Feb26

Twitter and Google Forge Deal That Reintroduces Tweets to Google Search Results

Social Search Blog Image_This article was co-authored by Buddy Scalera from Ogilvy CommonHealth – Parsippany, NJ.

Twitter announced recently that it will be providing Google with access to its microblogging service for search indexing. Although Twitter activity appears in Google’s search results now, the staggering volume, more than 6,000 tweets per minute, makes crawling and organizing the data impractical.

The new partnership between Twitter and Google will grant the market-leading search engine access to Twitter’s “firehose” of data. This data is generated from the stream of 140-character tweets produced by Twitter’s 287 million users. Google’s unique access will enable it to parse, arrange, and develop rank and relevance for the social content in real-time.

It is not clear how Google will present Twitter’s data in search engine results, but the real-time and topical nature of the social network will make it especially relevant for breaking news, cultural subject matter, and rising trends. It will also likely be aligned to searches for individuals and personalities. It seems natural to index a person’s Twitter account, recent posts, and other activity in Google’s Knowledge Graph. It is also likely that user activity provided by Twitter will help determine if Twitter data is shown at all and with what prominence.

Of course, Google and Twitter have both been smart about how to monetize their offerings. We expect them to maximize their shared advantage for advertisers on both platforms.

What does this mean for healthcare brands?

For brands that are participating on Twitter, this continues to extend the reach of those messages into keyword-oriented searches. It also gives added pause to those concerned about the impact of influencers and popular Twitter users who mention brand names and conditions. Although it is not likely that a rogue Twitter handle will appear in a product search return in the first few pages, it will be extremely relevant to the nature of searches surrounding patients, their discussion of their disease, and treatment options.

For brands not active on Twitter, there is still the need to monitor activity on social networks, especially those that are publically searchable. Users who share brand information may be competing with your brand for users’ attention. Those users may also be candidates for influencer engagement, or an opportunity to correct brand misinformation.

The new inclusion of timely social posting would work to tremendous advantage for those brands that seize conventions and meetings for social sharing and engagement. The timely nature of event hashtags and the limited shelf-life for this type of communication create an ideal pairing for topical search and brand engagement.

Brands that have not engaged in social media marketing or listening programs are likely to be surprised by the changes in search results for their brand names, disease state terms, and other organic search results. Brands will now be competing with many more voices and another variable of timeliness. As with many of the changes Google has introduced for marketers in recent years, the changes will come quickly and with little time to react for a process-oriented industry like healthcare.

Many brands participate in social listening to understand the way patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals are discussing the health category and their brand. These brand teams are likely to be better prepared for the deluge of information to come from this announcement, and how to process it.

Both Twitter and Google are companies that are comfortable experimenting in real-time. So while these changes will probably start with search engine results pages, we expect to see a ripple effect across other properties. Google+ and YouTube channels may be the first places where we see different types of experimentation and integration. After all, these properties are all part of Google’s ecosystem of data and advertising.

Although the announcement has been made, both parties have noted that it will be several months before tweets begin appearing in users’ searches in real-time. This announcement should have tremendous impact on the Draft FDA Social Media Guidelines presented to the industry last year.

To learn more about how this announcement and other market changes may affect your brand, please contact our team here at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide.

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Feb12

So What’s Your EHR Strategy?

EMR Blog Image2As pharmaceutical marketers, we no longer live in a world of traditional marketing where we can cast a wide net and hope we’re engaging with the right customers. We need to move communications to where our physicians are. Additionally, pharmaceutical companies have shifted away from traditional face-to-face tactics to more digital interactions, spending 25% of their marketing budgets on websites and online media.

“Unlike traditional forms of advertising, digital technologies enable tailoring of advertisements to individual physicians on the basis of data from clinical encounters,” according to Christopher Manz, MD, and David Grande, MD, MPA, from Penn Medicine, who recently gave a point of view on electronic health records (EHRs) in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Digital marketing provides us with tools to communicate more effectively with our customer through more individualized and personalized engagements, ensuring that the correct message is being delivered at the appropriate time. With new tools coming out weekly, it is easy to get caught up in the hype. Choosing a tactic simply because it’s the “newest” or “coolest” option will not guarantee success. Without the right strategy, we are just wasting time and resources. A strong digital marketing strategy is essential for communicating with our customers and staying ahead of our competition. The key is understanding our customers as well as a brand’s overall strategic and marketing objectives and then selecting the appropriate digital channel(s) that will help reach our target audience and goals.

