Jul9

Is Print Dead?

4144823A lot has changed in print production since I entered advertising in 1987. Back in the day, printing was a form of art. A good printer was worth his or her weight in gold.

But how times have changed! Especially within the last four to five years. Art has taken a back seat, and it is down to price and speed. So what is a print buyer to do in this day and age? Is print going the way of the dinosaurs?

As I think about it, reviewing the latest research and trend reports, I have mixed feelings. I am a print person, I need it in my hand, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating the digital world. It simply amazes me how far we have come since I started in this business. Google, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. You can find anything you need within seconds. How cool is that?

But hear this! Print is not dead and still has an important place. Just as radio did not bring the death of newspaper, and television did not bring the death of radio, online media will not kill off print media. A wise marketing plan must include a combination of both digital and print. Target your audience, apply segmentation, and adapt the resource allocation based on how your stakeholders prefer to receive their information. And of course, overlayed with analytics!

Print continues to have undeniable advantages over online advertising. It is narrowly targetable, highly personal, and credible to consumers. People trust the printed page. Audience specificity is guaranteed when trying to reach your customers.

In addition, print is tactile, a comfort food for the brain. Consumers are more engaged reading print, unlike websites, which are often skimmed in as little as 15 seconds. Studies have shown that people read digital screen text slower than printed paper and read less of it.

Technology is playing a vital role as well in print. Through the Ogilvy Innovation Lab and emerging technology, unique advances in printing—such as embedding video, QR codes and even adding smell into print—have not only made this channel more interactive, but more engaging as well.

Print is also relatively long-lived while being a solid vehicle for establishing brand identity. Print advertising will continue to be a viable component for an effective multichannel campaign. Understand your customers and how they want to receive information on your product by using the right vehicles:  real-time analytics will help inform your mix of online, print, collateral and event marketing to ensure your campaign is a winner.

So don’t ignore print. It still plays an important role in your brand’s promotional campaign. I just can’t help wondering how the next decade will affect the advertising world….

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Also posted in advertising, content marketing, Digital, Digital Advertising, Direct-to-Consumer, Media, Personal Reflections, Social Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Jun18

The Movement Toward “Pill Plus”

extramileHistorically, the relationship between manufacturers and payers has been transactional in nature. Payers needed to work with many manufacturers to meet financial objectives. With markets like hypertension and cholesterol at their prime and filled with branded agents, contracts benefiting both parties were the No. 1 priority. The majority of the discussions were branded, and there was a lack of trust and transparency between parties.

That was the old world, however—and this is the new world.

In today’s healthcare market, manufacturers and payers are dependent upon each other to meet their business goals. More focus has been placed on “above brand” or “pill plus” initiatives, over and above rebates for contracted products, resulting in a more collaborative environment among stakeholders. Contracts and transactions are no longer the only indicator of a positive relationship.

This shift was due in part to market trends that have required pharmaceutical manufacturers to step up their game. They needed to move beyond a transactional relationship in order to continue to provide value and differentiate themselves and their portfolios from the competition. Because there is such a huge generic market satisfying the needs of many patients with chronic illnesses, payers are relying less on their manufacturer partners to satisfy their formularies. Such market trends include:

  • Genericization of pharmaceutical marketplace
  • New branded agents with marginal improvement over existing therapies
  • Introduction of expensive orphan and specialty products
  • Access to payers and providers being minimized as stakeholders consolidate

This new environmental dynamic presents a great opportunity for our clients to take it up a notch…and where there is opportunity for our clients, there is opportunity for us. It is becoming increasingly important for us to approach tactical planning in a different way. So…what should our clients be doing to reserve a seat at the “pill plus” table?

  • Improve quality of care—focus on patient engagement, care coordination, quality measures, and optimizing the patient experience
  • Provide real world outcomes that demonstrate the value of therapies
  • Focus on developing deeper, more meaningful relationships with payer customers by providing added value through above-brand programs

So, you see, pharma must raise the bar—they must adapt to sustain value over time…because “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the plate.”

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Also posted in Brand Awareness, Healthcare Communications, Learning, Patient Communications, Personal Reflections, Pharmaceutical | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Responses
May9

How to Personalize Non-Personal Promotion—From a Medical Education Perspective

doc conferenceBy Sean Hartigan and Eileen Gutschmidt

When you think of Personal Promotion (PP) and Non-Personal Promotion (NPP), traditional channels likely come to mind such as Reps carrying iPads, online and offline media advertising, and marketing campaigns populated with a mix of branded tactics that can include print, digital, telephony, and convention booth engagement. Medical education, on the other, probably isn’t something you would automatically think of.

