Nov12

Ebola Goes Viral

Ebola Blog Image2“It’s like the film with Dustin Hoffman and the monkeys,” said the woman next to me on the tube the other day. “No, it’s more like that other film with the monkeys,” said her companion. “The one where animal rights protestors release them and unleash a zombie virus on the UK.”

The truth, thankfully, is that the most recent Ebola outbreak is nothing like either of these movies. The Ebola virus has yet to mutate into a new strain that spreads like flu as it does so rapidly in Outbreak, and it seems somewhat unlikely that it is going to turn us all into flesh-eating un-dead as happens in 28 Days Later. But what exactly is it like, how much of a threat does it pose, and how are we supposed to communicate the bare facts of virus and disease in an atmosphere of panic and misinformation?

The other day, news outlets were tracing the steps of one of Ebola’s recent victims. New Yorker Dr. Craig Spencer had been all around town since returning from aid work in Guinea. He had taken the subway, visited a meatball stand and hung out at a bowling alley in Brooklyn. Normal things that a person might like to do after returning to their hometown after an intense trip abroad. But Dr. Spencer started running a high fever and was soon diagnosed with an Ebola virus infection.

Despite most reports suggesting that he had interacted with only a handful of people since becoming symptomatic, The Gutter, the bowling alley visited by Dr. Spencer, was forced to close down for two days and underwent a mass disinfection. The Meatball Shop remained open but was host to a PR stunt in which the city’s mayor visited for a meal in front of a host of cameras to prove to the general public it was safe. Which of course both of these places should be. There is nothing about the pathogenesis of Ebola that suggests we can catch it from a bowling ball or a restaurant table. Indeed the virus can barely survive for long outside the body, especially on hard, dry surfaces.

Hysterical news reporting of disease is nothing new. This time, like many other times before, it has been served up with a dollop of xenophobia. The problem, almost ignored when it is abroad and confined to countries that barely register on the Western consciousness, is treated like an unmitigated disaster when it hits home shores. Like the wave of homophobia that emerged in the wake of the HIV/AIDS crisis of the early ’80s, the tabloid media emphasis is on minimizing personal risk rather than pressuring organizations such as the UN and the WHO to act on the virus itself. We are encouraged to shut our borders, be suspicious, be vigilant, and most importantly, be afraid.

If there is something that feels different this time around, it’s the social media factor. In 2009 when swine flu panic was at its peak, we were all on Facebook, but fewer of us were active on Twitter. The surges of popularity in micro-media over the past few years have completely changed the way we consume and digest news, but also the speed at which stories spread.

Take the case of this video, which was recorded in a Chilean hospital a few weeks ago. The announcement you hear roughly translates as: “Can I have your attention, please. We have a patient who is suspected to have Ebola. Please leave the room and go to another hospital.” After the patient who took this video posted it on YouTube, it received almost 140,000 views. Soon the story migrated to Twitter, where the hashtag #EbolaChile was used over 200,000 times. All this happened incredibly fast and internationally, even though it was later revealed that the suspected Ebola was actually a case of malaria. Indeed, it has not gone unnoticed that the Ebola news is spreading faster than the virus itself.

But when things are over-egged on Twitter it only ever results in topic fatigue and silliness. Recently, actress Anne Hathaway was accused of refusing to shake an Argentinian journalist’s hand due to fear of contracting the virus. Others are making mockery of the intense US media coverage, with some users suggesting that “EBoLa could be the name of an obnoxious Manhattan neighborhood” or that “the only part of the Ebola guy that upsets me is how rich his social life seems in comparison.”

With the fast pace of social media reporting, topics that have had everyone enraged on one day can be forgotten the next. But whilst it’s easy to laugh at the jokes made at the expense of the media hysteria in the US, for the people of the West African countries most affected it is a genuine threat, and it’s not going away.

