All told, apple has sold 42 million iPod digital music players—76 percent of them in 2005, according to a speech by Apple
CEO Steve Jobs at the 2006 Macworld trade show. Those are staggering figures for a technology that was originally conceived
to simply propagate digital music sales. But it's now morphing into a powerful communications tool, creating more than just
a new buzzword—"podcasting"—but a simple way to share audio and video content online.
Podcasts leverage the power of what's new, and pharma marketers can use that as a weapon to communicate brand messaging and
educate physicians who aren't responding to their sales forces, are skipping live meetings or are simply too busy to listen
to in-person marketing messages.
Some forward-looking pharma marketers have already jumped on this trend, leveraging podcasts to reach increasingly elusive
physicians who have little time for a conference, continuing medical education program, dinner meeting, or detail.
Electronic Continuing Medical Education (eCME) Medical education is one area that is primed for podcasting penetration. Physicians have to earn mandatory credit hours every
year, and the podcast-subscription model is an ideal way to facilitate the process.
Medical-education partners can notify physicians when new eCME podcasts are available. These physicians and other healthcare
professionals can quickly download the ones they are interested in, and listen to them while they are on the go.
To make the program effective and receive credit, physicians should be provided with a downloadable post-podcast test that
they could submit via e-mail to the CME organization.
Online medical conferences Podcasts give time-challenged doctors a high-tech, easy way to participate in medical conferences, all from the comfort of
their office or home computer. Indeed, the technology allows doctors to attend live medical roundtables, panel discussions,
and conferences happening anywhere around the globe, by simply downloading content. And because podcasts can be archived for
months, physicians and other healthcare professionals can experience previously aired sessions, in personal-library fashion,
when it's most convenient for them.
In addition, physicians can be directed to secure sites to subscribe to a podcast to peruse remote promotional content. This
would be for material that should not be widely distributed to a consumer audience. In other words, podcasting offers convenience
and control over audience and distribution.
A Captive Audience
In order to educate physicians, marketers need to engage them first. If marketers can meet that challenge using new technology,
they'll create a new avenue through which they can communicate brand messages to the professional marketplace.
Podcasts create a sense of personal attention because the RSS-based subscription model allows physicians to pick what content
they want, when they want it, and how often they want it. They can really take control of the information distributed by the
pharma company, which helps create a more captive audience for targeted physicians. In other words, podcasts are not just
Web-based programs, but rather dynamic, interactive experiences complete with streaming audio and video. Healthcare professionals
can come together for highly compelling programs that can be viewed anywhere. Moreover, podcasts can and should be customized
to captivate and educate audiences with a genuine one-on-one learning experience.
This more personalized approach can help pharma marketers re-establish personal relationships that have gone the way of the
in-office drug detail by pushing new content that's of interest to each physician. This is more effective than waiting for
them to find a specific Web site, or other portal, and pulling the information from there.
Clearly, online solutions provide marketers with an innovative, cost-effective way to deliver their messaging, and podcasting
is a natural evolution in the process. Even though podcasting is still in its infancy, it's easy to see the utility and the
potential applications and reach of this tool.