Yes, there are notable differences in execution between medical marketing and medical education, but the channels used in the former can also be applied to the latter—via unbranded, disease state awareness programs designed to underscore unmet needs in a category, while priming the market for a launch and all of the “traditional” branded promotion mentioned above.

NPP, as expressed through integrated multichannel, is even more critical today for both medical marketing AND medical education. Especially when you consider that it is becoming harder and harder to engage with healthcare provider audiences given evolving market conditions. Many institutions won’t permit Reps or Medical Science Liaisons the opportunity to meet with the physicians in their network for face-to-face dialogue. Fewer physicians have time to attend local and regional meetings, and national congresses. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act requires physicians to invest more time collaborating with each other and their patients to achieve improved outcomes. And many physicians would rather get their information from non-pharma sources and can easily do so online, and on their own time through their mobile devices.

Distill all of this down and it hopefully becomes clear that NPP should play a major role in medical education. But that’s not enough. NPP needs to be informed by customer needs and preferences. It needs to be all about the end user. Not us. Not our clients. Not their brands. The only way to truly connect with busy audiences is to be relevant—and personalized NPP can help!

It all comes down to a few simple steps:

  1. Know your audience: who they are, what they need, what they want, and where they go to get it (ie, research and segmentation)
  2. Provide content  that fits the bill (Content Strategy: aka, audit and assess what you have, make more based on customer interest, need, and where they are in their learning continuum)
  3. Come up with a channel plan (Integrated MCM/Digital and Media Strategy) based on your audiences’ attitudes and behaviors
  4. Launch your program, measure it, share out response data to interested stakeholders (that’s analytics and closed-loop marketing)
  5. Revise and refresh based on response (customer-centric content and channel optimization)

Of course this is a highly simplified broad brushstroke of the approach. But it can be applied to any traditional medical education initiative. And you should tap into our experts at OCHWW in these attendant disciplines to help you. A lot of effort and expertise goes into developing a smart program that drives the kinds of results you and your clients are looking for.

Let’s use an example: Think about your activities at medical congresses. Are you conducting a symposium there? A product theatre? If so, how are you driving targeted audiences to your event?

This is where NPP can help. Build out an ecosystem around your congress engagement, populated with appropriate drivers such as email, direct mail, door drops at local hotels, onsite posters at the congress that trigger augmented reality video clips, onsite geo-fencing alerts that remind congress visitors about your symposia, and so on. You should also consider pull-through tactics post engagement, such as emails that can speak to attendees and non-attendees differently: “Here’s a summary of your congress experience,”  or, “Sorry you missed the symposia—here’s a synopsis of the event.”

Obviously, your event  content and activities should be informed by customer need and feedback. To make the symposium a success it should be about something that healthcare audiences would find useful and want to hear about. And, you should use your ability to connect with audiences at congresses to encourage opt-in for CRM. That is, registration for ongoing and improved customized service based on user needs and wants.

Can you use a KOL to help you get their attention in driver tactics and at the symposia? Do it. Thought-leader driven programs achieve a better success metric. Can you package your one congress meeting into a larger “umbrella program” to help frame an improved value prop and keep their interest over time? Of course you can. It all depends on whether it makes sense for your audience, your brand, and your customer (and maybe your budget).

Interested in learning more? Visit your friendly neighborhood Medical Education staffer and we’d be glad to spend time to understand your brand and customer needs to come up with a plan that works for you. Remember, we’re personalizing NPP, so this isn’t a cut and paste. But we, and our partners in the Relationship Marketing Center of Excellence, can be your glue that brings it all together!

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Also posted in content marketing, Content Strategy, CRM, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, Medical Education, Multi Channel Marketing, Non-personal Promotion, positioning, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Mar27

What the WWE Taught Me About Persona Development

I grew up watching WWF (now WWE) wrestling. Every Saturday morning I would rush through my morning breakfast with excitement to see all of my larger-than-life heroes. The sights of Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat enthralled me to a point where I was lost in appearance and personality.

Years later the characters are still there—I’m still a fan, and the audience of young kids appears to be stronger than ever. But how did the WWE keep me interested for the last 20 years? I take this thought and apply it to one of my everyday on-the-job questions: why do our targets—doctors—stop engaging with us after years of product loyalty, and what can we do about it?

