Digital marketing is changing so fast that you could spend 8 hours a day surfing the Web just to try and keep up to date on what’s happening and why. I believe that healthcare marketers need digital expertise in house beyond IT people to ensure that they are ready to leverage the transformation from push marketing to conversational and pull marketing.
Just look at some of the newest trends shaping digital marketing; Google is changing their organic search results and facebook is going to go more to a retargeting ad platform to try and come up with a business model that satisfies Wall Street. Rather than rely on an agency to explain these tactics pharma should have digital marketers that evaluate each of these initiatives and determine which ones can have a real impact on brand and business objectives.
It’s not that I am down on agencies but after reading countless trade articles it seems that most ad agencies are really struggling with digital marketing. They may purchase smaller digital agencies but usually when that happens most of the people who made those digital agencies great leave because they can’t deal with big agency processes and business models. Consolidating agencies when it comes to digital is NOT the way to go. Hire digital agencies that specialize in digital marketing.
So then why do you need someone in house ? From my own personal experience I know that I did my best work when I was part of the brand team and was part of their research and was in daily meetings. I was able to stay up to date on the who, why and how but more importantly it led me to develop some great digital tactics such as taking our brand message to where our audience was online via mini-sites because I understood that a lot of our target audience surfed the Web at work and did not want to get caught going to a Cialis site by a coworker.
More importantly a good digital DTC/HCP marketer can be held accountable for producing results while most budgets are getting cut. Should we, for example, integrate social media versus a social community on our site ? What are others doing online ? If a brand team member has all the latest information he/she can immediately turn trends into actionable recommendations or say “it’s not for us”.
Perhaps the biggest reason that pharma needs digital marketers is that the marketing of healthcare is in the middle of drastic changes. We are moving from a mass market TV model to a model based on the information 24/7/365 age. Healthcare organizations need to experiment NOW and build expertise in house instead of relying on agencies that may suggest tactics that help pay their bills.
For once pharma needs to look towards the future and be better prepared than to wait for change to hit them over the head before they acknowledge it.