Living the Dream

Perspective from the field

The melding of Pharma Sales and Marketing through Engagement February 3, 2010

Filed under: Marketing,Sales,Social Media Marketing — jenward @ 1:08 pm

I came across a very interesting article announcing the launch of an ebook titled Six Key Areas of Learning for Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing in 2010.  The ebook contains perspective and opinions from many of the Pharma Social Media thought leaders.  Here were their takeaways:

1) e-Patients are at the center and critical to learning and design;

2) Authenticity isn’t a ‘nice to do’, but a ‘must have’;

3) Don’t get distracted by social media ‘bells and whistles’—remember the basics (especially SEO) and keep your brand core strong;
4) The ‘marketing cycle of life’ is going through unprecedented change requiring the industry to unlearn much—movement from paid marketing to earned marketing requires a different mindset and skills;
5) New marketing requires new ROI thinking…the ROI of connection, authenticity and compassion; and
6) Effective marketing and engagement requires new kinds of leadership skills.

What really struck me was #4, which contained a new term for me – “Earned Marketing”.  In sales, our most successful reps are those that have established a trust and value relationship with their customer.  They are liked and respected by the physician, and their message therefore contains more equity.

It therefore stands to reason that Social Media is so unique because it truly is a melding of sales and marketing.  The best SMM campaigns are those that engage the target demographic, that build trust and emotion, and that put a friendly and accessible face to a corporation.  These are the very points that make Sales Reps so important and valuable.

I saw a new title yesterday called “Chief Engagement Officer” and I thought that was a really radical – and appropriate – term.  That type of position is exciting because it truly puts the customer and their needs first.  To engage you must offer several things:  valuable content, emotional pull, and personality.  In the new era, corporate loyalty will be a key target focus just as much as Brand Loyalty.

I was on a webcast yesterday hosted by John Mack @pharmaguy called “ePharma: What’s Working, What’s Not, & What’s Next.  John had an interesting comment in response to my question about how social media might change the structure of Marketing.  He pointed out that prior to the late 1990’s, many Pharma companies had Corporate marketing teams.  At the turn of the century, many of those teams moved to a brand level, and there was some loss of the corporate identity.  Now it apppears that social media will neccesitate a return and focus to the Corporate structure.

All of this points to a new focus, a new attitude, and a new structure for marketing 2010 and beyond.  It will be important to have the right people in place in marketing positions who will embrace change and who will be leaders in engagement.  The key factors that make sales reps so important in the field are the very same factors that will make our marketing efforts successful in the future – the ability to engage, to trust, and to build -and nurture – a relationship with the customer.