Web 2.0—Consumers on Demand - Pharmaceutical Executive


Web 2.0—Consumers on Demand
Feeling left behind by Web 2.0? Take these simple steps to join the conversation.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Provide better search results Wherever your content appears, make sure it is optimized for search-engine performance by making the content deep, rich, and relevant. Expert search-query analysis by your agency is crucial in doing this. And while natural search-engine ranking is building, consider supporting that content with paid search listings.

Service the right demand Offer your users personalization that speaks to their segment. Are they patients? Caregivers? Healthcare professionals? It matters: Since physicians use sites only episodically, HCP content should be designed for one-shot consumption timed to key market events, such as launch, new indications, or safety concerns. Ensure, too, that patient content tracks the course of the patient life cycle. An undiagnosed patient, for example, is likely to research a very different set of resources than one who has just been prescribed your brand. Each stage—and segment—requires different content and even different venues to service its changing demand.

Change behavior Broadband is a key driver in the new on-demand Internet—not only because its always-on nature makes it the most convenient source of information, but because it makes high-engagement rich media, such as video, audio, and animation, easy. This is crucial in healthcare, where most of the messages aim to induce complex behavior change and require significant engagement over time. Here, the proven power of rich media to engage can spell the difference between positive impact and no impact.

Think beyond the browser Remember, your job is to satisfy demand. So give your users rich-media and online interactivity, but be flexible enough to offer "lean media," such as downloadable PDF files or even plain text for those already engaged and pressed for time. While you're at it, make your content portable. The era of Web-as-destination is rapidly being replaced by the era of Web-as-distribution-channel. Depending on the demographics, psychographics, and technographics of your customer segments, your content may be more useful or actionable to them when delivered via a desktop "widget," through their iPods, or on their PDAs or cell phones. And don't forget—most people live in a world of both online and off?line media. So make sure your print ads, in-office promotions, patient-education materials, and broadcast spots all integrate with—and point to—your online channel.

Succeeding in this new marketplace will require shedding some traditional "Big Pharma" self-images and thought habits and embracing a new, more pluralistic model in which users come first and marketers are continually moving closer to their users to serve their needs. Over time, this will require a different kind of relationship between marketers and their customers—one in which marketers help strengthen customer communities and the communities, in turn, reward the brand with engagement, trust, and commerce.

The cyber-visionaries of the 1990s weren't wrong when they predicted that the Internet would dramatically change the way people related to media, to marketing, and to each other. They were just premature. As Paul Saffo, of the Institute for the Future, warned back then, "Never mistake a clear view for a short distance."

In 2007, that distance is rapidly being closed.

Larry Mickelberg is executive vice president of Digitas Health. He can be reached at

Bruce Grant is senior vice president, business strategy, at Digitas Health. He can be reached at


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