Essentially,a recent survey results indicate several key findings:
- While 71% of large brand/enterprise organizations believe their digital marketing team is strong in some areas, their employees exhibit mediocrity/ weakness in others when importance and strength are analyzed together, with sizeable gaps in every area studied.
- There is a shift underway in the industry toward specialists with various levels of expertise. While 34% look for both generalists and specialists, 22% say the need for specialists is growing. Of greatest importance are specialists in analytics, email, content marketing, mobile marketing and social media, yet skill, strength in all areas is largely verified through highly subjective criteria.
While agencies can help fill the void in digital marketing talent pharma and biotech companies still need in-house expertise to ensure that what agencies suggest drive brand objectives. For example, should you develop a mobile app and if so how are you going to measure success?
The real digital marketing skill sets for healthcare marketing
(1) The ability to understand the marketing insights from brand research and turn them into digital marketing tactics. What are the key drivers and barriers and how can they overcome online?
(2) Someone who can sell digital strategy to key members of the brand team to get the needed resources.
(3) The ability to work with outside agencies to ensure they stay on message and develop digital initiatives that drive brand objectives while meeting target audience needs.
(4) Consistency of talent to ensure results throughout the whole organization.
(5) The ability to take digital marketing analytics and tell a story as to what is happening and why and use these insights for more digital initiatives.
Finally, it requires someone who understands FDA marketing guidelines and working within a regulated industry.
Should you let an agency fill this gap?
It depends on the agency and the relationship they have with your organization. Sure a good agency can help you develop digital marketing initiatives, but you really need someone who is close to the brand team and has access to all the research findings. With bigger agencies starting to buy up smaller agencies we’re going to see, I believe, a rise in digital marketing costs. Big agencies need to cover overhead and all too often that results in unexpected costs.
Over the last 5 years I have seen a lot of very talented digital marketing people leave pharma because they were tired of trying to get their voices heard. Even today I rarely see ads from healthcare companies looking for digital talent. All too often they put someone in the role who has to learn digital marketing from start to finish. This is a difficult thing to do because the wrong initiatives can quickly eat up budgets and provide little return.