collect data from my wifi scale, my Fitbit heartrate monitor, my ZEO sleep data, etc. Heck, just plug my Kinect and my doc can give me a pretty good physical… while i’m at home.
And pharma? As it starts to open up to being a health care partner instead of “just a pill-maker”, it can interact with all its customers in real-time. Mobile phone apps can become pill-reminders and track that data, embedding it into the EMR.
But the real breakthrough will be in understanding Adverse Events. With so much data now being tracked and dumped into a central location, pharma will be able to see in weeks that there might be an unanticipated reaction with some real-world factor.
For example, clinical trials reveal that 0.05% of people who take your brand get nauseous. Your clinical trial won’t give you enough data to see what other factor creates that condition. But four weeks after brand launch, you see that people in the real world reporting nausea have also been diagnosed with sleep apnea. A quick study can confirm the finding and that information is now added to the label.
Fiber brings everyone closer together, and that includes HCPs, patients and pharma.
Three years ago, someone was able to estimate that most people in America saw about five thousand ads in a given day. Before most people were on Twitter and Facebook, you could anticipate that your audience was subjected to more ads in a day than your parents saw in a month. Objectively speaking, that a whole lot of ads.
Let’s do some very simple math. How many HCPs are on your target list? Even if you filter out your low-performing deciles, what are we talking about? Ten thousand people? Is that a safe number? That means that in a day, your targets are seeing… Carry the two… Fifty million ads. In a day. Times 365 days, that’s 18.2 billion ads.
And somewhere, your friendly neighborhood brand manager is hoping that they can catch their target’s eye. In fact, some might be hoping that they can buy up lots of ad space to try and blunt a competitor’s message upon launch.
What the numbers tell me is that there is a nearly infinite space in which to advertise (remember, the 5,000 number predates Facebook’s growth, which now accounts for one in every five page views in America. Let that idea sink in a little bit) which means that the job of ”simply” increasing brand awareness in so much space is a full-time job. You are, in essence, trying to get someone to see your particular star in a milky way of stars. And in a world of Pepsi and Coke, Disney and McDonald’s – the stars that can spend big cash to look as obvious as Orion’s belt – how can a non-blockbuster brand even register?
Well, the answer comes down to message and placement (though I’ll save a discussion of messaging strategies for another day). At its most basic, it’s about delivering what you want to say to someone who’s inclined to listen to it.
You can target “old-school-style” by buying placements on HCP-centered websites and networks (like WebMD and eHealthcare Solutions) or electronic medical records sites (like PracticeFusion or Precision Health). These kinds of sites allow you to filter even farther, focusing on specialty, condition, and sometimes even to specific people on your target list. Some companies, like PracticeFusion, can even tell you how well your ad buy is doing to increase prescription-writing (by holding back a sample of the target group and comparing the two groups at the end of the test period, they can see if seeing the ad changed the HCP’s behavior).*
Or you can “kick it new-school” and focus on behavior-based placements (like when a target hits your branded site, gets cookie-ized and suddenly sees your ads on USAToday or their Google Reader). This placement process lets you filter to a very specific group of people in places that fall far from the usual HCP-centered sites. The question remains whether unusual placements like this are useful, as your target probably isn’t thinking about their patients when they are searching for a tee time or researching vacation destinations.
These same placement strategies can also be applied in a competitor-blunting process without going broke in an attempt to completely ad-block them.
For example, if you have a competitor launching in May, you can use old-school placement strategies to target placements during the month before and after May (they won’t be able to counter before their launch and they may leave buying placements until the last minute to avoid the possibility of having to push the date back and wasting money). This is your opportunity to seize as much brand space as possible.
You can combine that with an email push which embeds a tracking cookie on their system. A re-marketing (sometimes called a re-targeting) campaign, done just before the competitor’s launch, can push a lot of placements on a variety of non-HCP locations. Best of all, re-marketing costs are a small fraction of those on HCP-centered sites.
In the last year, we’ve seen a huge upswing in the places and ways in which you can target your users. Are you up-to-date on all of them, or are you trying to negotiate banner ads on AOL.com?
*full disclosure: I have placed Insertion Orders (the industry term for buying ad space) with PracticeFusion and EHS, and have had conversations with many reps from the companies mentioned in this post. I am not attempting to recommend any of them, just trying to show you that there are a lot of options out there.
It wasn’t that long ago that my mother got all of her email on paper. Once a week, she would check her email, by which she meant she would have my dad log in, delete the junk mail and print out anything that was relevant, interesting, or useful. Then, she would call people back. She was proud to tell people that she was up on new technology like email and would give out her address to anyone who seemed interested.
Since most people didn’t get a response for almost a week via a completely different medium, eventually everyone learned to just call.
This begs the question: was my mother really on email? (is “on” the right preposition? Whatever.) She had an email address, and she got information through it, but wouldn’t you say that she was just bending the medium against its inherent… “emailness?” You might cover yourself in feathers, but that doesn’t make you a bird, does it?
I have a similar (mostly internal) conversation about pharma and social media. We all know that social media is mainstream. Does anyone reading this not have their own personal Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn accounts? I didn’t think so. We’re social, and the numbers tell us that pretty much everyone else is, too. When you post to Facebook, have you ever thought about turning off comments? No, of course not. You might think about blocking your brother-in-law because he’s obnoxious and won’t stop posting political rants, but you would love it if everyone you knew commented on that photo of yourself, especially if they comment how good you look.
In return for comments, you’re more likely to comment on other people’s posts, maybe even share videos of babies giggling or helicopters made of stuffed animals. The funny thing is that you might have done stuff like that even before Facebook. You might have had a blog of great links, a LiveJournal, or maybe you just passed emails around with your friends and family. You were “social” online long before you were on Facebook.
We can’t mistake the platform from the intention. Facebook the “social” platform merely facilitates your intention, which means that simply being on Facebook doesn’t mean you are being social – you’re just leveraging a social platform. Being on a social platform doesn’t mean you’re social. To return t the bird analogy, it just means you’re covered in feathers.
So many pharma brands are patting themselves on the back by claiming to be social, when they are really just on Facebook, furiously fighting to turn off all the functions and features that make Facebook social. To pharma, Facebook is just a blogging platform with a lot of unnecessary (and risky) opportunities for people to talk back. However, it is the conversational features that make Facebook social, and what made it popular in the first place.
No one wants to get messages from Pepsi and Doritos and the new Batman movie. What they really want is to be social, either with other fans, or to the brand itself. For example, if you “friend” the TV show Archer (it’s a cartoon for adults) on Facebook, you will get posts from the character Archer himself. You can reply. You can be social.
Now, I appreciate that there are rules and guidelines and all sorts of medical, legal and regulatory concerns that keep you from making your brand more social. Maybe that means you shouldn’t be spending all this time and money trying to pretend to be social. The same resources, if dedicated to smart emailing and texting (tech that’s more than 30 years old, now) would reap far more benefits without having to pretend that your Facebook page’s seventy friends (almost all of whom work for the brand in some form or another) are worth the money it takes to post.
It’s very possible that pharma brands’ trying to be social is as valuable as attempting to email people without a computer. Sure, you could create email accounts for all of them, allowing you to claim some great innovation, but since your targets can’t actually access them, what’ the point?
I’m not anti-social. I love social media (my twitter accounts attest to that). But we need to use it right, or else use it not at all. Pretending to be social in the pharma sector is just a great way to spend money.
I am a hoarder. Not the “I’ll be appearing on an A&E series next month, buried in my belongings” type of hoarder. I’m more the “Oooo, that book looks interesting! I’ll buy it and probably never actually read it” type of hoarder. I used to have shelves and shelves of books, but then I started paring them down to the point where I bet there aren’t 50 books in my house. However, I have hundreds of electronic books that I hoard like an old lady with cats.
I hoard them because they make me feel as if I have access to new things. Every new book is the opportunity to learn something new and amazing (though, in reality, it’s really like there’s a 4.7% chance the book will be worth getting past the first few pages). I collect them in some vain hope that having them on my iPad will make me more likely to be smarter by some sort of mental osmosis.
Alas, it doesn’t work for college kids who buy their textbooks but never crack them open, and it doesn’t work for me, either.
I’m guessing you have collected a lot of data lately. A lot of sales numbers. Geographic distribution data. Attitudinal data. Behavior data. Data about how many and who opened that last email, and the one before that, and the one before that. You know who is registered on your site, who watched the last eLearning, requested a rep, requested samples and requested patient sales cards. You know their specialty, probably where they practice, probably how old they are, where they went to school and if they ate lunch you paid for.
That’s a lot of data. What good is it doing you?
Ostensibly, you’re going to use that data one day. You’re going to hire a bunch of geeks who did their own math homework and probably majored in mathematical modeling. They are going to unlock that data and turn it into something called “usable insights.” You are going to apply those insights, increase brand awareness by 17% per annum without spending any more money, and get that promotion and corner office you always wanted.
That’s a great story, but are you really ever going to use that data?
How much did you spend on your data in the last month? The last year? The last five years? How much do you spend to maintain all that data every month? What could you spend that same amount of money on to make the needle move right now?
Let’s explore a simple “what if” scenario. If I told you right now that female PCPs over the age of 45 are prescribing your brand 20% more than the average (a fairly interesting and important finding), what could you do with that information? How long would it take you to design a campaign that focused on that segment and got it approved and launched? Three months? Six? Would the insight I just gave you still be useful in six months?
To that point, how hard would it be for you to turn off existing messaging to that audience? Could you do it in a week? A month?
The ability to respond to data insights is as important as the data itself. Just as the ability to leverage the knowledge in your books is predicated on reading and digesting them, getting value out of your data is a function of being able to change course. The CRM that holds all of that data is worthless without the system in place to leverage it.
Now, I’m a known fan of CRM strategies. But if you can’t commit to one – if you can’t commit to building a system that can respond to new information – stop what you’re doing right now. Those nice reports they give you are pretty and interesting, but if you haven’t used one to make a business decision in the last couple of months, or if you simply can’t change anything based on the data, you should stop looking at them. They will only stress you out.
Stop being a data hoarder. Data is only as good as its ability to influence your decisions. Keeping it around in the hopes that magic springs out of it is as silly as sleeping on your textbook.
More Expensive Responsive Design Is Far Cheaper Than The Alternative
You know all the numbers already; it appears that nearly every HCP target has or is about to get an iPad. They all had smart phones last year. The numbers are growing so fast, that some people have just stopped collecting them and have begun to simply say, “We are rapidly approaching maximum market saturation” and moving on to other, more interesting questions.
A quick check of your web stats and email applications confirms that almost 40% of your traffic is mobile. This leads you to one simple and inexorable conclusion: you need to get mobile.
If you talk to your agencies and partners, they will be more than willing to spend your money and re-build your website and your online tactics (eLearning, request forms, formulary tools, etc) into a mobile version that will look good on a phone. Some may even suggest that you put all that into a set of apps (one for iPhone, one for iPad and one for Android) to allow for device specificity.
Sure, you could do all that. And you could also just send me a check for six figures.
But you shouldn’t.
When talking to your agency partners, listen to the one who uses the phrase “responsive design.” You may have already heard it, and not known what it was. Well, let me help you sound like an experience, and savvy web solution shopper.
If you go the old route of building a site for the desktop, the tablet and the phone, you have three sites. You know what kind of hassle it is to update one site already: between label changes and marketing position changes, it is a lot of work (read: expensive). Having three separate sites doesn’t get you any benefits of scale. You have three sites that must be coded completely differently, even if they have the exact same content. The management costs alone would make you blanch. Maybe you’ve already done the math, and that’s why losing 40% of your traffic to mobile isn’t the catastrophe I made it sound like before [link]. Maybe the return on investment to three sites doesn’t work for you.
Responsive design is the solution to the same problem that you and every other web business is having (this isn’t a pharma issue, it’s a web issue). The solution is a change in mindset for the coding of your site. Using HTML5 and CSS3 trickery, they can build a site once (with only a single maintenance budget) and have it look and work completely differently on a laptop, tablet or phone. The code can tell what kind of device the user is using to request the page and delivers the version that’s appropriate. It isn’t just a matter of making the text smaller or anything, with careful planning, it can do everything from make the link buttons on the phone big and easy to use, or even resizing the graphics for new retina-display screens.
Even the images can be adjusted, re-shaped and re-sized on the fly to maximize their value on a given screen.
This kind of responsiveness may already be in place in some of your sites, like when it delivers slightly different versions of code to different versions of browsers. The current understanding of responsive design just takes the idea and moves to its logical conclusion: one site that looks and acts like many.
The framework can even be used to more easily port content into device-specific apps. Users can download apps – which are really just slightly modified browsers – that pull your responsive site through their window.
Now, it’s not magic. But it’s not free, either. You can expect to pay more for a site that uses responsive design practices. But one responsive site is far cheaper to build and maintain than three sites.
No, wait. Just because this is going to be about CRM doesn’t mean you need to bring your call to action into the room. This will not be about computers. The problem is that we just see the acronym and not the words themselves. You think you know what CRM is, that it’s a big database filled with info about all your customers and it spits out all sorts of insights like what channels each target prefers and what messages they seem to respond to.
Except none of that is in the name itself: Customer relationship management. No tech. No servers. No database. No channel preference. It’s just a way to manage the relationships you have with your customers.
If you owned a bar, knowing what the regulars liked to drink and remembering that Ol’ Joe gets a little maudlin after his fourth – that would be customer relationship management. You wouldn’t need a server, because you would know many of your customers by name, by drink, and by story. That’s what a good bartender does, right?
So why do we need to inject databases into the concept? When you think CRM, don’t think servers and analysts, think strategy.
Because that’s what CRM is — a strategy. It is a way of thinking about your customers to help them have a positive experience, so that they come back for more. It is a system and structure that forces you to put the customer in the center of all your marketing thinking.
Allow me to be specific. You’ve got a target list. Maybe you’ve broken it down by deciles. And you are recruiting everyone on that target list to opt in to your email campaigns. Now, your email campaigns, are they a bunch of emails you send out every few weeks in a specific order? Maybe you occasionally interrupt that order with breaking news about a conference or a label change? Yeah, I figured as much. So what’s that getting you? Are you learning about your targets? No, you’re shouting at them. And worse yet, you’re shouting at them all the same way. The twenty email messages you’ve spent the last nine months crafting and pushing through MLR are to be sent in order, to everyone who opts in, are they increasing your prescription rates? Are they increasing your rep and sample requests? Are they increasing your target’s understanding of your brand?
I’ll buy you a drink at ePharmaSummit West this year if you can answer ”yes” to all those questions.
Let’s assume you’ve embraced an adoption path for all your targets, that everyone was either unaware of your brand; aware but ignorant of what the drug does; educated but unconvinced of its value, convinced of its value and prepared to prescribe; or ready to tell other people about their positive experiences with the brand. Which of your twenty emails speaks to which of those audiences? Are you sending your messages in a way that moves each target from one step to the next? Can you confirm that each target has moved to the next step before you send the next message? (Did you notice that every question asked where the customer is? This is what I mean by customer-centered.)
This is what CRM can tell you. With proper implementation, it can see that Dr. Smith is aware of the brand (because she went to a conference and dropped a business card in the bowl to try and win an iPad). So it sends Dr. Smith three emails in a row about what the purpose of the drug is. The system knows that after the second email, the doctor clicked the link to learn more and watched most of the eLearning video. This means that our target has moved to the next step, so skip the third ”brand awareness” email and move on to the campaign to get them to request a sample.
At the same time, Dr. Jones already is aware of the brand and it’s mechanism of action, so a series of messages are sent about requesting samples and formulary information.
This is how you manage your customers. The strategy comes first. We can figure out how to build the database and tracking system later.
Here’s the scary part: you can’t say that you don’t think CRM is valuable because every business tries to manage their relationships with their customers. It’s a cornerstone of building a good business. What you may object to is the way that strategy is implemented, but you can’t ignore the strategy itself.
So tell me: how are you managing the relationships you have with your customers?
