Baby Steps Only for Pharma marketing?

Pharma companies have been making great changes in the area of Digital Marketing.  There has been deserved recognition that both the professional and patient community are turning more and more to online solutions for education and promotion.  This is evident in the adjustments they’ve made by drastically trimming their sales rep staff.

I read a very interesting article that Jeanne Whalen wrote for the WSJ, entitled “Drug Makers Replace Reps With Digital Tools.

She leads off her story with a well-known observation; Tens of thousands of pharmaceutical sales reps have been eliminated in the U.S., creating a void that drug makers are now increasingly filling with websites, iPad apps and other digital tools to interact with doctors who prescribe their treatments.”

Ms. Whalen went on to discuss AstraZeneca PLC, Sanofi-Aventis, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk AS and spoke about the varied adjustments and the solutions that each of these companies are making to create online solutions to education, promotion and marketing.

As I read on I noticed the lack of engagement and impact in many of the communications selected by these companies.  Ms. Whelan then cited a German physician who went on to say, he exchanges views with other doctors online, but sees some of the industry’s online marketing as “spam.” He says he’d rather hear about new drugs from a sales rep he knows and trusts.

The pharmaceutical Industry is taking a step in the right direction; they are addressing the fact that their market, their “audience” is online, but they are missing powerful engagement. They can and must make a bigger step forward.

Pharma marketers should harness the world of thought leaders, Key Opinion Leaders, researchers, known Patient Advocates, etc., and use them to educate, disseminate, communicate issues and treatment techniques online.  These are the people that the professional and patient communities want to meet “live”, “talk to” – know and trust.

No communication is more impactful, engaging, or credible than a live expert communicating with a viewer one-on-one, i.e. people talking to people.

A doctor wants to speak to another doctor, or a known and respected thought leader.  They want to ask the questions that they want to ask; they want to find out the information that they need to know. I know that patients want to speak with other patients, people like themselves, someone who has experienced the journey, “someone who has gone through it.”  Neither group wants to “click-through” to printed answers, corporate jargon, or convoluted and long-winded linear responses.  They want to direct the conversation, and they want to hear it from a person they respect.

These solutions exist. Let’s not be satisfied – let’s take bigger, smarter steps.

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About Arlen Tarlofsky
President, Head of Production - Glow Productions - Arlen has been a directing & designing award-winning programs for over 20 years. His strength is his ability to create dramatic, engaging, and visually impactful stories. His wide range of directorial experience includes; documentary, theatre, comedy, and Healthcare. Arlen’s online digital work has consisted of award-winning interactive live action rich media, websites and a series of interactive live action online transmedia games. In partnership with Glow Interactive, Glow Productions has recently developed LEAP, a dynamic, video-based communication platform that enables pharmaceutical companies to present information as a unique interactive video experience. Recent clients include; CANON, USA Networks, FORD, Hyundai, Crestron, Sanofi-Aventis & Wendy’s.