Leveraging Social Media...rinse and repeat...

As mentioned previously health care and regulated organizations are having difficulty figuring out how to leverage social media to their benefit. Here is some informed analysis from eMarketer.

My Take: For consumer health care organizations, they would be well served to listen to the voice of the customer and particularly cultivate mutual respect with key consumer opinion leaders (KOL) online. If they did this with half the fervor they take to cultivate relationships with physician KOL's I think they would actually boost the bottom line.

Why? Because the Internet has shifted the dynamic completely. Consumers are more empowered by the increase in health information and increasingly ask for a specific drug/product by name and it is being given to them. If that is true, why is there continued emphasis on reaching the sacred cow physician?

I think you're beginning to see a small shift by Pharma/BioTech/Device who are reducing sales force headcount. Particularly, pharma, and there is a decent amount of information available today to indicate that physicians don't want to see reps other than to get samples, and even those are being fulfilled online. If that's the case why isn't there a faster movement to interactive activities?

  • Try an email relationship building drip program to physicians from sales reps that are personalized and provide relevant information?
  • Try professional online training and product information details, etc available on-demand details YouTube style whenever the physician wants to view it, which is likely after 6:00 p.m. when he/she is not seeing a patient?
  • Target your top doctors and develop online practice management, consultative programs to them specifically that addresses their business concerns?
The Pfizer-Sermo deal from 2007 was a watershed moment for pharma and social media and the days of the physician as THE primary influencer for a consumer are dwindling--stat. And to make matters worse, AdvaMed and Good Promotional Practices don't even allow for the "greasing the skids" as in the past. So why are organizations still hanging on to old sales strategies? Reps still call on docs multiple times per month and have nice 5 minute chats with front of the office personnel multiple times per month.

So, what's the common theme in all of this? Providing the right information at the right time and as a marketer realizing who is in control of the relationship and giving them what they want, which is increasingly something convenient, on-demand (i.e not disruptive to the doctor making money) and interactive. Organizations that develop sales and marketing strategies from the outside in versus the inside out will better off.
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