I was damn lucky as an eMarketer in pharma

IN SUMMARY: When I worked on the Cialis launch I was lucky to have the budget to make our eMarketing campaign a huge success. I realize now that having the budget to really succeed in pharma eMarketing is a rare event.

I was lucky to be selected to work on the digital campaign for Cialis. The people who went to our CEO and asked for a huge budget, that included a couple in bathtubs, did so in multiple meetings. Lilly, at that time, was a very conservative company, and the budget we were given is a testament to their hard work.

I worked very closely with our online agencies, Heartbeat Digital and Ogilvy One to get a chunk of the launch dollars for the web. With those dollars, we were able to create a website that more visitors than any other pharma website in history (a record that still stands today) as well as an ad campaign that metrics that were off the charts.

Why am I telling you this today?

Because I realize that very few pharma eMarketers, today, have the basic budget necessities to make, their digital marketing stand out which makes no sense given that people turn to the web for more information on prescription drugs.

We are now in the middle of quantitative research on DTC marketing and one finding is being supported over and over: when awareness of a new prescription drug is rased people will go online to learn more. However, what we are also learning is that pharma websites are not a big part of that conversation.

What I observe today is that pharma eMarketing people only get a fraction of the budget they need to develop a great online brand experience. Very few, for example, get the dollars they need to do market research or usability testing. Agencies and eMarketing people spend a lot of time developing decks to ask for money and then they usually get leftovers.

I keep hearing of the pharma “digital push,” but as of yet, the ones who are investing in digital are in the minority. Digital is so essential and primarily ignored that it doesn’t make much sense. Content strategy is practically non-existent, and pharma websites often turn off visitors because they look like a medical journal ad.

A lot of the work I do is preparing a Power Point to justify eMarketing spends. In the end TV still, wins out as does print even when we present an excellent case. The definition of insanity is said to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. I guess I’m insane then because I believe that somewhere someone will say “I get it”.