e-Marketing at the Tipping Point - Pharmaceutical Executive

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e-Marketing at the Tipping Point


Pharmaceutical Executive


Internet Marketing Expert Seth Godin Believes that companies should "date their customers" to solidify business relationships. He paints a picture of marketers treating customers like a date—striking up conversation, piquing their interest, and leaving them wanting more. The goal of that first romantic date is just to get a second date, not to get engaged. The same holds true for marketing dates with potential customers. Marketers need to develop a relationship before they can "ask for the sale."

Truly successful marketers are able to identify what tactics best communicate that value exchange to the target audience. Traditionally, marketers relied on face-to-face detailing. But with too many reps in the field and the need for immediate return on investment (ROI), detailing, while not dead, is losing its impact.


In Purple Cow, Seth Godin advises that to be phenomenal, marketers need to be able to break through the clutter.
Instead, to get an edge over the competition, we need to look at technology-based programs as a way to better reach healthcare providers and consumers.

Despite the compelling statistics, many marketers today still underestimate the power of the Internet. (See "Know the Stats," pg. 10.) Web surfers are looking for specific information targeted to their needs, and the Internet allows marketers to do just that by providing customized information. In that way, the Internet can foster relationships with customers that traditional "interruption" advertising cannot.

For its growth hormone brand Saizen (somatropin) and for other products, Serono deployed several e-marketing initiatives that exemplified another concept of Godin's. In his book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, Godin advises marketers to break through the clutter by being different—like a purple cow standing in a field of brown cows. He uses the metaphor to show companies how something phenomenal, something counterintuitive, exciting, and unbelievable can help brands achieve superior growth.

Serono created purple cows, with the help of HealthBanks, Graphic Details, and IMC2 , to offer high-quality disease education, detail doctors about Saizen, and increase compliance among end users.

Online Education

With useless information bombarding patients on the Web, how do physicians steer their patients to high-quality, educational content? Here's a rule of thumb: Use direct-to-patient education and personalized information that goes above and beyond just discussing one brand.


Know the Stats
When Serono marketers wanted to collect consumer information and create interest in one of its new growth hormone drugs, they turned to Burlington, MA-based HealthBanks to help them gather the data using personalized Web sites.

HealthBanks develops sites that physicians can tailor to their practices and encourage their patients to visit, when seeking more information about their condition after they leave the office. Physicians can collect patient's personal data by tracking visits to the Web site. Also, they can find out what specific medical topics their patients are interested in learning more about. (HealthBanks' sites are provided free to the doctors and paid for by drug companies.)

For example, on HealthBanks' Serono-sponsored site about one of its growth hormone drugs, users are anonymous, but physicians can see what sort of topics their patients with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) prefer. With just a little bit of patient information, Serono's site provides invaluable content to three different groups: patients, who can research medical information related to GHD, doctors, who can see what other topics interst GHD patients, and Serono, which can gather free market research and give its reps talking points for when they pitch a doctor's office about the drug.


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