It is tempting for us, as medical marketers, to lament what we perceive as a loss of personalization as sales forces are cut back and detailing budgets are slashed. But we needn't mourn the loss of the personal touch; rather, we should acknowledge that technology is redefining what is personal—and creating new and exciting opportunities for conversations.
We are doing our clients a disservice if we aren't actively considering the implications of emerging communication channels like YouTube, text messaging, and instant messaging; virtual worlds like Second Life; and other platforms that we haven't even imagined yet.Pharma's focus is, rightfully, not on expanding the frontiers of emerging communication technologies—the industry has other frontiers to pioneer—but we, as marketing consultants, can create value for our clients by helping them understand the new ways in which their stakeholders are communicating, and will communicate in the future, and how they can leverage technology to achieve their objectives.
NEED TO ADDRESS NEW PARADIGMS
Pharmaceutical companies who don't recognize that technology has completely changed the paradigm that once governed the way they communicate with physicians and other stakeholders will be putting their futures at stake.
We used to wonder if and when physicians would adopt the Internet and related technology. Now one is hard-pressed to find a practice that doesn't use a Web site for communicating with patients. And more than 70 percent of US physicians surveyed by Cap Gemini Ernst and Young reported that the information they find online influences their knowledge, diagnoses, prescribing habits, and patient interaction. The convergence of physician acceptance of the Internet and the pharmaceutical industry's need to allocate resources efficiently and effectively, combined with the exponential growth of bandwidth, has created an inflection point from which there is no turning back.
Pharma used to ask: "If we build it, will they come?" But that is no longer an operative question. Rather, it is: "Now that they've arrived, are we giving them what they need from us?" The industry has no choice but to seize the many opportunities that new technology represents.
THREE MAJOR BUCKETS
The pharmaceutical industry is facing challenges that, broadly speaking, can be divided into three major buckets: economic, technological, and political. Here are a few of the major trends we see in each area:
VALUE AND TRUST
The foundation of a successful relationship between a marketing consultant and client rests on the twin pillars of value and trust. Value will be realized if the collaboration has the desired impact and outcome; long-term trust then will be built on mutal respect.