Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

Dosie Awards at Digital Pharma West July 11, 2011

Deb was a judge for 2011 Dosie Awards

In June, I spent a fair amount of time clicking on over 500 examples of social media in healthcare–companies, patients, industry observers–as a judge in Dose of Digital‘s 2nd Annual Dosie Awards. The winners were announced at Digital Pharma West (you can read who won here).

Here are my key takeaways from a judge and conference attendee perspective:

  • Listening: It’s about the patient–it always has been–and it’s easier then ever to discover what they are thinking and feeling. Understanding the patient journey and mapping the “listenings” from social media channels to their critical decision points is a path to successful implementation.
  • Start Small: Yes, relative to device and diagnostics, Pharma have larger overall budgets; however, the case study learnings are transferable without breaking the marketing budget. This is possible because digital implementations are scalable.
  • Purposeful cleverness is sticky: The Dosie Award Winners (presentation download) that captured the judges and popular votes were clever with a purpose and that lead to stickiness. As a judge, I would click on each site and give it 10 seconds to grab me. I noted the handful that kept me engaged beyond that point. When I cast my votes in the first round, it was easy to remember which ones stuck with me. As the winners were announced, I could envision something about each experience.

Bonus for me: At the conference, I had a chance to meet Jonathan Richman in person. He’s just as practical and passionate about social media in person as he is in the blog, on email and over the phone.

(C) 2011 eGold Solutions; all rights reserved.

Advertisements
 

Marketing From on High July 6, 2011

Domenico Ghirlandaio – The Visitation 1491

Recently, I had a very special experience. My best friend was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. The ordination was lovely and stirring. The offerings of support and affirmation of worthiness were abundantly proffered on her behalf by the many whose lives she has touched, mine especially.

 We have many conversations about the parallels in our respective career paths. We come from the same humble and rewarding beginnings – nursing. Her path took her to the spiritual side of wellness while I’ve followed the therapeutic path. The director of our nursing program drilled into our psyche that each patient must be cared for wholly. This tenet stuck with us, a foundation we spring from as we pursue our particular sliver of wellness expertise. And, it comes in handy to have complementary expertise to reach for, when needed.

 Although the nature of the work we do is different there are two things that are the same. There is a person who needs care and to provide care we must connect with the personConnecting with the person is the very definition of marketing.

In today’s world we are regularly pummeled with information, brands, and messages. See the very cleverly demonstrated example by an arts group ‘Studio Smack’ [cool name] in their video report. Lots and lots of noise – visual and auditory, all designed to capture and keep our attention. So much so, we are becoming blind and deaf to much of it. This presents obvious challenges to the marketer who wants to connect with the person who needs that which we offer.

A priest and hospital chaplain – her former manager, delivered a homily of her work. The consistent thread throughout the history of her work is her ministerial style. Whenever considering how to reach the ever-so-slightly-out-of-reach individual, she sought input by inviting her manager to walk and talk with her. This ‘walk and talk’ method, out of the office, away from the walls, distant from a sanctuary has become her trademark.

To reach the individual in need, she goes to them. She does not wait for them to come to her. She goes to where they are.  She doesn’t require they come to a defined and assigned place. From her time within the sanctuary at the altar she knows that there are few inside, many more are not. And from her work in the field she knows that those outside of the traditional space are no less in need or of wanting. To connect with the person and provide service, she must be where they are, when they are there. She has identified how to market her services. She knows that what she has to offer can benefit many however, it is the one-on-one relationship that is most impactful. And her most effective marketing is word-of-mouth from those she has served. She has more than mastered the ‘P- Place’ in the marketing mix.

My work in life sciences involves specialized and sophisticated technologies. The value of the technologies can only be realized when applied to the person in need of the particular care the technologies provide. It is a long way from development labs to patient care. To get to the right patient at the right time in the right place is my favorite challenge.

Successful contact with the right patient requires mastering the right marketing mix. I invite you to read examples of highly effective marketing in the postings by my blog partners.

Should you find yourself faced with business challenges reflected in their postings I encourage you to connect with them – Debbie Donovan and Barbara Kowalski.

My best friend – the newly ordained Reverend and I do different work. She cares for the soul and spirit; I care for body and mind. However, we both use marketing to promote our type of care. And I am reminded by observing her trademark style that to reach the masses, I must connect with the individual – a highly specialized method of marketing.

(C) 2011 pH Consulting; all rights reserved.

 

Using Social Capital December 15, 2010

As I was reading last week’s issue of People, I ran across this ad which is a collection of comments generated by a Sept 23rd prompt to fill in the blank: I think Biore pore strips are…

Sixty Biore Facebook Fans commented and a handful were selected and agreed to be featured on the print ad in People.

What a clever way to generate a plain folks, bandwagon testimonial ad for a national magazine.

When the art was put together they had 32,277 fans and as of today that has jumped to 45,094 (almost a 40% increase).

This idea has value in the life sciences corner of the marketing world. I can imagine a company with patient-facing messages using social capital to illustrate the patient value proposition to clinicians waiting for patients to ask for branded treatments.