Organizations like the CDC are doing a good job of keeping up sensible dialogue about Ebola by producing factsheets on the disease and its transmission. These are clearly designed to alleviate fears about how the virus has been spread without shying away from the facts of how it is affecting the West African countries hit by the epidemic. The UN has been providing updates on the current situation, and what they are doing to combat the spread of the disease whilst the WHO have tweeted audio files from their recent press conference. The challenge for these organizations is that there is a lot of repetition in the messages that they have to send out. The advice about the virus is quite basic and in order for them to communicate this effectively they have to find new and interesting ways to dress up the facts, so as not to appear repetitive.

When developing our own disease awareness initiatives we can learn from the social media reaction to Ebola. Twitter can be a maelstrom of misinformation and flippancy, and it is important to provide clear, concise and meaningful content such as infographics and video. Although rather than share PDFs, like the organizations mentioned above, we should think about content that is easily viewable and sharable within a Twitter client. Most importantly we should remember that it’s easy for a story to get lost in a medium that moves as fast as social. Bitesize content should be deployed regularly to keep up the momentum, and we need to find creative ways of saying the same messages in different ways so we make our point without switching off our audience.

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Oct22

Epic Tales of Marketing Storytelling

Story Telling BLOGStorytelling in marketing isn’t new. In fact, brand stories have anchored some of the best marketing, advertising, and public relations campaigns since the invention of, well, brands.

Marketers love stories, and not just because stories position their brand in a positive scenario. Us marketing types are creative and want to express ideas and touch emotions. We want to motivate and inspire and engage on a level that transcends a sale. We want to be storytellers.

There’s that, and then there’s what we actually end up doing.

Look, we love our brands. Really and truly. We spend hours thinking about how to get other people to love them the way we do. We get mugs and t-shirts printed that feature our logos.

So why do we end up telling such lame marketing stories? Maybe it’s because we’re not thinking about what makes a great story.

Let’s consider two important points about storytelling, one about marketing stories, and analyze them all through the lens of a blockbuster movie.

  1. Stories are about people, not events, or objects.
  2. Stories are about people’s problems and how those problems get resolved.
  3. Marketing stories should be about solving people’s problems.

Let’s unpack these three simple points and talk about what they mean for us as healthcare communicators.

 

Stories Are About People

You can tell a story about an unsinkable ship that sinks, and it’s very interesting and ironic. Or you can tell a story about Rose and Jack and their tragic love affair, and you have Titanic.

The first one is an interesting historical story, but the second one is about storytelling. Titanic took an epic event (with an ending we already knew) and made it about people. There were 2,223 passengers on the Titanic, but in the end, we cared about two people. Two.

Titanic worked because it established the main characters as people. You cared about them deeply. And when the inevitable end approached, you hoped for their safety, since you knew that at least some people survived the Titanic.

Highly simplified? Sure, but you know that a story about a ship that sinks is only as interesting as the people who survived and those who perished. It’s a people story, not a boat story.

 

Stories Are About People’s Problems

Jack and Rose clearly have a few problems, which is important. Without conflict, there’s really no story. Conflict raises the stakes and makes a story interesting.

Once we’re invested in the characters, we’re rooting for their survival. We care about the people and want them to survive, fall in love, and share this epic story. For a while there, we think they might just make it.

We know what happens to the ship, which is historically significant. We care about the people on the ship, but not the wealthy investors who made it.

The only stories that matter are about the people trying to survive. Once the characters are established, then the conflicts and resolution matter. If you set up a character, establish what they want, and create conflict, you have the basic building blocks of a story. Your reader or viewer will want to know how they resolve the conflicts. This creates tension and interest.

 

Marketing Stories Should Be About Solving People’s Problems

Titanic could have been a fictional film about an epic rescue. A modern Hollywood version might have featured a dramatic, climactic scene where Jack and Rose escape just as the Titanic sinks to a watery grave. With explosions, a smart-aleck kid, and a dog. And more explosions.

Audiences are wired for happy endings. We want the hero to survive. We want to see the villain get proper comeuppance. We want all of the loose ends to be tied up. We like to release endorphins.

In an ultramodern version, the hero might save the day in a Dodge Hellcat. We’d be okay with that and would even forgive the product placement if it worked for the story.

