The Five "I"s of Internet Marketing - Pharmaceutical Executive


The Five "I"s of Internet Marketing

Pharmaceutical Executive

The goal for a site like is to get a properly qualified user to take a measurable action that leads to deeper brand involvement and, ultimately, a rise in prescriptions. For a patient on therapy, the action might simply be learning the benefits of staying on the medication, and—sometimes more importantly—the risks of dropping off. For someone na to therapy, the action might be taking an interactive screener or downloading a trial coupon; for the person considering switching, maybe the right action is watching a video testimonial in which a patient describes improvement in his condition since using the new drug.

For non-compliant patients, all action pathways lead to the same place: a conversation between patient and physician. And the best sites embed those pathways into the core of their Web strategies.


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THERE ARE TWO kinds of integration: integration between online and offline channels (traditional vehicles, such as TV, print, and PR) and integration among a wide variety of online initiatives.

Perhaps the easiest way to leverage a powerful Web strategy is also the most overlooked. It can be expensive to drive traffic to a Web site through online-only mechanisms. Yet, it's virtually cost-free to promote a Web site in a TV commercial or a print ad. So why have so few marketers taken advantage of the obvious synergy between offline and online media? Chalk it up to a couple of all-too-human traits: habit and turf-protection.

Many marketers simply aren't accustomed to thinking about offline media as a stage in a conversation that leads to online relationship marketing. They weren't trained in the digital channel and are simply more comfortable working with media they understand. That's the habit part.

The second reason is less innocent. Traditional agencies have made millions producing high-budget TV commercials and haven't (for the most part) transitioned gracefully online. So there's little financial incentive for them to add online calls-to-action to their media creative, even if it is in the best interest of their clients.

Of course, traditional agencies argue that diverting precious seconds of a TV commercial to promote a Web site confuses the audience and may even distract viewers from talking to their doctors. But the data say otherwise. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 79 percent of Americans with Internet access research health information online, and 66 percent research a specific disease condition.

If we know they're already going online to do research, shouldn't the TV commercial (and magazine ad for that matter) acknowledge this fact and give viewers a clear, compelling reason to receive an intelligently delivered, educational online brand experience? Moreover, wouldn't informing patients of a resource that provides deeper brand information and full fair balance help to address the public's concern that pharmaceutical companies are hiding the truth about their drugs?

In the long run, the traditional agency's minimalist approach to the Web is untenable. Indeed, the industry is beginning to see cases in which integration is done right. One of the best is Wyeth's "Talking to Your Doctor" initiative, starring former Charlie's Angel Cheryl Ladd.

"For women's health, we wanted to make sure that patients had the opportunity to learn about different conditions associated with menopause," says David McGovern, Wyeth's director of consumer communications and e-marketing. "We thought Cheryl Ladd was a great spokeswoman for this audience and this category.

The resulting "Talking to Your Doctor" campaign is perhaps the most well-developed offline and online campaign created thus far in the pharmaceutical space.


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