Here is a great application of a social media (twitter) to monitor consumer sentiment and an empowered employee who can do something about it.
While more difficult in a regulated environment, this definitely has potential if it can be used to direct people to a call center or FAQ on a Web site.
Setting up Google alerts or any other number of blog monitoring services can aid in understanding the voice of the customer.
This follows the evolving approach of designing Web sites in more of a hub and spoke fashion versus the older large destination monolithic Web sites.
In health care, you can see this in practice because many sites are large and templated and do not necessarily lend themselves to discreet brand experiences; or if you want to create specific campaign site or brand experience for a product or product category that links into your site.
Usually heavy on Flash and interactivity, microsites will continue to be popular for providing rich, detailed and interactive content in a specific brand experience context for customers. However, be sure to keep it simple, relevant and try to tell a good story. It is really about the experience.
Here is an example I really like.
This article in Chief Marketer resonated with me and the importance of a commoly understood strategy and how to quantify success.
Developing a top down vision, focus and business objective is the first place to start to break down silos so there is a common understanding and alignment on what the end goals are. Marketing falls out of that so that individual segment strategies (consumer, health care professionals, etc) can all be variations of the same overall goal.
The benefit of this type of simple approach? There are many: clear focus, defined strategy, engaged employees, definable goals and easier to measure outcomes. However, it all starts with knocking down the silos, encouraging accountability, collaboration, dialogue and critical thinking. Anything that deviates from that should not be tolerated.
I'll probably continue to harp on my continued theme about simplicity, and asking, "What's the objective?"
Customize: Widgets, gadgets, etc adds a level of customization that for many corporate Web sites is simply difficult to manage. As an online marketer in a company how can you address this? Simply, you can demonstrate some level customization and user interactivity by giving the user control. Let them see the product, segment and deliver specific information that they indicate they want, deliver tailored email campaigns that recognizes them by and gives them offers specifically tailored to their needs. This is intuitively simple to understand, but perhaps a little more difficult to execute.
Conversation: Recognize that your customers are talking about you. Good, bad or indifferent they are talking about you and their experience with you. You only have to create a simple, no cost Google alert to get a feel for this. In the health care realm, understand that when dealing chronic diseases and health conditions there is a lot of community and conversation. Listen, understand and use that insight as input for loyalty programs, product development or targeting customers as key opinion leaders to help you get closer to all of your customers.
For health care organizations, If you able to get around the legal and regulatory hurdles a blog represents it can help you get feedback directly and use that as free research and focus groups for your organization.
This is interesting because the article seems to indicate that CNN made the mistake ("technical error"), but without the benefit of seeing the video, I can only say that it seems convenient that the blame rests with CNN. It would be simple to add this information directly to the video as a crawl during the video or at the end. Seems risky to put the risk info in a display ad, when it is commonly understood that the trust factor for clicking on display ads hovers somewhere lower than 25%.
I also like the reference to "technical errors," which actually in the world of Web development and interactive is equivalent of "whoops."
Secondarily, does anybody think that this video/commercial actually encourages men to see their doctor? Elvis? Vegas? Playing in a brown jug band in a barn with a bunch of dudes? Not so much.
For the health care industry there is ample opportunity to target these consumers who possess a few critical characteristic's marketers love: disposable income and a reluctance to give up on their youthful look and activity level. Orthopedic companies (hips, knees, sholders), pharma (Cialis anyone?) device (diabetes), to nutraceuticals (vitamins) and disease management (tele-health) are all keen to target the silver surfer online.
From an interactive standpoint there is plenty of opportunity to provide value all along the customer life cycle for whatever product you may have to drive awareness, provide information for decision-making and down through to purchase and ultimately loyalty through ongoing information for compliance and care.
The question is how do you develop an approach that addresses customer needs at each point? A much tougher question it requires more strategic and tactical development than simply creating a product demo. However, look no further than some message boards and blogs to find out what people want from you.
Having lived and worked through the first generation of the Internet in the 90s and early 2000s, at least as close as you can get living in the Midwest. I had the opportunity to work for multiple start-up’s, I think there are a few fundamental differences between the first wave and present so called Web 2.0. The primary difference is that the consumer Internet is fairly mature in terms of acceptance and usage. You are not confronted with acceptance as a channel, the debate of putting computers in every home like chickens in every pot or the questions of whether people will migrate to it and now do not have bandwidth, as a limiting factor. Today the user centered internet is not all that different than the original, but it’s just a little bit better. Now, let me say, that I approach this from a very pragmatic business oriented approach and how to leverage the Internet in a marketing plan.