You have a lot of possible and actual targets, and almost as many ways to describe those targets: deciles (based on past prescribing data), deciles (based on predictive modeling tools), engagement scores, adoption path position, geographic area, specialty, practice type, and more.
The problem with many of these descriptions is that they tend to paint a partial picture of your targets. For example, deciling by past prescription data says ”this group used to prescribe a lot, this group used to not prescribe much.” That’s great information if this were a history class.
Conversely, deciling by predictive modeling (so sexy, so hot this year) is so complicated, most of us can only say ”based on an equation so complicated I’d need PhD and a white board the size of a building to explains it, this group should prescribe a lot and this group shouldn’t.” It’s less like history class and more like science fiction.
The issue is that while this kind of segmentation tells you who should write and who shouldn’t, it doesn’t try to tell you why. And that’s important because if you know why, you’ll know what you want them to do, which means you’ll know what kinds of messages to send them to change their behavior.
So, let’s call this this the Context Quadrant Metric (all you MBAs should feel very much at home, they rest of you, don’t worry — this is easy). It’s a two-by-two chart. Across the chart, plot out engagement. You can decide how you want to measure this. It can be as simple as decile, but you could also count all the different touches you’ve made back and forth (number of emails sent, videos viewed, speaker programs completed, honoraria received, etc). Low engagement to the left, high engagement to the right.
Vertically, plot the number of prescriptions written in the last year. No prescriptions at the bottom, lots of prescriptions at the top.
Now, you’ve got four quadrants. The bottom-left is filled with targets who are low-engaged, writing few prescriptions. Call these your “Unlikelies.” In the bottom-right you have highly-engaged, low prescribers. Call these your “Underachievers.” Upper-right corner is your highly-engaged, high prescribers. These are your “High-Responders.” Finally, in the upper-left, you have low-engaged, high prescribers. These are your “Overacheivers.”
What does this tell us? Well, we now see where there are correlations between the marketing actions you are taking and prescribing. We’ll also see how in many instances the actions you make have nothing to do with the outcomes. For example, you spend a whole lot of money trying to talk to the Underacheivers, but they don’t seem to be doing what you want. How much money is too much? Or maybe it’s proof that your marketing message isn’t working for them. Maybe these are the moochers who are happy to watch any videos you put in front of them for the free MREI at the end. Maybe no amount of MREI in the world will get them to prescribe.
How valuable is that information?
And what about your OveracheiversYou are spending a lot of money trying to talk to them, but they are ignoring you entirely without negative consequence to your bottom line. They have massive ROI. Maybe instead of trying to get them to opt in, you should just start sending them thank you emails and leaving them alone. How much money would you save that way?
By understanding the contents of each target group, you can make smarter marketing choices, saving huge amounts of money on dead-end or already-satisfied targets that can be used on new messages to those who will actually respond to them. You can frame marketing strategies (and budgets) around better understanding your audiences.
Pinterest: Is This The Next Big Social Media Channel for Pharma?
If you haven’t heard of Pinterest yet, you are probably purposely avoiding it. It has become the fastest-growing social media site in the US (#3 behind Facebook and Twitter, ahead of #4 LinkedIn) and it has a fairly rabid fanbase. But what is Pinterest? How is it different from the other social networking sites we’ve grown comfortable with lately?
To understand Pinterest, you need to think about the internet not as a bunch of ones and zeros (bytes), but as a collection of things (photos, articles, posts, videos, graphics, infographics, PDFs, etc).
Typically, you might spend a lot of time crafting an article that includes a bunch of text, a few images, an infographic, and maybe some links. You think of the article as the unit of transfer – the product produced and distributed. This is a holdover from the previous generation of media (magazines and journals).
But what if the pieces were as valuable as the entire article? For example, let’s say you have a set of instructions on how to make something interesting. A headboard, for example. You will write the instructions out and annotate it with a series of instructive photos describing each step. To you, the information, as defined by this collection of text and images, is the thing. Except, the final image is really pretty. It allows people to see the outcome and mentally project it on to their lives (or, in this case, in their bedroom). To them, the final picture is the thing, with a bunch of semi-interesting text and explanatory images along for the ride. The picture of the dessert is far more important that the recipe. The picture of the dress is more important that who makes it (but not who sells it, as many retail brands are finding that Pinterest is a more effective channel for sales that Twitter or Facebook).
Think about it. The information needed to create something isn’t as important as the marketing tool wrapped around it. That is the thing that Pinterest trades on. So people see the image and pin it to their board (it’s like “Liking” something on Facebook, but allowing the user and their fans to see all the related likes in one place). Beyond that, other users (via searching or via networking) see the image and may choose to like the image as well.
This is Pinterest: A very visual array of ideas grouped by a user to collect inspirations on given topics.
If you’re confused by my examples (headboards, desserts, dresses), then you don’t know the audience for Pinterest (whether it was the intended audience or not). Depending on the source of information, Pinterest’s users are 68-97% female. What is successful on Pinterest is very pretty, very cute, very clever, or very funny. The marketing piece (the final product, the lavishly-designed graphic, the snarky line) trumps the supporting content. If you want your material pinned, you had better have a gorgeous photo or killer infographic.
So what does all this mean to pharma? Based on the meager existing pharma usage of Pinterest, it’s very hard to say. Like all social media, the tool is designed to facilitate conversations between people, a conversation that might sound like “I like this thing, and you might, too.” Despite the value that pharma brings to people’s lives, there isn’t much activity on the boards. For example, a search for the enormously popular Viagra leads to seeing three pins: one bottle image, one ad, and one picture of red pills forming a heart. A search for Paxil shows roughly 20 pins, where Paxil is as likely to be used as code for “chill out” as in a professional frame. And searching for Nexium shows far more pins for “natural alternatives” and online pharmacies than anything the industry might consider useful or productive.
From the other side of the fence, Bayer US’s Pinterest page (53 pins currently) is filled with advertisements for its business, sustainability, innovation and education initiatives. The only brand shown is for pet med Advantix.
We can see that Pinterest may not be an obvious channel for pharma. It is open (people can comment freely and re-purpose a pharma pin onto a board of any name they choose), it is conversational, and it is very visual. These are traits that do not lend themselves to pharma.
That said, there is a massive community here (mostly younger and female). If we look at the example of NuvaRing (female contraceptive), there aren’t many pins, but almost all of them are serious or informational in tone. Clearly, the audience here understands the value of this product to both themselves and their peers. The question is: will Pinterest become the way women talk to each other about this brand? That remains to be seen.
Your eLearning Video Is Missing 40% of Its Audience
You have a great eLearning program. No, really. I can see every dollar you spent on getting that KOL on film with a killer script that nails your message. The camera work and editing is spot-on. The coding work you did to build a custom interface is delightful. The website is fast, clearly laid out behind a login, and it even remembers which videos I’ve watched and where I left off last time. Excellent stuff. Kudos to your agency partners for putting it together. I bet you get great traffic, and that everyone involved got a nice pat on the back when it came time for their annual reviews.
There’s just one problem. It might as well not exist on my phone.
This is unfortunate, because I get all my email on my phone, and you guys send me emails all the time. They practically beg me to click on the link and watch the video, but when I do, I get a big grey rectangle. Or an error message (which is funny, because I didn’t do anything wrong). I wonder how much time and money you spent on that pretty video that is completely useless to me.
Suddenly I don’t like your website anymore, mostly because it’s built around encouraging me to watch a video I can’t actually watch.
You’ve looked at your email metrics lately, right? You know that mobile devices account for anywhere from 40-60% of all email views, right*?
*[how do I know that? Because we have access to 29,000 Texas HCPs and we send them bi-monthly newsletters and that’s what our email metrics say.]
Have you looked at your web metrics? In particular, the percentage of mobile traffic to your site, and how it has grown at a near-exponential rate for the past year? That means that all those technical decisions you made only 12 months ago are kinda worthless now. Can you see how desktop traffic stays around and watches your movie, just like you want them to, but that your mobile traffic is almost all gone a minute after they show up? I bet you can (and if you can’t, I’m betting your web team can show you).
If you embrace the idea that mobile is here to stay (and if you’re reading this on a tablet or phone, I think you do), you need to understand how people use these devices.
Allow me to direct your attention to a study [http://go.ooyala.com/wf-video-index-q3-2011.html] that shows that tablet and phone users are more than happy to watch a ten minute video on these portable devices. The small screen is no deterrent. In fact, sitting on a train or waiting in line might be the only time your target has a chance to watch your epic video.
The problem isn’t just the file format. It’s not too much trouble to re-render the movie into some format other than Flash, but any interactions you’ve built in need to account for the fact that on a tiny screen, buttons need to be big and easy to use. And a mobile user is more likely to need that pause button. The rule of thumb, as described here [http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1549] is that the smaller the screen, the smaller the slice of time the device works best at filling. When they start watching your movie in line at Costco, they may need to come back and finish it later. Not accommodating that behavior means that HCPs just won’t come back.
We’ve also seen that emails opened by phones tend to get opened sooner. We think it’s because most people carry their phones around with them everywhere and are happy to check their email dozens of times a day, rather than checking their email a few times a day at home on the laptop.
So are you ready to embrace mobile and walk the walk? Just don’t walk while texting. Will you go full-mobile to get your eLearning video seen by more of your target list? Yes? That’s what I figured.
There’s no preamble or cutesy anecdote to draw you in this time. Just a question:
What’s your online ad-buying strategy?
Maybe the question should be: do you even have an ad-buying strategy? Well, Besides picking a budget and spreading the money around. I’m not sure that counts as a strategy.
You’ve got SEM and display ads, you’ve got sites and targeting. You’ve got email, mobile and push ads. You’ve got conference targeting. You’ve got re-targeting. And any one of those idea has about a dozen (or a few dozen) channels, and each with a bunch of people willing to sell you on that channel.
Where do you spend the money?
Do you prioritize by saying that you need to hit this conference and that conference? What if only one of those conferences has an official web site? For that conference, you’ll need to spend money on some other site about the conference. Surprisingly, the official conference site is far cheaper to advertise on than the non-conference site.
And you’ve got to hit the search engines, right? That’s where people (HCPs or DTCs) go looking for solutions to their issues – solutions you solve. This is where you aren’t interrupting their web surfing so much as speaking up when they are looking for you. So, you’ve gotta be there.
And what about social media marketing? Facebook has got a great ad system, if you know how to use its targeting system properly.
What about channels? Should you be advertising on EHR sites for your HCP market? But they are still pretty spread out with no one vendor taking up the lion’s share of the market, let alone the majority. So if you’re gonna play there, you’re going to have to spend on two or even three sites.
And what about re-marketing, where, after having visited your site, you continue to hit them with ads, even if they are on someone else’s site? The cost is a fraction of what the big medical portals charge, but has anyone shown that HCPs who see your ads while shopping for khakis are at all inclined to click? Or even become more brand-aware?
And then there’s the big medical portals. Big money for the right audience, and no one has ever gotten fired spending money there, right?
So with all these choices, how do you make spending decisions? Do you print out your media plan on tabloid paper and throw darts at it? Medscape in January, Google in March, EHR#1 in June? Cut the insertion orders into bits, glue them onto turtles and race them down the hall? First turtle gets the biggest buy, so stop when you hit your budget numbers!
And what about benchmarking? If you are spending all this money, what do you expect to get out of it? Are you measuring clicks or conversions? What about micro-conversions? Can you correlate ads with prescription changes? I bet you’d like to, wouldn’t you?
Do you ask big broad questions like, ”If I had to spend it all on SEM or display ads, which would be better?” or, ”If I pilot a re-marketing campaign, how many conversions would be a success?”
Do you have all your click/conversion data in one folder and your budgeting/costing data in another? Why don’t you combine them and see the cost of each conversion on each channel?
If you can’t answer these last questions, can you really say you have a strategy? And given the amount of money you’re spending, shouldn’t you have a strategy?
Fight back in the comments or just yell at me on Twitter.
Yesterday, my boss’s boss’s boss (hi, @ormshr) asked me to talk more about this idea I have about how certain sites/tools/companies have DNA that they simply can’t escape.
For example, the DNA of IBM means that it will always embrace structure, hierarchy, and rules, no matter what the rest of the world does. It may have taught elephants to dance when it moved from PC powerhouse to enterprise services, but it did so through structure, hierarchy and rules. When it finds a new challenge, it will fall back to that view of the world and itself to meet that challenge. That’s what mean by corporate DNA.
Let’s start with the DNA of Microsoft. You know what I hate? Microsoft commercials. All of them. It doesn’t matter what marketing team they hire, they will always be bad. Why? Because all of Microsoft’s marketing is based on its DNA, that all of our problems can be solved with the rigorous application of office tasks. Currently, there are two commercials which show a family hanging around the house, creating powerpoint slides (and no, Microsoft Word, I refuse to capitalize “powerpoint,” no matter how angrily you add red squiggly underlines). Now, I have to assume this is some sort of alternate dimension, because I’ve never been in a house where creating a slide deck was considered something fun a family did. Nor have I ever heard of a family deciding to buy a dog because of persuasive powerpoint deck. In the Microsoft world, the only reason you have a computer at all is to write memos, work on spreadsheets and craft slideshows. The web? Angry Birds? Facebook? These are distractions to the true purpose of computing: get a promotion. And helping you get that promotion is the nature of Microsoft’s DNA.
No matter what product Microsoft puts out, it will be in service of the office task. Whatever fun veneer they apply to it (the only reason the Xbox succeeded is because it was treated as an almost separate company from the start), the root DNA is all about the “TPS Report” or “Billable Hours” or “Corporate Memorandum.” What do you mean they can’t come up with an iPod competitor?! I’m shocked!
The mirror image of that Microsoft is Apple, who’s entire DNA is about how much you want to get out of the office. Every product they release is designed to make you forget about the office, that you should pick up your tools and work in a park or coffee shop, that the end of the workday is almost here and you can go play. If you have to be at work, at least the tools are designed around the idea of exploration, curiosity and play. I mean, what percentage of Apple commercials involve people dancing?
Even tools used in a professional setting (like current Siri commercials) don’t seem like “work.” It seems like a friendly, fun process to figure out what your next meeting is about, or what that last text said. From the smiley-face Mac that shows up on boot, to the magic mouse that is really a big touchpad, everything Apple produces is imbued with that feeling of discovery.
The reverse example: What was Apple’s biggest corporate failure in the modern Steve Jobs era? The Xserve server. No one wants to “play” with servers; it just didn’t fit with the DNA.
Then there’s Google’s DNA. Google started as a search engine, and that’s significant. Google believes that there is no problem that can’t be solved or any situation that can’t be improved when you are given the right piece of information from the right place at the right time. It doesn’t matter if what you need is a photo or book, web page or blog post, it wants to give it to you. Remember that email you needed? Or that document? Or that calendar event? Or that song? Or that movie? Google wants nothing more than to be the obedient puppy butler that gleefully retrieves it for you and waits, tail wagging, for your next request.
Google+ is a great example of what happens when you try to break out of your DNA. Google doesn’t understand social, it understands finding and delivering useful information. Google could be good at retrieving something on some other social network, but building its own doesn’t make any sense. When it tries to be truly social, it’s like watching Shaq trying to be a jockey: its DNA keeps it from succeeding. (G+ should be seen as a way to collect, store and share all your personal online information, not at a place to display your “status”.)
And then there’s Facebook. As the youngest company on this list, its DNA might be the easiest to see. Facebook’s DNA is a 17-year-old punk-ass, snot-nosed kid who wants to find a lot of people it can call friends without ever having to be too close, who respond to their whining and rants with cheers for more. Facebook’s DNA is our collective Id, responding with dopamine bursts at our righteous indignation and joyful squeals. Facebook wants to be your social secretary and best friend gossip, not talk about logic or complex issues. It’s is pure lizard brain, connected to 800 million other lizard brains.
