8 Pharma takeaways from iStrategy

I had a good two days at iStrategy London this week with Complete Digital colleague @mariaatomaca.   The event was at Chelsea Football Club so the mood was up-beat in the venue generally (as you might expect) and it was good to see a few pharma industry colleagues there from Pfizer, Lilly, Novartis and Shire.

1.  Marketers are experience architects

‘People forget what you said, people forget what you did, but people never forget how you made them feel’ (Maya Angelou) – so quoted @BrianSolis in an inspiring opening keynote that set the tone for the conference.  The main thrust of his talk was: rethink the experience, don’t use social networks to do traditional marketing.  A ‘Like’ is not an ‘opt-in’ for push marketing.

This point was re-iterated by Twitter, who’ve implemented ‘sponsored tweets’ instead of banner ads (although how users will accept this remains to be seen) and Facebook who pointed out ‘Ads are not content’ and you should give your page fans real, valuable content. 

For pharma?  This shift in mindset is the most important challenge facing drug companies.  For many, marketing is still very much about ‘how can I push my message to this customer’.  Yet in a content and expertise-rich space there are many opportunities to engage customers by providing the services they want, where they want them on their own terms.

2.  Why Red Bull is a Media company (aka ‘Content is King’)Image

Red Bull have taken ‘Content is King’ (And as Rebecca Powell of @EbuzzingUK put it ‘Distribution is Queen’) to a whole new level and become a content company.  Known as a carbonated drink, in fact Red Bull also has a complete international media operation with TV, radio and magazine production and distribution services.   All of this is in-house and monetised.  The content celebrates what Red Bull is known for – Formula 1 motor racing and other extreme sports.  They showed the trailer for an amazing feature-length movie, ‘The Art of Flight’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh29_SERH0Y).  The movie has had 42 sold-out premieres (and made over €1 million so far) and even the trailer has had nearly 10 million YouTube views.  Redbull claims to be the third most influential social brand in the world with 28 million FB fans, 600,000 Twitter followers, 280 million YouTube views.

For pharma?  Most companies provide content as a service to healthcare.  If we are serious about healthcare outcomes it is a duty of the leaders in a therapy area to provide high quality content to support patients and healthcare professionals.  It’s important that we think about content formats beyond traditional text and flash – consider video and gaming (see below), and how to make our content ‘social’. 

Think of ‘KISS’ – Keep it Simple and Shareable.  🙂

3.  The power of video

Following on from @RedBull, iStrategists repeatedly emphasised the importance of video and the social nature of it – Pete Blackshaw (@PBlackshaw) from Nestle said the ‘instructional video’ is a major untapped opportunity for many companies and brands.  We spend 16 years of our lives in front of video content by the time we are 60, according to @RIBenjamin.   Harry from Google cited the TippEx interactive ‘Birthday Party video that makes him want to buy the product even though he doesn’t need it…a great example of making a ‘boring’ subject engaging.

For pharma?  Lots of healthcare video opportunities – there are some good examples with J&J Health channel on YouTube, Pfizer Health and for professionals, webcast KOL videos are now mainstream, and companies are exploring other video services such as Lilly’s Oncochannel.

4. LinkedIn – the profile search engine

Everyone who attended @NealSchaffer’s LinkedIn session went away determined to spend more time regularly updating their company, group and personal profiles.  Why?  LinkedIn is perfect for getting connected professionally because of the power of its information-rich ‘profile search engine’.  If you are looking for an employee, an agency, a discussion group, an answer to a question, you may well find it there. 

For pharma?  There are 2500 pharma-related discussion groups on LinkedIn and 8500 about healthcare. Neal’s tips:  update your status regularly, join big groups to expand your contacts, ensure you have some personal recommendations, join discussions that interest you.  You never know when those contacts may be useful.

5. The four stage Facebook model

Alexander Schlaubitz of Facebook shared their 4 stage model for brands on Facebook:  Connect, Engage, Influence, Integrate.  Connect – they recommend you should aim to get 20% of your market to Like your page.  How?  They recommend offering specific services (e.g. a discount voucher).  Engage – frequent light interactions, the brand should stimulate discussion but not ‘tell’ – the discussion should be between fans.  Influence – treat fans exclusively with ongoing special services.  For example Nike has launched products to FB fans first ahead of the public.  Integrate – Facebook should be part of the relationship ongoing and should build over time, it is not a one-off campaign. 

For pharma?  With nearly a billion people on Facebook how can we engage those with a particular healthcare condition and what can we learn?  There are some strong health related groups and pages on Facebook such as the NHS Organ Donation page, but the industry is under-represented beyond corporate brand presence.

6.  We’re all (social) gamers now

Gaming is no longer just the domain of young males.  82% of people play online games regularly – 98% of children (I wonder what the other 2% are doing?).  Some categories such as puzzles, city building and bingo games are more popular with females.  Studies show that game-playing offers three times the engagement level of watching a video.  And gaming is increasingly social.  500 million Facebook users play games, 300 million of them weekly, 60 million daily.

For pharma?  We’ve seen patient disease awareness games (check out http://www.back-in-play.com/) and booth games for doctors are always popular – such as ‘Ward Wars’ (infection), ‘Vascular Quest’ (cardiovascular), and the ‘Diabetes Challenge’.  How can we make productive use of social gaming specifically – anyone know any good industry examples?

7.  Influencing the influencers

Ford has used social media to transform the brand in recent years and make it fun, relevant and popular  Doug the Ford Focus puppet (@focusdoug) became a minor YouTube celebrity.

They ran a Facebook competition with the prize of a new Fiesta – the impact in terms of sheer numbers was greater than a SuperBowl ad.  In another initiative, Ford turned negative bloggers into advocates by inviting them for a factory visit and immersion day.  Their word cloud was transformed overnight.

For pharma?  Why not offer company immersion days to proactive healthcare bloggers, especially inviting vocal industry critics?  

8. Using expertise to engage customers

Stephane Lee talked about connecting experts in the organisation with customer.  For example, Peugeot have an ‘ask the expert’ service for each new car.  Customers can ask anything they want and the question is put to the appropriate person in the company – engineer, designer, sales person – who answers online, building up a Q&A resource that other customers benefit from.

For pharma?  Medical Information is a perfect service function that should be providing online service.  Pfizer in the US and Canada offer Click to Connect  to get live chat services.   Abbott’s brilliant https://www.crohnsconnect.co.uk/ offers expert patients the chance to share their stories with others.

Those are my 8 take-aways.  Were you there?  What do you think?

I ought to give a shout-out to the iPitchers that I liked – those given 6 minutes to pitch their idea to the audience.  My favourites were @Brandwatch who used low-tec videos of their team (extensive use of cardboard) in the office to promote their SM monitoring service, and Kinetise from @funandmobile- an app-builder that Piotr Pawlak said is better than all the others simply because it is ‘the only one that really works’.  Anyone want to challenge?

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Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Kanga, a digital transformation agency. I help global companies with their digital strategy and projects. Most of my clients are pharmaceutical companies.

Posted in CRM, Marketing, mobile, Social Media, Websites
One comment on “8 Pharma takeaways from iStrategy
  1. Ross Densley says:

    Thanks for this round-up Kay – judging your views i can assume you were in the same breakout groups as me. I love the ‘for pharma’ take on this. For me, we encourage (and hopefully get, most of the time) our speakers to give real takeaways, regardless of industry. I’m pleased you were able to do that here. You were very active on Twitter too, something we really try and encourage. Hopefully this enhanced your experience too.

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by Kay Wesley of Kanga Health Ltd

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