 

What It Means for Pharma Marketers

If Titanic teaches us anything, it’s that you can find a compelling, relatable story almost anywhere. Great writing, acting, and directing made you care about the people and their problems. You knew exactly what happened with the Titanic voyage, and yet you stuck around for 194 minutes to see how the STORY ended.

In pharma, we are dealing with life and death and health and conflict and resolution and hope and everything else that makes a great story. It’s all right there. From the scientist who toiled in a lab to create a new molecule to the patient with an untreatable disease. The clinical trials and the brave patients with nothing to lose. It’s the doctor willing to try a new drug on a desperate patient. Every step of the process has a dramatic story about people who overcome challenges to reach a goal.

It makes that little pill sitting in the palm of your hand more than just a brand. It highlights will, determination, and effort to bring this pill to market—something of a modern miracle.

Pharma marketers who want to tell a compelling marketing story are often skipping over the really interesting parts of storytelling. We spend so much time talking about the facts that we forget sometimes to talk about what it means to people. Behind every treatment, there are hundreds of amazing human stories that will never be told.

We are fortunate to be in a business where we actually get to help people. The products and solutions that we represent can change lives or even save lives. You are part of a chain of important people who are aligned to get the right treatments in the hands of someone very important. Every patient matters to someone, and we’re part of a treatment that matters deeply to them personally.

We have a responsibility to accurately explain how our drugs work, how they are dosed, and what kinds of side effects patients can expect. We’re very good at fact-based communications. There’s always a need for clear articulation of features and benefits, and we’ll never stop doing that.

But we are in the health-behavior business. We’re in an industry where early diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. We can tell stories that will help motivate people to talk to a healthcare professional, learn about their treatments, and be compliant with their doctors’ recommendations. Facts and figures may work for some patients, but for others, not so much. If straight ol’ facts motivated people, we’d have 100% compliance.

Storytelling is the bridge from understanding to motivation. It’s the missing link between feeling a lump and seeing a doctor. It’s the difference between taking medication as prescribed and taking a drug holiday.

We know great stories and can learn how to be more effective storytellers. But we need to go beyond the label…to dig deeper to show how real people with real problems are being helped by our brands. We don’t even need to create fictional characters. We have patients, caregivers, doctors, researchers right in front of us, ready to tell their story.

Not too long ago, our team had the opportunity to interview the scientists who have dedicated their careers to cure cancer. These are top researchers with multiple degrees, and they could work anywhere in the world. Yet, they have devoted their considerable brain power to looking for a cure to cancer. It was amazing to sit with them and hear their personal stories. These scientists could do almost anything with their careers, yet something deeply personal brought them to the research bench in an attempt to cure cancer.

Every one of those scientists has a fascinating personal story that fuels their professional passion. As readers and viewers, we love stories about dedication, focus, and vision. We devour these “genius who changed the world” stories, yet we rarely articulate them as part of the brand story. These behind-the-scenes stories should be part of the unique brand narrative.

If you love your brand, and you know that you do, find the stories that matter. There are amazing, true stories on both sides of the exam table. Introduce the world to these people and help them tell their stories. If they are alive today because of your brand, let them tell their own story. We will care, we will be motivated, and we will take action.

Great stories have started revolutions and toppled governments. Stories have inspired people to take action, to pursue their dreams, or to just improve their own lives. Storytelling is at the root of our human experience.

Behavior is not static. It can be changed, but we need to give people motivation. Great storytellers know how to create characters, articulate their motivation, and put them into a conflict where they must make a decision.

Health behavior is not static either. We can find the stories that will touch people on an emotional level, engage them, and get them to take action. And that may be something as simple as taking your prescription every day.

It’s time to start telling better stories. Lives depend on it.

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Also posted in behavior change, Branding, content marketing, Content Strategy, Culture, Healthcare Communications | Tagged | 2 Responses
Aug7

We Meowed at Lions Health in Cannes

cannes meowCan you believe it’s been almost two months since the very first Lions Health at Cannes! I am actually kicking myself for not writing this sooner, but you know how it goes.