Is it surprising that the idea of a meme, while fairly old, didn’t really explode on the internet until Facebook made it easy to share these ideas with our friends? David at the Dentist (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txqiwrbYGrs and only 107 million views) and that surprised kitty (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Bmhjf0rKe8 and 60 million views) wouldn’t have existed if they didn’t cause some sort of protean emotional reaction in our reptile brain. And Facebook is the delivery mechanism.
Think about what additions and partnerships have succeeded on Facebook: Zynga games are all about distraction. Newsfeed tickles that “I need to know what’s going on RIGHT THIS SECOND” fear in the Id. And the Timeline is pure nostalgia trigger. Facebook will not be publishing a treatise on Plato or helping you navigate the complex waters of making important life decisions. There is no financial planning app in the works. Facebook’s communal Id is what makes Facebook so successful.
Einstein’s last project before he died was the search for the grand unified theory, proving how all the major forces in the universe are related: gravity to the speed of light to the attraction between electrons and everything else. It remains the “holy grail” of physics, something huge, important, and possibly unknowable.
HCP marketing has a grand unified theory that marketers are trying to understand. A unified theory would tell us that a married male gastroenterologist in Alabama with a degree from a public school who works in a small private practice needs X touches before he will change their prescription behavior, but an unmarked female Obstetrician in a large hospital in Seattle will need Y touches.
Our unified theory shows us how tactics are related to each other. If an HCP has seen a complete eDetail, for example, maybe they need five fewer touches than one who has never seen one. What about rep visits? Or conference attendances? How do they all interrelate, and how much work do they do in encouraging behavior, by themselves or in tandem with the other tactics?
It’s far easier to think in smaller terms. Here’s a hypothetical campaign: Send a million emails and see how many someone has to get before they’ll go to a web site. How many web visits do they need before they register? How many registrations turn into an eDetail viewing or sample request? How many samples (both with and without a rep visit) will lead to more prescription writing?
We look at these questions in isolation because looking at them in the larger picture is… messy at best, requiring very complex mathematical models. To be fair, if any of us were better at math, we’d probably be engineers instead of marketers. And the kind of math we’re talking about goes beyond the pre-calculus class we took freshman year. And if I had a nickel for every marketer with an MBA who said that they barely passed their stats class, I’d be able to retire. To an island. That I owned.
That’s why companies exist that are full of math nerds who can run modeling data and tell us what our deciles are. They tell us who should be prescribing and aren’t, and who needs a little push based on what data they have available to them.
But again, this is small ball. What if we started thinking big?
What if we took all the data we had… But, we don’t have enough data. We need a lot more data, and it’s gonna take a little work to get it.
For the next year, every banner ad you put in the field needs to get a dynamic ID number. In places where an HCP has to login, correlate that ID number to the HCP ID. You already know what emails are being sent to that target in your brand, so figure out a way to get all your brands to collect the same data so that you can put it into one big pool. Take all the data the reps send back (oh yeah, you might need to teach reps how to collect info so they can tag and input it into your CRM). Take all your eDetail data. All those business cards you collect at the conference to win a free iPad. All the mailers. All the web traffic (cookies, people). Every giveaway, every teleconference or teledetail, every meal, every pen left behind. All these things are collectible and able to be connected to a given target. Then add everything else you can find out about your target: specialty, school, practice type, practice size, gender, age, geography, marital status, family status, psychographic data about their parents and how they were raised (what, you think that’s not available?), everything. Think like Amazon or Target. Collect every coupon that’s been redeemed, every prescription filled, every visit, everything. We’re playing for the majors now, so stop thinking small.
What could all that data in the hands of serious math nerds tell us? Here’s a sample of the questions they can answer: are reps effective (broken down by specialty, brand, location, practice type)? How many emails does it take before a target prescribes (and how many before they will opt out completely)? Do nurse practitioners ever click on banner ads? Is there value in seeing your brand name again and again on an ad even if it doesn’t lead to a click? Which is better: email then a rep visit, or a rep visit and then email? Which works better at a conference: a lot of little trinkets or a chance to win a big prize?
The days when a brand didn’t know which half of their marketing was effective is long long gone. These days, we aren’t far from knowing if a PCP in New Jersey wants your brand emails every 21 days or every 18 days, and how many they need to receive before a rep shows up to make the visit worth the trip.
But it all starts with thinking big and collecting the data. What data are you collecting? How are you planning on using it?
Kudos to Andy Smith and his presentation on the Dragonfly Effect. Aside from having one of the best designed presentations (along with@PeteDTweets yesterday), he presented three examples that we not just inspiring, but relevant to almost everyone in the room. While only one was directly health care related, I was impressed by the amount of work he put in to relating these non-pharma examples to pharma. For example, his Coke case study seems anti-theatrical to pharma (they sell sugar water), and yet I, and others around me, could immediately see how to apply the lessons to our work. This was our anticipated return on the cost of attending — to be inspired, not by a magical future beyond the horizon, but by ideas we can put to work today.
Beyond that came an object lesson from Peter Frishauf and Jay Goldman in discussing the value that SMS message could play in a brand. Text messaging has been relegated to the junk drawer of our marketing tool kits despite the fact that it is functional, useful, and has a reach Apple, Google and Facebook can only dream about. Their presentation influenced any discussion regarding mobile for much of the rest of the day. After lunch, Scott Wearley opened up and gave everyone of us a realistic and reasonable blueprint for relationship marketing. This wasn’t broad strokes and vague ideas, this was a set of instructions better than those that come with Ikea furniture. Take it home, build it yourself. I was very much impressed by what Robert Krensel and William Tunno had to say. The pictures were pretty, but the conversation on how best to utilize Those pretty pictures showed a depth of thought and consideration I wasn’t expecting at all. At both these sessions, I took a lot of notes. However, without being too much of a curmudgeon (it seems someone else is filling that slot quite well), I’d like to call a few things out. First, I appreciate the value of great big numbers to grab attention. But telling me that a billion iPhones were sold or a trillion Facebook accounts were created doesn’t help any of us. These numbers are as helpful as the fact that it’s usually warm in NYC. What’s worse is when these broad numbers aren’t just useless, but edge into the territory of obfuscation. For example, when you call out that 37% of all new tablet sales are Android tablets, this is an aggregate number that doesn’t reflect the facts on the ground that HCPs are now and continue to be passionate iPad users. The same is true for calling out sites like Pinterest and Tumblr as “hot new properties” without revealing that both site have very narrow audiences (good luck running that Viagra campaign on Pinterest without a radical reworking).
There was an interesting conversation I had with a few people this morning. I won’t call out who they are, but it occurred after the presentation that listed all those twitter blunders, notably from non-pharma brands (because pharma always does social right? If you say so). There was a running bet as to what percentage of the audience had not heard all of these twitter blunders before (and some were pretty famous, like the Kenneth Cole/Eygpt tweet and the Chrysler agency posting about Detroit drivers who couldn’t drive). Our group assumed that most people had heard of all of them. When we asked around, we found was that most people hadn’t, and that some hadn’t heard of any. If you are active in marketing, especially in eMarketing, these tales should be as familiar as the case study surrounding New Coke. That conversation turned shifted on twitter, where people mentioned sites like mashable.com and boingboing.org where news like this is a hot commodity. Plenty of people chimed in with other great sites for Web 2.0-type news until someone suggested that having this conversation on twitter meant that the people who needed to hear about them would be missing out; those people were not just ignoring the twitter back-channel, they were willfully ignoring the rest of the web world. They were only aware of things like Facebook and Twitter and mobile healthcare apps and iPad content delivery in so much as they needed to be for a given project and no more. I worry when I think about stories like these.
One of the amazing things about social media is its ability to create, manage and strengthen the connections between ourselves and so many others. I know so many people who turned their organizations on to twitter because they were hooked on twitter themselves. And yet, here we see a huge segment of the audience paying money to be told how incredibly important twitter (and it’s brethren, no need to be twitter-specific) is to their campaigns and to their brands, indeed to their own livelihoods, but never dipping their toes into the water. Aren’t these the risks we all said we wanted to talk and have others take within our organizations? Are we just talking, or do we really mean it? So I implore you, you delightful participants of ePharmaSummit 2012, jump in. Be part of the conversation. Agree and disagree. Pick a fight online among your peers and lose. See what those tools your company is paying so much money to leverage can really do. As for places to learn more about the eMarketing world outside of pharma, my twitterzens (twitter citizens? I admit I made that one up) and I came up with the following list: Mashable.comTechcrunch.comEngadget.comLifehacker.comAllthingsdigital.comCnet.comBoingboing.org (be aware, they will reference Burning Man on this site. Don’t be alarmed.) Notes about what was said on stage can be found at bit.ly/epharmasummit.
Big virtual high-fives to Sarah Gordon and Jennifer Pereira for getting Casey and I invited to all these sessions so we could bring the best to you. They bent over backwards to help us help you, and I hope their bosses read this far down the blog post. Thanks also to Casey Ferrell for letting me partner up with him in this blogging experiment. We hope we did you, the presenters, the organizers and our peers proud (so if you got something out of this, let @epharma know! Otherwise we won’t get invited back!). Beyond that, please please please feel free to engage me on twitter @digital_pharma or schedule lunch with me if you’re in Chicago. Good night!
This is the first day of the “big” conference, but my second. If you want the play-by-play for today or yesterday, just read my notes atbit.ly/epharmasummit. Feel free to share that link around.
At the end of yesterday’s sessions, I saw some trends emerging, most notably, segmentation/targeting and the twin specters of mobile and social. We saw a lot of tactics, which served a lot of people very well (judging from the twitterverse response), and a lot of data to help people like me make better decisions in the future.
Today was a very different day. Today was a macro level view as opposed to a more micro-tactical view. The discussions centered on broad strokes and ideas, hints as to what the future of pharma marketing holds.
Here’s what I will be taking away form today’s conference:
One, pharma has been in a transition period for a long time now. How long have we been calling this “the year of mobile” or “the year of social”? Three years? Can we stop the buzz-word bingo? Speaking at a macro level doesn’t mean glazing over deep truths, it means getting to the heart of the matter and distilling what’s true. Can we call a moratorium on pointing to mobile as a hot new channel? I’ve had an iPhone for four years (and I missed the first generation). Clearly, mobile isn’t a new channel, it’s just a channel. Same with social. Same with games. Next year, you’ll just sound like someone who still says “hotlinks” and “information superhighway.” You really don’t want to be that person. Do you want to know who’s succeeding? People with a genuine sense of humor and dedication to solving problems. Some people seem to be more interested at cataloging the reasons to lament the future, to pooh-pooh what we all know is coming. Do you want to work with them? All problems are solvable, they just need to be broken down into pieces and dealt with. Telling us not to be too focused on tactics or getting more focused on tactics isn’t as useful as understanding when and where a tactic might be useful.
That’s the same telling us all to be more strategic. You might as well tell us to be smarter or not to be too smart. The same goes for saying I should target and segment and track and analyze. That I should focus on the customer, that I should focus on what worked, that I should create efficiencies. Got it. Agree. Highly agree. Cannot agree enough… But we all already agreed when we signed up. What else? Find the golden nugget of truth and deliver it with the help of examples and data.
This is the world of multi-channel marketing, but are we living in a world of multi-channel analytics, where we measure each channel independently but also in conjunction with all the other tactics. Who among is is really doing this right now? Are we too busy arguing that this channel is better than that channel? Or kvetching that MLR is complicated (in other breaking news, many people use Facebook, budgets are getting squeezed, HCPs like iPads, and puppies are cute)? William Gibson once said “the future is now, it just isn’t widely distributed yet.”
That phrase came to me during the session on Quantitive Self, as I realized that the tools and ideas to do everything was already in all of our hands. It just isn’t widely distributed because people refuse to see the value. This isn’t a shot to those who disagree, as we are all strong with more opposing viewpoints. I was struck by how some voices dismissed the QS out of hand, as if it were threatening and scary. There’s no difference between what was said in the session and diabetic who measure their glucose every few hours, or the person who watches their caloric intake, or the person keeping track of their bench press. The bitter rejection smacks of fear and denial. And I know the people in my rooms are smarter than that.
Here’s what I didn’t hear much of that I wish I had: Lifetime value of a customer. Two different people outside the events brought this concept up independently to me, and only one person even hinted at the concept’s existence. We are getting too focused on the efficacy of this tactic today versus that tactic yesterday that we miss that everything we do should be in service of the goal of understanding our customer in both the short and long term. Without that understanding, we are in danger of becoming the Crazy Eddie of marketing, shouting whatever it takes to get someone to prescribe. Is that the game you really want to play? Relationship Marketing. In attempting to understand our customer, we build a relationship with that customer. Even when we fail to understand them, the relationship exists, however dysfunctional and flawed. Why do we continue to pretend that this isn’t true? It won’t do pharma any good to stick its head in the sand and pretend that relationships can be solved by mobile or social (a medium it still isn’t comfortable in). We must face the issue head on, plan and execute marketing that fosters relationships we want to be in. And while I appreciate a fresh point of view, a point of view uncluttered with even a basic understanding of the day-to-day realities didn’t do me (or many others, based on the twitter response) any good.
Especially if the resulting advice is to “change faster” and “fail harder.” I don’t disagree, but I’m not blind to the facts on the ground. Far Better was the panel which discussed (among many other things) MRL on a level that I hadn’t considered before. MRL isn’t the enemy; they are partners we haven’t brought into the fold yet, just as we haven’t taken the time to learn what they can teach us. I will admit that my brain is pudding. I will be taking notes tomorrow, but since I’m traveling home, I’m not sure when I’ll be posting my blog. Maybe Thursday. So enjoy the notes, and keep the twitter back channel going!
Day one at ePharmaSummit is done, and I figured you’d like to know what you missed if you didn’t get on the flight to NYC. You can catch the blow-by-blow on my live notes site atbit.ly/epharmasummit. (I plan on updating again tomorrow, so keep an eye out.)
But for those looking for something closer to an executive summary, there were definitely some significant trends that kept popping up. The word of the day was Segmenting (and/or Targeting, which is just the other side of the same coin). Treat different people differently and they will respond in great numbers and with deeper engagement. Data was presented that shows that it’s easy to say that an email has a 6% response rate, but if the rate is really 11% in one group and 2.3% in another, how useful is that 6% number? It doesn’t just apply to email.
Even videos appeal to very different audiences in very different ways. For example, Die Hard is a great movie to a very specific audience segment, very different from those who think Dirty Dancing is the greatest movie ever. Rather than just throw something out there you like, know your audience, know your targets, know what they respond to and become a hero. Segmenting was a fundamental concept in at least four different discussions. My concern is that there was a lot of talk about segmenting, but not a lot about how to segment, or where the data is that helps you segment or how to manage your segments. One talk mentioned that you could just buy demographic (and maybe psychographic) data to help you segment, but how will that tell you if an audience prefers email to mailings to video to conferences? How will you learn if your audience is the kind that sees their condition as a burden, or as something you barely acknowledge? Maybe that’s to be discussed in future sessions.
The other watch word(s) were the dual terrors of Mobile and Social Media. Either separately or in conjunction, these twin villains were going to make every pharma marketer’s life rough. Why? Because these are symbols of change. The fact that they are technological advances means little: they are the things we point to that are forcing the industry to change for the first real time in decades. The most interesting viewpoints in the room never said, but certainly indicated, that all would be well if we would simply take the time and care to evaluate and choose. A great example was a process that helps one firm get an unscripted video shoot through MLR. It was simple: they took the time to understand what the objections would be, planned for them, found alternates, or faced them head on. Ignoring what you see ahead is tantamount to failure. Surely this same idea can be applied to social media and mobile?
Finally, I will say that sessions that presented data seemed to be the most interesting, not just to me, but to everyone in the Twitterverse. We’ve reached the point where we don’t need to be told what the difference is between Twitter and Facebook, but we do need data to help us make decisions for ourselves. Not data we can all get from a quick Google search (though some of that was excellent, I’ll admit), but from research we’ve done ourselves. Too many people throw out that 102 million people watch health care videos. But that number isn’t useful because We don’t know how many were about diabetes and hypertension, and how many were about the proper way to exfoliate and the best way to execute a dead lift? Healthcare isn’t our industry, pharma is. And it will make things very messy very quickly if we start confusing the two. But there was data in spades. Two email research sessions were based on data collected as recently as last week. Another firm opened their kimono a little to show us their internal numbers. These things can do a lot to help people in my world understand far more than broad generalizations and semi-applicable case studies.
