at 2:00 PM
May 14, 2013
Do pharmaceutical companies need to pay attention to the new Quantified Self movement? Originally published on pharmaphorum.com, Jim Dayton shares his personal views on the increase in keeping track of one’s own health data, known as the Quantified Self movement, by using medical devices and mhealth apps.
I am part of the Quantified Self movement. Which means: I am a person who believes that tracking one’s own data, health and wellness, activity or otherwise, leads to better overall health. I can’t say that it works for everyone, but it’s worked for me. I am truly a healthier person due to my data tracking.
So, how did I find myself in this group of self-help data junkies? The short answer is, nearly two years ago I stepped on a scale and was completely appalled by what I saw. And, frankly, that’s all it took. I saw a single piece of data that so frightened me I changed my entire lifestyle. And to me, that’s what the Quantified Self movement is all about – not being afraid of obesity, but seeing the data. In my opinion, there is no better motivator than seeing the raw, sometimes painful, numbers and knowing you can change them.
Although I say I am part of the movement, I am not on the extreme end of the Quantified Self spectrum. I am not collecting every piece of data about my body that I possibly can. I’m not sending blood, urine or bowel samples off to labs to get them analyzed on a weekly, or even monthly basis. I don’t own a glucose meter or blood pressure cuff. I don’t wear a heart monitor all day. I’m not managing complex datasets that quantify my emotions. I’m not criticizing people who do, I’m simply not that advanced. I am collecting data through wearable devices like the Fitbit and Nike+ Fuelband, and manually entering data into mobile apps like GoMeals.
Again, for me, it’s all about seeing the data. And more importantly, seeing the trends in the data I’ve collected. I’m not as concerned about the actual numbers all the time. Some things I want to trend downward, like weight. Other data points need to trend upward, like daily activity score. And others need to stay constant or within a range, like average heart rate. The data trends I see are my motivation. It gets me out of bed every morning knowing that my run is going to move the needle on my activity score or possibly push my weight down another pound.
Of course, there is other data that motivates me as well. I constantly watch the delta between my calorie intake and my calorie burn. I try very hard to keep that number constant. And it is hard. I am human after all, and we’ve just had the holiday season. Fast food is definitely easier when my wife and I are out shopping for gifts. And there’s not enough activity in the world that could counteract my large Thanksgiving dinner including two kinds of pie. But that’s the thing about seeing the data. I can see my strengths and my weaknesses. And I have to adjust my lifestyle to get the results I want.
In the interest of time, I’m not going to review the various wearable health devices on the market. According to ABI Research, there were 21 million devices in the market in 2011, and they predict there will be 169.5 million in the next five years. I will say that there are some cool things being done at companies like Misfit Wearables and Basis. And, as marketers, we should all take note of what’s going on with this trend.
My personal favorite device is Fitbit. To me, it is the gold standard of wearable activity monitors. I’ve tried a number of devices and I’m sure something will come along to take the place of my Fitbit at some point, but for today it is tops. It’s easily concealed. It’s easy to sync with my other data. And, it has an open API. Okay, that last one only matters if you are a software or web developer. But the point is that it integrates across the tools I use to measure my health and wellness. It doesn’t get in the way of my lifestyle. It just does what I need it to do.
Why pharma should care
It’s true that the Quantified Self movement still isn’t mainstream. Today, pharma generally doesn’t have to cater to people who are tracking even the small sliver of data that I collect about myself. But, that’s changing. Insurers are giving discounts based on health and wellness data. People are demanding better ways, passive ways, to track their own health data. And technology start-ups (and some big name brands) are answering the call.
Pharma has an opportunity to take some cues from the Quantified Self movement and wearable device market. People want to be healthy. People who are already on treatment are starting to expect the companies that manufacture their drugs to take a bigger stake in their overall health. And every pharma company I’ve spoken with for the last five years says they want to contribute to peoples’ health. To me, that sounds like a match made in heaven.
Check out more blog posts by Jim Dayton here.
at 2:30 PM
January 8, 2013
While most marketers have already published their predictions for digital marketing in 2013, I’ve taken some time to look back at what I thought would happen in 2012 and chosen, instead, to publish a trend wish list. I had a lot of hope for 2012. I thought that marketers would shift their thinking to a more multi-channel
approach, I saw the opportunities with the ubiquity of mobile
, and I thought relationships would be the building blocks of our digital strategies
. All of them were pretty safe bets, and many marketers saw the same potential in the digital space. Some took the leap, and others simply stuck their toe in the waters of these trends. But, as we all know, true evolution takes time.