Overall, I thought the standard of work was high, and that’s what you would expect for this type of event. I wouldn’t say that there was a new standard set, but there were definitely new players—non-healthcare agencies that haven’t been bound by medical departments or the weight of the past.

Cannes Lions Health is putting healthcare advertising and communications on the world stage, and I think this is great, but the playing field has just gotten bigger. So us healthcare folk need to stretch ourselves even more and deliver ideas that aren’t a print ad, e-detail aid or a direct mail series. We need to look outside of this and step away from the pharmaceutical/health look, feel, taste and tradition.

I am proud to say Ogilvy CommonHealth Australia did just that with “Cat Ramps,” a little ambient idea that set out to raise awareness of cat osteoarthritis.

Instead of doing posters or an ad, we created a series of specially made ramps with website activation that were placed in Hyde Park Sydney on one day. Park visitors and city workers could interact with the ramps, activate the mobile website, learn about the disease and the signs to watch for, and potentially seek a management plan from their local vet.

The traffic to the website exceeded objectives threefold. Just under their monthly hits was achieved in one day.

Even though we only made it to Finalist, it was a big achievement given the 1,400 entries from 49 countries.

But the biggest achievement was getting this idea signed off and up and running.

So this little meow will hopefully turn into a big roar for Ogilvy CommonHealth Australia as we start our journey toward the next Lions Health in 2015.

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Jun26

Brain Candy: Byte-sized Creative Inspiration for Digital Minds—1st Edition

GKblogWhat I love about being an advertising creative is the eternal search for creative stimulus. Always on the search for something that turns your mind on, makes you “think different” and gets you excited to show your co-workers like it was a grade school show-and-tell.

But it’s this stimulus, or this search for stimulus, that really does inspire truly innovative ways to reach our fellow persons with a memorable experience. Sometimes it’s a cool social media tie-in, or maybe a super-sneaky hidden camera capture. Either way, it makes an impression on us and becomes a reference point for the next creative idea, the next killer pitch tactic.

I imagine everyone has his or her favorite sites to mine Internet gold. If you have a site like that, stop hoarding the good stuff and write the next Brain Candy post. Or maybe you just like calling people out for being “two-thousand and late” like an art director I know here at Ogilvy (who will go unnamed for now).

So for now, I’ve collected a few of my favorite inspirations over the last few months to share with you. I hope you find them as inspiring, hilarious and introspective as I did.

Before we dive in, have you seen the site This Advertising Life? No? Really? Then you have to go now… This should be daily viewing for all agency types.

OK, so here are some vids from across the interwebs that I think are pretty cool. Some of them actually lend themselves well as crossovers into the pharma world. But if you can’t sell-in selfies and Snapchat for the latest patient consumer pitch, at least you have some neat stuff to show before your weekly status meeting.

Every now and again you see something and think, “That is genius.” And you just sit at your computer in total awe of your self-contempt for not thinking of it first. Then you think about what must have been going on in that room for someone to have come up with it. Pure Genius.

 

How do you get a paper poster to turn into a musical instrument? I watched this video three times and I’m still amazed.

 

I guess you really can’t beat selfies, beer and Twitter. You have to love the Danes, and they definitely love their Carlsberg. Happy hour will never be the same.

 

This one has been making the rounds lately at the Chocolate Factory—a really impressive way to use augmented reality. We actually worked this into a pitch recently, and this is totally something you can build into a convention experience…minus the alien invasion, I would imagine.

 

I don’t mean to encourage duplicitous behavior, but you have to admit this is pretty funny. On the other hand, this is proof of concept for a CRM or patient reminder app. This app can pulse out reminder messages to patients to take their meds (adherence), get well soon (post surgical), have a good day (depression), or even send out appointment reminders.

 

I always loved reading about twin studies from clinical psych class. There’s something really cool about having such a perfect control for a study design. But multiples kind of freak me out in person though. Anyway, you should listen to your mother and not chew gum in mixed company, here’s why.

