Pharmas are restructuring to implement digital marketing initiatives—for instance, using social media to build brands or engage audiences. As they partner, how should agencies help them cultivate a digital DNA?

Peter Flaschner
VP strategy, Klick Health

We live in a world where digital connects everything. But often, we work in a world with entrenched barriers. The walls that keep us apart are reinforced by culture, behavior, and economics. To take advantage of digital’s potential, we have to chip away at these barriers and bring the silos down.

Digital agencies can play a key role by modeling silo-free behavior (culture) and demonstrating its benefits in our own businesses (economic), by celebrating industry pioneers like our Digital Landscape study (behavior), by finding champions in pharmas and helping them extend their influence (culture and behavior), by working closely with MRL and Procurement to manage out risk (culture and economic), and by celebrating the small wins and creating internal momentum (culture and behavior).

Brian Mondry
VP, integrated strategies and digital solutions, Kantar Health

Clients need more than a general understanding of the online landscape if they are to cultivate a genuine Digital DNA. They need to become immersed in how people use digital in their roles as patients, physicians, caretakers and, ultimately, decision-makers and consumers. Agencies need to make clients aware that social media goes way beyond Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Agencies must guide brands to engage with online patients, not just promote to them. This is especially challenging in healthcare, where many companies remain wary of exposure to adverse event mentions, or any brand-initiated online messaging that may not adhere to FDA guidelines. Guiding our clients through these challenges is essential for all agencies in the online healthcare space.

Ken Begasse Jr.
Founder, CEO, Concentric Health Experience

The most important piece of advice is: integration. Strategy will always be human-centric—tied to emotion and behavior. These are pillars to building a powerful digital ecosystem. Health is not a destination, but a journey and marketers must think beyond the channel. Our role is to help clients understand that integration depends on a deep understanding of the journey and how patients, caregivers, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and payers intersect to enhance the health experience and drive deeper engagement with health brands.

By identifying the points of vulnerabilities and opportunities along the journey, interventions will seamlessly align to brand objectives and goals.

So our role is not to help clients get comfortable leveraging digital, it’s helping them think customer-centric vs. channel-focused.

Pat Connolly
Director, corporate communications, Millennium/Takeda

We believe marketers and communicators are used to evolving their approach to reaching their audience.  The key difference with digital is how dynamic tactics can be. You must partner with agencies who provide insight on trends and future approaches—it is too difficult to do this alone.  The good thing with digital is data will lead you in the right direction. Even with this, you need the right people behind the scenes to make sure you are ahead of the curve.  Set long-term digital goals, listen to your audience and scale your tactical efforts (like social media) based on the need of the audience.

Got a forum question or comment? Send an e-mail to [email protected] or [email protected]