As brands fight for share of voice in an overcrowded digital space, it’s time for companies to stop looking at the traditional online engagements as the cornerstone of HCP engagement and focus more on targeted engagements within electronic medical records (EMRs). According to market leaders, EMRs will become the dominant communications stream for physicians, and pharma has been slow to engage in the EMR format.

There has been tremendous growth of the EMR marketplace over the last few years. According to the latest government statistics, 72% of office-based physicians are using an EMR or EHR system, up from 48% in 2009, driven by meaningful use, which provided incentive payments for physicians and hospitals to implement them. EMR is now the center of physician workflow, and its data offers valuable insights into practice management and the physician-patient dynamic. This data can be leveraged to better serve patients and physicians by providing the tools that they need, such as patient education or reimbursement support. To that end, aligning with the right EMR solution should increase HCP engagement. What is encouraging, according to Manhattan Research’s latest Taking the Pulse survey, is that 71% of physicians are interested in interacting with pharmaceutical companies in this way, so we as pharmaceutical marketers need to capitalize on this channel in a strategic way that brings value to both providers and patients.

Integrating With the HCP Workflow

So how can we leverage the use of EMRs to benefit healthcare providers, patients and payers? With the demands placed on them today, physicians have less time for each patient, pharmaceutical reps, and for searching for information between appointments. Marketing to HCPs through EMRs will better integrate with a physician’s daily workflow and shift the mindset from disruptive marketing to a partnership. Physicians use EMRs for their tools, and the more information physicians are getting through these systems, the more opportunity for marketers to provide value. Leveraging EMRs to deliver meaningful assets to physicians when they are with patients represents a prime opportunity to change the behavior of our physicians.

There are several ways to reach physicians through EMRs. One obvious component is providing information about a brand at the point-of-prescribing that is of high clinical value to physicians. Additionally, according to Taking the Pulse, at least 40% of HCPs say patient education, samples, vouchers, patient financial support and product information are features they are most interested in seeing in EMRs. Other examples include formulary data and safety updates. EMRs can also be used for direct marketing to physicians through banner ads, industry-sponsored clinical resources and emerging solutions.

Marketing to HCPs through EMRs is not without its obstacles. There are approximately 600 EMR system vendors with only a handful offering partnerships with pharma companies. Therefore using EMRs is not a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing, and it might be required to customize materials for each platform. There are also concerns about privacy, interruption of the HCP process by forcing information during a clinical decision, and the intricacies of integration with EMRs. These all need to be considered when determining if and how an EMR plan and roll-out is right for your brand.

Looking to the Future

EMRs represent an opportunity for marketers to communicate to physician throughout a product life cycle—from clinical trial recruitment to workflow “interventions.” The opportunity for marketers in EMRs is here, and physicians want pharma involvement. But it’s imperative that a brand has a clear EMR strategy to capitalize on this channel opportunity and ensure we are providing a fully integrated communications plan.

 

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Feb6

Expensive medicines and where it’s all going?

Aussie Blog Image2The Australian Commonwealth spending on PBS drugs is currently around $9 billion AUD per annum.  It is forecast to be over $15 billion by 2023. We are seeing this upward trend due to the increasing incidence of chronic illnesses and conditions, the ageing population of Australia and the cost of new PBS medications.

We know the hurdle to getting drugs listed on the PBS is higher than ever.  But when they get listed why are these medications so expensive for governments and should we listen to those criticising the Pharmaceutical Companies who discover, commercialise and manufacturer these medications?

Bruce Booth wrote an interesting article recently on Forbes.com where he looked at two very different calculations around the total cost of drug development.  All things equal, and dipping into a Tufts Centre for the Study for Drug Development, it looks like the cost is now upwards on $2 billion USD per drug.  That’s huge by anyones standards.  But consider the journey to approval.

  • It takes an average of 10 years to bring a discovery to the approval stage.
  • Only 8% of drug candidates make it from discovery to the market – and that’s regulatory approval not reimbursement.  Reimbursement is a further stumbling block.
  • The cost of failures is the largest part of the overall cost in this analysis.

70% of the calculated cost of developing a new drug is that cost associated with the failures along the way. In a good article, Booth suggests we need to do things better, faster and cheaper.