I look forward to tomorrow, though, as I don’t have my schedule in front of me, I have no idea what ePharma has in store. Good night, kids. See you bright and early in the morning.
Pharma likes to put itself in a very specific frame: They are makers of our “Brussels sprouts.” No one wants to take their meds, or go to the doctor, or track their progress. These are chores we all simply have to do. And while Pharma is fully engaged in finding and designing new Brussels sprouts to make us healthy, they throw a sidelong glance at the idea of adherence. You can almost hear pharma say, “It’s good for you, so just take your meds while we get back to making new ones.” They leave it to the prescribers and pharmacists to scare patients into adherence. But adherence is key to pharma’s success in the long run. Low adherence reduces the likelihood or curing or treating the disease, which lowers patient’s interest in taking more meds. If we instantly hit 100% adherence, pharma sales would be way up and we’d hear less doom and gloom at industry conferences.
So let’s look at someone who’s gotten the idea of adherence right and see what we can learn. Fitocracyis a site designed to get people to take a different kind of medicine: Exercise. Excluding those handful of crazy people who consider exercise fun, most Americans look at time at the gym or on the treadmill as a chore even more dreadful than swallowing some pills. Yet somehow, Fitocracy has levered a number of different psychological and sociological tricks to get people to commit to getting more fit, and then doing the work required to get there. How successful is Fitocracy? In a world where startups are desperate for people’s attention, Fitocracy’s site is invite-only, and it took a little effort for me to get in. In a nutshell, Fitocracy gives you points for being physical. You get points when you work out, but you also get points when you shovel snow, or take the stairs instead of the elevator (granted, you get a lot more points for deadlifting half your body weight than you do taking the stairs, but it all adds up). There are pre-assigned quests and achievements you can complete (like when you log 10 items in a week, or try a barbell squat). And as you add workout data, you can level-up, like in a video game. And like a video game, each level gets a little harder to achieve, but by the time you’re working towards level 10, you’ve got weeks of workouts under your belt and you have the confidence you can complete the level without it being too easy. Aside from the game tricks, Fitocracy leverages the power of each person’s personal network. Just as you will gain weight when you hang out with over-eaters, and get funnier when you hang out with clever people, hanging out with people who work out encourages you to work out. Hanging out with people trying to lose weight helps you look at your choices in a new light. On the site, your social network gives you props for good workouts or when you’ve had a couple of good workouts in a row. Or when you lose a few pounds. Or when you set a record on the treadmill or barbell. You get positive reinforcement, right there on your screen every time you work out, along with points for giving your friends props, encouraging you to give as well as you get. No friends? Join one of the existing groups, like the Chicago group or the weight loss group to achieve your goals. You are collaborating together, and that induces even more adherence. This is social proofing: you don’t want to let your friends down, and they don’t want to let you down.
How can pharma steal some tricks? Well, if pharma wants to start using the ideas of persuasion, gamification and social proofing to increase adherence levels, it needs to start by getting out of its own way. Especially in terms of privacy. Yes, pharma succeeds because of federally mandated privacy laws, but as you can see from the thousands of patient forums, people are willing and interested in talking about their disease state so long as they get the choice to do it on their own. Pharma can play a part, and even encourage people to talk amongst each other without coming anywhere near violating privacy rules. They can build a site like Fitocracy devoted to diabetes or gastric distress or gout or depression, where patients get points for doing things that make them healthier (like taking their meds), or talking to other people with the same disease, or helping other people with their problems. Beyond the obvious health benefits to the patient and adherence benefits to Pharma, this community could serve as an active focus group, one that can help you understand patients and even leverage should you need to communicate with patients or the public at large. Pharma needs to become partners with their patients to solve a lot of each other’s nagging problems, and it seems Fitocracy has developed a pretty interesting template on which to model that solution. If you’re looking for Fitocracy invites to check it out, ask me on Twitter: @digital_pharma!
Let’s say someone commissioned a very special book from you. They already knew the subject, format and title, but you had to supply the content. And, for the sake of this silly hypothetical situation, you’re going to be paid enough money to retire like a prince. So clearly, we need your best thinking here.
The book is called “The One Thing Every Marketer Must Do Well.” Yes, the one thing. Not the one system, not the one methodology or tactic. Just one thing. And the worst part is that the book must fit onto the back of a matchbook cover.
So, whatever you think the most important thing is, you’d better get to the point. What have you got? What’s the one thing that’s gonna let you buy a plot of beachside property and learn how to paint? Will you fall back on the Four P’s? Do you think that’ll get you a 7:30 tee time at Pebble Beach every morning? What about “think strategically?” Is that ball of meaningless text going to pay for that cottage in the Hamptons?
No. But here’s what my version of the book would say: Understand what the customer wants and give it to them. (And, for the record, I will be retiring to a hotel suite in a new city every year. We can meet for drinks in Barcelona.)
Can you beat that “one thing?” The best part of it is that is leads to a zillion tough questions, all of which are vital to the process.
So how do you understand the customer? The problem with marketing in any industry (pharma is no exception here) is that the marketers all get together and talk and think and write blog posts (guilty!) and articles and read books and end up building a marketing bubble, one where little new thought gets in or out.
How can pharma understand its customer (in my case, the HCP), when it just talks to other marketers? Getting outside the marketing bubble is hard work, and it’s far easier to let the focus groups tell us what customers want.
What do HCPs really want? My feeling (and I’m willing to hear opposing views here) is that what HCPs really want is a 25-hour day. Or the need for less sleep. Or more efficient records management.
They want more time.
HCPs know that paperwork is part of the job, but they feel like it takes too much time away from their patients.
HCPs know that medicine changes every day and that part of their job is learning new ideas to keep up. I don’t see the surveys that show that they hate to learn new things.
But I see the surveys that show that many see reps as time-sucks, black holes from which there is no escape from marketing hackery. They see tsunamis of email pitches and requests for attention, and they think to themselves, “somewhere in that mountain of spam are two good things I need to know, but how can I know what they are when they all look the same?”
HCP’s have the desire to learn. But more than anything, they hate having their time wasted. This is your customer.
So how do you give them what they want? Start by getting out of your marketing bubble, stop thinking about what you like and think about what your customer needs. What they need is for you to stop showing off all your well-considered strategic thinking, your expensive creative and your cool new technology and cut to the chase and tell them what they need to know.
Right now, I bet each and every one of us could cut the size of our marketing materials in half without losing the inherent meaning within. It may not look as cool or be as flashy, but it will save the HCP time. And if that’s what they want…
Here’s another thought: If we spent as much time on our login form (or better yet, started thinking about ways to make an HCP login once and see more content) as we do on our graphics, would we have more engaged HCPs?
Build a reputation for getting to the message faster and I bet you’ll be surprised to see more HCPs better engaged than they are today.
So think about what you can do in every marketing piece to save the HCP time. That’s what they want, and they’ll reward you for giving it to them.
You’ve read the FDA’s new partial guidelines for pharma in social media titled “Responding to Unsolicited Requests for Off-Label Information About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices,” right? (If you haven’t, go now. We’re all waiting. Try Dose of Digital or Fierce Pharma.)
Okay, so in a nutshell, if I’m reading this right, it says that pharma companies are allowed to respond to people who post in private and public internet spaces about off-label uses of their drug. But have to respond privately. Specifically, these are unsolicited requests, so you can’t coordinate with your marketing company to seed the idea that Brand XYZ cured baldness. There are some other considerations, but that’s the gist. (Those of you waiting for complete guidelines from the FDA should get comfortable, because if this is what we got in a year or two of discussion, you’re in for a long wait.)
So, here’s what is interesting:
1) The words “liability,” “expectation,” or “anticipate” are nowhere in this document. The FDA is not yet ready to place the burden of having to listen to every online channel on pharma. Yet. So pharma can hang back and choose not to get involved in social if they don’t want to because the FDA is not forcing them to.
2) The rules for what pharma is allowed to say seem to differ depending on whether or not the request came in public or private, despite the fact that the answer must be private. (Private requests will answer scientific questions with scientific information, public requests will pretty must stick to the label and ask the requestor talk to a healthcare professional.) Thus, the same questions asked in two different medium might get two different responses.
3) The FDA is saying while pharma can respond to all unsolicited requests about their own brands, they have to respond privately. But we all know in social media nothing stays private for very long.
Let’s walk through a scenario to see how these new rules are applied.
So I write Brand XYZ and ask them a question. The brand is now allowed to respond privately, but they, as good corporate pharma citizens, must be “truthful, non-misleading, accurate and balanced,” and include standard response information. Then, I go on Twitter and ask the same question and get a different response via DM or email. This isn’t much on the surface, except that the FDA has done everything to keep pharma from ever saying anything anywhere that hasn’t been reviewed seven ways to Sunday. The review process is the FDA’s way of getting everyone to stick to the script (because it’s far cheaper to stick to the script than to try something new, and gamble on whether it survives medical, regulatory and legal reviews). To allow two different responses from pharma on the same question is new.
But since the FDA is quite clear on keeping those responses private, maybe it thinks it can control the message in the world’s most porous communication environment. Which would be silly.
So either A) the FDA is asking pharma to do nothing new (i.e. “stick to the script, kids”) or the FDA is anticipating (or worse, not realizing) that every private response will quickly be copied and pasted into public forums all over the internet, thus negating the FDA’s own intent of keeping off-label information private.
On one hand, the new guidelines seem to focus on solving a very narrow problem in social media. On the other, the FDA may be trying to learn how quickly these “private” messages will become public, indicating that the FDA is serious about understanding the social media environment–not just in theory, but in practice.
If you haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, you probably already know the thesis: In order for an idea to be adopted by a large group of people, you need an influencer, someone who wields sway over large groups of people. That one person who may not dominate the conversation, but the one people listen to when they speak.
It’s a great theory, and you can see why marketers adopted it: reach and influence a large number of people by leveraging a relatively small number of key people. The hard part is to figure out who those key people are.
This is a theory born in modern communication models. The greatest example may be that of Walter Cronkite and how his feelings on the Vietnam War swayed millions of opinions against it. Or MLK influencing millions of Americans of every color to stand up and demand equality. It’s also the basis of every celebrity endorsement. And it might not really be true.
What if we were looking at the idea of influencers backwards? In a system where we feel like the one can hold sway over many, who’s in charge? The one or the many?
Influence is two separate processes held together: one person wielding an opinion and many people interested in listening. If the group isn’t interested in listening, what good is the influencer? If I’m not in the mood to buy a car, how important is Eminem’s feelings about a Chrysler?
Perhaps what we see when we see the key influencer effect is the natural aggregation of like-minded and interested people congregating and getting themselves ready to listen. At which point, someone (or anyone) with some basic credibility can take the mic and make their case. Is that person truly an influencer or are they leveraging a very ripe environment? Was MLK influencing people who previously had no opinion on civil rights? Or was he tapping into the existing desire for equality?
Once a congregation occurs, social pressures work to encourage people to act in the same direction (for example, you are more likely to laugh and laugh louder when those around you are laughing), thus reinforcing the idea that the influencer is influencing.
In Albert-László Barabási’s study about connection (he was the first to suggest that we’re all just six degrees separated from Kevin Bacon each other), he finds that there are no key influencers, no selection of people influence more people than others. What he saw were groups, connected to each other by a series of strong and weak bonds. You talk about something and someone on the edges of your social network hears it. They talk about it and someone on the farthest edges of their network pass it along.
In my own work, I looked at people I considered very influential people: social media gurus. These are people who have tens and thousands of subscribers and followers, people who have ideas about social media that get disseminated very quickly (e.g., Chris Brogan and Jeremiah Owyang).
When they post an article, I read it. Their ideas are now part of my thought process. Thus, they are seen as influencers. But who’s in charge, the person trying to influence or the people who have come to listen?
This is problematic because pharma relies heavily on KOLs to be its brand-supported influencers. And if influencers really don’t wield an inordinate amount of influence, where should pharma be focusing?
Again, let’s return to the model: it’s the congregation of interested people that leads to influence. It’s more important to find (or build) those groups than to find someone to influence them. Once you find the group, standing in front of them (depending on the medium) with some basic credibility will make you look like an influencer.
For example, should you try and find an all-star pharmacist to talk about your brand? Is there really a pharmacist that all other pharmacists listen to? If there is, could you point that person out to me? Or is it more true that each pharmacist is probably professionally friendly with a handful of other pharmacists? If we could reach a few of them, the ones interested in our brand, they could influence the handful of people in their own networks. Isn’t that how you commonly learn about new ideas?
Perhaps pharma should spend more time and resources cultivating these congregations of people interested in learning about new treatments and brands than trying to find people with special influencing powers.
There has been a lot of speculation since it was announced this summer as to why Twitter was embedded so deeply into the new iOS5. Actually, the speculation hasn’t been about why Twitter was embedded. That’s easy: Twitter is a super-simple message system used by more than 300 million people. The real speculation isn’t why Twitter, but why not Facebook.
There shouldn’t be any surprise that the world’s number two mobile operating system is trying to integrate more social media. Social and mobile is <a href=”http://digital-pharma.tumblr.com/post/7844629329/social-and-mobile-the-beast-with-two-heads”>the beast with two heads</a>. There is a reason the two have grown so fast side-by-side: they support and augment each other. So clearly, a mobile operating system would be smart to embrace this idea and partner up with a major social media platform.
On the face of it (hahaha! I hate puns) Facebook would seem to be the obvious choice. It has more than 800 million users world-wide, half of whom visit the site in some capacity daily and tend to stay for extended periods of time. It has integrated games and numerous time-wasting, distracting engagement-based tools from third parties (one of whom IPO-ed last week). While its growth is slowing, it’s not because people aren’t using it anymore, but because it might be reaching market saturation. Every day, new kids turn 13 (or say they turned 13) and log in for the first time, but who isn’t using Facebook today who might consider it tomorrow?
So why Twitter? By all measures, Twitter is the runner-up. Fewer users, less time spent on the site (by a huge factor, because most people use Twitter via a client), etc. Between the two, who wouldn’t choose Facebook?
But Apple didn’t, and there are some very good reasons.
1) Facebook is a site, Twitter is a service. By many different measures, Facebook is trying to re-build the web inside itself. When you add links and videos to Facebook, Facebook tries to show them to your friends inside of Facebook. Its games work inside Facebook. The only ways to access Facebook is at facebook.com or one of the mobile clients it built (there are a handful of third-party clients, but they existed only because Facebook was slow to launch fully-featured mobile clients).
Twitter, on the other hand, would be perfectly happy if you never went to its site. It wants you to use a client, on your desktop, on your cellphone, your smartphone, your tablet, your TV–whatever. Twitter works because it’s simply creating connections between two people, not trying to get you to stick around its site and play WordsWithFarmWars.
2) Facebook is closed, Twitter is open. Look at the above point and see all the ways Facebook wants you to enter its garden and never ever leave. It doesn’t like to even admit that you might update your status on Twitter or Tumblr or Postulous. Facebook wants you to think about the internet as a function of Facebook. An example: Ask anyone who has tried to connect their Tumblr to Facebook so that posts to Tumblr get mirrored in Facebook. It’s a pain. It doesn’t tell you when it works. It breaks frequently without telling you. These apps are outside Facebook and Facebook treats them like third-cousins it dislikes.
Twitter connects to… everything. You can have Twitter updates sent to your phone from 1999! Twitter lets any client connect to its API, and has been raising the number of API calls per hour (so you can use it more and more). I can send any 140 characters through Twitter. Services will shrink URLs so I can actually send a lot more than just 140. And when people click on that link, they don’t stay in Twitter, they go to the link.
