Pharma on a digital hiring spree?

SUMMARY: Almost every pharma company seems to be posting open digital marketing positions on LinkedIn but are they really hiring? A quick check of three open positions found that they “were on hold” due to budget constraints.

Pharma acknowledges the need to get better in digital marketing, which starts with hiring the right people. The open positions for emarketing people seem to be everywhere, but almost every industry is adding more digital marketing people as people shift to buying more products online.

I’ve been asked many times to interview potential candidates and review job descriptions for marketing positions. Today’s good digital marketing people understand the difference between hype versus trends that are redefining how brands market online.

I’ve heard some pharma managers say, “we’re not selling, ” but that’s wrong. Your digital marketing is always selling your product, brand, and company, but it’s much different in healthcare.

Research consistently tells us that pharma websites that try too hard to promote and “sell” their products turn off online health seekers. Too many pharma people view their websites as a selling tool only, and that’s a mistake.

Online health seekers are confused by all the available information, and social media has too much misinformation. Every time I mention a content strategy to clients, I always hear the dreaded “ROI” word. They don’t seem to understand the need to earn people’s trust every day in everything we do.

Pharma has thought leaders who are more than willing to write content for websites yet are seldom used for this purpose. Paying for really credible content is an option but “who has the budget?”

In talking to pharma marketing people who have left the industry, I usually hear the same things. “Too many meetings, too long to get things done, IT restrictions prohibit experimentation and managers who don’t understand digital marketing.”

No industry can transform to digital by just hiring a few people. Digital transformation within pharma has to come from the top-down and is driven by people who are willing to disrupt the current thinking. We also need DTC managers to fall out of love with TV and commit more dollars to be digital.

Digital marketing people are in demand, and pharma has to do a lot more than offering a competitive package. You don’t want people who are only interested in a good salary; you want people who understand that together we can offer the industry a change from selling to helping people.