Web Watch: Pharma marketers should look past detailing to physicians

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One definition of being crazy is to continue to do the same thing but to expect a different result. There are a lot of crazy people in our business. Pharmaceutical marketers continue to send out armies of detail representatives that spend less and less time with physicians who barely have time to sign for samples. While companies in other industries are building interactive online relationships with their customers, a lot of pharmaceutical marketers are still trying to figure out how to push marketing messages out to their customers the way they've been doing it for decades. It's crazy.

A recent Bloomberg report says US advertising spending will be down about 4% this year, the first annual decline since 2001. This means media and publishing companies that are dependent on advertising dollars will likely experience a year over year decline in advertising revenues providing they're not in a rapidly growing market sector or they don't capture market share from a competitor. Marketers that figure out how to leverage the Internet to create more efficient relationships with their customers and prospects will likely be the long term winners when the dust from the recession settles.

The Internet has caused the media landscape to change faster than most in our industry can keep up. Is this the year that healthcare marketers finally realize that they need to understand their customers better – how they use search, how they consume media, what online tools they want, what content they want on their PDAs, iPods and BlackBerrys? 

The softness in the current advertising industry may be a catalyst to do things a little differently and this should result in shifting more marketing dollars to interactive and online media to better reflect the realities of a rapidly changing media landscape. So far, the delay in shifting traditional advertising and marketing budgets to online has frustrated a lot of people at interactive advertising agencies, content providers, ad networks, health publishers and media companies that often have more efficient ways deploy shrinking advertising budgets. Maybe a recession is exactly what we need to convince some of the late adopters to change the way they interact with their customers. 

Dan McKillen is the CEO of the HealthDay news service
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