3) Facebook is a competitor, Twitter is agnostic. While we don’t ever have the thought: Should I buy an iPhone or should I join Facebook, Apple and Facebook see each other as competitors for your attention. And as we enter the attention marketplace, your attention becomes a very valuable commodity.
Twitter is like the electric company: it’s a service. It doesn’t care what you plug into the wall, so long as it abides by some basic technical standards.
The best example highlighting the real difference between the two services is that this year, the Arab Spring movement embraced Twitter, not Facebook. And now, Apple has embraced Twitter, as well.
This serves to underline the difference between these two tools to marketers. I’ve heard too many people look at the two tools and treat them as if they were the same. They couldn’t be more different. Putting them under the same “social media” umbrella is like treating a Bugatti Veyron and Nissan Leaf the same because they’re both “cars.”
So consider them two very different things when plotting your social media strategy for the coming year. Otherwise, you won’t be getting real value out of either of them.
When I went to pharmaceutical marketing blogging school, they taught us to always lead with a killer headline, something that demands people’s attention. I always try to pick something that intrigues you, but this time it was easy. Because the days of products are gone.
I realized this a few weeks ago when I decided to try to use a different product from iTunes to manage all my music. While I am deeply in love with my iPhone, I’ve never been a Mac guy. I’m strictly PC simply because I like cheap commoditized hardware that I can switch out myself as needed without having to go to some “genius” to help me make a minor fix.
So I have a PC running Windows 7, iTunes and an iPhone. I tried out two different programs, both of which worked great. They let me import my music, went and found lyrics and album artwork, let me tag tracks, make playlists, etc. You want to know the one thing they couldn’t do?
Load music to my iPhone.
Why not? It’s just an unbelievably pretty external hard drive, right? Wrong. It’s an Apple product, which means it really only likes to talk to other Apple products using Apple software. You can almost hear my iPhone sigh when I plug it into my PC, as if it can’t believe it has to keep company with such a philistine.
The same thing happened when I was trying to manage my contacts on my iPhone. I have a lot of contacts in Gmail, which is my environment of choice. But it was a tremendous hassle to get contact lists from both places to play well together.
You’re probably wondering why, if I love Google products, didn’t I buy an Android? I will retort, why should I be forced to?
Because we have entered the age of a system.
Facebook and Twitter are systems. They only (barely) play together through APIs. Your social media platform is a system and might not want to integrate other tools. Your CRM program is a system, and it might not talk to other systems. How you manage, communicate with and collect information from your reps is a system.
Heck, even the products we sell are systems. Diabetes drugs seem to be prescribed in groups, as do surgical recovery drugs.
And what about electronic medical records? Can I take my records from your hospital to my doctor? And even when the answer is “yes,” it’s not easy.
Hospitals are systems. Insurance groups are systems.
Cars are systems (drive a Toyota all your life? It will take time to learn what each stem and button does on that Ford or Mercedes). Political parties are systems (what Republican or Democrat believes every tenet of their party’s platform? You may buy in because of their economic policies, but you’re also endorsing their social policies, whether you agree or not). Even countries and religions are systems.
What does any of this mean? It means that you need to stop trying to sell a product and understand that people need a system, and if it’s a system that can exist within and work well with an existing system of theirs, all the better.
Imagine you’re trying to pitch a new social media platform on your organization. You want them to buy into FiveStepChicken (I just made that up, but now I own the name).
How do you do that? List the features? Show how it will increase productivity or effectiveness of communication? No, show how it works within the system first. That’s the first hurdle and if you can’t get past that, you’re dead in the water.
We live in a system world. Embracing that idea sooner rather than later will help you achieve your goals.
Let me take you back a long, long time ago to the day I joined Diaryland. You don’t remember DL? I’m not surprised, because three months later I abandoned it and joined LiveJournal. Ah, now you have a frame of reference. We’re talking years ago, almost a decade ago.
And I was on LiveJournal for a year or two before I found myself spending more and more time on MySpace. But that was short-lived, and I quickly moved to Facebook. And then Twitter. And then FourSquare. And then Google+.
Yes, that’s quite the travelogue of web 2.0 real estate, and it doesn’t take into account a similar progression from AIM to YahooIM to GChat.
What do all these things have in common with each other? I joined each and every one of those sites for a single reason: I already knew someone on it.
Social media and their brethren are called social because they are of limited value without other people there to hang out with (note <a href=”http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2131/social-media-Facebook-twitter-myspace-linkedin”>the study</a> that shows that two thirds of social media users are on those sites specifically to stay in touch with friends). What good is being the first person on Match.com if there’s no one to flirt with (which is why they gave accounts away to anyone for free for more than a year)? None.
These online places even build their own cliques. At one point, I had one group of friends on LiveJournal and a different group on MySpace. Put these two groups of people in a room, and ten minutes later, they’d be self-segregating into two very different parties.
Beyond joining a crowd, having people already onboard to act as your personal tech support is also a draw. My wife is a Facebook ninja, in that she knew every security and privacy feature backwards and forwards. She taught her friends how to lock down their pages long before Facebook felt inclined to explain their privacy policies in plain English. She was everyone’s go-to for Facebook advice. And when she had questions about Google+, she asked me (it’s a well-balanced relationship).
What does this have to do with pharma and CRM? Well, the reason you haven’t dived head-first into CRM is not because you don’t understand it. It’s not because you don’t see the value of it. It’s not because you can’t see the ROI.
You know that 99% of your HCP targets are online, that more than 90% are in social networking groups, that more than 60% use Google to find out more information about diagnosis, treatment and pharmacology. You know that most HCPs are neck-deep in the Internet to help their practice and their patients. You know that this kind of environment is perfect for CRM, for tracking and measuring all your digital marketing initiatives, for seeing which ones work where and when it’s time to cut bait on under-performing tactics.
What’s really stopping you is that you don’t have a social network drawing you into CRM. Not enough of your peers have dived in, so you are waiting to see how things work out for them.
Sure, I understand. You’re scared of diving into new technology that you don’t think is proven yet (to that end, have you met Amazon, the greatest example of how a CRM gives actionable data about one’s customers?). You don’t want to spend money on the PushMedia, Apple Newton, or WebOS of today: ideas that sounded good at the time but died miserable and expensive deaths.
And if you’re first to adopt, who are you going to turn to for advice? CRM is big and complicated, and if your CRM vendors don’t know the ins and outs of pharma, they aren’t going to be in any position to help.
But what happens when everyone else adopts and you’re still sitting on the fence? Yes, a CRM program takes time to implement, but once it’s all set up, it provides useful data very quickly. While you’re waiting to hear how things are working, your peers are already making tactical changes and thinking about how all their new data will help them adjust their strategy.
How long are you going to wait? You already know that digital is taking over, and that CRM helps you manage all the new digital channels. Ask around: how many of your peers are signing agreements with CRM vendors? Are you falling behind without realizing it?
What are you waiting for? Are you like the person who still isn’t sure that Facebook will really take off before signing up?
If I have to explain to you that the pharma industry is huge, both in America and abroad, you are reading the wrong blog. Go type “barrel roll” into Google or something. The rest of us are working here.
If you work in a multinational, multi-billion dollar company, maybe managing a brand (or a small one – let’s say it only pulls in ten to twenty million annually), you have access to a million-plus in marketing budget, access to a few hundred reps who connect to a few thousand doctors to talk about a handful of their patients. How are you keeping all that straight?
Spreadsheets? Okay, sure. Are you spending your day inputting all the info in by hand and hoping whatever formulas you have built in are useful? I hope not.
Let’s face it. If you are managing even a tiny brand, there are so many numbers consider that it boggles the mind. How many of those numbers are coming in daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly? It’s not so much the quantity of numbers that’s the problem, it’s the fact that they arrive in chunks, at weird frequencies, days and weeks after the event they are tracking occurred. As a brand manager, you’re supposed to keep track of all these numbers. And beyond that, you’re supposed to actually know what they all mean and be able to make decisions based on them.
Think of it this way: let’s say today is the day you had that idea – that magical “I was in the shower and it just hit me” idea – and you want to implement it. Maybe it’s an under-served segment you know would embrace your message, or a great way to pitch your product to reps, or even a great way to reach HCPs at a conference. The question is: even if it was a “set the world on fire” idea, how long is it going to take for you to determine if it really was a great idea?
Days? Weeks? Months? If that conference is two months away (about enough time to re-think your marketing strategy and actually execute it), you’re talking three to four months to see if that idea took hold and increased script writing.
The world isn’t built on big ideas. It’s built on small ideas, executed well and repeated over and over. Democracy isn’t so much a big idea as it is millions of people voting every so often. Capitalism isn’t a big idea so much as it is billions of people making individual choices for themselves and families and organization every day.
The iPad isn’t a big idea, it’s the product of a million little decisions made based on an idea that people want to read more wherever they are. The difference between Starbucks and your local coffee shop isn’t the idea (they sell coffee and offer a ’third place’), but in the million little branding and business decisions they make every day.
So maybe your brand isn’t a blockbuster (and maybe it is – time is running out to make the most of it!), but success doesn’t come because your brand solves a big problem, but because of the million little decisions you make every year.
So how do you determine when your decisions were good ones? I’m betting that you know your annual and quarterly sales, you know your sales by region, and maybe your sales by decile. What else do you know?
How much of understanding and acting on that “what else do you know” question is farmed out to other companies? That’s just going to add lots of time between an idea’s execution and its feedback.
The question becomes: do you know the score? Do you know how all the little micro-scores that make up the big score?
Micro-score? Yeah. Your football team is winning and your quarterback has seven touchdowns. Are the two related? Heck, yeah. The big score on the scoreboard is an outcome of all the micro-scores that happened. Your center didn’t score a touchdown, but because he’s protecting the quarterback, the quarterback can score. Eleven people are on the field, each with a vital job to do. When one person blows it, the whole team will feel it very quickly and it won’t be long until that one low micro-score is dictating the big score on the board.
So do you know all the micro-scores that make up your annual sales? The reps, the HCPs, the campaigns, the engagements, and the conversions (at any and every level)? A good coach knows that one guy is having a great game, and another guy isn’t. A great coach knows all the micro-scores and makes adjustments to make the most of good micro-scores and minimize the effect of bad micro-scores.
Doesn’t that seem like a good way to describe your job?
If you are the coach, do you have the information you need every day to make those smart coaching decisions? Do you know when to stop shoveling money into that program because it isn’t reaping the benefits? Do you know when to start moving resources to that other campaign because it’s moving the needle? If it’s months before you know, the game’s half over before you can make decisions.
So, if you’re ready to be the coach, if you’re ready to make decisions, do you know the micro-scores?
A helpful co-worker sent this link around today from a blog under the title “Are Pharma Reps Important to Docs or Not?” two blurbs from the article read:
" … most physicians find pharma sales reps among the least important sources of information they use to help them diagnose, treat and care for their patients."
Still, 1 in 4 physicians find information from drug companies “very useful.”
I’m used to getting these kinds of emails because in my company, I’m the guy tasked with keeping all the numbers in one place. When someone wants to know if they should expect the average email recipient to be able to see images in their email, I’m the guy they ask.
Anyway, I was struck by these two quotes. They weren’t chosen at random. These things meant something to my co-worker, and he passed them along to me for cataloging and reference.
But I wonder if they mean the same to you as they do to me? This is like that “Do you see a duck or a bunny” drawing. You and I may see the same thing and come to two very different conclusions.
Possible conclusion 1: Only 25% of docs listen to reps. Ergo, reps aren’t very useful to my marketing plan because they don’t reach much of my market.
Possible conclusion 2: 25% of docs listen to reps. If we can identify them, we now know how to market effectively to one quarter of our targets.
Which camp are you in? Do you see the duck or the bunny?
I’m guessing a good number of you saw that number and mentally crossed reps off as a go-to tactic. Too bad. We live in a world where we don’t all watch the same TV shows, listen to the same music, or watch the same news. There is almost no unifying connection to us all anymore.
So why assume that there’s a way to reach all (or most) of your targets with one tactic or one channel? Looking for a broad channel is an exercise in futility, as the broader the channel, the less effective it is as influencing. Note the difference in perceived effectiveness between reps and TV commercials: 25% of HCPs find reps very useful. What percentage of HCPs would say the same about TV commercials?
Since you’re never going to find a channel with 100% reach, let alone 100% effectiveness in influencing, breaking your marketing plan into segments is the best way to be effective.
How can you segment? Well, have you asked your targets how they’d like to be approached? Have you given them the opportunity to express a preference? And have you taken the answers to those questions and applied them to your targets? Or did you just aggregate the responses into a worthless pie chart showing that no channel is particularly effective?
Stop looking for a marketing “silver bullet.” Instead, load up on lots of different kinds of weapons to fill your arsenal. Your targets will appreciate it and your marketing plan will get stronger.
My biggest marketing pet peeve is when marketers forget to behave like human beings and just behave like marketers. Case in point: marketers who treat their audience like morons, but get grumpy when treated like a moron by other marketers.
Didn’t we all learn that while everyone’s experience is individual and unique, the first way to evaluate a marketing idea is to ask yourself, “how would I respond to this?”
To that end, I am now putting you pharma marketers on notice: no more spam. You hate spam. I hate spam. And our audience hates spam. And yet, there you go, sending emails every X days, pretending that you have something interesting and useful to say, but really all you’re doing is trying to remind your audience that you and your brand aren’t dead.
Sound mean? Bear in mind that I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt by not assuming that you are emailing every X days simply because you charge your client by the piece. No, I’m gonna assume you’re not a jerk.
So anyway, no more spam. Agreed? Good.
Oh, you’re worried that the notion that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is a fallacy? You’re worried that without regular emails reminding them that your brand is an effective solution for XYZ, HCPs are going to forget all about you and just prescribe baby aspirin, or something? Okay. Let’s pretend you don’t spend money on ads and conference promotions and websites and eDetails and reps and giveaways and all those other things. Let’s pretend email is the only way to contact your audience. How do you contact them and not spam them?
There are two parts to converting your email system from spam to steak. Part one, upgrade your content. No more junk. No more content that you wouldn’t be thrilled to get yourself. Remember, your targets get the same emails from dozens of other brands, so don’t feel like you need to send an email for every little thing.
But as a brand, you may not have a lot of content. So what do you do? Since your brand is excellent at treating disease state X, I bet your brand has a lot of knowledge about disease state X, right? I bet there’s a chance that you have a Google Alert for any news about brand state X. Maybe you even subscribe to a bunch of blogs about that disease state (and if you don’t, why don’t you take a moment and do that now. You’ll thank me later). That there is a lot of content you can share. And you are curating it, even if it is only for yourself or an internal team. Here’s my suggestion: let it out. Become your target’s one-stop shop for news about disease state X. Send them an email every X days with links to all the biggest stories online about the disease state (it’s not all about you, you know). Wrap that curated content with a simple message that your brand cares about keeping health care professionals up to date about the disease state. That’s the kind of content they will be glad to get, and perhaps even share.
Part two, embrace your segments. Are you just sending your entire target list the same emails? Shame on you. Are you segmenting? Good. Tell the truth: are your segments based on year-old data, or are you monitoring the data and adjusting your segment populations accordingly? How long would it really take a target to move from your “unlikely target” segment to “power prescriber” segment if they started prescribing like crazy today? How long would it take you to notice and react?
Are you making adjustments based on behavior? For example, do you treat the target who opens five of your emails in a row the same as the target who hasn’t opened an email of yours since 2009?
If you treat all your targets the same, they will treat your messaging like spam and toss it out. The fastest way to stop being perceived as a spammer by your targets is to stop sending spam: treat different doctors differently and give them something they truly want to read.
What if I told you that there’s a hole in your marketing strategy? It could be a small hole or a big hole, but I’m betting it’s there nonetheless.
When building your marketing strategy, you start by making HCPs aware of your brand, probably using a combination of rep visits, ads, commercials, conference appearances, microsites, tchotchkes, giveaways, honorariums, and videos. Maybe you use all of them, maybe just a few of them, but they are stimuli designed to do one thing: make the target aware of your brand.