So, this year, I will continue to look forward and refine my own approach to marketing. Though I still hold a lot of hope that marketers will adopt the trends of 2012, I’m looking at 2013 as the year marketers, brands and customers begin to collaborate even more than they have in the past, and we all end up on the same page in years to come. And that’s what makes the following thoughts more of a wish list than true predictions for the coming year. Living the Digital Life
Admittedly, I am an early adopter of all things digital. I enjoy trying out new gadgets and applications to see how, or if, they will fit into my life. I constantly scrutinize my decisions and tweak the number of tools I use looking for that perfect combination that actually enhances my life. I live the digital lifestyle. Right now, within arm’s reach there are at least three gadgets, with three different screen sizes and three different methods of delivering and collecting information. I know I’m not the average user; I’m a power user. And the insight I am gaining from my digital addiction helps me to understand exactly what combination of devices and applications are easy and valuable enough for a variety of users. Around the holidays, I get a lot of questions from family and friends about what new gadget they should buy or give as a gift. My answer is actually a question and always the same one: “What are you planning to do with it?”
This simple question makes all the difference when I’ve made recommendations, and it makes all the difference when marketers start making decisions about how they will use technology to engage their customers. Let’s face it: We live in a world where new devices are launched monthly, thousands of applications are launched daily, and we are all connected in a way that allows us to communicate as if we are standing in the same room all the time. Nearly all of us are carrying a powerful PC in our pockets that has the capacity to hold the personal data, not only of ourselves, but everyone we know. And this technology is maturing faster every day, making the power user of today the average user of tomorrow.
So, as I look to 2013 and think about technology, I will be looking for that perfect intersection where the multi-screen lifestyle, social media and mHealth applications meet. I will try to understand what role these platforms play in people’s decisions. I will continue to watch as users dive into their pockets or purses and pull out their always-on, at-hand PC (i.e., their mobile phone or tablet) to connect with friends, family and trusted brands to find answers to their questions. And I will encourage my colleagues to approach their digital initiatives from a mobile-first, but multi-screen, perspective. How May I Help You?
In October of last year, TrendWatching. com released a brief entitled, “Servile Brands: Why for Brands, Serving, Assisting and Lubricating is the New Selling.
” It is a great brief that I highly recommend reading. However, the idea of providing services beyond a product is not new, and I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “the new selling.” It’s traditional customer service packaged in a new way due to technology. Obviously, technology has changed customer behavior along with their expectations. Because they are always connected, their expectation is that your brand is, too. Because they believe in a specific cause, your brand should, too. And because they know you are tracking their behavior, they expect you to look at that data and help them whenever and wherever you can.
For the healthcare industry, this is a tall order. It essentially means that if you are providing a drug, you should also be providing the tools and support to help people live healthier, have easier access to your product, or get their questions answered by experts. The servile brand, or customer service, takes on a whole new meaning when we are talking about something that affects everyone. Health is arguably the second-most talked about subject after money - until you become a patient, that is. With this, there is a lot of potential for marketers in the pharmaceutical industry to create a digital environment that truly satisfies many pharma company goals of becoming holistic healthcare companies. But it will definitely take an organizational shift in mindset to become a servile brand and provide the appropriate level of service expected by your customers.
So, as I look to 2013 and think about marketing, I will help my clients and colleagues find better ways to serve and collaborate with their customers. I will look for opportunities to assist customers, through technology, in a more human way, knowing that the more indispensible the brand can be as a resource by providing relevant information and assistance when customers need it most, the more trusting, long-term relationships will be built with the by-product of higher revenues. Access vs. Ownership
Like most marketers, I had a really hard time escaping the buzzword “big data” in 2012. Right off the bat, let me tell you, I am not a data expert. However, I do understand that marketers have more data now than they have ever had in the past about their customers. Of course, that doesn’t mean that any of us know exactly how to use all that data to our brands’ advantage. Most of us are still trying to figure that part out. What we do know is that collecting customer data has become an issue with our customers. They want to know what we are collecting, how we are collecting it, who we are sharing the data with, and where we draw the line between good marketing and an invasion of their privacy. And if you are deemed to be doing the latter, be sure to inform your PR department to prepare for a crisis.