With the WWE, it started with there being a 1-900 number that I called. I was overly excited as a kid to dial that number and think that Hulk Hogan was actually talking to me. The data/marketing method of the 1-900 number was very simple: associate numeric to selections on your phone to what you prefer and continue marketing to the contact in the way they want to be marketed to.

For example:  the 1-900 number asked me my age group, I choose #1 for 10-15 years old (type of message to give me); for favorite wrestler, I choose #3 for Hulk Hogan (message specific to my needs); and for the key question—if I would allow them to follow up with me via phone with updates—I choose #1 for yes (continued CRM communication).

Just like that, the 1-900 number captured all my information and knew exactly how to speak to me. To the present day, the WWE still sends me information. The below text is a screen shot of my present day phone and is proof that they remember me and my likes. This was a text sent to me just this past Sunday:

AngeloCampano_WWE
They still know I like the Hulk and they know what appeals to the 30-something me.

Clearly they created a digital persona of me and through all the years of technology used what they learned from me 20 years ago to keep my interests (especially the Hulkster).

The hypothesis that is commonly thought of is that we tend to try looking at our targets in the same way, capture what they like and what they know. We as pharma marketers spend a lot of time chasing the doctor when the doctor doesn’t respond to messages we give him or her.

Looking at a standard CRM program (delivered through multi-channel), those who spend some time targeting the office staff for the first communication have 52% more success reaching the doctor in the second and third communication than those who don’t. Much like the WWE did, we need to take the time to understand our audience, who is REALLY making us money, and how.

As marketing continues to evolve, so do the exercises marketers have been doing for decades. Persona development is not exempt from this trend. Traditional persona development is still a powerful tool for marketers to use. However, targeting these personas with traditional means will prove less and less effective and profitable over time. In order to create and leverage digital persona profiles, marketers must rely on technology to both capture Big Data and use it effectively. The goal of which is to get as close to one-to-one marketing as possible by delivering the right content to the correct person at the best time with the channel they prefer.

As a result, tracking and understanding a person’s digital qualities, digital movement, click data, sales funnel and preferences are important considerations for effectively identifying and building outlying digital personas. The WWE was way ahead of its time for this process.

Marketers who can best leverage digital persona development, content personalization, context marketing and Big Data will be best suited to thrive in the near future. The newer the generation, the greater the expectation is for one-on-one marketing. We can all learn a thing or two from the WWE; their model works and isn’t hard to duplicate (we have already come close to mastering it).

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Also posted in Analytics, content marketing, Content Strategy, CRM, Digital, Marketing, Physician Communications, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Feb18

Taking the Pulse…Tuning In to the New Patient Network

1741356 sA guest blog post from Craig Martin – Chief Executive Officer of Feinstein Kean Healthcare, an Ogilvy & Mather Company

Most of us are far too young to remember the early days of television. What I do recall from my childhood is that three networks owned the airwaves, large numbers of people followed a small number of notable programs, and the screen turned to fuzz at midnight. You made note of the TV Guide schedule, and you adjusted your schedule to the TV shows that interested you. The networks and the stars were in charge.

A lot has changed since then, obviously. There are now countless networks, and seemingly limitless numbers of shows. Reality television has made stars of “ordinary” people. And the digital age has made scheduled programming obsolete—the content follows you and adjusts to your life and device of choice, not the other way around.

Why wax nostalgic about the evolution of broadcast television? Because I believe a similarly dramatic transformation is under way in our field. The old channels and choices are fading to fuzz. A new era is dawning.

For years, healthcare PR relied on a few channels and reliable choices to reach, inform, and market to patients. On behalf of our clients, we used traditional media (earned and paid), events, celebrities and big disease education programs to build awareness and get patients to “talk to their doctors about…”

Today—as more of the burden of choice, comparison, and cost gets shifted to patients, as diseases become more and more categorized via genomic analysis and molecular diagnostics, as medical practice and health become more universally digitized, and physicians and pharma become more responsible for outcomes vs. treatments—the traditional big, broad-channel approaches are becoming less relevant and effective as a means of reaching more and more narrowly defined populations of patients.

