Vol. 1, No. 4 * April 2002
Published by VirSci Corporation * www.virsci.com


Welcome to the fourth issue of Pharma Marketing News, the e-newsletter of the PHARMA-MKTING discussion group.

This issue of Pharma Marketing News begins with a redesign of the Masthead/logo. Along with this new design, I thought I’d take a new look at our topic focus – both for the newsletter and for the discussion group. See this month’s editorial.

Be sure to read the guest article written by Denise Silber, a PHARMA-MKTING member and an e-health specialist. The article, “Health Websites – The Ultimate Quality Criterion: the Value Proposition,” offers pharmaceutical marketing and agency people 5 handy tips for communicating the true value proposition to visitors when developing websites.


What do we mean by interactive pharmaceutical marketing?
John Mack
Pharma Marketing News Editor

The welcoming message to new subscribers of the PHARMA-MKTING listserv states “PHARMA-MKTING is an exclusive email network for pharmaceutical marketing professionals interested in the latest interactive technologies available for marketing. The network facilitates communication between members and recognized experts and leaders in interactive pharmaceutical marketing.” It goes on to give examples of using interactive technology in pharmaceutical marketing. I would like to discuss interactive pharmaceutical marketing by focusing mostly on the concept and less on the enabling technology or specific distribution “channels.”

The term “interactive pharmaceutical marketing” can be broadly defined as marketing that engages the consumer and causes an interaction between the marketer and the consumer. Interaction may be defined as a 2-way transfer of information. In interactive marketing, the consumer provides the marketer with some information (click of a mouse button or keypad, an e-mail address, age, etc.) and the marketer or “marketer agent” responds with a message. High value is achieved when the information from the consumer can be used to tailor the message delivered by the marketer. In the extreme case, where lots of information about the consumer is collected, this may be called “profiling.”

There is no doubt that Internet technology enables interactive marketing, but not all Internet applications are very interactive. Some Internet marketing websites, for example, ask only that consumers interact by clicking a “button” to link from one page or piece of information to another. This may be marketing, but it can hardly be called interactive marketing. It’s the same level of interaction you would get from reading a brochure.

The other extreme is interaction with little or no marketing. An example is a website that employs games requiring lots of “interaction,” but conveys little marketing value (or “value proposition” as Denise Silber terms it). This is a case of using interaction merely to enhance “stickiness” or the amount of time a consumer spends on a website. This might be used as a false measure of ROI, but has the site caused the consumer be more aware of the brand’s value proposition or altered his or her behavior?

Another example of interaction is when the consumer provides market research or personal data in exchange for a reward (e.g., a discount coupon). The exchange becomes even more interactive if the value of the award is dependent upon or commensurate with the value of the information provided by the consumer/user. Suppose, for example, that the consumer reveals that he/she uses a competitor’s product that you are targeting. That consumer would be more valuable to you than one who may already be using your product and you can afford to provide a reward of greater value. Information technology can enable this sort of customized reward system.

Whatever the specific vehicle, it is obvious that consumers must give up some personal information either to make the interaction happen (as in e-mail messaging) or to get something in return (e.g., a discount coupon) or to customize the marketing message/reward. Effective interactive marketing is not possible without overcoming the understandable reluctance of consumers to give up sensitive personal information. One way to accomplish this is to compensate consumers for allowing you to market to them (this is standing operating procedure for e-detailing to physicians). Another way is to instill trust via your commitment to protect privacy. If you develop best-in-class privacy and data collection/protection policies AND use these to your marketing advantage, then, unlike coupons, the cost of developing these policies can be amortized across all your products.

Alas, too many marketers see privacy concerns as a hindrance rather an opportunity to improve consumer trust and willingness to interact. Also, pharmaceutical marketers may be too “siloed” and unable to allocate specific product resources for improving general company-wide privacy policies. And, unfortunately, the people who often take – or are handed to them – the responsibility for crafting privacy policies are lawyers who don’t mix well with marketers. All these factors work against those among us who are interested in developing more innovative interactive pharmaceutical marketing programs.


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Guest Article

Health Websites – The ultimate quality criterion: the value proposition
Denise Silber, Basil Strategies, Internet Healthcare Coalition

Much digital ink has been spent and will continue to be spent on the subject of quality criteria for medical websites. The March 9th theme issue of the British Medical Journal is an excellent, recent illustration. If you are interested in the subject, do read the brilliant editorial on the danger of talk.