There have been numerous experts that have boiled the issues around big data and privacy down to access and ownership. Companies need to clearly define what personal data they collect, why they want access to that data and how it will be used. Generally, people want to trust the brands they use. Give them a reason to. Show people the benefits of allowing you access to their data. Even if you think you own the data, it’s better to be transparent and avoid a PR nightmare that could even lead to a lawsuit where ownership would be determined in both the courtroom and the court of public opinion.
So, as I look to 2013 and think about the challenges ahead, I will advise my clients and colleagues to actually use the data they collect, or gain access to, to provide the optimal brand experience for customers. I will identify opportunities to build trust by providing relevant information to customers based on their data. Privacy can become less of a challenge if people know the benefits of allowing a company access. Looking Forward
My trend wish list really boils down to one thing: customers. They’re people, their lives have changed due to the speed of technological advancement, and they expect marketers to keep up. They want to be treated like people, with all the respect you would want to be treated with. And, they want you to earn their business. They want to do business with companies and brands that will go the extra mile, and they will reward you for it. In 2013, I look forward to seeing great work from marketers who don’t just think about how to sell more products because they realize that giving customers a great experience will do just that.
at 1:30 PM
November 12, 2012
I will be the first to admit that I was nervous when we launched TweetPharm Rank. I'd seen many other companies attempt to rank influence and suffer a bit of backlash from the online community. Of course, TweetPharm Rank is not necessarily ranking the influence of any of the pharma companies listed in the tool — just like Klout isn't truly measuring or ranking the influence of everyone participating in social media. TweetPharm Rank is simply a number that has been calculated based on activity that we feel is important and indicates which companies are finding success on Twitter.
We're using the Twitter API to look at six factors — number of retweets received, number of tweets listed, number of retweets given, number of tweets, number of followers and number of accounts the handle is following — and weighting these factors to produce a rank for each handle listed on TweetPharm. See a more detailed explanation here.
Of course, success on Twitter is subjective. And that's why we chose to publish our algorithm for TweetPharm Rank — because the ranking methodology is open to interpretation. At Intouch, we believe that metrics like this can only be valuable if people know what is being measured. To be completely honest, we saw the reaction other companies received for labeling their methodology "proprietary." So, we took out the "proprietary" unknowns from the measurement algorithm and opened it up for scrutiny. As much as we pride ourselves on our social media and analytics knowledge, we know that constructive criticism can come from anywhere and tends to make for a better end product.
Thankfully, the industry and other interested parties responded to our call for feedback.
David Thompson, social media strategist at Boehringer-Ingelheim and @dcthmpsn on Twitter, provided great feedback via the most apropos channel: Twitter. After questioning the importance we placed on listed counts (weighted at 20% of TweetPharm Rank), he provided two additional measures:
"@Intouchsol The retweet/tweet ratio is a good proxy for engagement also – gets at how resonant content is with followers (and easy to calc[ulate].)"
"@Intouchsol You could also include the average # of followers of my followers (a proxy for influence), pretty straightforward to compute."
This is where the beauty of having an open algorithm comes into play. On all counts, he’s correct. Thanks to his feedback, our team is testing different weighting of the criteria we’ve defined in the algorithm to see what effect it has on the rankings. We’re also going to test the additional measures Thompson suggested to see what effect they have on rankings or what they may tell us about the accounts that are listed on TweetPharm.
Although the Intouch team fully believes in the power of social media, it’s always nice to have reminders like this one to show the true power of this channel. We welcome any feedback and feel that any ideas or thoughts will only make TweetPharm a more valuable resource for the industry. So, please keep sending your input and stay tuned. We’ll be sure to let you know how it affects the rankings.
at 4:50 PM
March 22, 2012
For my second year at SXSW, I knew that I would need a much better plan than I had for year one. So almost as soon as the panels were announced, I logged in to my account to pick the topics of interest to me. I chose two for every time slot. I made sure that if one panel wasn’t what I was looking for, I could quickly make my way to the other. I left only enough time to eat lunch, stop by the trade show and attend a couple of networking events. I synced everything with the iPhone app so I could have my schedule at my fingertips. Everything seemed perfect. But what I’ve learned after another year at SXSW is that there are always surprises. And the best-laid plans always change once you step off the plane in Austin, Texas.