I tend to agree. New technologies and the digital world we live in should mean we can share new information, new clinical data and new treatments more rapidly. Most products in the drug-pipeline are now complex, highly technical and often target new pathways and therefor HCPs will need to have a more in-depth understanding of the mechanism of action and science behind these innovative compounds and classes of drugs.

The other question is how can the ‘Big Data’ we keep reading about help us develop the right products for the right patients in a healthcare landscape that is constantly changing and evolving?  A load of patient, HCP and product data itself won’t help us.  We need to be able to analyse and sift through it to find meaningful truths and insights that change the way we develop and commercialise new medicines.  This will make a difference.

 

Originally published on Ogilvy CommonHealth Australia’s blog: http://www.ogilvycommonhealth.com.au/blog

 

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Jan16

Lessons From a Wise Cat

Knowledge Sharing Image BlogTwo cats race up a flight of stairs and make a sharp turn, where a large open space sits beneath a single handrail. One plunges through the open space and falls to the ground floor underneath. The other, keen to avoid his brother’s fate, screeches to a halt in front of the opening, just in time to avoid a similar misfortune. Ever since, he navigates the open space with care…as does cat number one, who landed on his feet and was no worse for wear following his inglorious fall.

Learning from the experience of others takes place all around us, from silly things to those more serious, from the animal kingdom and our four-legged friends to our bipedal colleagues and companions.

Nine months ago, my Knowledge Management partner in crime Rhiannon Preston posted a blog on the role of the Global Knowledge Management team and our remit to take the information and experience residing in our collective Ogilvy minds and transfer this into portals that can be tapped into by our colleagues.

The role of knowledge management was introduced to the Asia Pacific region in late 2013, responsible for fostering a closer community within the Ogilvy CommonHealth Asia Pacific health practices. With its mix of developed and emerging healthcare markets, the Asia Pacific region prizes knowledge transfer, both for the opportunity to learn from global communities as well as for the ability to share our own stories.

Part of knowledge management involves the transfer of facts—brands worked on or pitched for, therapeutic areas of expertise, metrics from successful campaigns. This information is easily captured and stored in databases, ready to be of use to the next person in need. In our increasingly digital world, knowledge is actually more accessible than ever—or rather, data is.

But it is the ability to draw insights from data that gives knowledge its true power and meaning. What is less tangible but perhaps more valuable than the data are the lessons learnt from each experience: which pitfalls to avoid, which gaps to avoid plunging through headfirst. This will be one of my aims for the Global Knowledge Management team in 2015: to go beyond making information and experiences available, to turning them into meaningful lessons that guide our colleagues. For those of us less disposed to landing on our feet after a tumble, this could prove rather useful indeed.

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Dec18

The Value of a PURL

Value of a PURL blogIMAGENo two pearls are alike—and neither are two PURLs. You may have heard this homophone for the popular gemstone in reference to digital marketing campaigns. The acronym refers to “personalized URLs,” or unique web addresses. The concept is relatively simple (at least in comparison to its execution): each target has an exclusive code attached to a link in an email they receive (or the banner they view, etc.). The degree to which this personalization is carried through to the website varies—from entirely unique landing pages, to custom-populated portions of the website (such as displaying the target’s name on the page), to all targets viewing the same exact page, and the codes being used only for backend tracking purposes.

The value of a pearl is determined by several factors: type, rarity, size, shape, color, etc. The value of a PURL is also multifaceted. The first, and perhaps most obvious value (at least to someone in marketing analytics), is that PURLs enable detailed tracking of an individual. Websites, with the help of reporting suites such as Omniture, record activity against each unique code. This tracking then enables a view of each target’s path and interactions on-site. Additional value is obtained when this information is collected on a personal level, and then used to customize further engagement. For example, if a target explores a certain area of a website, the next email to that target can reference this action and/or include further information on this topic. This engagement customization then translates into a third added value: the use of PURLs typically increases response rates. Not surprisingly, targets are more likely to click on a link when it is personally relevant.

The history of pearls in society as a valued possession is long and storied. In ancient times, pearls were rare and highly valued (as the legend of Cleopatra and her pearls implies). In more recent history, the value of pearls has diminished greatly due to the availability of cultured pearls. However, the value of PURLs is only increasing in marketing, and is becoming the cost of entry for a truly effective campaign.