This article is not about quality in the sense of quality control. This is about quality in the sense of “good.” While there are thousands of medical websites, there is still tremendous opportunity for good sites to enter the market and get noticed. Why? Because to succeed, you have to get high marks on substance AND form, and the selection is subjective. Sort of like going for the gold in Olympic figure skating.

Many Marketing or Agency people will say that a good site is one that successfully contributes to the marketing mix of the company or product it supports, but this only begs the question. A website cannot succeed without answering the needs of the user.

The following 5 Tips will come in handy, whether you are preparing a new site or renovating.

#1: Carefully Define The Value Proposition
Think through very carefully what you are offering and to whom. The broader the target market, the more difficult and costly it will be to a) know your customer, b) identify the gaps in the offering, and c) to actually produce the customized content or services they need. Fewer initial visitors may mean more in terms of ultimate results.

#2: Go for “Initial Impact”
Initial Impact means what happens in the ten seconds that follow the visitor’s arrival on your homepage. Does the visitor want to go beyond the homepage or end the visit there? Make that Value Proposition leap out at her, and I don’t mean via a pop-up. Your visitor should be able to immediately notice that your site is intended for people like her and that you are offering what s/he is looking for.

#3 : Streamline, streamline, and then some
You will have to take great care to make sure that the Value Proposition message is central to the homepage, and easily understood. Eliminate extraneous messages, logos, from the main space in which the Value Proposition appears. No shockwave or other animations should precede the visualization of the Value Proposition. No scrolling should be necessary.

#4 Ensure the Credibility of your Value Proposition
If you know what the true value of the offer is, then spell it out. Do you have leading experts? What are their references? Do you have a unique approach? Explain it? Why should anyone other than your mother believe you? Answer these questions honestly and make those answers easy to access.

#5 Give it the 10-second usability test
Do unprepared surfers get your Value Proposition message within 10 seconds? You have 30 seconds before your CV hits the wastebasket and about 9 before they click off the site, according to Jakob Nielsen.

If you have done all of the above, and the site still fits in with your organization’s objectives, now you’re on a roll.


e-Health Ethics Principles: Going “Beyond Regulation” and Gaining Consumer Trust

John Mack, President, VirSci Corporation

1:30 PM * May 21, 2002 * ePharma Summit * Radisson Hotel * Valley Forge, PA

As pharmaceutical companies start using the Internet more aggressively, they must proceed with caution to avoid ethical and privacy pitfalls that can further erode consumer trust. This presentation reviews the major online quality and privacy issues and the various initiatives that have developed ethical guidelines to address these issues. Discussed is how these guidelines are relevant to pharmaceutical marketers and whether or not there is a benefit to pharmaceutical companies to go “beyond the FDA and FTC” and voluntarily comply with any of these guidelines.

For more information about this presentation and conference (including registration), call 941-951-7885 or visit www.epharmasummit.com.

* * * *

HIPAA Compliance for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, PBMs and Pharmacies

Jean-Paul Hepp, Director Global Privacy, Pharmacia
John Mack, President, VirSci Corporation

3:00 PM * June 21, 2002 * ETHIC 2002 * Hilton Washington & Towers * Washington, DC

For more information about this presentation and conference (including registration), call 800-640-2218 or visit www.ethic2002.com.

ABOUT Pharma Marketing News

Pharma Marketing News is a monthly publication sponsored by VirSci Corporation (www.virsci.com) and distributed FREE to subscribers of the PHARMA-MKTING e-mail discussion group. PHARMA-MKTING is an exclusive email network for pharmaceutical marketing professionals interested in the latest interactive technologies available for marketing. The network facilitates communication between members and recognized experts and leaders in interactive pharmaceutical marketing. See www.pharma-mkting.com for more information about becoming a member of the group.

ABOUT VirSci Corporation

VirSci (pronounced VER – sigh) is dedicated to developing and applying best practices in privacy, usability, and quality to online pharmaceutical and health marketing. It’s our passion to help our clients do business via the Internet more effectively, with greater return on investment, and with enhanced consumer trust. VirSci provides global pharmaceutical and healthcare industry clients with competitive market intelligence, interactive marketing services, and HIPAA/privacy/security consulting and educational services