These trends are leading to the establishment of entirely new channels and networks, made of up patients identified and aggregated virtually through the sharing of personal medical information and data. In other words, the audience is creating the network, and continually informing the programming through the data they share. Now, rather than casting a wide net via mass media and hoping a narrow audience will be watching, we will have ready-made networks, open 24/7, waiting if not demanding to be engaged. This opens up new frontiers for micro-targeted, real-time communication and measurable engagement, based almost exclusively on digital content and social influence.

Not long before the holidays we learned that Feinstein Kean Healthcare (FKH) and a select group of partners won a million-dollar government grant to develop a “patient-powered research network” for the multiple sclerosis community. This is an exciting development, but not because of the money. This new kind of network represents the leading edge of the transformation I’ve described, and we’re now right at the forefront as well.

In the days and months ahead, we’ll continue to evaluate the pace and progress of change, and work to assure that our thinking and services are aligned with where the world is headed. Naturally, we don’t want to get too far out ahead of the trend, but we must be informed and equipped to lead when the market is ready.

I believe, as this new era unfolds, we will find there are many exciting opportunities ahead for us to engage differently and far more meaningfully with patients.

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Also posted in adherence, advertising, behavior change, Content Strategy, Digital, Digital Advertising, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Patient Communications, Public Relations, Social Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Response
Sep19

Changing Behavior: Driving Brands Through Customer-Centricity

Sean Hartigan ThumbnailLet’s start with a provocative thought:

Brand success really isn’t about the actual brands we serve.

It never really has been.

Heresy, some will say! But the truth is, brand success is really about the people whose behavior we’re trying to change on behalf of the brand: healthcare providers, patients, caregivers, et al. It’s about our ability to truly reach, captivate and connect with these stakeholders, moving them along a learning continuum, so that they come to trust and embrace our clients’ brands.

Makes sense right? Maybe so, but too often client marketing approaches (and we can fall into this trap, too) seem entirely brand-centric. Obviously, here at Ogilvy we’re in the business of building brands from the ground up, so we need to be brand champions. And the brand teams who hire us must promote their products to be successful, so you might argue that marketing should be brand-centric. How else do you raise awareness, drive trial and adoption, and grow market share, if not for personal and non-personal promotion? I get it. But there needs to be a balance between brand business needs/goals, and customer needs. That crossroads is where brands (and us for leading them there) can differentiate, and net long-term customer loyalty by making customers as much of a priority as the products we market to them.

If we simply push out content solely based on what brands want, or based on what they think is important (hinged on market research often fueled by a small N of respondents), we run the risk of being tone deaf to the customers at large, and of missing an opportunity to be more effective with our marketing and the money we convince clients to invest in it.

Please allow me to use a metaphor to frame my strategic concern with brand or egocentric marketing vs. customer-minded or empowered marketing…

Ever had your eyes examined? Sure you have. Now, think back…remember that big device the ophthalmologist sits you in front of? “Lean forward, rest your chin on the thing and look through the lenses.” When you look through the lenses you see the blurry image of the eye chart on the far wall. Your eye doctor then proceeds to slide different lenses in and out of the device until the eye chart comes into focus.

In this metaphor, that eye chart represents the customer. The lenses that most brands look at their customers through are the decile lens (what are they worth to us in terms of scripts/revenue) and the specialty lens. Beyond that, few consider the lenses of geography, ethnography, practice setting, experience with the brand (seeker, considerer, loyalist, evangelist—see Buddy Scalera for more information), and lastly, few actually ASK their customers what they want or need by way of brand support. Until we learn to view a brand from the perspective of our myriad customers, we risk being myopic and not as successful in ultimately doing what we were hired to do: drive brand performance.

There are basically 6 ways to evolve brand-centric marketing to become customer-fueled and more productive:

  1. Employ segmentation informed by those other lenses mentioned above (and others) to provide a clearer view of customers so that we can market to them in a more personally meaningful way—this ties directly back to our FUSION process!
  2. Give the customer the power to make choices that you can support; listening to and delivering on customer needs builds trust, relevance and loyalty.
  3. Centralize your support; make content and assets easy and convenient to access—remove barriers to engagement and opt-in.
  4. Surround your customers in the appropriate integrated channel mix; a holistic customer-minded ecosystem engineered using the right tactics, the right messages, the right offers, and deployed at the right time to your segments.
  5. Learn from your customers; collect attitudinal and behavioral data that is actionable; customer feedback and user data provide the foundation for a productive ongoing relationship, i.e. CRM fueled by personal and non-personal.
  6. Turn customers into advocates; viral or grassroots brand champions are invaluable for getting the word out—and they will if you provide true value.

