Pharma’s real problems with digital marketing

KEY TAKEAWAY: According to Sloan Management Review “employees and executives are highly inclined to jump ship if they feel they don’t have opportunities to develop digital skills”.  While there are some digital pioneers trying to push the boundaries of digital marketing the industry continues to bleed talent.

Securing leaders with the vision necessary to lead a digital strategy, and a willingness to commit resources to achieve a digital vision is a challenge for pharma companies.. Digital leaders are more likely to have articulated a compelling ambition for what their digital businesses can be and define digital initiatives as core components to achieving their business strategy. A larger percentage of digitally maturing companies are also planning to increase their digital investment compared to their less digitally mature counterparts, which threatens to widen an already large gap in the level of digital success.

Pharma is addicted to sales and every initiative has to drive ROI at a time when patients are screaming for help to navigate health choice s.  Earlier this year our group was conducting research with cancer patients and caregivers to learn their needs for health information.  We identified several opportunities, but alas, we ran into people who said “it’s a great idea but what’s the ROI?”.

Over the years I have worked with some really great digital marketers yet today 95% of them have left the industry.  Why?  If I had to put it into one word, it would be “frustration”.  They were frustrated at processes designed to slow digital marketing to a crawl;  they were frustrated at not having the budgets they needed to do really great work and most of all they were tired of trying to explain why digital is so important in the patient journey.

Pharma leaders talk about digital a lot, but moving the sales force from printed detail pieces to online detail is not helping patients make a choice when overwhelmed with health information. Most pharma websites look like they were made from a generic template and the content is still as useful as instructions on how to open a bottle of soda.

Pharma companies should be making huge investments in digital marketing teams as well as trying to recruit digital people who have the vision and drive to convince executives that “we need digital innovation now”.

 

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