Execution of this advertisement idea would be completely unexpected in a medical journal. I suspect would generate a fair amount of chatter–positive, negative and neutral; however there would be a conversation happening around THAT product.

I hope to be on the front lines of THAT product’s marketing very soon.

(C) 2010 eGold Solutions

 

Vanilla doesn’t sell unless it’s Ice Cream October 28, 2010

Vanilla ice cream has a rich taste and appealing aroma, making it the best selling ice cream flavor around. The Wikipedia page devoted to vanilla notes that it is the second most expensive spice after saffron, because of the labor required to grow the vanilla seed pods.Vanilla is used in foods, perfumes, aromatherapy, and apparently even as a bug repellant and a home remedy for minor burns. Clearly, it is very versatile.

Getting it right

However, when promoting a product, a ‘vanilla’ description is anything but appealing or versatile. Product descriptions are critical in product positioning.  Descriptions provide the basis for establishing a brand identity, a communication platform, a competitive edge, the value proposition and so much more. In the medical device space product descriptions are considered labeling. Significant effort and expense goes into securing medical device labeling.  Because medical device labeling is absolute and creative license is forbidden, getting it right is critical.

Connect the dots

To have the best possible chance at successful product adoption customers should readily recognize the value of the product through the labeling. Product descriptions should resonate intrinsically with the customer. Understanding customer needs is the core responsibility of marketing. Therefore, involvement by marketing in the product description is essential. It is senseless to disconnect the customer and patient advocate – marketing, from the customer and patient guardian – regulatory/clinical. 

Engagement at a higher level

Proactive interaction by marketing with the regulatory/clinical department early on in the clinical plan development provides the best possible outcome for labeling that will resonate with the physician customer.This is not about making it easy for marketing to promote a productNor is it about securing labeling that is loose, boastful or inaccurate in any way

Rather, this assertion that marketing participate in the discussion about the clinical plan and the desired outcome is because marketing should be leading the efforts to ensure that the product or service truly meets and exceeds customer expectations and is reflected clearly in product descriptions. The regulatory/ clinical expertise is most impactful by establishing strong and undisputed product labeling, that doesn’t need interpretation or lyrical descriptions for the product to be appreciated.

Untangle the tangle

Many marketers complain that they are hamstrung by the regulatory department when product promotion and communication plans and tactics are proposed. Many regulatory departments cringe at the creative approach marketers present to convey a product purpose, benefits and applications. 

It seems that the simplest and cleanest approach is to use the product labeling granted by the FDA,

based on evidence provided by the regulatory and clinical experts

that distinguishes the product precisely as it is intended to be used by customers,

through the distillation of customer needs by marketing. 

And while that seems a mouthful and a tall order, early collaboration between marketing and regulatory/clinical is the most likely path to labeling that is descriptive and telling. The kind of labeling where ‘creative marketing’ is about the many ways to communicate product availability and not about the many words required for product description. Product labeling typically happens only once. Getting it right so the right customer connects their needs with the value of the product will make the best use of all efforts to promote and protect.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting; all rights reserved.

 

Mixing Metaphors–Needles, Haystacks and Cheese October 25, 2010

Filed under: Debbie,marketing,Social media,strategy — Debbie Donovan @ 11:17 pm
Tags: , ,

Marketing using traditional methods feels like looking for a needle in a haystack. There are a variety of strategies that rely on the data collected on the target audience. IMHO this just decreases the size of the haystack and you are still looking for a needle.

In the past few weeks, I can’t get this analogy out of my mind. The power of e-marketing is that it not only reduces the size of the haystack it also collects the needles together. Social media channels enable the needles in the stack to become promoters and advocates for great brand experiences. Why would anyone resist this result?

I’ve been discussing this concept with a variety of marketing and sales professionals I’ve worked with over the years. In the past, I was guilty of the shared the illusion that we had control–over brand perception and ability to influence behavior.

Today I am willing to face the facts, the way we interact has changed profoundly due to the advent of computers, the internet and of course social media–interactions are much faster and wider spread. I am surprised by the on-going resistance and it reminds me of the book about change “Who Moved My Cheese.”

The Practice of Medicine use to change slowly and now thanks to technology it moves at the speed and breath of people’s daily interactions. If you want to understand what patients want and change your thinking about your product, read Lee Aase‘s 35 Social Media Theses or view his many presentations on the subject. He’s passionate about social media and how it intersects with health care creating haystacks of needles (patients).

The truth is we’ve never had control and change is constant–in business and in life. For those of you that know me, you won’t be surprised to hear me say I’m not afraid to hunt for some new and interesting cheese.

(c) 2010 eGold Solutions

 

May I have your attention, PLEEEAASSE?! September 30, 2010

If only we would stand still! Or

better yet – be consistently

predictable. So lamented my

client regarding their efforts to

sell products and services to

women. It seems that women

are everywhere – literally.

And yet, we ‘all’ are not in

everyplace. There is no one

place to find us. Therefore,

getting our attention, let

alone keeping it, is no small

challenge. Seth Godin posted

on the value of someone’s attention

(I’m paraphrasing here) under the

same post title. It is well worth

reading, as he describes how precious

a commodity is our individual

attention – making the compelling

point that it isn’t free. There is

a lot of competition for our attention.

