H2H Marketing in Biopharma: A Utopian ideal, naïveté or the inevitable and needed conclusion.

screenshot_03Summary: Guest blogger Alfred O’Neill discusses the emerging mass market marketing philosophy called H2H – Human2Human – and how it is best applied in Biopharma industry. He also offers some examples and recommendations on how companies can master this new approach.

So what happens when Biopharma deploys all the digital/multi-channel technology it is investing in? A vessel without a mission is one adrift. Let’s talk H2H.

 H2H, in simplest terms, is approaching marketing from a profoundly human, empathetic, authenticity-based common sense approach. Why is H2H important to know about? Because to ignore it is to court failure of the greatest magnitude and to embrace it is to pave the path to a future where healthcare is truly patient-centric and our industry reputation goes from bottom to near the top.


In Bryan Kramer’s great book, he sets the table and in a generous fashion introduces this concept and lays out the seeds of inspiration for all of us to either grasp or ignore.

 The book should be a bible for Biopharma executives. Bryan focuses on mass market and transactional industries where repeat and often fickle or multi-variant factors influence purchase, re-purchase and loyalty; in these consumer-based industries Brands and products have to create emotional bonds that inherently lack emotion. The emotion needs to be manufactured. And it is with astounding results. Mercedes, Nike, Apple, Google, John Deere tractors, clothes, yogurts, restaurants — the stories are endless.

But he misses the most emotional industry of all: health. In our industry, the unfortunate truth is that emotion is equated with breaking regulatory rules. It is too risky. Yet, healthcare is THE industry that should be discussing this H2H approach more than any other. Right now it is seeping in at the cracks through the embrace of UX and more insight based marketing, but that is just a qualitative trick to fool the current change-resistant cultures by wearing a quantitative suit.

But are there genuine examples of the use of authenticity and emotion/empathy among Brands?

 Sanofi Diabetes DxExperiencetruly amazing. And this is just the “Relationships” tab! This digital property has every Social channel covered; contributing authors who speak with great authenticityit is rich beyond compare.



The most moving and penultimate example of authenticity/empathy is not from Biopharma at all, but the Cleveland Clinic. You all need to watch this.


Just think of it: over 1.5 million views. Biopharma should treat this as a blueprint of how to connect and speak to the aspirations and hope and fears we all face.

Ignoring H2H would be a fatal waste of the millions of dollars invested by CEOs and CEO and CTOs across the healthcare system: unless H2H is a part of the plan, all the digital tools, multi-channel integration, the might Db, the Big Data tools, all are doomed to fail. Not to embrace H2H as a core philosophy or Credo would also be fatal to the hopes, dreams, and health of millions of patients and their loved ones who rely so heavily on the many moving parts of the very dysfunctional healthcare system we have seen develop over the last 20-30 years.

 Human2Human is the qualitative structure that a quantitative industry needs to embrace. Let me lay out the structure of the Biopharma company of the future that will succeed in this world. 

H2H means re-structuring Biopharma companies so the MedLegal, Marketing and Sales Teams are all run by the same person; this would form core teams of cross-discipline, equally incented, customer-centric groups that deal with the humanity of what doctor and patients face.

H2H means that today’s disempowered, non-budgeted Centers of Excellence — the true internal engines of change — must be given the power of budget allocation and become the Subject Matter Expert Teams on the intersection of technology, Human-centered design, Big Data, Social Media, content development and patient outreach, to name a few.

So, money and reputation are on the table. But the rise of a new world order of Social Media, the Empowered Consumer and Outcomes-based medicine are engines that should also put H2H at the forefront of discussions.

Richard Meyer, to his credit, has blogged tirelessly on the issue of Pharma’s hiring practices and the suppression of innovation at a cultural level. H2H is a form of the emotional intelligence and professional skill that supports his argument.



















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