 

So you want to have a goof on that dude who’s using waaaaaaay too many hashtags? Here you go, courtesy of Axe. I encourage you all to try this, on yourself!

 

Now let’s close on a high note…if you’re somehow one of the 2 million people who have not seen this ad, just do it.

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May29

A Patient is a Virtue

sales reps and docsIn the age of WebMD, Everyday Health, and Facebook, consumers are more informed and involved in their health than ever before.  And with social media infiltrating every aspect of their lives, they are now more vocal than ever.  Patients can – and in most cases are willing to – tell you what you want to know about your brand.  Just ask…and listen.  So why is it that some brands fail to take full advantage of tapping into their own customers for insight, ideas, and even inspiration?

We’ve all heard the phrase “typical pharma ad” and as an industry we are guilty of producing far too much of it.  Sometimes it’s driven by regulatory conservatism.  Often it’s a stubborn client who is afraid to push the envelope, while at other times there just isn’t enough budget to upset the status quo.  So we’re forced to pick up some stock photography, reach into our bag of preapproved claims, slap the all-important “pharma swoosh” on the piece, and call it a day.

But is the work resonating with patients?  Is it even being noticed by patients?  In order to make a connection with patients, the marketing needs to tap into what drives them, what worries them, and what will help them take the desired action.  Put simply, they need to see themselves in the marketing.

Market research and reports can obviously give you broad-stroke generalizations about your audience.  But how can you dive deeper into the psyche of your patients?  There are numerous ways you can do this and they don’t require significant investments:

·         Develop and leverage a standing Patient Advisory Board – Recruit patients to participate in an advisory board…and use it!  This is a great channel for bouncing ideas off patients and hearing first-hand about the challenges they face with their condition every day.  These boards can be conducted virtually (although at least one face-to-face meeting a year helps build camaraderie).  Also, be sure to refresh the participants so that you continually get the latest perspectives.

·         Seek input from stakeholders outside of the Brand Team – The Brand Team can sometimes be the furthest removed from the patient base, as they can get bogged down with sales reports and budget meetings; so try to engage those on the front line.  Sales reps often can provide direct feedback from HCPs and office staff on what they see in patients.  Is there an 800 number for you brand?  If so, speak with the customer service reps who field those calls.  What issues do they hear about most often and what questions are they asked most frequently?

·         Establish a patient eCRM program – A CRM program can be simple or complex – but in order to be useful, it must be trackable.  From that you can see firsthand what content is looked at most often and therefore assumed to be of most relevance.  You can also conduct quick surveys or online polls to get insight about your target.

·         Attend events and conferences – Again, this is another opportunity to hear from those on the front line: sales reps, patients, and HCPs.  You can also see, in one fell swoop, what the competition is doing to market themselves.

Nothing I’ve suggested is earth-shattering or groundbreaking, but I do find that these often get overlooked in favor of more complicated (and costly) research.  I happen to work on a well-established drug that was first-to-market in a category that is now undergoing seismic changes.  We needed to defend our turf from new therapies, new dosing formulations, and new administration devices, and we needed to do it with a limited budget.  “Gaining new patients was going to be increasingly difficult,” we thought, “so let’s at least be sure to hold on to the ones we have.”

So we set out last year to develop a campaign unlike anything this brand has seen in its 20+ years of existence.  We needed to reinvent ourselves while remaining true to our heritage and what kept us successful all these years.  We employed all of the tactics I mentioned above to help us paint a clear and vibrant picture of who our patients – our very lifeline – were.  What we learned was that our old marketing reflected misconceptions about what people with this condition were “supposed” to be like.  In no way did we reflect their vibrancy, defiance, and zest for living.  And because of that, our patients felt like the brand was letting them down.  How could we expect them to be advocates for the brand if we weren’t living up to our end of the deal?

The new campaign has just recently launched, so I can’t tell you yet how successful we’ve been at defending our turf.  But what I can say is that the feedback from patients, sales reps and HCPs alike has been overwhelmingly positive.  It is bold and defiant, and goes beyond the standard “talk to your doctor about…” with a rallying cry that conveys our patients’ inner strength.  In other words, it is a clear reflection of them.