From an informal survey of conference-goers and my own observations, I would say 2012 marked the first year that marketers simply outnumbered the creative tech crowd. This may have been due to a sharp increase in digital ad spending over the last year or because digital development and design has simply become an integral part of every marketer’s arsenal. That being the case, the panels seemed to be much less about advanced digital design and development, instead catering more to customer-centric marketing approaches and user experience, both in the technical sense and as it relates to overall branding. Like last year, I tried to take in as many sessions as possible across a broad spectrum of topics. And once again, I came away with three overarching topics that I feel will affect marketers over the next year.
Admittedly, I had a number of preconceived notions about the concept of “big data” going into SXSW. I am a proponent of utilizing personal data to provide a valuable experience whether it is a commercial experience or not. Every aspect of business is intensified and made more valuable; the more we know about our customers, the more we use that knowledge to personalize their experience. This is no different from the mom-and-pop shops of yesteryear except we no longer physically live in every customer’s community. Big data can remedy this and allow each business to provide that same personalized service. And, in my opinion, this will become a consumer expectation in the coming years.
From the first panel I attended, Rethinking Civilization for the Social Age presented by Don Tapscott, to my final panel, The Semantic Web Has Gone Mainstream! Wanna Bet? presented by Juan Sequeda and Peter Mika, and every panel in between the topic of big data was present. Tapscott introduced his Five Principles for the Age of Networked Intelligence: collaboration, transparency, sharing, interdependence and integrity, which laid the groundwork for the bigger discussions of the week around data and using it to create true one-to-one customer experiences. Without strict adherence to these principles, the level of trust necessary for people to supply the data that drives big data initiatives simply isn’t possible.
Later, in the panel The Future of Digital Health, Paul Willard of Practice Fusion, a company that offers free, Web-based electronic health records, reinforced Tapscott’s principles by pointing out that health technology can’t be effective without data—relevant, tagged, authenticated and safe data. And this data will not be provided unless we trust the people and companies utilizing it. If for no other reason, big data may be the driving force that challenges pharma as an industry to revitalize its public image and rethink its infrastructure to share valuable data.
Shaina Boone and Joseph Carrabis, in their panel F**K Privacy: Neuromarketing Is the Web’s Future, sparked a healthy debate about privacy by explaining how people may not need to voluntarily provide much of the data needed to power big data initiatives. Instead, simple mouse, cursor and finger movements on a PC, tablet or mobile device can provide a wealth of data, including a person’s ethnicity, age and location. And they warned that the public must be prepared for the concept of fair exchange by asking if we are willing as a culture to give as good as we’ll get.
In my final session, The Semantic Web Has Gone Mainstream! Wanna Bet?, the panelist dissected the concept of big data, explained exactly how it works and gave examples of how it already exists on the Internet today. Though the conversation was definitely more technical than what I am used to, Sequeda made some interesting observations about how developers are already using the tools like micro data, RDFa, Facebook’s Open Graph API, HTML5 and schema.org to build the foundations necessary for big data initiatives and eventually artificial intelligence. But for today, these tools simply provide a more relevant experience for Web users.
For the second year in a row, humanization was part of nearly every session I attended. However, after a year, it seems that the concept of humanization has become more refined. Some of the more famous panelists like Anthony Bourdain and Kevin Smith drove home the two tenets of humanization. First, know who you are. Always understand what you find valuable and provide a similar experience. Second, do it for the fans (customers). Because, at the end of the day, providing an exceptional customer experience always turns out well—even when you make mistakes.
There were also many panels that stressed how humanization for brands has gone far beyond simply writing in a personal tone on the company Twitter account or Facebook page. In the panel Friending Pharma: Patients, Industry & New Media, Alicia Staley, cancer survivor and advocate, made a vital point to pharma companies wanting to connect with her via social media saying, "Remember, your business objective is my life." Her fellow panelists, Kerri Sparling and Allison Blass, echoed this when they pointed out that they feel more comfortable working with companies when they know the people that own the relationships and have developed personal relationships with the community managers.