Anyone whom I’ve worked with knows that I’m evangelical about developing interactive, digital, and integrated multichannel solutions for clients that drive improved reach, engagement and brand outcomes. But before we even get to the cool stuff, the key to success for all of those solutions begins with defining a deeper, more informed customer segmentation. This segmentation then informs content journeys for each identified segment that are then translated to multichannel tactics in the ecosystem I mentioned.

While the benefits of this marketing approach are hopefully apparent, consider this:

A recent report from the Aberdeen Group (a Harte Hanks fact-based research and market intelligence company) benchmarking more than 30,000 companies, reveals that a majority of “customer-centric organizations” companies achieved better than 15% annual improvement in return on marketing investment (ROI), gross revenues, and customer retention rates as a result of the following capabilities:

- Leaders leverage customer analytics, multichannel interaction applications, business processes, and technology infrastructure integrated across brands and product lines

- Best-in-class companies understand exactly the relationships their best customers want

I’ll leave you with this anecdote relative to segmentation and customer-centricity:

Both Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne are males from England, were born in 1948, were divorced, remarried, have two biological sons,* etc. But, would you market to them the same way? While both men may have some interests in common, it stands to reason, brands would do well to learn more about them and promote to them in a way that addresses their nuances.

Food for thought.

*Ozzy also has a daughter :-)

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Also posted in behavior change, Branding, Healthcare Communications, Marketing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
Sep12

The Key to Effective “Salesmanship in Print”

Mark Clemente ThumbnailI had occasion to be standing on a gas line in the aftermath of last year’s hurricane—red plastic can in hand. Waiting in front of me was a pharmaceuticals sales rep.

Clearly, we had at least a half-hour before reaching a pump to get our allotted five gallons. Our conversation initially focused on obligatory topics: the massive storm, weather-related energy shortages, the impact of global warming, etc. That lasted all of two minutes. It was time for a more productive dialogue—from my standpoint, at least.

I mentioned that I worked in pharma advertising and that I was supporting a major new drug launch at the time. I seized the opportunity to ask him some questions: When doctors look at an MVA, what do they really focus on? How much do physicians truly probe the key clinical data? When all you have is a two-minute meeting in the hallway, what key information do you try to convey?

He was forthcoming and candid. In just a few minutes, I gained extremely valuable insights—much more than I’d gotten from hours and hours worth of reading voluminous market research decks tied to physician feedback and messaging-related imperatives.

I was immediately reminded of the old Chinese adage…

“A single conversation across the table with a wise (person) is worth a month’s study of books.”

So why is this a blog-worthy anecdote? Because it ties to a less-than-positive trend.

I’ve supported several different brands over the past few years, including having worked on two launches. In that time, there have been many client-sponsored sales events, POAs, and other strategic gatherings that would be highly beneficial for creative and account team members to attend. Unfortunately, rarely am I or my agency team colleagues invited to these types of forums.

By definition, advertising is designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to support the sales process. Indeed, promotional communications have historically been characterized as “salesmanship in print.” It stands to reason that the more sales-focused input we get—and the faster we get it—the better able we’ll be to shift gears (when necessary) and develop print and digital content that best serves the immediate needs of sales representatives.

So why am I—and many of my colleagues—not getting as many chances to directly interface with client-side sales professionals today? The reasons range from budgetary constraints (“We can’t afford to have agency people attend.”) to a possible lack of recognition that we’re strategic partners with our clients (“We just need you to write and design the piece; we’ll handle the strategy.”).

Sure, we get to see huge research binders and PowerPoint decks. And we get to “sit behind the glass” in viewing physician interviews. But it’s not the same as having face-to-face discussions with the sellers in the trenches.

It may be time to reinforce with our clients the importance of having direct contact with the sellers we support. This should be addressed in initial project planning—and it should be considered in the budgeting process if cost is a client concern.

In sum, we need to have more interactions with sales professionals in order to deliver effective “salesmanship in print” … and other channels.

“A single conversation across the table with a wise (person) is worth a month’s study of books.”

The benefits are obvious. (Not to mention the fact that we already have enough reading to do.)