So if your brand feels like it’s stagnating or worse yet, losing relevance, don’t panic.  Put your ear to the ground and listen for the voice of the patient – and then make sure it comes through in the work.

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Also posted in Branding, CRM, Data, Efficacy, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Learning, Marketing, Pharmaceutical, Strategy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
May20

Bringing Sexy Back…to Science

disease managementThank God for The Big Bang Theory. They’ve made it cool to be a nerd again.

While traditional brand attributes (efficacy, safety, dosing, etc) will always be of key importance, the last few years have seen a renaissance of scientific enlightenment as physicians across disciplines take a closer look at not only how well a drug works, but why it works.

With the advent of new targeted agents in oncology and virology, mechanism of action quickly went from a dirty little secret buried in the PI to front page news. There are now numerous products that have built their entire value proposition on mechanism of action.

In oncology in particular, where clinical improvement between new and old drugs is often measured in teaspoons, the science behind the brand can often stand as a key differentiator. Avastin—one of the most successful drugs in oncology—created a simple scientific rationale for its use: stop cancer cells from creating new blood vessels and “starve the tumor.” With three simple words they took a complex process of tumor growth and development and created a unique opportunity in oncology that they have effectively owned since its launch in 2004.

Science Sells

The ongoing race toward “scientific innovation” is redefining how we market specialty brands.

  • Have a good pick-up line: In specialty marketing an entirely new nomenclature has spawned, significantly impacting our ability to change physicians’ perceptions of our brand. Simple terms to describe the science have now become synonymous with clinical attributes we could otherwise never say in a branded way. “Targeted” or “selective” now means safe and well-tolerated, “multi-functional” equals efficacious. Understanding how one simple word can affect how physicians view your brand is now key, requiring comprehensive research and knowledge of the market.
  • Be yourself and if that doesn’t work be someone better: No longer content to be classified under traditional terms, products have been using science to create entire “new” drug classes. Avastin rebranded themselves from a VEGF inhibitor to an “anti-angiogenic,” and DDP-4 was redefined as an “incretin degradation inhibitor” in type 2 diabetes.
  • Dress to impress: Where once MOA materials were simply required to be informative, now visually dynamic and digitally distinct tactical initiatives have quickly become a cost of entry for products seeking to separate themselves from the competition.

And while I can say with absolute certainty that an in-depth knowledge of molecular drivers of cancer will not help you talk to girls at parties, understanding the science behind the brands and their competitors is now crucial to opening up new doors for creative exploration, messaging and differentiation in specialty marketing.

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Also posted in behavior change, Content Strategy, copywriting, Data, Efficacy, Healthcare Communications, Learning, Marketing, Medicine, Pharmaceutical, Physician Communications, positioning, Science, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response
May16

The Challenge of Change–Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

POP flyerJ-codes. ICD-9 codes. CPT codes. UB-04 forms. Medicare reimbursement appeals. Care Management Strategy and Solutions. Formulary access. Business case. Value prop. These are just a few of the vocabulary words from a whole new language I’ve been learning—the language of Payer.

I’ve spent 20+ years in pharmaceutical advertising—long enough that I truly thought there was very little left for me to learn. How wrong I was. When our Payer group expressed the need for more copywriters recently, I answered the call. And the last couple of months have been quite a ride.

Suddenly I was a newbie again. I went from focusing on one or two products with one client to juggling more than half a dozen different brands for three different clients simultaneously. Beyond the multitasking, though, I’m discovering that breaking out of one’s comfort zone is, while scary, the best and fastest way to grow, personally and professionally. And I’m fortunate to have found some very smart—and very patient—teachers along the way.

