Does reform end brand messaging?

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Will healthcare reform—should it pass—serve as a tipping point in the shift from traditional brand messaging to customer-centric engagement?

Steve Woodruff,

The ways we communicate are changing rapidly, and this evolution means healthcare companies must adjust. The convergence of healthcare reform, along with the rapid adoption of social networking approaches, will force more companies to de-emphasize one-way messaging and embrace customer engagement strategies. The reason is simple—we don't need or want to be “talked to.” The empowered citizen/patient can find information in many places, and we are far more interested in dialogue than in brand messages. The emphasis on digital tools in government healthcare reform proposals will only accelerate this trend. Of course, this gives pharma companies the opportunity to “humanize” their relationships with a variety of audiences, and that can only be for the greater good.  

Dave Schemelia,
SVP/media director,
HealthStar Public Relations

Look at the proliferation of new media versus what was available five years ago. We can already see a shift created by the arrival and wide acceptance of blogs and online-based publications. Even the Federal Trade Commission has recognized this shift requiring better disclosure guidelines for bloggers. Where healthcare reform should play its biggest role for the customer is in determining what drugs health plans are willing to pay for and formulary guidelines. We need to do a better job of marketing and rebuild lost trust and brand loyalty. Those still on the fence need to embrace the changes now before the dynamics shifts even more. Success will come to those who have figured out which media and medium the public has put their trust.

Gina LeMay,
Client management,
Quaero, a CSG company

While reform will play a role in terms of marketers' overall strategies, it doesn't change the need for marketers to focus laser-like on the consumer and continue moving toward a more customer-centric model. Sharp brand marketers know that they need to drive relevant messages to the end user. Consumers are influenced by interactive messaging and I see these smart marketers moving more toward text offers or social media ads to repeatedly build brand preference and drive brand loyalty. Marketers must continue to look across the six dimensions of marketing performance—actionable strategies, organizational alignment, appropriate measures, effective processes, information assets, enabling technologies—to define areas of improvement and uncover opportunities for growing customer value.

Faruk Capan,
Intouch Solutions

Traditional methods are being impacted by new legal restrictions, access issues to the physicians and overuse of DTC. Should healthcare reform pass, the customer-centric approach will certainly continue to gain momentum. The reform will introduce new key stakeholders. It's not just the doctor and patients anymore; payers and advocacy groups are all vested parties in the new era. The digital age has allowed patients to be informed and empowered through information and social connections. Going a step further, transparency and genuine involvement in conversations with the customers will only help bolster confidence in the industry. This will be a good prescription of its own for marketers.
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