Of course, humanization also has a technical element. Amber Case, in her presentation, Ambient Location and the Future of the Interface, called this "calm technology." She explained the idea as interfaces that work based on regular movements. For instance, there is a movement created by a group of people to design computers that conform to them and their lifestyle. Instead of forcing the person to stop their routine, the computer simply lives alongside them. Case said, "The best technology is invisible. It should get out of the way and connect people."
One of the nice things about the SXSW conference is that attendees have the opportunity to see exactly how ideas converge. To me, this experience was very evident with many of the high-profile panels that focused on, what I will call, digital activism. The ideas of humanization and using big data to provide a more personal experience came together and forced the question, what do we really want people to do online? And, the resounding answer was do good. Time and time again, this idea was cited as a future consumer expectation of the brands we all interact with most.
In the panel Build. Community is Easy, Saving the World is Hard, Colin Wallis of Livestrong and Scott Orn, who works with rare disease patient communities through Ben’s Friends, said it’s a big responsibility and privilege to be involved with online patient communities. But the goal is to always give members as much opportunity as possible to take action. They agreed that brands must show their commitment to the communities they serve and facilitate action on behalf of the entire community, not just in the name of profits.
Due to the impact of social media on world events over the last year, the vast majority of the digital activism panels were focused on politics and government. Former Vice President Al Gore interviewed Sean Parker, and both agreed that we are at an evolutionary stage of the Internet where people expect utilitarian social platforms that facilitate action. This theme carried over in Jennifer Pahlka’s presentation, Coding the Next Chapter of American History, where she demonstrated how small Web applications designed by Code for America’s developers are intended to augment local government by providing citizens the means to act.
I don’t think anyone that attended SXSW would disagree that the digital activism panels were merely one step away from showing how this idea could work in health care. At least, it seemed like the principles behind using technology to facilitate action could easily translate to health and wellness programs that could help promote conversion and adherence.
This year, Intouch sent a few other representatives to SXSW. And I can promise they have emerged from the experience with insights different from mine. So stay tuned for their thoughts in the coming weeks.
at 10:00 AM
March 21, 2012
When someone mentions Philadelphia, I immediately think of two things, the Liberty Bell and Rocky Balboa. Of course, I know that the city offers so much more than the two icons that pop into my head. Philadelphia is rich with American history and culture. And in the coming months, it will be rich with new ideas around pharma marketing.
On March 26-28, Intouch will be participating in CBI’s 11th Annual iPharma Connect conference. This year’s conference is focused on digital innovation, a topic that seemingly everyone in the industry is going to approach this year. How will pharma innovate in the coming years without definitive guidance from the FDA? This question has challenged nearly all of our clients, and there are multiple facets to the discussion. On March 26, I will be joining Cheryl Ann Borne of Bristol-Myers Squibb to discuss “What Makes a Health App Effective?” And, on March 27, it is our pleasure to be presenting some of our thoughts surrounding digital convergence in the presentation, “Integrated Marketing 2012 – The Impact of Social Media and Mobile on Pharma.”
Then, on May 21-23, Intouch will be heading back to Philadelphia to participate in ALI’s Social Media for Pharma event. This event is focused on utilizing Web 2.0 strategies to drive business results. Again, Intouch has been fortunate to partner with our clients to make great strides in pharma social media. And at this event we will be presenting a pre-conference workshop, as well as a case study during the general sessions.
In the hope that you will join us at the CBI event, we are offering a $400 discount by registering with the discount code IPCINS.
To join us at ALI’s event, register by April 4th and save $400 by mentioning Intouch Solutions.
We hope that you will be able to join us in Philadelphia for both events. But, if not, please follow @WendyBlackburn , @JBarnes or @JimDayton on Twitter to get the latest updates and news from the conferences.
at 10:00 AM
March 5, 2012
This was my second year attending ePharma Summit. Just like last year, it was a who’s who of pharma marketing including top industry executives, agencies and vendors. Unlike last year, I decided to take a little time after the conference to digest some of the overarching ideas and see exactly which topics would stick in clients’ minds. Of course, social media and mobile dominated the conversation and though those topics were prevalent, there was another topic that seemed to hit home with a lot of attendees I’ve spoken to since the conference: the need for pharma marketers to look outside the pharma industry for inspiration to innovate.