Payer is the future of our industry. As everyone from the federal government on down turns their focus to managing the cost of healthcare, the days of billion-dollar blockbuster brands (like Claritin—an account I worked on for seven years) are behind us. Budgets are tighter. It’s not enough to convince a doctor to write a prescription when any one of a handful of middle men—pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), commercial insurers—can step in and switch that branded drug to a generic, charge a hefty copay to discourage patients from paying for it, or just refuse coverage altogether. Efficacy and safety aren’t the most important selling points anymore—they have become the price of entry to a market that is much more cost-sensitive. And patients are more discriminating too—no longer willing to blindly follow a physician’s directives, especially in the current economic environment, they scour the Internet and become educated, sophisticated healthcare consumers in their own right.

We are all going to need to learn this new language—promoting pharmaceuticals in this brave new world requires talking about our brands in a whole new way. The points we use to persuade potential customers are going to have to be more compelling than “Drug X worked better than a placebo.” And I’m excited to have the opportunity to be involved in this emerging area.

My horizons have broadened exponentially in the short time I’ve been involved with Payer—I’ve worked on reimbursement guides, wrote a sales training manual teaching reps how to use a formulary access app, crafted emails announcing formulary status changes, and edited a PowerPoint promoting care management solutions (online resources and programs that encourage patients to participate in improving their health). And I know I’ve only scratched the surface—Payer encompasses a wide range of audiences, not just payers but also HCPs, patients and even caregivers. Future projects could include everything from writing a value prop, to a webinar, to materials for an ad board. I look forward to continuing to learn, and ultimately master, the terminology that sounds like Greek to me today. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll figure out what a business case is, and how to fill out a UB-04 form!

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Also posted in agency life, career decisions, copywriting, Healthcare Communications, Learning, Managed Care, Payer Marketing, Personal Reflections, Reimbursement | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
Apr17

Multi-Screen Is the New “Mobile First”

screensFor the past few years, “Mobile first!” has been the rally cry of marketers. The idea was to design websites and ads to work on mobile devices first to account for the growing smartphone- and tablet-using audience. But mobile first is already obsolete; if your strategy doesn’t have multiple screens in mind, then your strategy is out-of-date.

Time spent on mobile devices is steadily increasing. Throughout the day, consumers are moving seamlessly back and forth between many devices, from laptops to smartphones to tablets to TVs. In fact, 90% of consumers start a task on one device and finish it on another. Oftentimes consumers are using more than one device at a time, fluidly flipping back and forth between screens.

This complexity in user behavior makes it imperative for marketers to embrace a multi-device strategy, not just a mobile-first one.

You must now develop ads that work across these multiple devices. The ads should seamlessly leverage the characteristics of each device for optimal user experience. Additionally, where consumers used to be focused on one device at a time, now they are on multiple devices simultaneously, so messaging needs to adapt to the multi-device paradigm as well.

Consumer search trends support the need for multi-screen advertising. According to eMarketer, U.S. mobile search ad spending grew 120.8% in 2013, contributing to an overall gain of 122.0% for all mobile ads. Meanwhile, overall desktop ad spending increased just 2.3% last year. Marketers should not only develop ads for multiple platforms, they should optimize their spending across platforms as well.

Ad targeting also becomes paramount in the multi-screen world. Targeting ads to specific devices and operating systems is the most basic method of mobile ad targeting. But much like the desktop environment, user insights can be culled from the type of content consumed on tablets and smartphones. These insights can then be used to further target mobile audiences.

As consumers continue to access content across multiple devices, marketers must continue to grow and change with them to meet their needs no matter which device(s) they are using.

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Also posted in advertising, content marketing, Content Strategy, Data, Digital, Digital Advertising, Healthcare Communications, Media, Multi Channel Marketing, Strategy, Technology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Response
Apr15

Mindfulness: An Age-Old Concept in a Bright, Shiny New World

yoga officeIf you asked others to define mindfulness, you’d likely hear a variety of responses, the most common of which might be relating the term to a Buddhist concept. Mindfulness indeed originated thousands of years ago, and for those who conceptualize it this way, a quote from the well-known author Thich Nhat Hanh illustrates the point well. He said, “Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” Too esoteric? This is far from the only interpretation of the word.

