Today’s post comes to us from Priti Mohile, Managing Director of GLOBALHealthPR India partner MediaMedic.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at Indian Drug Manufacturing Association marketing seminars in Mumbai and Chennai on the topic ‘Digital Marketing in pharma’. There was a significant presence of industry employees in attendance, ranging from brand managers to marketing managers.
One thing is certain: There is immense curiosity about how the digital medium can be used by pharma, both in India and globally. Each person has his or her own unique understanding of digital and its platforms, and we can apply learnings in our own way.
The whole spectrum of ‘Digital Marketing in Pharma’ is indeed intriguing, and to wrap it all into an hour or so is not an easy task at all. I chose to give an overview and then take the audience through a process of using this medium while simultaneously keeping ‘key marketing objectives’ in mind. With an explosion in technology and social media coupled with the high usage of mobile phones in India, the whole medium overwhelms any pharma marketer who is used to traditional and regulated ways of communication with their target audiences. It is like the story of an elephant and the blind men, where each one feels a different part of the elephant, but only one part; then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement, leading to confusion. Such confusion can make matters worse when any company wishes to implement the use of a digital medium. To make matters worse, there is an additional lack of understanding of this medium by the senior management.
The fact is, our target audiences—be it the doctor, the patient, the care-giver or the consumer in general—are increasingly using the new technology and medium. If we do not utilize this medium to its fullest potential are we not then losing an opportunity staring at us in the face? Should the industry shy away from the newest technology just because they do not understand how to use it?
The opportunity is endless, but the problem usually is where to begin.
Rather than being overwhelmed by the different aspects of the medium and the new lingo that goes with it, one can follow a simple approach:
- Keep your target customer at the centre and think of what you wish to achieve.
- Check if this the new medium or platform provides any answers to achieve that objective.
- Each target customer set will need a different approach (eg, do you wish to address a doctor or a caregiver or a consumer?)
- Do not try to do everything all by yourself as you may not be an expert at it.
- Use the right service providers who understand both digital & pharma and their regulations as well.
- Frame your own key performance indicators for any particular project with detailed discussions with your service providers.
- Do look into the regional and cultural factors affecting healthcare.
- Customer behaviour differs from region to region, that needs to be understood.
- The manner in which a typical consumer thinks and behaves when he/she is going to make a decision about consuming medicines should govern the strategies employed.
- One-off creation of a mobile app or Facebook page may not serve any purpose unless weaved into the overall strategy.
- Use online and offline integration for best results– pharma has that wonderful advantage of having large field-forces.
- Use integrated communications – digital along with PR to amplify reach.
- Multiple language usage offers immense opportunity too, especially for a country like India.
- A brand can make use of social media listening to inform engagement depending on its regulatory status and what it wishes to achieve.
- Consider this as another medium to achieve your objective.
- Keep an open mind and a long-term view.
Currently, sales force e-reporting is being used by many companies and tablet detailing has only begun. Using the medium to its full potential still has a long way to go. In order to ensure this medium’s success, ‘strategy’ has to be centre-stage. Healthcare and medicine usage is a delicate subject bound by regulations, but that does not hinder the usage of this new digital medium…provided it is done with responsibility.
There is no doubt that a new era has begun offering a new set of opportunities with the potential to achieve many things. A new era that one could not operate within with the previous limitations set that we have worked with for the past many decades.