This is always difficult for pharma marketers. Why? Because in one breath we are asked to bring examples from outside the industry to the table, and in a second breath we are asked who else is doing this in pharma. It is an understandable catch-22. On one hand we want to provide the best possible experiences to patients, caregivers and HCPs, and on the other we need precedence to make medical, legal and regulatory teams feel comfortable that these innovative approaches are not going to receive a warning letter from the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion. Regardless of this situation, there were a few ideas presented at ePharma Summit that can safely be adapted by pharma marketers to improve customer experience.
The Quantified Self
Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine introduced us to “the quantified self.” He showed how consumer interaction with technology has produced an alarming amount of personal data. With Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest and all of the other social networks on the Internet, each of us has amassed a log of our lives. With gadgets like Fitbit, Nike+ Fuelband and Jawbone Up, we have logged our health and wellness. And with websites like Google, Microsoft HealthVault, InsideTracker and PatientsLikeMe, we have tracked our behavior. Put all of this quantifiable data together and we have a pretty accurate view of our lives.
The possibilities of what can be done with even limited access to this data are staggering. But for pharma, the implication is that this data could help us move from reactive medicine to true preventive medicine. The trends shown in the data could revolutionize the health care industry by personalizing treatments.
Of course, access to this data comes at a hefty price. Privacy is the first hurdle. The question that needs to be answered is who owns the data? Is it the property of the individual? Or, is it the property of the site being used to track the information? Or, is there some other group that needs to take control and manage the data? Kelly proposes that each of us own our personal data, but we grant access to others when there is a distinct benefit to us. I agree. If there were a distinct value in allowing someone access to my data, I would grant that access. And when I put this in the context of my health and wellness, I would definitely grant access to those who could grant me the benefits of preventive medicine versus reactive treatment—whether it is a doctor, caregiver, medical device or pharmaceutical company.
When I first heard the term “mass personalization” at ePharma Summit, I laughed. My initial response was that the term alone was an oxymoron. Just by definition, personalization doesn’t happen en masse. Charlotte McKines, global vice president, marketing communications and channel strategies at Merck, made me rethink my response. Automated mass personalization has been happening on a micro level in email for years. McKines contends that these same principles we’ve been using for email can be expanded for all digital channels … and, she’s right.
What McKines is envisioning has been dubbed “Big Data.” It means creating a marketing ecosystem where data drives personalization across a multichannel platform. The most difficult part of this system would be creating the database that would act as the engine for such a marketing platform. It would mean gathering large amounts of data and understanding its relevance to each customer in order to utilize it for communications. It would mean regular data hygiene to ensure the information is accurate. It would mean understanding each customer and building the system in accordance with their preferences. Yes, it can be done. Automated personalization can be accomplished en masse. But it will take a fundamental shift in thinking when it comes to data collection and the customer continuum—the kind of thinking we are seeing from companies like Amazon, Zappos and BabyCenter. They have learned to tame the constant stream of Big Data and use it to their advantage.
Human-Centricity and “The Dragonfly Effect”
With all the discussion of data and how to use it effectively to connect with customers, another topic emerged from ePharma Summit: human-centricity. Andy Smith, author of “The Dragonfly Effect,” put some of the earlier discussions about data into perspective when he talked about the very human, or emotional, tenets of his book. His theory is that social media works best when it has meaning. And meaning is driven by four factors:
1. Focus—Companies that want to have an impact on customers using social media must focus on a single goal. They should ask themselves what single-focused goal is actionable, measurable and the mere thought of achieving it makes people happy?
2. Grab Attention—Companies must provide messages that are personal, unexpected, visceral and visual in order to make people look and remember.
3. Engage—Companies must tell an authentic story that customers can empathize with and be willing to spend time talking about.
4. Take Action—Companies must get employees and customers to act. They must arm them with the tools necessary to do something beyond the message.
What Andy Smith describes is a very human-centric marketing approach. He showed a great example of how this worked with the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine where a Coke machine placed on a college campus gave away more than just one Coke per customer. From too many Cokes for one person to ever drink or carry to a 10-foot party sub, the machine surprised people all day long and allowed them to share some happiness with the people immediately around them.