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Jul17

Digital Marketing Is Marketing

Rima thumbnailAs I sit here on the 4th of July, finally getting a chance to relax and look back on the year we’ve had so far, I realize how much has changed in such a short period of time. Almost 7 years ago, I joined our tiny, yet mighty interactive group and have lived through an ever-changing period of time. Websites became more than just a destination.  Customer Relationship Marketing Programs became real conversations. Email cadences were written with metrics in place. Banner ads evolved from static images to interactive, expanding drivers. Applications were being developed to help patients with adherence and physicians with practice management. Conversations were started about creating online campaigns.

Fifteen years ago, “digital” was optional. Some clients and brands leveraged new technology, some didn’t. Maybe a brand launched a website. Expectations were different. Sure, there were the core branding elements and messages, but there weren’t conversations about level of interactivity or even an “online” campaign. Pretty basic.  We believed in the “field of dreams” model—build it and they will come. Metrics and determining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) wasn’t a discussion. We truly didn’t know what we didn’t know.

In addition to learning a lot about the newly evolving digital landscape, I also gained a wealth of knowledge about technology. I am an avid science information seeker at heart. I live to learn something new every day and I love being challenged. The evolving digital landscape definitely makes life interesting for all who embrace it.

Fast forward to today…teams are integrated. We are tasked with being multichannel marketers. Campaigns have offline and online components. Metrics are established for all tactics. Digital marketing is marketing. And with so much change already behind us, I wonder what the next few years will bring…. And I expect us as always to be right in front, leading the way!

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Feb5

Analytics Drives the Contact Center

Call-Centers

“This call may be monitored and recorded for training purposes.”That’s a familiar refrain to all of us who’ve called into a call center in the last 15 years or so. In the past, these recordings were used for exactly what the recordings stated—company supervisors would listen to them to perform employee evaluations. Recently, however, companies are driving a change from this traditional tactical approach, moving toward a more strategic focus by mining this mostly untapped goldmine of data coming from the voices of their customers.

Most companies are now changing their focus and targeting the untapped opportunity in the recordings of their customer interactions. We need to do the same, and as we do, we are learning more and more.

Identifying opportunity in contact center communications with analytics

The call center (which should be referred to as a “contact center” because it does a lot more than just handle phone calls) is a place that more people interact with on a daily basis than see the average advertisement. It is also where customers and prospects provide priceless feedback on the products and services (including customer service) that our clients offer. The continued reduction in the cost of data, salesforce.com products, and voice-identification cloud-based software now allows us to identify important trends, opportunities and risks in the conversations our clients have with their most important constituents.

Companies should record 100% of their calls. If they do, by using call analytics, we can identify potential issues before they negatively impact the company. For example, not long ago we were able to identify a trending problem and take steps to address it before it resulted in a huge issue. The issue was with direct mail, but it was found at the contact center level with the advanced methodologies we used in our contact center analytics. Our client believed (and we validated and proved) that call analytics helped proactively save them thousands of dollars while gaining thousands of incremental Rx’s (think Rx lift).

Get rid of the contact center silo

As the new insights from customer interactions become available, the traditional silos between the contact center and other marketing areas are coming down. The untouched data mined from contact centers can be used as essential building blocks to inform multiple aspect of the business. We need to push our clients to eliminate the informational silos and share data, especially within the contact center. It can, has, and will result in tremendous new opportunities.

More than anything, gaining real-world customer feedback can help us fine-tune what and whom to target, understand how targets respond to information, and determine how they should receive information. Using the insights of this “big data,” we can transform how our customers think. Using the contact center to find and deliver what we all already know we must deliver—the right message to the right person in the right way at the right time—can help produce a guaranteed ROI.

Optimizing ROI with contact center analytics

The No. 1 thing teams, clients, us, the President, and probably God want to see from any new campaign or program is a positive return on investment (ROI). Contact center recordings and analytics will provide a measurable ROI to our clients and customers—all by using the voice of the contact center to find gaps and make needed changes as they are found.

And given the cost savings, improved efficiency, customer retention and new opportunities identified by the campaign, companies are able to see ROI timelines that are measured in weeks, not months or years.

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Jul5

Will Health Plans Of The Future Take Care Of Widows And Orphans?

“Widows and orphans” is a long-established phrase that connotes one of the neediest segments of societies. Throughout time, communities have been asked (or commanded, as in the Bible) to support them in some way. One modern-day version of this support takes the form of estate planning. In the 20th century, stocks that provided a relatively high degree of safety (from declines in price) and steady dividends were nicknamed “widows and orphans” because they were good to have in the portfolio and provided relatively steady income. Prevalent among this type of stock were utilities. Utilities offered consistent returns because state or federal governments had established these companies as monopolies. In return for their monopoly status, governments regulated (or seen another way, guaranteed) a specific level of profits after fixed and variable costs were covered.

