Pharma: Are You Ready To Optimize Your Digital Strategy NOW?

Here is my recent presentation, Digital Strategy in the NOW Economy: Proactive and Real-time as presented at The Social Media in Pharma Online Summit Conference.  While this digital strategy presentation is geared to Pharma and Healthcare, it is quite relevant for all marketers with an eye to reconsidering their digital approach in the NOW Economy which demands both new skills and changes in our marketing mindset.

Slide Content Overview:

  • The NOW Economy Demands…
  • Kick-Ass Digital Brand Strategy- It’s not about technology. It is about creating opportunities for the brand/company to build deeper relationships. Digital strategy must integrate into the brand strategy and strengthen the brand’s core promise.
  • Creating and Leveraging a Digital Brand Strategy requires new skills and a discipled, fluid process. Follow these six steps to greater success.
  • Five Imperatives to Boost Your Digital IQ- Concentrate your learning on these five critical success factors for today’s marketplace, starting with 1) designing content strategy, 2) delivering ‘perfect fit’, 3) thinking digital ecosystem, 4) fostering community and 5) getting over ‘lack of control’. Are there are others that you might suggest?
  • Go. Initiate. Enchant.- Health is Social- Try something new!

The challenges of INTEGRATION and how to best keep the brand’s core promise front and center appear to be top-of-mind to Pharma right now.

During my webinar, while there were many great questions posted, the majority seemed to center around the challenges of INTEGRATION and how to best keep the brand or company’s core promise front and center–and to ensure that technology changes are incorporated without becoming distractions. While this has always been a marketer’s dilemma, the need for greater focus and integration is now at it’s highest point ever as suggested by the many questions:

  • Integration within brand teams and across internal support teams i.e. digital, data base, PR, social media, customer service
  • Integration across outside agency partners spanning offline and online, web, mobile and social media platforms
  • Integration of digital web and social media with brand objectives, strategies and brand positioning/branding elements
  • Overseeing a  strong brand core throughout the online and offline marketing process, including prioritization of consumer (and physician) digital communications and tactics that work hardest to build customer relationships within the context of the core brand promise.

Here are a few initial thoughts to consider. Each company and brand must establish an internal brand champion that ‘owns':

  • protecting and ensuring that the core brand promise is upheld
  • is responsible for making the tough calls across specialists after team input
  • helps prioritize the most important strategies and tactics to achieve brand objectives and to strengthen the brand promise.

While this sounds a lot like the old consumer brand manager job I used to have way back, the old ‘hub and spoke’ brand manager role popular in the 80’s and 90’s has been largely abandoned as many companies moved to a more politically acceptable ‘shared ownership’ mindset.  I believe that this is now leaving a marketing and leadership void with current brand heads not really seeing their role as champions of the brand promise, and many of whom see themselves as too senior to be involved in execution…(but isn’t this exactly the place where the strategy meets the customer?)  This suggests that a course correction may be in order to encourage brand marketers to step up and lead with tighter vision and perhaps closer to the traditional brand management role. Read a recent and  interesting article from the New York Times called: The Auteur vs. The Committee.

Growing marketing specialists are working on each brand, in a world with multiple customers. Brands need a champion more than ever; someone to protect and drive relevance and resonance of the brand promise as their primary responsibility- along with highly tailored metrics- in a spirit of collaboration and trust. And I recommend that company senior management re-establish expectations for brand leads to champion a brand. If it continues to fall in the middle, brands will be weakened by brand leads not wanting to step up and deal with the political ramifications of saying no to someone or some group or some agency…

This is further exasperated in the pharmaceutical industry, where brand teams are often large and span multiple customers, physician and consumer. This creates situations with many same-level brand team members working across different channels and platforms, often with not enough oversight in the area of whether their strategies, tactics and execution are strengthening the brand core promise. The continued move away from block buster drugs may help to refocus and resize brand teams, but there still needs to be a greater focus on ensuring a strong brand promise is well established in all processes, across all disciplines, including offline and online education, communications, clinical development etc.

How do you develop and integrate digital strategy? I hope that you’ll leave your ideas and comments below!

I hope to write more on the changing role of marketing managers in future posts.



2 thoughts on “Pharma: Are You Ready To Optimize Your Digital Strategy NOW?

  1. Always good to see an article centred on content, that uses excellent CONTENT to really get to the crux of the problem without throwing stats we already know at us.

    A well thought out, enagaging piece that describes the problems associated with brand team structure, input and translational content.

    Much in the way we witness translational medicine bridging the gap between clinical phases, Ellen raises the question of translational content to bridge the gap between channels. Excellent piece, I look forward to the next one.

    • Michelle,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments! I love the way you phrased it…translational content to bridge the gap between channels.
      You made my day! :-)

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