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Nov6

Are You Listening?

8370148From predictive sentiment analysis and word association to audience profiling and message personalization, social listening techniques are helping healthcare marketers translate everyday conversations into brand positioning strategies, outreach programs, and relevant online content.

With the exponential growth in social sharing and social media, we posed the question, “Are You Listening” to the healthcare industry during a recent panel discussion on social listening at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide’s 3rd Annual Marketing Analytics & Consulting Summit. The reaction to the discussion during the summit was incredible, as attendees bombarded our panelists with questions, which made for a lively discussion.

Joining our expert panel discussion were several contributors: Ryan Alovis, InTouchMD, Karen Auteri, IMS Health, Michele Baer, Feinstein Kean Healthcare, Kim-Fredrick Schneider, Sermo, and our very own Angelo Campano, Ogilvy Healthworld.

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Attendees learned multiple perspectives from our expert panelists. First, social listening provides marketers with a reality check for what patients and physicians are discussing in terms of disease states, available drugs, and lifestyle considerations. Second, attendees learned that many of the techniques employed have been shown to help marketers manage and respond to adverse events and reposition web content to deliver more meaningful messages to audiences they are trying to reach and educate.

Our Approach

Making sense of social conversations as related to branded and unbranded messages, and disease states, is central to capturing emerging patient and physician trends around sentiment, preference, and message personalization. In the Analytics department at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, we believe social listening needs to be a dynamic discipline that is “always on” and can be configured to leverage our sophisticated network of algorithms to aggregate unstructured conversations, and glean meaningful insights related to the way patients and physicians are talking about our clients’ products.

Natural Language Processing (NPL) and text mining machine learning algorithms are used to extract dominant concepts across posts, tweets, text messages, and call center conversations. We create a dictionary of terms with the highest frequency across messages, which is also known as a term document matrix. Correlation analyses are run across the document matrix to isolate the top 100 concepts and messages. This concept investigation is done through splitting the data into a training dataset and a test dataset (usually a 70/30 split, respectively). We then apply decision trees and neural networks to learn from our sample training data on how the text in each comment is configured to help derive classification rules on sentiment (positive or negative). Once classification rules are set, our rules are then deployed for overall monthly scoring of brand sentiment.

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We can help our clients understand questions such as:

  • What are HCP and patient sentiments about the brand?
  • What are the terms and attributes HCPs and patients are using to refer to our ailment state or specific brand?
  • What are HCPs and patients saying about competitor brands?
  • How can we proactively manage adverse events reporting?

Notable Applications

With limited social buzz, a cancer drug maker found that their brand’s category was mostly associated with terms like LDK-378, crizotinib and maintenance terms. The brand itself was strongly associated with terms like Tarceva and ALK, but social listening allowed the brand to identify opportunities within the category to purchase tertiary or long-tail terms to optimize search.

In addition to finding ways to optimize search, we were able to identify three different types of back pain sufferers through social listening. From over 115,000 local EU market conversations, we were able to identify pre-concerned, seekers, and diagnosed back pain sufferers. This learning enabled our marketing plan to amplify key brand messages at the right moment, in the right space, and at the right time that was most relevant to when each audience was most likely to respond.

Offering Many Benefits

Through understanding and evaluating the reality of how patients and physicians are talking about disease states, branded or unbranded products, we’ve reshaped website content, fine-tuned campaign messages, optimized SEO, and considered new targeting pathways. Our processes will continue to evolve to help drug manufacturers become more relevant in meeting physician information and patient care needs.

If you’re not listening, our Analytics group at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide can help get you started.

 

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Oct3

Are Infographics Right for Qualitative Insights?

BI-BlogInfographics are not doing qualitative research any favors.

Good infographics clarify and condense complex information into more easily understandable and digestible visuals—an absolute plus in a culture that wants to utilize big data, but has a short attention span. It’s little wonder why they have become so popular, and why our clients are now asking for them.

Here’s an example of a good infographic by John Nelson, in which each line represents the path and intensity of a tornado tracked in the last 56 years by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Tornado Tracks Infographic2

The data is accurate and current, the story is compelling, and the design is appealing and clear.

However, infographics are not appropriate for all types of information. Some are being made to represent material which would be better suited for a simple list or chart. Others are being made to represent qualitative insights, like the one below:

The Gender Divide Infographic2

[Source: Motivation Factor and the Boston Research Group, 2012]

It seems a little weak. But why?

