KEY TAKEAWAY: The idea that pharma is ready to “break out” digitally is myopic and doesn’t take into account that in order to leverage digital marketing organizations need to innovate their marketing departments starting with their people.
Last year I interviewed for a VP level position with a top 10 ten pharma company. The position was digital marketing with a focus on bringing capabilities to the company that could help it compete within the changing landscape. The interviews went well, but I was told that I was “too progressive” for them and that they weren’t ready to move so quickly. That, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with most pharma companies.
Most of the people I know in emarketing within pharma spend 40-70% of their time trying to convince other employees why they need to implement certain digital tactics. It’s so frustrating that many give up the battle and move to another company.
We keep hearing about innovation, but the organization needs to innovate as well. The days of having only one or two people handling digital marketing for the brand are over. Today DTC marketers need people to handle analytics, paid media, content and social media. While some agencies can provide this service your internal people know your brand better and have access to key brand personnel to ask questions or learn about your audience(s).
The other challenge is finding a great online agency and ensuring that you work with them not by the projects built by retainers for a period of years. The longer you work with your agency the more effective they become
Pharma is as close to breaking out into digital as Trump is to being an intellectual. A lot has to happen first starting with internal organizational structures.