Once aware of the brand, you hope and anticipate that with some persuasion, HCPs will start prescribing your brand. They are selecting your brand in the same way people select which soda they want to drink or what car they want to buy.
Finally, the target evaluates the outcome of choosing your brand. Did it do what they expected it to do? Were there outweighing side effects? Would the HCP prescribe it again, and if so, under what circumstances?
Stimulate, select, then evaluate. That’s the basic gist of it. Maybe you’ve built in a persuasion step before the selection step. This is smart because every HCP is inundated with messages about brands, some of which may compete with yours. You need to persuade your audience that your brand is some combination of effective, safe, useful and inexpensive.
So where’s the hole? What’s missing is a step between creating brand awareness and HCP’s interest in prescribing the brand.
Let’s pretend you were watching television 18 months ago and you learned about an amazing new product called an iPad (stimulus). What do you do? Go and buy one? Well, if’s you’re the kind of person who can spend $500 (minimum) on something you don’t know much about, here’s to you! But the rest of us did a little research before we bought (or didn’t).
There was a stage when you wanted to learn more about the iPad, wasn’t there? You didn’t only go to the Apple site (though I’m betting you did spend some time there), you went and looked at reviews, both official and unofficial. You read some blog posts about other people’s interest or disinterest in the iPad (and why). Maybe you tried to see if anyone was offering it for sale at a discounted price, or what kinds of options you’d have for covers and cases. Did it work with a stylus if you wanted it to? How hard was it to type on? Would you need the 3G version? How much space would you reasonably expect to need? When would apps be available? Would they be more expensive than iPhone apps? You had a lot of questions, and you looked at a lot of sites to answer them.
According to Jim Lecinski in his book ZMOT: the Zero Moment of Truth, the average shopper visits 10.4 websites before making a decision to buy or not to buy. Even if you argue that HCPs don’t do that much research on your brands (and it’s an argument I’m only allowing for the sake of my point), let’s split the number in half. That means that before your target actually decides to prescribe, they look at five sites, and I’m guessing you don’t have five websites about your brand. That means that your targets are looking at other sites about you to make their decision.
It’s like owning a store and knowing that your shoppers have to go to another location (or another store!) before buying from you. If that was something you knew was happening, what would you do about it?
On the face of it, this isn’t a revelation. Or it shouldn’t be. But it should make the hole in your marketing strategy clear. If your target is going to go to at least four sites that aren’t yours to learn and make decisions about your brand, should you just let them go?
Now, we all know you are limited to what you can say on your website. But so are your competitors. And HCPs know that. However, your targets will be thrilled when you help them find more information about your brand off-site. Send them to forums where HCPs talk about your brand, or social networking sites devoted to the disease state. Point out where you keep your own research on the brand’s efficacy and anywhere else good research can be found.
Don’t worry if the opinions on these sites aren’t 100% positive (There’s no such thing as a brand with 100% satisfaction: even aspirin has some drawbacks and detractors,) as “opening the kimono” and not hiding your imperfections increases your authenticity with your targets. It shows that you are a partner in health, not “just a vendor.”
Remember that HCPs are going to find all your flaws with just a few clicks. Do you want them to think you are hiding them, or that you’re trying to increase awareness about the pros and cons of your brand?
On the path from communication chaos to marketing message perfection, there are five steps. These five steps take businesses further into a world where each email is better targeted, giving it more opportunity to be heard, absorbed and acted upon.
Step One: What CRM? We’ve just got this list We start our journey in a place most of us remember (if you don’t remember, call up your predecessor on the golf course and ask him or her. They’ll be able to tell you stories.) The beginning of email was the beginning of electronic communication and the realization that everyone, including doctors, had email addresses. These were the bad old days, when any privateer could build a list of email addresses and peddle them to any and all who asked for them. Were they validated? De-duped? Non-bouncing? Active? Who knew! Everyone got paid on a per-email basis one way or another, so it didn’t matter that metric tons of emails were disappearing into the ether(net) without a trace. Activity was enough.
Of course, this recklessness eventually spawned spam laws that made it illegal to simply buy lists and spam them. Thankfully, those days are gone.
Step Two: Managed Lists This leads us to the next step in email’s evolution. You had lists, now you needed a way to manage them. Validation, opt-in and unsubscribes were the watchwords of the day. The list you had was managed. You asked people to join it, you may have even given them a good reason to join it, and every one on that list knew that at any time, they could leave. This power shift caused marketers to think more in terms of how often they could touch a target before they got annoyed and left and less in terms of sheer volume.
Step Three: Understanding the Aggregate The next step is to measure the aggregate audience. Up until this point, you just had email addresses. Marketers had no name, geographic information, or specialty information, let alone school, practice type, or activity with the brand attached to the email address. Before now, if the target was on your list, and that target went to a conference and signed up for something, there was a good chance that they’d start getting multiple emails because the managed lists were being managed by multiple departments.
This step enables you to integrate the silos and examine all the data in the aggregate. Now you can see how many subscribers you have. You can how many people click on the emails. And you can report those numbers upwards, as if they mean much.
Sadly, this is where a great majority of us are, halfway along the path. Let us see what the next steps are and what they can achieve for us.
Step Four: Segmentation The fourth step is to take that data and break it up into segments. This closes the loop between what you send and what you get back. You can see that doctors in, say, Ohio are opening and clicking at a higher rate than any other state. Or that in August, all the oncologists on your list don’t click much at all. Why is that? A little investigation might show you that your brand is being mentioned in the press locally, or that there’s a big oncology conference that month that disrupts message flows. Hmmm… Once you know that, what could you start doing differently? Maybe sending a special message to targets in Ohio that mention the local media coverage with a call to action tied to it? Or a message to oncologists at the beginning of August, wishing everyone safe travels and a call to action to visit your booth at the conference?
When you achieve step four, you have just enough information to be able to understand groups and take action. This is where we marketers strive to be. The purpose of managing lists and collecting data is to be able to recall and leverage that data to move the needle, right? This is how that happens.
Step Five: Everyone Is Special The final step takes that idea further. Further, you say? Yes. Instead of interacting with your targets as groups, what if you could interact with them on an individual level?
How is that possible, you say, when you have a hundred thousand names on a list? How can you interact with a hundred thousand people on an individual level? Well, you start by buying them coffee.
Not really. You start by building a matrix. Think of all the different things that might change one of your target’s perspectives. All the stuff you already know, like specialty and location, school and practice type. Then add in the activity data, like how often they prescribe your brand, how often they click on the emails, if they ever go to conferences, etc. One day, you’ll be able to bake in more attitudinal data, like how subscribers responded to a survey, or in a poll on your eDetail, or if they have connected to any of the social networks your brand listens to.
Take all those data points and build a matrix to help you understand why a given target might or might not prescribe your brand. If you understand their underlying belief patterns, you’ll understand why they are prescribing or not prescribing. From there, you can tailor messages that challenge those beliefs, stimulate new ideas, or encourage the target to prescribe your brand.
You’re not talking to them one-on-one so much as you are building an abstracted layer between you and them that will do most of the work for you. In some circles, this is called psycho-demographics. The ability to create custom types that are far stronger at predicting the likelihood of prescribing than straight deciles. And connecting your CRM to these types allows you to fine-tune the messages you send to each type, so that no market is ignored. Even targets who have never prescribed your brand can be sent attitude-changing messages rather than selling messages to help move them up the acceptance ladder.
This is the Zen of CRM. The path is long, but rewards lay at the end of it.
How often is too often to send an e-mail to someone? What’s the magic number of e-mails per day/week/month that defines the border between Helpful Communication and everyone’s nemesis, Spamistan?
That magic number is three.
Oh, was that not enough information for you? Oh, okay, I’ll spell it out.
First of all, let’s all embrace the idea that one person’s spam is another person’s (um, your and my) job. Yes, there are messages that are always spam, like the ads for Canadian Viagra, Lovely Ladies Looking for Me (ladies, do you get spam about hunky guys who are new in town? Just wondering), Foreign Exchange Investing, and Re-growing Hair (huh… I just realized that a huge percentage of the spam we get is tangentially pharma related. I wonder what that means? Anyway…).
But if these messages are spam for everyone, no one would ever make a dime from those e-mails. And if there wasn’t any money in it, no one would be spending money on sending them. Thus, there are people out there who believe that that pill is their long-lost answer to male pattern baldness. Even Viagra spam is someone’s idea of an interesting message.
So there’s no such thing as perfect spam (i.e. an e-mail message that has no value to anyone ever). That also means that there’s no such thing as a message that’s 100 percent interesting to everyone. Even e-mails I normally look forward to getting might feel like spam if I don’t have the money to spend on them today.
So everything is on a “spam spectrum,” as it were. A good marketer’s job is to position all the elements of an e-mail campaign to make the message feel relevant and useful to all the recipients (relevant and useful being the opposite of spam). This involves designing the e-mail to be readable, even if images are turned off, removing as many spam-flagging words as possible, picking a time to send when it won’t get lumped in with the rest of the early-morning or lunch-time spam waves, and doing the technical work to make sure e-mail servers don’t think it’s been mass-mailed from Russia.
And good marketers will make sure that the content of the e-mails is actually useful to as many people as possible.
I know it’s a given that we think that HCPs need to be sent an e-mail every X days or else they’ll forget about our brands. We think that if HCPs don’t see our logo every day, they’ll assume the brand is gone and never prescribe it again.
I’d like to challenge that assumption. I believe the if we sent an HCP five e-mails in a row, say, once a week or so, to explain the value of our brand, to show off its method of action, how it’s different, when to prescribe it, its safety record, you know, the entirety of our brand’s value proposition, we should stop and get out of our own way. Thereafter, just send news like new research, label changes, formulary changes, etc. Oh, and maybe an occasional “thanks.” And that’s it.
As we get closer to better managed and used CRM systems we should be able to do this very easily. But instead, we take a few dozen messages and send them out every X number of days like clockwork. It doesn’t matter if there’s something useful or relevant to HCPs for us to send, we just send it because our instinct says a semi-worthless message is better than no message at all.
Which brings us back to the magic number three. No, what I’m about to say has not yet been tested. I’m basing it off my experience and some basic sociology and psychology. So here it is.
When your audience gets the third message in a row that it doesn’t see value and relevance in, they reach for the spam button.
Of course, the issue is that what’s valuable to one person (male-pattern baldness cures) is worthless to many others. So a marketer’s goal is to build more and better high-value e-mails, ones that don’t invite spam complaints.
So you can see why I’m intrigued by the idea of short-course e-mail campaigns instead of year-long clockwork campaigns. By distilling your best content into a five-message run, you might have a more powerful campaign on your hands – one that actually costs less because you’ve stopped building and sending fluffy content that serves no purpose other than to count as a “touch” in your (okay, our) metrics. You’re able to focus on building a handful of killer messages instead of thinking up ways to spread your messages out even further. Remember, Apple built the capping to remake itself as a home-computing expert with a single ad that only ran once. Quality, not quantity, will put your message into your audience’s mind.
I wonder if it’s too early to say if there’s a movement happening here. I see signs that remind me of the big shifts that have happened online over the last 15 years, but that doesn’t mean it’s really occurring. So you tell me: Does pharma realize that they are less in the pill business and more in the health business?
Of course, maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe because so many of the world’s health problems require some sort of prescription medication that it doesn’t matter what business they are in because the sales will always be there.
But maybe it does matter. What pharma presentation doesn’t start with the litany of horrors about the ending of blockbuster drug patents, insurance changes, and slowing sales? Maybe re-framing the issue gives pharma the opportunity to see themselves in a different light and get beyond their less-than-hopeful prognosis for their industry.
So if pharma is in the “getting people healthy” business, they need to see and embrace all the ways people can get healthier, and right now, the fun/sexy/exciting means of doing that involves tech. Specifically, mobile tech.
I don’t need to get into all the reasons why mobile and health care make such a great match (Need a refresher? Here you go: 2012 Tech Outlook for Pharma) so let’s just skip ahead and pretend pharma has embraced mobile tech not just as a means of selling more pills, but as a new part of their complete health package.
This means that apps aren’t just commercials, but have to become powerful tools that help people become healthier. They can’t stop at “Let’s make the patient aware that they might have a diagnosable issue.” Let’s move them down the road to “As part of treating condition X, we have prescribed Brand Y and bundled it with this app to help you make healthier choices.”
By moving to a mobile platform, pharma can start to embrace elements of local check-ins (how many times you went to the gym and how many times you went to that greasy spoon around the corner), gamification (get points for taking your meds and drinking enough water) and social media (let your friends encourage you to take care of your health because they can see when you’re really working at it).
Uh oh. We’ve just moved past the world of the un-branded app into something bigger. Who’s gonna pay for all this?
Getting pharma to embrace the idea that apps are something more than product commercials is seismic, and requires a lot of changes on every level. So, what should pharma be able to do in the very near future?
Because these apps take a prescriptive course, they can’t really be said to be unbranded. Thus, they need to be treated like meds. They need a review process, even if the information they are conveying is pretty close to common sense. For example, when a doctor tells you to drink 8 glasses of water a day, it’s a non-event. If pharma tells you to drink 8 glasses of water a day, that’s prescription from a company and might need some review.
Maybe this shift will start to unearth some long-standing rules of thumb regarding health that might actually be untrue? (e.g., That “8 glasses of water” rule is a completely arbitrary number and doesn’t take into account the size, activity or even the local weather of the patient, right?)
And since these apps are no longer unbranded, and are a form of treatment, shouldn’t pharma be compensated? Oh, I have your attention now, don’t I? People spend more than a hundred dollars for As Seen On TV exercise programs. They should expect to pay for the same information in app form.
That sounds like quite a hurdle until you consider that if the apps are like a treatment from a doctor, the insurance companies are going to have to figure out how to cover them. While there will be whining from the insurance companies, the overall effect is that patients are more likely to improve their lifestyle and be reminded by the app to take their meds. This creates healthier patients, ones who are less likely to need to see a doctor and cheaper to insure.
All of these things lay the groundwork for a change in how most people view medicine: that prescriptions are often more effective when they work in tandem with lifestyle changes (e.g., pre-insulin diabetes treatments are going to be more useful if the patient loses weight and eats better). The burden on health doesn’t lay solely on pharma who makes the pill, or on the doctor who prescribed it, but equally between pharma, doctor and patient.
Merging the silos of pharma and non-pharma can only have a positive impact on the world’s health, as we can’t just take the pill and assume we’re going to be all better.
This also appeared over at ePharmaSummitBlog.com, where I am a guest blogger. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk about this in Twitter. Bring it!
Does Pharma Really Need To Be In the Mobile Sector?
Yes. You need to be in the mobile game.
Well, that’s easy. 40% (and rising) of Americans have a smart phone. 20% have a tablet. These are the young and the affluent, people you want as your customers or very shortly will be.
Adoption rates lead us to expect that at least 80% of Americans and Western Europeans will have either a smart phone or tablet in the next three to five years (and half of them will have both).
Doctors will be living on tablets in the next 12-18 months (and right now, most assume they’ll want an iPad, though that was before Amazon’s announcement).
Tablet users buy more, buy more often, and generally don’t see their device as a work-tool, but as a personal tool (HCPs are a notable exception here as they are one of the fastest-adopting professional sectors for tablets). This is where you want to reach your customers, not in between meetings and appointments, but when they are on their own time, thinking about themselves and their family.
Clearly the audience is almost there. And when they are there, they will be ready to listen to your message, provided you present it in an appropriate fashion.
What does it mean to be in mobile?
The key to be successful in mobile is to embrace the idea that mobile shouldn’t be a silo of your existing content strategy, but should become the core of your content strategy.
For the last ten years, you’ve probably been building a patchwork quilt of content. It started with a web page that was pretty much a label and a logo, but then you added more content like testimonials and videos. Then you added an HCP site. Then you thought about adding a blog. Maybe somewhere in there, you redesigned because you realized that your design didn’t handle all the new content you built. Then you added a YouTube channel and more tools like sample requests and method of action eDetails. You had to build some microsites because you had some new messaging and you didn’t want to interfere with the existing site, Now, you’re spending a lot of time thinking about adding social media. Um, that’s a lot.
