Kerry Hilton, HC&B Healthcare

June 2, 2008

Imagine a wheel with the patient at the hub: Surrounding and connecting the patient is the drug itself, wellness information, the physician, and the patient community. Promoting a brand effectively and responsibly means weaving a product into the community so that it plays a role in the patient's life beyond the drug. This sense of responsibility to the ultimate well-being of patients creates long-lasting trust.

Imagine a wheel with the patient at the hub: Surrounding and connecting the patient is the drug itself, wellness information, the physician, and the patient community. Promoting a brand effectively and responsibly means weaving a product into the community so that it plays a role in the patient's life beyond the drug. This sense of responsibility to the ultimate well-being of patients creates long-lasting trust.

The trend these days is toward smaller, more nimble shops. They can service clients with the same creative ideas, with less big agency overhead. Business as usual is harder to do with shrinking margins. Sometimes less is more, so spending time up front trying to determine what the client really needs, as opposed to what they think they need, can make the budget difference.

What clients really want is assurance their investments in the next phase of Web marketing will be effective. That's why we often suggest pilot programs with modest budgets for marketing executives to show proof of concept. The great thing about online initiatives is that they have the ability to produce quality ROI in real time. This gives us the ability to tweak programs on the fly. Almost always, these pilots prove to be successful and budgets grow.

Agencies need to be aware that FDA letters are bad for business. But they also have to find a way to keep the creative boundaries fresh. Agencies should always try to push the envel-ope toward more creative ways to tell a story or show a message. It's all about the balance.

Recent reports show that 250-plus biotechnology drugs or vaccines have been approved for almost 400 indications. 800 million people around the world have been treated with biologic technologies, and there are more than 300 biotech products in clinical trials. This emerging category stands to spark a new fire of strategic and creative thinking.

The skinny

HC&B, located in Austin, TX, is an independent, full-service (including digital) healthcare agency.

Telephone: 512-320-8511

E-mail: kerry.hilton@hcbhealth.com

Web site: hcbhealth.com