Nelson says Pharma marketers have always done some level of content marketing, traditionally focused on delivering content
to consumers through branded and unbranded campaigns. But these messages are too generic and high level. "There isn't a large
content library available to direct people towards other relevant content. This, unintentionally, leaves their audiences hanging
with more questions than answers. Gone are the times of the one- size-fits-all marketing approach – that is the key difference
that most pharma marketers are missing today."
Pulizzi believes pharma can leverage its long-held expertise and experience in KOL programs and continuing medical education,
but needs to go further. The big change is to develop processes that are both authentic and real-time, two things that Pulizzi
acknowledges are challenging for Pharma. "It means coordinating the stories in the organization with PR, e-mail, social, and
marketing. It means focusing more on the reader outcomes first, and on sales goals second," he says.
Nelson agrees—merging patient needs with brand objectives quickly becomes a win-win scenario. "This type of information can
be invaluable to the individual looking for it, likely in a time of greatest need putting Pharma marketers in a unique position,
as a valuable and trusted information resource."
Even if pharma has the content, it is struggling to take advantage of the other big benefit that content marketing offers:
Sharing—online distribution by the community that values the content—is a core principle of content marketing. The ideal is
to create a regular stream of relevant, timely, and trusted content that customers can find when they need it and then have
them pass it on to others in need of similar information.
"As a well-oiled content machine that knows how to build relationships, pharma should thrive in this new era," writes Candice
O'Sullivan, of Australia's Wellmark agency. "Here is an industry well used to the rigors of consistently producing high-quality
content—the number one challenge for most content marketers—but finds it virtually impossible to 'share.'" She describes the
industry as being, "too preoccupied by the risks involved to be able to make the most of this opportunity."
Preoccupied or not, pharma is certainly wary of falling foul of regulations and often puts risk avoidance ahead of innovation
in the social sphere.
Mark Evans, Digital Strategy Director at the Langland agency in the United Kingdom, says he often sees companies who feel
it is safer to do nothing than risk putting information online. "But all we are doing is leaving patients and HCPs to rely
on non-authoritative sources to make serious decisions about our products. When a patient searches for your brand and all
they read is unofficial blog posts and unbalanced reviews it is a disaster for pharma companies, HCPs, and patients alike."
Langland recently delivered the "I did this with Idis" campaign for international managed access program provider Idis. The
campaign objective is what you would expect—to explain how Idis works with pharma to help create access to medicines outside
of the clinical trials or commercial setting that otherwise would be unavailable to patients' with unmet medical needs. The
approach is a little more unusual.
The centerpiece is a custom website—http://ididthis.idispharma.com/—focusing almost exclusively on six short videos that tell the stories of patients, physicians, a pharmacist, and an Idis
executive who have accessed, or helped patients to access, drugs through the company's programs.
"The campaign centers on a series of documentary films and explores the personal struggles of people facing a difficulty when
accessing the medicines they need," says Evans. "The really brave thing Idis did was to respect the documentary filmmaking
process and to allow real patients and HCPs to give their unbranded, unscripted insight into the process, which led to content
that is more authentic than anything I have seen from a Pharma company in recent years."