Did you ever have that moment when you said, “if I had a blank sheet of paper, this is how I’d do it right?” Mobile is that moment.
Because mobile isn’t another add-on, it’s a paradigm shift. You shouldn’t be thinking “I need a gimmick that’s mobile-friendly” because thats just another silo. Instead, you should be thinking, “how do I get everything from all of our web presences onto mobile.”
Any plans for mobile should have as it’s goal “everything we’d ever want on the web site should be mobile-ready.” So anything that goes on your web site should be able to go on the mobile site. The smart play is to think about it in reverse: if it fits on mobile, it will fit on the web site.
So you need to start thinking about how to make everything mobile-ready. Not long ago (and by that, I mean last week) you really only had to make a simple decision: app or web? If you went for app, you started on either iOS or Android and then completed the other once the first one was done.
But the waters have been muddied by Amazon’s announcement. With web tablets that only cost $200 (the cost of an iPhone if you sign a 2-year contract), a whole new population is about to emerge. While the Fire runs a version of Android, it’s a completely forked version (meaning, Google isn’t updating it) so it might share lineage with Android, but it really is it’s own creature. And since we don’t know about how well it handles apps (I mean, it will have to have apps, but we don’t know how Amazon will be selling or distributing them: through an open marketplace like Google, or through a more managed system like iTunes), we have to treat it separately.
So instead of having to develop for three separate app platforms, maybe the Fire is the tipping point to getting people to focus less on apps and more on the mobile web. Suddenly, the economics of “build twice for apps or once for web” has changed to “built three times for apps or once for web” and I can guarantee more and more people will stop making apps in favor of a web-based tool.
Consider this a do-over. A mulligan, if you will. Take all the lessons we’ve all learned over the last fifteen years of being online and start clean with a new mobile platform and build. Make all your content mobile-friendly and port it out to the website.
Does Facebook Know It Just Entered the Medical/Wellness Market?
Even if you’ve heard the news from Facebook, you might not have seen the implications from a medical/pharma standpoint. Facebook announced a new tool called Facebook Timeline. Scrape away all the marketing copy and you get this: All that stuff you enter into Facebook (and Tumblr and Twitter and Foursquare and Flickr et al) aren’t just quips and stories and complaints and jokes and whatnot, they are the ephemeral data about your life.
If your doctor said, “I’d like you to keep track of how many cups of coffee you have, how well you sleep, when you go to the gym, and the like” you’d hear, “Do a bunch of tedious homework.” If your doctor said instead, “Hey, since you already track when you go to Starbucks and the gym on Foursquare, and complain about your lack of sleep on Facebook, can you keep doing that?” that sounds easy.
And now you can. Or rather, you already have.
Facebook, users already engage in countless acts of data entry, so it’s possible that the data [life-tracking pioneer] Felton will be visualizing will already be available. Automated data gathering through smart phones—especially location data—provides even more data to mine. -Christopher Mims at MIT’s Technology Review
And that’s where things are about to get interesting. We’ve been sitting on the precipice of some seriously cool ideas and tools for collecting, measuring and analyzing data, but they’ve all suffered from one of two problems: Lack of broad support or lack of fun. Facebook solved both those problems.
99% of the people who are interested in, and who would benefit from, collecting and analyzing their own data are stymied by the idea that it’s a lot of work. At the end of the day, do you really want to rely on your memory? Or do you want to interrupt your life a dozen times a day and look like a dork doing it? Oh, you’re updating one of your social media services? You’re no less of a dork, but we all understand now.
And while Facebook is pitching Timeline as a way of easily keeping track of the birthday/breakup/roadtrip/concert parts of your life, people are already thinking about how to leverage all this info for medical and wellness tracking purposes.
Granted, this is Facebook we’re talking about. These are not people who have a stellar track record when it comes to privacy. Or trustworthiness. Or professionalism. And while the intent behind all this work is clearly to be able to market products and services to us in a way that may actually be something close to interesting and useful, the opportunity exists for the data to be used in more meaningful ways… assuming Facebook can be persuaded to open the door to others, something it doesn’t like to do.
So who’s going to be the first to build a Facebook App to start to collect and use people’s wellness data?
____ This post appeared as a guest-blog piece over at ePharmaSummitBlog. I’ll be there once a week and save a copy of the posts here.
It is tempting to look at CRM and say “we now have collected a lot of structured data about many/most HCPs… So I wonder what other interesting data we can stuff into it,” and cast a glance towards social media, the land of unrestricted opinions and attitudes. Tempting, but untenable. And here’s why:
One, data issues. Even if you were able to hack into Sermo or Facebook or some other huge social media site and drain it of it’s content to stuff into the CRM, the data will be almost useless. The reason why CRM works is because it’s been optimized to a high glossy sheen. The data has been structured and standardized and cleaned and properly tabled in ways to allow meaningful (read: complicated) queries to extract useful information.
The reason social media is interesting is because it is the unfettered thoughts in digital form, like an endless stream of focus groups already transcribed. That “data” (if we can even call it that) is a mess. It would take a million monkeys at a million terminals to evaluate, code and input attitudes and opinions into the database to give it any use. For example, if you wanted to ask the question “what are the TV shows that Brand X-prescribing HCPs watch?” you need to query the CRM for a list of high-prescribers, query social media for the likes or interests of those HCPs and then run some data analysis to determine which shows correlate to high-prescribing HCPs (Hogan’s Heroes? Really?). But the data would already have to know what’s a tv show and what’s a book or website or hobby. And that does even take into account the most basic standardization (so that American Idol was the same as american idol). So there’s the data issue, but Google proved that these kinds of issues can be solved with enough money.
Two, personal and professional social media is different. The fact that some people include UpToDate as “social media” is indicative of how hard it is to define social media itself. Is anything interactive and vaguely personal social media? If so, let’s lump Amazon and email into the social media realm and muddy the waters further. But the real issue is one that Google has highlighted with Circles: we treat personal and professional social media differently. My personal twitter and Facebook is where I say personal stuff, make jokes (not all of them completely funny or tasteful), talk to my friends and generally am “off-the-clock” (assuming that any of us are truly off the clock much anymore).
My work twitter, blog, and linkedin account are professional. My opinions there are far more guarded (if you can believe that) and rarely stray far out of professional bounds. I don’t talk about my interests here. I don’t give much away. I start conversations, espouse opinions I may not agree with in the attempts to generate counter-arguments (too much debate training in high school, I guess), and generally talk about things I might not in my personal life. What good is any of that info to the CRM?
Social media is an amazing barometer of attitude in the aggregate, but worthless in the specific. People lie, or are silent, or pass along things they disagree with for no other reason than it was funny or worth mocking. Log into Klout with your personal Twitter account and discover what it thinks you think about. It’s a party game for the nerdy marketer. Laughable.
Three, most companies have not proven that they understand and respect social media enough to let me open up to them. Let’s say I’m a huge fan of the movie “Miller’s Crossing” (and I am, actually. It’s the Coen Brothers’ best work for my money). Maybe I told Facebook that it’s my favorite movie. Why would I do that? Maybe to attract other fans or give people an excuse to start a conversation about it. What did I get? Two things: targeted marketing about mob movies I might like because I like Miller’s Crossing (I don’t like it because it’s a mob movie, I like it because it’s an excellently produced movie) and spam from Fox, the movie’s distributor. The movie is more than 20 years old. I don’t need to to be marketed to about it. So I removed it from my Facebook interests.
The same is true about bands I like, TV shows I watch, books I cherish, etc. I love these things, but companies just use them as a hook to try and sell me something. It’s like no one’s read The Cluetrain Manifesto. (Please, please PLEASE tell you have read it. No? Go Google it and read it online for free. You’ll be doing the world a favor, believe me.)
Most companies simply let me be social with the intent to push a “targeted” product at me. The fact that the targeting is juvenile is beside the point. They are using social media like most people used CRM in the beginning, to put “Dear Mr. Ellis” at the top of the form letter. What a waste. So much data about me and that’s as far as you go…
You know what I want? It’s what I imagine HCPs will respond to, as well? Taking all that data and using it to build relationships (hey, you know that the R in CRM stands for Relationship, right?) is what gets you in the door. Take what you know about me and use it to begin to understand me and my needs so that you can begin to slowly offer me ideas and products that make my life better (that’s not quite the same as trying to sell me something, btw).
Please note that Facebook, the most social of all social medias, is the worst at trying to build relationships. They just want to sell me off to the highest bidder. And that’s why I try and hide everything from Facebook while still using Facebook everyday.
But maybe there’s a solution here. So, if I’m not totally off base here, maybe I can suggest an incremental and achievable solution: reps. Reps solve all these issues very easily. They have met the HCPs, have talked to them, seen their offices and practices, can code the data into your CRM, are focused on the professional side without being blind to the personal side (Dr. ABC has a picture of fishing with his friends, so he must be into fishing. Maybe that can be useful later, like an honorarium he would be hard-pressed to refuse). And a good rep will have begun to form relationships with the HCPs, learning what they want and need to make their life and practice better.
So instead of trying to take a shortcut and “just leverage” social media (as if it’s that easy), maybe pharma should be looking to leverage it’s own internal social network.
This is a slightly expanded comment I made on the Center for Healthcare Innovation’s LinkedIn Group. But feel free to tell me I’m full of it on Twitter. I love that!
First off, points to anyone who does a study. They are tough to do and tougher to do well. This one is very nice and gets to the points very quickly and I agree with the conclusions. The gist is that HCPs are happy to spend more time with the 30% of reps who they perceive as “high value.”
What does high value mean? It means they are reps who understand the product, understand the disease state, and understand the “practice of medicine.” They ask the HCP questions to further their knowledge of the HCP and their practice and don’t give off the sense that they are going through the motions to meet their sales-call quota.
Fun fact: While most HCPs plan to have a tablet in their practice in the next year, most HCPs felt like a tablet added no value to the interaction with the rep. Now, since I work at a company who like to make apps for pharma companies to help them get more out of their sales forces, so this sounds like bad news. But it isn’t. In fact, it’s pretty good news because it conforms to an idea we’ve had for a while now (and many other agree): it’s not the tech that makes a good sales call, it’s a good rep who makes a good sales call. But a technology can make a decent rep better.
But that’s just a side note. Let’s talk about the real point here: HCPs don’t value tech and sexy/shiny/new as much as they value value. Yeah, despite being an awkward sentence to write, it’s true. So let’s talk about what value is.
Since we’re marketers, we’ve all taken calculus and we remember… wait, the reason you got into marketing is so you could avoid math? Okay, we’ll keep this simple. Value is a simple equation: Useful content divided by time. If I gave you great content but I took a week to do it, it’s not high value. If I gave you worthless content but gave it to you quickly, it’s not high value.
We all know HCPs want and need great content, so I assume you’re all working on great content as much as we are (if not, step up your game). The next step is to figure out how to compress understanding into less and less time and space. I don’t actually want the rep to take up 10 minutes of the HCP’s time, but if the rep has ten minutes of content, there you go. But if we can use technology (tablets and such), content strategies and comprehension strategies to take ten minutes of content and shrink it to five without losing any comprehension, guess who has increased value?
So in answer to the first question: What do HCPs want? They want time. It’s the only thing they can’t make more of and survey after survey stresses the underlying problem of not having enough time to learn and read everything they want.
So maybe we all need to stop figuring how to get rep software onto the iPad and figure out how to use the iPad to speed communication and comprehension.
So bring the fight. Comments on Twitter get replies and that increases both our Klout scores and make us look like we’re doing real work.
Do you have a process or method for creating a new marketing strategy? I’d like to see what others are doing. I’m not asking anyone to reveal anything they don’t want to, of course, but help us all understand how common it is to have and abide by a defined process (and conversely, how many of us just “wing it.”).
Three questions (and one is a yes/no, so that hardly counts) that won’t take three minutes.
RichardM over at World of DTC Marketing posted STOP! Social media is not the answer as argument as to why pharma should stay out of the social game. The argument can be summed up thusly: Pharma can’t be open, social demands openness, ergo pharma won’t work in social.
There is a little more to it than that, and I agree with the characterization of social as open and all about the conversation, but I think the article looks very narrowly at social media and how pharma can play in it.
The article doesn’t have the wrong answer, it has the wrong question.
Does pharma want to be Oreos in social media (right now Oreas is the most powerful brand on Facebook, hitting a record number of likes before Lil Wayne took the title (ask your kids))? Can they afford to be the class cut-up in a world of snark and LOLs? Can they hire a hot guy to pretend to be a genie and make all your man’s aroma issues a thing of the past? Can pharma make a series of videos in which they see if things will blend? No? Huh. So maybe they can’t play in that part of social media.
But that’s not all of social media.
You know what people want when it comes to pharma? Good info and solid advice. They don’t want fun and laughs and chortles and “I have to send this to all my friends”-ness. This is their health, so there will be little joking (at least, not until you’ve formed a relationship with the audience). And since pharma can’t go off-label, they have to look elsewhere. I will suggest that “elsewhere” doesn’t have to be away from social media, but out of the branded area.
The question then becomes “Where can pharma play in social media.” It’s a question we (as an industry) don’t seem all that interested in solving just yet.
Comment? Yeah, I’ll respond. Let’s increase our Klout scores by having a discussion about this on twitter for all to see!
If you haven’t read Pixels and Pill’s post on the Challenges of Getting People Involved on Your Website, you should go get acclimated (and really, why aren’t you reading them?). Their four major challenges are: Failure to understand the audience, stale content, being boring and overly-complicated navigation.
Those are all valid arguments, but I think they are unnecessary. In the end, there is only one hard and fast rule about how to make a great website and here it is: Give people something useful. Everything else is decoration.
Here’s an example: Amazon.com. Until last week’s redesign (which is pretty nice), I loved to refer to it as the ugliest web site everyone uses. There was too much stuff, it was everywhere, the navigation was a mess, etc. And yet, a good percentage of all internet traffic went through its doors (and more importantly, a good percentage of all online sales were on Amazon). They broke so many design and user experience rules, it was almost funny. And yet, because they gave people something useful, they thrived.
Depending on who you talk to, they thrived for differing reasons, like the blind men and the elephant. Amazon is so big and complicated, they thrived because they sold everything, or because they offered professional and user reviews, because they could lower shipping costs, because their logistics gave them a price edge, because everyone knew they could be trusted, because they held users’ credit card numbers on file for easy purchasing, etc. No one reason is THE reason, but together, they helped Amazon work.
But the underlying message is that Amazon worked really because it offered its users something they wanted and needed. Users want products, selection, speed, security, convenience, more information, all that. Because they gave people what they wanted, they could afford to break most of the other (lesser) rules.
And here’s where things get tricky. Pharma isn’t in a position to give people what they want. Well, pharma is, but pharma marketing sure isn’t.
What do consumers and HCPs want from pharma? On-label content? No, they can get that anywhere. Marketing materials? No, no one wants your marketing materials. Your reps have a hard time delivering them to people and they’re willing to make an appointment and wait in the waiting room with a gift.
Um… that’s pretty much all you can give them in a branded way, right? No matter how good your navigation is, and how “exciting” your marketing is, its not content your audience really wants. I mean, they don’t hate it, but would they cross the street to get it? Look at Amazon’s example: their site was so ugly and a pain to navigation but it didn’t matter because it gave their users something useful. They almost had to work at getting it.
So where does that leave pharma?
Comment! Tell me you love/hate the new design! Tweet me! Complain and argue!
The good folks over at Pixels and Pills have been having a debate as to whether technology can replace the rep (catch up with part one and part two).