A more practical and relevant definition for business is simply: awareness. We all know full well the challenges in today’s environment, particularly within the rapidly evolving healthcare space. The digital age isn’t coming, it’s here, but all of its obstacles and opportunities are still being pulsed out over time as we answer some questions and then inevitably raise more. As if our own world isn’t changing quickly enough, that of our clients is right there beside it, equaling if not outpacing the transformation we’re experiencing. One of the keys to all of this—to recognizing the hurdles and also to overcoming them—is mindfulness (yes, that 2,000+ year old practice).

Mindfulness facilitates a more complete view of what’s around us. It compels us to consider our immediate and long-term challenges, and the resources we have available to address them. But it also encourages us to put ourselves in the shoes of our clients, to become more connected to (in other words, aware of) their work climate, and that always makes for better, more creative and insightful work.

But it is more than just awareness. Going back to the more obscure definitions, it’s about being supremely present, the result of which is the ability to recognize beauty and connectedness in the world. The more of that we see, the more impassioned we become and the more driven we are to contribute to it—through our work, but also through our hobbies, our families and our friends.

So let’s make a pact to be more mindful and to reap the rewards, personally and professionally. Become more familiar with and aware of your working environment and that of your clients, work after hours at home and even monitor those devices as needed, and you will be a better, more valuable professional for it. But when the job is done, continue to practice that mindfulness by being fully present and invested in whatever you’re doing after work. It helps us all, even those who love every waking second of their job, to unplug and recharge. There are few things that clients love—and need, especially in today’s healthcare landscape—more than an eager and fresh perspective ready to confront their most formidable challenges.

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Also posted in agency life, behavior change, Health & Wellness, Mental Health, Personal Reflections | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
Apr10

The Cycle of DTC

blueskyThe history of DTC advertising (and by that I mean all consumer/patient outreach, not just TV), has seen a number of highs and lows over the years.

When campaigns first launched in the late ’90s and early 2000s, we watched as pharma marketers and their agencies worked to create brands out of medicines that, quite frankly, most users didn’t really want to have a relationship with.

During that time, we watched as Claritin and later Clarinex integrated graphics and special effects into their messages; we were introduced to critters including the Zoloft blob and Digger; we applauded the uniqueness of Vytorin’s “food & family” representation of the 2 sources of cholesterol. The Lunesta moth was heralded as iconic, while some of us scratched our heads over the story of Abe & the beaver as told by Rozerem.

The list goes on and on…. The point being, these were campaigns that sparked a reaction (good and bad), told a story, leveraged an insight, and by most accounts, helped our clients successfully market their drugs.

By the late 2000s, many of us noticed a perceptible shift in pharmaceutical campaigns. Some of this was coincident with a number of significant safety issues that prompted some of the major advertisers to pull back, and as more and more companies sought to “preclear” their ads through DDMAC and then OPDP, the feedback, in many cases in my experience, resulted in campaigns that while still engaging on some levels appeared to stop just short of eliciting any kind of emotion or reaction (again, good or bad). Our work still resulted in positive ROIs, it still won awards, but it just wasn’t the type of work that had people talking.

I’m happy to say that lately, the tide seems to be turning. Recent advertising for Crestor reinforces a positive brand experience by literally depicting a patient as a fan. A fairly light-hearted approach that still seems appropriate and responsible, still depicts the risks and benefits in a balanced manner, but one that evokes an emotional reaction, and presumably for Crestor users present and future, a connection with the brand. And campaigns like Novartis’ Gilenya illustrate how a brand can connect with patients—literally and figuratively.

Another positive outcome of this shift back to more emotive and insightful DTC appears to be a resurgence of more disease education. These campaigns are not only getting people to the doctor for appropriate medical advice and care, they are inspiring conversations and connections. Gilead’s “Full Frontal” campaign is provocative and buzz-worthy on the basis of its name alone…but the drama of the idea coupled with the real patient stories just increases the emotional impact and call to action.

So the next time a DTC ad turns up on your TV or Facebook feed…don’t skip it…you might be pleasantly surprised that DTC is back!

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Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in advertising, Direct-to-Consumer, Healthcare Communications, Media, Personal Reflections | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment