S&R Blog

The not to interactive guide

by Mark Kocourek, Executive Vice President, S&R Communications Group

The March 2009 issue of Medical Marketing & Media came with a great supplement entitled The Interactive Guide. It was full of discussion about the adoption of digital space by the pharma industry and what the future will bring. This supplement, coupled with the fact that my good friend and close colleague, Dave Recht, recently made a post about the importance of re-establishing the pharma sales representative as a resource for physicians, leads me to this posting. I’d like to extend the “useful resource” discussion to the use of web and electronic media in the promotion of pharmaceutical products.

Like it or not, the Web 2.0 and other interactive electronic media are the future of communication between pharma, healthcare professionals, and patients. Yet most pharma companies’ efforts in this area are hopelessly stuck in the 20th century, Web 1.0 era, and their offerings are nearly, if not totally, useless in the eyes of healthcare professionals and patients alike. Why? Because they are not even remotely interactive nor are they very helpful, resourceful, or innovative.

Take pharma product web sites for example. The vast majority of pharma product web sites look like they were built using a $29.95-do-it-yourself-web-site package purchased from CompuServe just before they went bust. The most interactive thing about the site is the Contact us button. Oh, and do you think you could add just a little more text to that home page? I mean is 25,000 words per page really enough?

Anyway I digress. But I do know this as a pharma product manager: in order to be successful with your online and electronic media initiatives, you have to be able to answer yes to 2 important questions.

1. Is the initiative truly interactive and innovative? Does it open the door to meaningful 2- way communication with your customers?
2. Will the initiative be viewed as a real resource and not just a big ol’ fat product advertisement?

Webinars are another example of a huge missed opportunity for continuing an interactive conversation with someone who is truly interested in your product. After all, the attendees took the time to participate in your webinar so they must have some interest in your product, right? Our experience shows that follow-up with this interested party leads to a big boost in ROI for the promotional spend. Yet very few pharma companies have any kind of plan for interaction and communication with attendees AFTER the webinar is over.

I could provide examples of missed opportunities all day long. Don’t even get me started on the “e-detailing initiatives” (read that as e-detailing MISTAKES) that most pharma companies are making. But that is a subject for another day.

A successful web and interactive media strategy is a process of careful planning, integration between initiatives, and, above all, imagination. It goes way beyond the “Web site? Yeah I got one. Checked that box” mentality that is so prevalent with pharma product managers today.

When we at S&R Communications Group discuss web and interactive media initiatives with our clients, we make sure that for each initiative the answer to the above questions is an unequivocal YES.

Can you?


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