I was both a witness and a warrior to to great internet takeover, those days when every and any bricks-and-mortar business seemed ripe for digital conversion and the money freely (I once worked for a company that got $3 million in start-up capital because the person who proposed it said she wanted to build “The Amazon.com of Gardening.” Please bear in mind that this person had never run a business, never built a web page, and knew nothing about distributions, operations or marketing. She just picked “gardening” and paired it with Amazon and got a check. Yes, I am jealous. That company lasted less than 18 months, even with another infusion of cash and two changes of business models. THOSE were the days). Name an industry and someone thought they had a way to internet it (yeah, using the internet as a verb sounds weird). They did it because we were in a weird situation where there was too much money chasing too few ideas. Any idea could get funded, even if it was laughable.
So what? Here’s what. Those businesses (almost) all failed because they thought the problem was that there wasn’t money funding the solution. Wrong. Any profitable solution will find funding eventually. The real problem is showing how the solution helps the end user. Why would anyone buy a rake online from that dot-bomb when shipping costs far out-weighed the 15% discount they got buying the rake and the 5-day wait for delivery? Or if that person was crazy enough, why wouldn’t they just buy it from Amazon, who probably figured out a way to offer it at 16% off and gives discounted shipping and already has your credit card number on file? The problem isn’t that there wasn’t a solution, the problem was that there wasn’t really a problem.
No one thought anyone would buy shoes online once, remember? Shoes NEED to be tried on and tested before purchase. Anyone building an online shoe store was throwing out their money. Until some smart guy figured out that the problem of “needing to try them on” can be mitigated with free shipping if (and this is a BIG if) you can give them a reason to bother. The reason? Unbelievable selection. Shoes, are an object of some fetish among so many of us (I love my brogues and Pumas, so I count myself among your numbers). I’ll wait two weeks or three week and try on a few shipped pair if I can get a pair of shoes that are unusual, have personality, and look great. You can’t say the same about gardening implements.
So what does all this mean? Simply that we are in a stage of trying to define the solution and throw money at it BEFORE we’ve figured out the value of the solution, or even what the problem is. Saving 7% of costs because you can start firing reps isn’t a compelling reason to move into the digital realm. Offering a cool/sexy/neat/whizbang doodad to your HCPs is not a compelling reason to switch.
What’s a compelling reason? Offering the HCP the opportunity to learn about your drug in the form/channel/time/format/size/place they choose. Using technology to make 20 minutes of slide show understandable in 4 minutes (who wouldn’t want that! You just gave the HCP 16 minutes). Using technology to deliver just-in-time content.
At no point did I say “iPad” or “tablet” or “internet” or “email.” Focusing on the channel (iPads are cool, yes, but until they actually cure cancer, they are just a tool) is the fastest way be left by the wayside when the iPad/tablet/iPhone bubble bursts.
So bring the fight! Comment and call me out on Twitter. That’s always fun!
Without sounding glib or without revealing too much info, we had a conference call last month about a proposal. In it, we mentioned that we would suggest attaching a QR code to the piece so that users could easily find more information if they were so inclined. To us it was… well it wants a throw-away, but something we didn’t was 100% necessary for the piece to be successful, but it seemed like a good thing to do and wouldn’t cost much, so the value was high in that the cost was low.
The other end of the conference call pushed back and suggested that since iPhones didn’t have native built-in QR code readers, no one would ever use it.
At the time, we countered that we know that more people have Androids, but we missed the real answer because we didn’t have the data in front of us (mistake! Now righted).
The answer is that yes, people use QR codes. 14 million people in America have used it at least once. 40% of Facebook and Twitter users have scanned more than 5 codes in the past year. 52% of Americans know what a QR code is. 68% of all QR codes have been scanned by an iOS device (yes, despite having a smaller install-base and no native app). Most QR codes get scanned off a magazine or newspaper (hey look! a use for print ads!) and they get scanned while the user is at home.
So now we’re keeping track of our QR code data. Do you have any numbers to share? I’d love more non-US data!
While doing some work for a client, I ended up putting together a rough outline of what kinds of technological platform shifts we can expect to see in the next 18-24 months. Then I shopped it around the office and got a bunch more opinions, so this is closerlook’s current understanding of what that pharma/tech world will look like in the near future.
Before you jump to the list, I wanted to point out that I built it in WorkFlowy.com, which is a very cool list-building productivity tool. I’m going to link to the live list, in case you want to see the current version, but I really liked working with the tool.
Enjoy! Comments and twitters always responded to and appreciated.
Hardware: The “Big to Small” shift continues
Yesterday’s desktops are now laptops
Sales data show that desktops are more likely bought by companies for their employees than people for their homes.
People buy laptops
Computer technology is improving laptops, but we’ve off-loaded more and more work to the cloud
If everyone has about 20GB of music (that seems like a safe number, though I have no data to back it up except to say that I have about 80GB, and I’m probably in the highest decile) and no one has to keep it on their computer anymore, that’s a lot of hard drive space saved.
Google Docs, Amazon Music Locker, cloud storage and more will free up additional storage space
Laptops are evolving and getting closer to netbooks (e.g. Macbook Air) because unless you’re doing a lot of video/music/graphic production, what do you need all that power for?
Laptops are now tablets and smartphones
Do you know anyone without a smartphone? I do, but she’s 12. Even my parents (62 and 63 years old) have them.
Almost everything you’d want a computer to do, a smartphone can do
And it can do it wherever you are
Cellphones are dead… in the West.
Dead. In the next 2-3 years, seeing one will be akin to seeing a checkbook or pager.
Phones are and will be a huge deal everywhere else
Not to denigrate one or the other, but outside of westernized nations, the cell phone is a computer in the BRIC and other countries.
In India, they bank by text. This trend because of the relative affordability of the devices.
Mobile health means an app (or mobile web) in the west, but it means SMS everywhere else
Faster, yes. Lighter, yes. Smaller, no.
We’re pretty close to as small as things will get (if keyboards get any smaller, none of us will be able to use them) so expect to see more power and functionality within the same footprint.
Until someone figures out a way of doing virtual keyboards right
The tech I’m looking forward to in the next 2-3 years is a flexible, bendable, foldable screen.
Imagine an iPad 40% smaller with a screen that opens up to be 40% bigger
Near Field Communications (NFC) is almost ready for prime time NFC will require some standardization that is currently lacking. One of my best friends is an architect for Discover and has been working to make this happen for nearly a decade now. Last time we talked about it, he said the tech has been set to go for years but they can’t get device manufacturers in the same boat.
NFC is a way for 2 devices to talk to each other very easily and securely. It’s how you’ll be able to pay for parking meters, vending machines and friends without opening up your wallet: wave your phone at the device, get confirmation, walk away.
HCPs can pass data to patients without getting their email. And patients can collect their Quantified Self materials and have it formatted and inserted into their medical records.
If iPhone 5 comes out with it, expect it to be common in 2 years.
If not, 3 years.
It’s not about the the size of computers but their portability (and the personal connection that portability creates). They are small enough to be carry-everwhere-able and now there’s a decent internet connection just about everywhere.
And just wait to see what happens in the 18 months when real 4G internet is everywhere.
That kind of shift is changing the way we think about computers and computing
We are within a few years of every aspect of our lives being enhanced by phone-based personal technology. It helps us buy wine, choose a restaurant, compare prices, read reviews, make itinerary changes at the drop of a hat in a way we’ve never seen before.
Phone-based technology will answer this question: I wonder if we can get a deal on an empty room in this very nice hotel tonight
In 2 -3 years, the assumption will be that everyone’s hours/calendar will publicly available and accessible.
On the day of my appointment, I shift the start time from 1:30 to 4:45 without having to call anyone and waiting to see if there’s an opening available later today.
Here’s a killer: how we make friends is changing. How we meet new people is changing. Our interests are becoming more granular and now we can find people interested in the very very specific thing we are interested in.
For example, GrubWithUs lets you join a party of people you don’t know at a restaurant to sample new dishes with new friends.
We will expect to be able to make publicly-accessible (and publicly indexed and searchable) comments to the world about what we are doing as we’re doing it.
Not like Facebook, where we feel like we have control of our own little castle, but in a publicly open way
We will have a period of chaos where the least little bit of waiting or bad service will result in a crazy public letter may feel like the death of a business. That will shift as we get to a point of saturation where no one review/comment is killer. An aggregated opinion will accurately describe the business/practice
The world, especially the HCP world, is about to be an iPad world
Statistically speaking, its as if there are no other tablets being made or marketed.
None. The “existing use” and “intent to buy” numbers are stunning.
When Epocrates cancelled it’s webOS version, webOS was dead weeks later
So few HCPs were on webOS that Epocrates didn’t find it worthwhile spending resources on it
Those few HCPs, (tiny to Epocrates), were enough of an audience share to break HP.
Everyone who isn’t Apple is in a very tenuous position
Major current uses in the HCP world
PDR, look-up tables, conversion tools, things that make it easier for an HCP to do their job
Look at this video to explain your condition, here is material you need to understand, etc
HCP takes 20 minutes to watch an eDetail, read a paper, practice using a diagnostic tool, etc
Major emerging uses in the HCP world
“Face-to-face” communications with reps, staff, patients
iPad “office hours” where patients can call in and ask a question and get 5 minutes of time
Education opportunities are pretty intense
If phones did a great job slicing tasks into 2-minute slices, the iPad in clinical use will mean that the HCP will get, in a glance, a patient’s history, HCP notes, and pertinent material updates.
You’ve diagnosed someone with diabetes. On your way to the exam room, you remember where they were on the progression/continuum, what you prescribed, what factors you suggested that the patient change and what news there was on that type of diabetes.
Download and read the charts the patient kept themselves (see next section) to get a sense what’s been happening.
Just because they use iPads, doesn’t mean they will need to be marketed to via iPads.
Technology is a gimmick to attract attention. What you do with that attention is more important.
iPads do not necessarily increase retention or awareness. The content determines the value.
Quantified, World, Quantified Self
We are 1-2 years away from the point where a smartphone and $150 of accessories will be able to measure what’s going on in people’s bodies better than most private practices have access to now.
Real time vitals like blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugars, white blood cell count, etc.
Food intake, weight, etc
When did the user take their medicine? (and what did it do to their vitals all day long?)
What minute did that person take that drug relative to their last meal and last drink (or exercise, or sleep, or vitamins or whatever)? What was the outcome?
We are moving quickly to a world where you won’t hear “it’s 80% effective…” but you will hear “after three days, we can see that this *is* effective in you and can prescribe the following course of action…”
Location log (were you at your gym for 45 minutes? It will track that)
Food recognition (take a pic of every meal and it will estimate and keep track of calories, fat, protein, etc)
Sleeping (a huge market just starting to appear, assuming device makers can convince peole how a device can help them sleep)
Prescribe/Administer/Validate feedback loops will be hours and days instead of weeks.
Within 12 months, HTML5 and CSS3 (eventually CSS4) will be the de facto standard for all “modern” browsers
Flash is doomed.
But until it’s actually dead, Flash developers will shout its relevance to anyone who will listen.
Apps vs. Mobile Web
Clearly, apps are winning the war, but the war isn’t over. We aren’t sure when or if to expect a winner either way.
Are device-specific, giving them access to hardware features (camera, compass, tilt-sensors, etc) that the mobile browser can’t see yet
Apps feel like something you own.
When you buy an app, it feels like it’s all in your pocket, even when it isn’t (that’s why the Wikipedia app doesn’t take an hour to download: all the data is accessed through the web)
Apps usually need access to the web to work properly
Can’t access hardware
We expect that hardware interfaces will standardize enough so that the web browser will be able to access the phone’s hardware.
No expectation as to when, though
While you can bookmark a web page to your phone, and even make an icon on your home screen so it looks like an app, most people feel like that the content is “out there” in the cloud where they don’t own it.
This creates tension and users opt for less tension.
However, it is possible for a mobile web page to cache materials like databases on the phone so that the web page can have just as much of the content stored on the device.
So which will be more “owned?” It’s all about the user’s perception
Developers vs. Users
Developers like mobile web because they can design and build for one ecosystem, not 2 or 3.
Users like apps because they “just work.” No fiddling or experimenting and adjusting to make it do what the user expected it to do.
We don’t have an expectation as to who will win this war or what will be the deciding factor. We assume as the major platforms develop, things will get even more complicated before a victor emerges.
Soon, all browsers will demand auto-updating a la Chrome to keep everyone up-to-date on tech standards
Microsoft will still suck at keeping up with standards and will lose market share.
2-3 years from now they will control 40% of the market (down from 50% worldwide), but they will control the less-advanced/savvy audience’s browser. IE9 will not slow this slide.
More and more software will be cloud-based. We’re still years from having a majority of people be comfortable having all their stuff be cloud-able and be comfortable renting software online as necessary.
So Twitter finally turned on promoted tweets within your feed (It took them long enough). But that hasn’t stopped everyone from freaking out about it. I’ll just spoil the end of this and say that Promoted Tweets are a step forward for marketing in general. Anyone who doesn’t like this isn’t seeing the big picture.
So what is it? If you follow a brand, and that brand paid Twitter some money (okay, it’s probably fair to say that it’s not an inconsequential sum of money), you get a promoted tweet. You know what this is like? It’s not at all like most standard marketing/ad campaigns and that’s excellent for us.
If this was how broadcast TV worked (or newspapers or magazines or websites), I’d only see commercials and ads for things I’ve already decided I like. Man, I’d watch that channel.
Now, I know how this starts out. Brand X does a cool giveaway (get an iPhone 5! or a wing form a space shuttle!) if you follow them, and then they promote their stuff. But you know how I (and you!) can turn these promoted tweets off? Stop following the brand.
Oh no! You have control! Wait, that’s a good thing.
This is the leverage we need to keep brands from being jerks and spamming us all the time. Since we can walk away any time, its in their best interests to make sure their messages are relevant and useful (Who doesn’t want more stuff that’s relevant and useful? I can’t get enough of relevant and useful, it just seems like it’s in short supply).
Do you see where where this is leading us? That we only get promotions that we want to get? It gets us to the point where marketing isn’t screaming at us, it’s us opting into the conversation because we think there’s something in it for us (a deal, awareness of a new product, a chance to get access to a special most people don’t normally get, etc). This sounds remarkably like opt-in marketing, doesn’t it? Because it is! The glory of it is that it doesn’t clutter up our inbox, our mailbox, and is where we already are. This leads us to marketing’s Holy Grail: Marketing that’s so useful, we actually want it!
On the marketer’s side, it means no more success defined as “> 0.01% clickthrough rate.” It means we can build relationships with our customers and extend those relationships out through their networks. These relationships for real ties that help us understand our clients and work to position our products to be of more benefit to our clients (I know! Cool, huh?).
So I, for one, salute our new Twitter overlords and say, “If you want me to keep following your Twitter account, be a good corporate mouthpiece and keep giving me helpful, relevant and useful info. Do onto me, and I shall keep buying from you.” Good deal?
This is where the blog post should have ended, but I kept going…
But let’s take that further. I was having a conversation with one of our writers here (A Stadler to my Waldorff, as it were) and we were talking about how when you shop for certain things, Google knows and Google shows you a lot of ads for it. If you haven’t noticed it, go to Old Navy and “shop” for a shirt. Or Zappos and “shop” for a shoe. Now go to Google Reader or another Google property with display ads and you’ll probably see the shoe or shirt you liked.
A friend of mine (Hi, @derekmabie!) is at #moxcon and someone said that 58% of all searchers want to search and complete the action as part of their search experience.
Hmm… When I go shirt shopping, if I see a shirt I want, I buy it. Now that I’ve bought the shirt, I am now the last person you shoul be showing a shirt ad to. What would be useful? Understanding that if I searched for (and bought: c’mon, If Amazon and the next top ten online retailers connected to Google, that’s like 80% of all shopping in one place, right?) a shirt is handy, but if it knew that most people who bought that shirt then went on to buy a pair of sunglasses they should be showing me sunglasses ads. I bet with that kind of data, Google could know that most people buy the complementary product within X hours and stop showing that ad after that timespan. Google already knows so much about me, they should start stepping up and being actually helpful with its ad system. Google will be able to tell me with XYZ% certainty what I am looking for next. Couple that with my browsing history and search history, Google will soon be able to be my automated assistant.
Quick vote: is that scary or cool. Right now I lean towards cool.