The single biggest driver today is bandwidth and range of possibilities as a marketer you have when you can deliver compelling content to your customer with the increase in bandwidth. We’re not too far removed from days when Flash and video were limited because of download times and buffering. Those days for many users are gone. For health care organizations you still follow a standard awareness, attract, acquire and retain model and try to get people when they are in a lean forward mode (i.e proactively gathering information versus waiting for information to be delivered to them) you need be able to capture them when they are seeking information online and that usually starts at a search engine. From there, you can engage that user whether they are a sufferer a caregiver or interested in learning more and provide then with a breadth and depth of content offerings to help them in understanding a disease, condition, medical issue. The rub is that delivering this information in an interactive format is much better than reams of raw content. That is the opportunity.
The next generation Internet, call it what you will, provides an elegant opportunity to develop cross-platform interactive content that demonstrates product benefits, provides user testimonials and information to help that person either make a health care choice, learn how to use a product, make a recommendation, learn more, connect with others facing the same issue, provide ancillary information, either on the Web, face-to-face on a sales call, at a trade show or on CD-ROM. Providing an experience that helps that person can build trust, loyalty and in many cases encourage compliance with medication, testing, diet, exercise, etc. It’s not feasible to own the customer because they can’t be owned and will simply move on, but the goal is to provide a positive customer experience across delivery platforms, enhance the brand and contribute positively to that customer’s experience and providing the right information at the right time.
It will never be perfect, technology is imperfect, people are imperfect, businesses are imperfect, but it can go a long way towards making a difference for your marketing and brand if done thoughtfully.
When crafting a presentation, I am always reminded of the old adage, "Be brief, be brilliant, be gone."
It is getting harder to get manufacturer Web sites to populate organically in search results. In fact, according to eMarketer, if you're not on the first or second page--good luck to you.
Where this becomes interesting is that for many organizations it is becoming more difficult to appear at the top of organic search results. Google and other engines tweak their algorithms and they are increasingly favoring social media. Blogs, frequent linking out to other sites, relevant content and currency of content (feeds, frequent updates)--all hallmarks of social media and user-generated content are favored.
It's no secret that it's cheaper to have an effective SEO approach and users prefer organic results to paid listings, making the pressure all the greater to get an organization bought in to a comprehensive social media approach.
Why does this matter to health care organizations and regulated product companies?
- You have the blogging issues discussed here:
- Content updates can often be counted by months and quarters, not days.
- Linking is usually limited to trade associations and organizations. While a decent start, they usually don't do much linking back because they need to remain agnostic to the manufacturers.
- Many content management systems, which help manage content for Web sites and is almost a requirement for a regulated organizations have hierarchies and folder structures that may help locate content in an audit, but doesn't necessarily make life easy on the engine spiders.
That can provide some concrete information to start an SEO program, but unfortunately the effort that will really tip the scales in health care organizations favor is...social media and an optimization plan.
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?
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.
Among the findings of the CMO Council study, "Business Gain From How You Retain":
Over 50 percent of global marketers report that they have fair, little, or no knowledge of the customer demographic, behavioral, psychographic and transactional data. Just 6 percent say they have excellent knowledge of the customer.
My Take: Database management and CRM obviously has a long way to go, but the true strategic value is immense for organizations. If you think about the power of segmenting (and micro-segmenting) your customers and identifying those who are of the highest value and developing programs to retain and keep your high-value customers loyal, you will pay for any system or headcount required to do the analysis multiple times over. Retention will always be cheaper than acquisition. This is applicable for any and all markets globally.
Tactically speaking, you can target customer groups for marketing campaigns, loyalty, medication compliance, value-add programs. All reachable can be segmented and targeted through any number of channels (email, direct mail, both, etc).
In my experience, there is tremendous upside to incorporating database management and a data-driven culture to inform strategic marketing decisions. However, database marketing, segmentation and retention programs are not widespread in global markets outside of Germany and the UK, but it is expanding.
Most industries and marketers in those industries are still grappling with how to fully harness the power of Social Media for benefit. Particularly regulated product companies such as pharmaceuticals, biotech and medical devices.
There are multiple hurdles to overcome including, legal, regulatory, and corporate culture before a plan can be put in place. Few have treaded out into the water, GSK's weight loss drug, Alli is probably the best known.
I don't see this changing in the near term for a few simple reasons:
- Legal/Regulatory risk is too high.
- You don't change unless you have to change
- The value can not be quantified
However, you will see blog monitoring to understand customer perceptions; viral PR activities and word-of-mouth initiatives to target those influencers who blog and have a voice.