As a mini experiment I tracked my

activities for one day to identify

how much of my time and attention

was available for promotional contacts of products and services. It turns out, not much. My day looked like the following:

  • Upright and dressed at 5:30a.m.
    • Note:  not particularly alert and NOT an early morning person
  • 30 minute walk – still dark outside
  • Breakfast at 6:30a.m., no background noise
  • Email at 7:00a.m.
    • Note: now alert, but quite yet at peak attention
  • Project work on computer 8:30a.m. – noon
    • attention at highest focus
    • some web searching, project related
    • Intermittent interruptions and phone calls
  • Stop  for lunch at  noon – radio in the background
  • Back to work on the computer 12:45p.m., no background noise
  • Client call at 2:30p.m.
  • Back to computer at 3:30p.m.
  • Errands to grocery store, bank and stop at neighbors’ at 5:45p.m.
  • Dinner preparation at 6:45p.m., dinner at 7:15p.m.
  • Clean kitchen, do laundry, read the paper, answer email at 8:00p.m.
  • Interact with family at 8:30p.m., watch 15 minutes of  Charlie Rose
  • ‘just-15-minutes-more-on-the-project-turned-hour’ on the computer at 9:15p.m.
  • Ready for bed at 10:15p.m.
  • Final chapter in the book of the week, month, who knows how long ago I started it…at 10:35p.m.
  • Asleep, probably at 10:40p.m.

When I looked at the places, activities, time frames and focus of one day, it became apparent, that unless a product/service was essential to me, and I knew about it, and it was in my path, it would go unknown. Therefore it would not be purchased or experienced.

This was one day, not all days are as well structured as that day was, some are more chaotic or disjointed. I don’t have children at home to further distract my attention, it can only be more of a challenge for women who do. I know through discussions with many a woman friend, colleague, relative and acquaintance, their days are similarly busy. As illustrated above, we have a lot of balls in the air, all the time. We rarely have free time where our attention is not otherwise diverted.

As noted in Seth’s post, our time is not free, as it turns out, in either of two dimensions.

A woman’s day is literally filled to the brink with activities and responsibilities. Precious little

time during a day is free from other thinking, doing or being activities.  Secondly, because

our days are not free filled, getting our attention – taking our time, will require

some effort and thus expense on the part of the pursuer.  Free time – NOT, times two.

Women are not going to readily deviate from a proven path or reliable schedule that gets us through a day, accomplishing the critical ‘must-do’ activities that facilitate our arrival at the desired finish line – our pillows. So what’s a marketer to do to get us to notice products and services? Where indeed can a marketer be that we will see their wares. [Rhythm and rhyme pure luck!]

I imagine such a place would resemble the image I have of an Egyptian bazaar. A place that has everything in a vast array of colors, sizes, styles, at every price point and in great abundance. However, no one location exists where all women visit and all marketers are present. Nor does it make sense that such place exist as women are not identical to one another.

It makes sense then to be ‘where’ we are, particularly when the introduction of new products and services are concerned.  We are at home, at work, preparing for presentations, in meetings, in our cars, on planes, at the store, bank, dry cleaners. We use computers and telephones.  We I listen to the radio, watch some network TV programs, read the paper and hard copy books.  And many of us also use new technologies – that allow us to eliminate the ‘noise’ of advertising.

Reaching us and getting our attention is not easy. There is not just one place. Our time is not free. And when we encounter and try new products and services, it will be because good marketers understand it is worth their effort and expense to be where we are.

Note:  If you know the illustrator to whom attribution can be assigned for the graphic in this post, please let me know.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

Public Relations For Business Results August 9, 2010

“It seems obvious to me (and research backs me up) that we are most productive, persistent, creative, and flexible when we’re engaged in precisely the combination of activities that brings us maximum fun.” —Martha Beck, O Magazine- May, 2002

Well, work may not be all fun, but I am a firm believer that we should do work that we love and love what we do for a living. Life’s too short to do anything less.

For me, that means counseling clients on their business. More precisely, providing strategic counsel on how the communications programs I implement can impact their business. What’s that I say? Linking public relations and marketing communications efforts to business results?  Yep.

Another one of my firmly held beliefs is that public relations is NOT the same thing as publicity or media relations.  In fact, the role of public relations goes far beyond just awareness building. Or at least it should.

I’m not the only one who thinks this.  A few weeks ago, a group of public relations organizations met and developed principles that guide the measurement of communications.  The seven principles the organizations agreed to are:

  1. Importance of goal setting and measurement
  2. Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs
  3. The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible
  4. Media measurement requires quantity and quality
  5. Ad value equivalents (AVEs) are not the value of public relations
  6. Social media can and should be measured
  7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement

In future posts, I’ll go into detail about each of these principles and how healthcare organizations can apply them to see greater results from their marketing and public relations efforts.

Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts on achieving business results through public relations.

© 2010 Modern Health Communications, Inc.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: