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Engagement: It’s Not About Us…It’s About Them!

Date: Tuesday, 13 March 2007
Time: 10:00 AM Eastern Time
By special invitation only.

Resources relevant to this discussion.

Bruce Grant, Senior Vice President Strategy and Development at Medical Broadcasting Company, presented convincing evidence at the recent CBI 6th Annual eMarketing for the Pharmaceutical Industry that consumers are in charge and “engagement is the name of the game” as far as health care information on the Internet is concerned.

Some statistics cited by Grant include:

  • UCG, or User Generated Content (aka CGC/Consumer Generated Content) is directly competing with Pharma content:
    • UGC appears on the first three search pages 88% of the time
    • Wikipedia appears on the first page in 63% of searches
    • “Patient KOLs” influence through blogs and social networks
  • Consumers are looking for the opinions of others like them. They trust dialogue with their peers and content created or endorsed by their peers.

They are looking for peers online. Over half the online health audience is actively connecting to others for information and support

Consumer and B2B marketers have begun to adapt to the new social media order…but pharmaceutical marketers lag. “In this new on-demand world,” says Grant, “pharmaceutical marketers must master the tools to maximize engagement.”

Some of theses tools are:

  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Social networking
  • Widgets

Marketers are not in control anymore.

Some issues and questions to be addressed in this Pharma Marketing Roundtable discussion include;

  • Review some of the basic tools of Web 2.0
  • How are pharmaceutical marketers responding to the shift in control to consumers? Are they planning to adapt? If not, why not?
  • Will those Pharma companies that fail to recognize the shift and that fail to adjust the way they interact online with their customers, find themselves increasingly marginalized?
  • Should Pharma companies make social network communities better by supplying money to support them? What are the pros and cons of that?
  • What are some pharmaceutical companies currently doing with podcasts, blogs, etc? Which functions are most/least advanced: corporate communications/PR, R&D, or marketing and sales? What more should pharma be doing? What should pharma stay away from?
  • What about ethical guidelines (“Rules of Engagement”) for responsible social network marketing/sponsorship by pharmaceutical companies? (see following)

Guidelines for the Web 2.0 Era
YouPharma™: A Brave New World for Pharma Marketing

It’s not news to anyone that spending on DTC advertising and physician promotion is increasing, yet the return on these investments (ROI) is declining. A new approach to the way forward in pharma marketing is actively being pursued by pharmaceutical marketers and their ad agencies. This approach embraces “social networking” and other so-called “Web 2.0” technology, which is exemplified most notably in the non-pharma arena by YouTube and MySpace.

This trend could usher in a Brave New World of pharmaceutical marketing. Indeed, it will require a brave new pharmaceutical marketer to enter these uncharted waters teeming with public opinion mine fields and regulatory shoals.

Lack of regulatory guidance specific to online marketing should not hold the industry back from dipping its toes in the water. Just as PhRMA has developed guidelines for TV and print DTC, the industry should develop a coherent road map to guide its way through the brave new “YouPharma” world. This presentation will offer some starting points towards that goal.

    • Where are the Web 2.0 mine fields?
    • Evaluating Risk vs. Impact of various tactics
    • Rules of Engagement (e.g., “Open Healthcare Manifesto”)