You can throw a lot of money into digital marketing but unless you acknowledge that people using “can find shit out” and know as much as you about your product you’re probably throwing a lot of money away. It starts with transparency and the belief that people want to know more about the products they put in their bodies beyond what’s on the label. They want to know “how will it affect my quality of life” and what are others saying about living with the health condition and medications side effects.
While patients trust their physicians to recommend treatment options more and more of them are still going online to “verify” their Rx’s and diagnosis. Physicians usually don’t have the time to explain medication side effects to patients and because of continued media coverage patients don’t trust big pharma companies. In my report for eMarketer on Social Media and Healthcare the data indicated that while people are using social media as part of their search for health information they don’t trust the information to make health decisions.
What does this mean for pharma ? It means that rather than just getting up a website and doing some search marketing marketing pharma needs to take an integrated approach to digital marketing. It also means that drug websites should not be static billboards and that relevant content marketing is essential if drug company websites are to become a resource for health conditions. This in turn means that the organizations structure of MLR approvals needs to be redefined so that content can go live in a matter of hours instead of a matter of days when the need for information has passed.
Above all pharma marketers need to think about marketing with people instead of at them. In fact the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will move forward with a survey of healthcare professionals regarding their opinions and perceptions about prescription drug promotion after receiving approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the executive branch’s regulatory clearing house. While I would rather see a study of consumers and how THEY use the internet for health decisions this is a good first step.
More and more marketers are learning to listen to consumers and pharma had better put aside their fear of engaging consumers to make marketing more relevant again. If not DTC marketers are going to be fighting the budget battle for a long long time.