At yesterday’s ePharma Summit conference session on “Jumpstarting Digital Capabilities in Pharma: Learning from Other Industries,” the presenter, Pete Mehr, Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer at Merkle, Inc., asked the audience “If you agree with the general thrust of this conference, how come it hasn’t happened?”

By “general thrust” he meant that pharma must get more involved in eMarketing and catch up with the rest of the world. “The tools are there. So how come the change is so hard?”

Unfortunately for Mehr, he was standing right in front of me when he asked that question, so I just had to respond.

“We are the one percent,” I said.

Of course, that was meant partly as a joke and I knew it would not lead the discussion where Mehr wanted it to go. So, I did not get a chance to explain what I meant.

What did I mean? It relates to what I often think while attending these conferences; namely, we are preaching to the choir and that choir is a small minority within the pharma marketing biosphere. But in the bizarro world of pharma marketing, that choir is not the “richest” as it is in the real world, but the poorest.

eMarketing is only a small percentage of the pharma marketing spend and it always has been and it may always be. It’s the “Ron Paul” of candidates seeking marketing dollars. It’s nice for Republicans to have Ron Paul and his creative ideas, but the big wigs would not like to see him rise beyond single digits. Same with pharma marketing’s “Ron Paul” — eMarketing.

Although there was one pharma marketing big wig at the conference — Charlotte McKines, Global VP, Marketing Communications and Channel Strategies, Merck & Co. — she was the exception that proved the rule.

I don’t know if the ePharma Summit audience understood what I was getting at, so I decided to write this post. Tell me what you think.