Rather than focusing on “black and white” data, qualitative research wades through the complexities, observing and accounting for the “gray” areas that quantitative research cannot address, such as the “whys” of human behavior. That is not to say that the insights are more complex—in fact, despite rigorous research methods based on the theories of social science, good qualitative insights seem simple, like something you have known all along but never realized.

Qualitative insights are supported by evidence that often consists of quotes, photos, videos, and notes. For example, in an ethnographic study with spinal cord injury patients, we found that patients are often in denial about their loss of function. We demonstrated this through quotes from patients saying they have accepted it, juxtaposed with photos showing patients doing things that indicated otherwise, such as refusing to build a ramp to their front door.

Despite the fact that research insights are stronger when shown with their supporting evidence, qualitative data is not easily condensed into a format appropriate for an infographic, and unfortunately is often excluded, as in the infographic above.

When qualitative insights are stripped of their rich supporting evidence, they lose a lot of their nuance and context—often bringing the validity of the insights into question. This is the last thing that qualitative research needs, since there is already a cultural bias that quantitative data is more reliable.

So, should qualitative research jump onto the infographics bandwagon? Probably not.

That’s not to say that qualitative research can’t learn something from infographics. Most people are visual learners, and too often qualitative research reports are text-heavy—our clients get bogged down trying to take it all in. We need to lighten it up, show more and tell less—craft a story from our findings that draws them in and rely on carefully chosen examples to fill in the nuances and context, rather than more text. We also need to pay attention to the aesthetics—good insights are easily lost in ugly or confusing formatting.

If we do these things, then we may just get to a point where clients do not feel the need to ask for infographics, because the research will not only be accurate and current, as it has always been, but it will be compelling, appealing, and clear, as well.

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Jul30

Numbers Don’t Lie—But They Could Be Trying to Tell You More

data tabletAn advantage of analytics that is often extolled or capitalized on is the sleek, easily consumed result at the end of miles and miles of data. It is an alluring power, to be sure, and the ability to see past the noise to extract core performance metrics is certainly foundational. Practically, however, these extractions may lull one into seemingly natural simplifications of data in order to provide neat, packaged numbers.

Analytics is not merely a mass of raw data; it is the underlying story being told by the data and it is the story that is meaningful. In essence, context imbues the easy and commonplace metrics we use and rely on with impact and meaning. Merely looking at just one aspect of performance can even be detrimental, as it blinds us from other motivating factors.

In fact, in an increasingly digital HCP world where 98% of physicians use the Internet for professional purposes [1], the task of understanding and connecting with this audience has grown more and more complex.

Specifically, with regard to digital web analytics, some of the primary and day-to-day concerns revolve around site performance and content engagement. What many of these issues generally boil down to are fairly straightforward answers—number of site visits and interest in specific site content.

Volume of site traffic is, independently, a rather inert number that can be incredibly misleading. High numbers one month followed by a much lower volume the next would assert that website performance has declined in terms of site traffic—but placing these numbers in context of another metric could change the view entirely. Looking at visits in light of bounce rates could inform us that a far smaller percentage of visits bounced in the latter month. Time on site might stay the same from month to month, but if page views per visit decrease, then more time is being spent consuming content on each individual page (on average), delivering an entirely different message once a corollary metric is introduced. The goal, after all, is to deliver the right message to the right audience, at the right time. A larger audience might not necessarily be the right audience, and so the quality of a site visit or a digital imprint is affected by and affects a multitude of other elements.

The benefits of exploring the connection between metrics are the models that emerge from the analysis, which in turn allow us to make more surprising and valuable insights. A top-line glance may miss or overlook these connections in its urgency to survey surface-level movements or trends; breaking down site referrals by traffic drivers might display which sources of site visits are the most prominent, but aligning these sources with other factors could reveal that certain segments are more likely to convert (download materials, sign up for accounts, order samples, etc.) and thus lead to immediately effective and actionable conversations.

At any point in a venture where data is generated, or can be generated, analytics can explain, evaluate, and optimize. No one part of it should be taken in isolation from the others, and this is no less relevant to the practice of analytics itself.

It is imperative that analytics never be stripped down to mere metrics, but live and thrive in a much larger framework.

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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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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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