In 2012, a new group of companies that may fulfill the role of utilities is health plans. The Affordable Care Act fixes the medical loss ratio (MLR) of health plans at 80%, or 85% for large health plans. Here, the medical loss ratio is a metric that means 85% of health plan revenues must be spent on patient care. You don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out that 15% of revenues is left for overhead expenses and profits. So, the level of profits is regulated, just like those of utilities.

The business leaders of health plans are not settling for lower profits, which are estimated to fall from the 7-8% range to 3-5%. Health plans are already diversifying and are either acquiring or developing higher margin businesses. Here are a few examples:

Information technology (IT) or information management (IM) is a popular area. The thought here is: instead of assuming the financial risk of insuring patients, acquire the financial and actuarial know-how to do so, and sell that expertise to others who will assume the risks (and the lower profit levels). The Wall Street Journal says that managed care plans have made about 20% of their merger-and-acquisition deals with IT firms since 2010, up from about 7% in 2007. They’ve reduced their M&A of other insurers from 39% to 27% in the same period.

  • Aetna purchased Medicity in 2011, a company that sells software that transmits health care data across the different systems in different provider offices
  • Aetna also purchased Prodigy Health Holdings, which will allow midsize companies the financial and information knowledge to offer self-insurance options

Other insurers are purchasing physician practices. Humana purchased Concentra, which runs urgent- and occupational-care clinics. The thinking here is to exert more control over physicians and other providers, optimize their approach to patient care, and lower costs (and fatten profits).

Some insurers are expanding internationally, where legal and regulatory (and profit) constraints may be less onerous. Cigna has entered India in the form of a joint venture with TTK.

And recently, WellPoint acquired a contact lens company. Simply, the margins in vision companies are higher, and this is also an opportunity for health plans to cement relationships with consumers without the “middle men” of physicians or external opticians.

What does this mean for marketing communications?

Payer marketers traditionally target 3 audience levels: the payer level, the provider level, and the patient level. While these audiences will remain in the evolving health care landscape, they may need to be approached differently:

  • At the payer level: analytics groups may possess powerful data that show differences in cost or performance for specific drug therapies. Can marketers acquire and leverage these data to reinforce the value of our drugs or other therapies? Conversely, if sophisticated IT systems detect physician deviations from practice protocols sooner, traditional formulary controls such as prior authorizations or step edits may be enhanced and present bigger obstacles to prescriptions
  • At the physician level: if physicians work directly for health plans, their flexibility to practice or prescribe will be constrained more than if they worked on their own. Will drug marketing messages that only contain safety, efficacy, and effectiveness be enough, or will additional message components be needed? How will sales force pull-through campaigns need to be engineered if a greater degree of control binds both formularies and prescribers?
  • At the patient level: cost pressures may make insurance plans a bit more rigid. Out-of-network (or non-formulary) options may be sparse and much more expensive. What value proposition will convince the member/patient to pay for the appropriate therapy?

No one knows what the future will bring. Even if health plans do transform themselves in the 21st century and “take care” of widows and orphans in a hypothetical role as “utilities,” we can probably guess that many payer audiences will still be eager for high-quality information that demonstrates value for each health care intervention. Most likely, health care marketing communications will have challenges and goals that are similar to those of today, yet slightly more difficult.

Readers, will heath plans’ transformations affect drug and device marketing significantly?

 

 

Sources:

  1. King James Bible (James 1:27).
  2. Do “widow and orphan” stocks still exist? Investopedia.com. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/analyst/121802.asp#axzz1x7O6I4Dw. Accessed June 5, 2012.
  3. Reforms prod insurers to diversify. The Wall Street Journal. May 12, 2011. http://professional.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703643104576291022457851278.html. Accessed June 5, 2012.
  4. To find new revenue streams, insurers are branching out into nontraditional areas. From Health Plan Week. http://www.henryloubet.com/news030512.htm. Accessed June 5, 2012.
  5. WellPoint to buy 1-800-contacts. The Wall Street Journal. June 4, 2012. http://professional.wsj.com/article/TPBWR0000020120604e8640002u.html. Accessed June 4, 2012.

 

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