So as I dive deeper into the online video, there is this company, Mogulus. Pretty cool stuff. Forward looking organizations in many industires would benefit from creating content and launching it via a brand Web site, YouTube or elsewhere. The possibilities are endless. Armed with The Flip
and Mogulus I can see some pretty cool customer driven promotions for some forward-looking company interested in connecting with their customers. A great way to get testimonials and loyal customer feedback.
Interesting news blurb about AnswersTV exclusively syndicating their content to the AP's online video network (OVN) and will be the sole provider of health and lifestyle content. This cross-platform network creates high quality, HD health and lifestyle content among other topics.
This type of agreement allows multiple news sources to provide high-quality video from a single source. Great for newspapers who subscribe to the AP OVN. If a press release comes out regarding a condition, a subscriber to the AP OVN, such as your local newspaper can have a story on their site with accompanying video, quickly and easily. That all makes for a much interactive experience for the consumer.
A common counter-argument, particularly if you occupy a leadership position with people reporting to you, is that you need to be present perhaps some would say omnipresent. While I agree with this to an extent in that you need to be present for some time during a week, more importantly you need to be available. Available to employees if you have people reporting to you, available to teams members and available to your boss when specified.
I do find it intriguing when most say the backbone of their organization is the sales force and in many national organizations the sales force is spread out across the country and work remotely.
Are sales reps genetically coded to be more responsible and harder working than others? Many marketing projects require distributed work teams where being face-to-face is simply not possible.
As it relates to interactive work, a common example is executing a marketing program with a global colleague that I may see once a year, if I am lucky, a development team in Chicago, a creative team in any number of cities and a hosting partner in Europe. Amazingly, through talented individuals, diligence, strong methodology and processes projects get completed successfully on a weekly and monthly basis. It is possible. I'll touch on tools and processes that have been successful in a future posts.
Best Buy has experimented with this results driven approach with a high degree of satisfaction and you can find related information with Tim Ferris' best-selling book The 4-Hour Workweek and in Mavericks at Work.
In a working age where efficiency and effectiveness rules the day, doesn't this seem like it is more efficient? While it takes discipline from all parties, I see this type of work model becoming increasingly viable and popular as the distinction of "work" and "home" continues to get blurred.
Using video on a web site for direct response, product demonstrations, educational information, sales tutorials, and customer testimonials is very underutilized and will grow exponentially as a marketing tool. Coupled with a dynamic micro-site, content and an email program and you have a powerful program that address each point in the customer life cycle from attract, acquire, demonstration/trial, retention and loyalty.
The snappy jingle of the Calgon bubble bath to "Take me Away" was a simple message for much simpler times and it still sticks in my marketing muscle memory. There has been quite a bit of news recently regarding the shifting marketing focus in the Pharma industry. Television has proved help build a brand and awareness very quickly, but does that translate to actual prescriptions? The ROI is simply difficult if not impossible to prove. In a competitive marketplace, asking and getting 10+M to launch a new drug through television is a risky proposition. There has been movement towards a more integrated direct-to-consumer (DTC) and CRM (retention and win back strategies) approach for a few years. The rise of the Internet as an accepted marketing channel and a top destination for health information has seen an increasing amount of marketing dollars go towards online marketing activities. It is highly targeted and measurable, which are two things I want to have as I go ask for a multi-million dollar marketing budget.
Consumer packaged goods companies, as mentioned here, have been leading the way and organizations such as Johnson & Johnson who have very strong CPG brands continue to deliver compelling, interactive brand experiences.
I see this integrated approach with smaller scale, more interactive Web sites becoming increasingly tangible as media fragmentation continues. Engaging customers with interactive elements such as social networking, video, widgets and and give them the information they are looking for very quickly is critical. The days of the 500 page brand Web site are soon going to be long gone unless you're a large vertical site such as a WebMD or RevolutionHealth.
Having been involved in web development and online marketing in consumer, health care and medical device organizations for the last decade I am just about over the use of the terms, "Web" "social media" and "Web 2.0" to describe what is effectively an evolution versus a revolution. I half expect people to say we ought to be doing something about the "Internets" and the "information super highway."
However, I do wonder what the New New Thing will be? Is there a real Web 3.0? I think mobile access in the U.S. will be the next fragment in the ongoing fragmentation of media. Mash-ups, feeds, and modular information and micro-segmentation will rule the day.
As a result, I firmly believe that the marketing leaders of tomorrow are the Internet marketers of today. There won't be discussion about online and offline, but simply what's the best way to rise above the clutter and reach the consumer regardless of the channel. More than likely that will benefit the person who is immersed in new and emerging media.
It's just a matter of time...
A brief homage from one of the best movies ever made...
Investments still seem timid relative to other marketing areas.
It was a thing of beauty and literally had the audience gasping. The clean interface, the search box, in fact it was the exact same then as it is now. Elegant and simple.
I've long had respect for Google and have partnered with them on a white paper and was an early user of Google Analytics.
However, I wonder whether their plan to store personal health records and to compete with Microsoft's HealthVault, is a bit of "me too." I think they face an uphill battle when it comes to the current perception of their privacy policies and getting people to turn over their personal information. They continue to roll out plans to improve user experience through the use of the aggregate data they collect, such as ad behavioral, err contextual targeting and Web site benchmarking within their analytics. While very helpful in many circumstances it is borderline creepy to get served an ad in my Gmail account based on text from an email I received. Privacy advocates and conspiracy theorists hypothesize that your private data may not be so private, which can be an obstacle to storing delicate health information.
Even in the U.S. where there is a lower bar for privacy expectations than in Europe, I think they will have some difficulty getting this off the ground and iterate over time as they like to do without critical mass. And anecdotal evidence I am aware of points to pretty severe business and legal resistance to Google and their privacy policies in places other than the U.S.
Ultimately, this battle will be won and lost based on the strategy, platform, and device interoperability. I'd say the first three rounds of the fight have gone to MSFT and their approach to getting manufacturers and brands on board first, but Google looks poised to put up a fight.
I was a touch early on the reference to EU privacy concerns. Here is an article that outlines the issues quite nicely.
While doing some recent surfing, I discovered that their Web site re-launched in February and I have found it to be a very worthy stop if you are interested in technology related news, views and analysis. They also have a cool bit of user interactivity with their predictions.
Microsoft's seemingly relentless pursuit of Yahoo has been interesting to watch from afar over the last few months. Yahoo's latest move to strike a search partnership with Google is very interesting and pretty shrewd, if not potentially Faustian in nature.
It reminded me off a leaked Yahoo memo from a few years ago that stuck in my memory because the issues outlined could be applied to many businesses. The author, A Sr. V.P. at Yahoo outlined issues such as the lack of a cohesive vision and strategy and spreading a thin layer of investment across many areas, like you would spread peanut butter on a sandwich.
His proposal could also apply to many businesses who often lose their way. It's about leadership, having a vision, creating and narrowing the focus, breaking down silo's, ensuring accountability and being purposeful and decisive in your actions. That is a winning strategy....whether you're a mom and pop store or a large organization...
It looks like Yahoo's is content to parry with MSFT. They have implemented a few strategic maneuvers to extract the highest possible price. Now if they would have acted as decisively and quickly earlier they may have not been in this position.
Does anyone remember the late 90s and early 2000s when Yahoo was then what Google is now?
The other interesting part of this is the fact that damn near half the show seems to be available on YouTube, albeit shaky with poor sound quality.
He has utilized social media and grass roots like no other candidate, and if he secures the nomination and goes on to win the White House, it will be because he dared to do it a bit differently.
Norman Mailor, Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote embodied the new journalism of the 60s and 70s with a new style of reporting characterized through immersion in the subject and a sometimes subjective viewpoint of the situation versus a strictly objective and first person account. This style took off particularly in magazine writing and in popular magazines such as Esquire and Rolling Stone. Hunter S. Thompson took it a joint and step further with his brand of new journalism called Gonzo Journalism.
Is blogging the future of news? I don't know that it will supplant traditional news in the near term, but there is a definite paradigm shift occurring that is greatly fragmenting where, how and the "angle" news is delivered. I subscribe to the Indianapolis Star Sunday Edition so my wife can get the coupons. They called recently and said they would deliver all week at no extra cost. Anything to keep the subscriber base up to sell advertising...It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that print newspaper readership is down, online news up and in between are the blogs that fill in the gaps.
While it's not remarkable that someone would record 4 shows to watch at a later date, I do think it is fairly interesting that I am guessing I fit their demographics and lo and behold if they don't have programming that is interesting to me. Either extreme coincidence for a niche channel or Mark Cuban and the folks at HDNet know what they doing.
Is it September yet?
This is a fascinating concept and can be applied to any number of life events. If you know you can't get a speeding ticket, will you speed? Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point has a good article here on how this affects health care.
The most interesting application I found is how this permeates large matrix organizations where often there is no clear accountability. There can usually be nuanced reasons for poor results such as market conditions, competitive threats, competing priorities, etc and a lack of accountability for results or consequence for poor results.
Jack Welch had a way to manage this....