And as we move toward the quantified self and mass personalization, it will take a human-centric approach to ensure marketing success. We have to take into account that our customers are human, and understanding their emotions is extremely important when we ask them to interact with our brands.
Looking back at ePharma Summit, I feel the conference showed us what companies outside pharma have done and what we’ve done inside pharma in comparison. I believe there has to be a middle ground. We cannot simply dismiss efforts by saying we could never do that in pharma. Technology is too far advanced for us not to be able to find a way. Customers expect us to innovate and evolve with them. I can’t help but feel it would be an epic tragedy for the public health if pharma can’t find a way to live up to customers’ expectations. And like many of my colleagues at ePharma Summit, I came away from the conference refocused on ensuring that doesn’t happen.
at 9:30 AM
January 9, 2012
As I start to see other marketers’ predictions for 2012 that highlight coming trends from the forthcoming Facebook IPO to the continued rise of mobile social media, I think about some of the fundamental marketing principles that I’m hoping will change in the coming year. Like many marketers, I would like to see us move away from thinking of people as customers. Obviously, I’m not the first to see the trend among brands to become more human in their approach. Humanization has been top of mind for many companies, and they have all struggled to overcome their traditional mindsets.
But, as I see it, nothing has really changed. Fundamentally speaking, marketing has always been about growing a relationship with prospective customers – moving them through a simple continuum from awareness to conversion to affinity. Maybe humanization is just a slight change in mindset with a major change in terminology. Instead of thinking about customers, it is time for us all to simply foster relationships and categorize them much like we would our personal relationships. As marketers, we should do away with the traditional marketing continuum and create a relationship continuum that looks something like this:
• Acquaintances – Much like our personal lives, this group is aware of our existence but doesn’t know the full story. They are interested in learning more and may even give us some rudimentary personal information to further the relationship, possibly a phone number or email address. This will be the largest pool of people we can connect with in the hope of fostering longer-term relationships. It would be wise to learn as much as you can about this group and provide the most relevant information that addresses their needs as a collective.
• Colleagues – This group has taken the next step and has a vested interest in your brand. For pharma marketers, this means they are a patient, caregiver or health care professional. In any case, your brand has provided them with something of value that is relevant to their personal situation. This group is open to a long-term relationship but, as the name implies, it will be all business. Your brand will be expected to help them more than they will help you. You must prove that your brand can be a valuable resource. As long as you are willing to address their needs, they will be loyal.
• Friends – The difference between friends and colleagues has to do with expectations. Yes, friends will expect you to address their needs and concerns. But their expectations will go deeper. They will take the relationship beyond the business of your brand and expect preferential treatment. In return, they will tell their friends about your brand. As long as you pay attention and handle their needs on a one-to-one basis, they will be strong advocates of your brand. They expect to know the people behind your brand and find that connection to be extremely important. It gives them credibility among their friends and allows them to feel like they have an inside track with your brand.
• Family – Obviously, this is the smallest pool of people to engage with your brand. However, they are absolutely the most important. This group wants to be involved with your brand. You have proven to be a valuable resource to them, and they want to do the same for you. Any time you need help, they are there. These are the people you should listen to and collaborate with to make your brand irreplaceable to others.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the influence on this continuum from Google+. I haven’t spent a vast amount of time organizing my social graph into Google+ Circles, but if I had, my circles would most likely follow this schema. This is how I think about people – not just as a marketer, but also as a person. Granted, I try not to refer to myself as a brand, but in reality the metaphor works. And if more marketers adopt this human approach, I see many profitable years to come… far beyond 2012.
Whether our focus is on multichannel, mobile or relationship marketing, one thing we can all count on is that the marketing landscape will change in 2012. The coming year holds the potential to be a redefining time for all of us, and I look forward to seeing exactly how we define the future of our industry.
at 10:00 AM
December 27, 2011
In May of 2011, the majority of mobile phones purchased in the U.S. were smartphones. By September, more smartphones were shipped in Europe than feature phones. It may not happen in 2012, but this trend shows no signs of stopping until the term “feature phone” is extinct. “Smartphones” will simply become “phones.” And phones will be your mobile computer—your preferred point of access to your digital world connecting you to your friends, work, information and entertainment. Phones also have the potential to become your preferred method of payment, your wallet. And as a marketer, the connection between people and their phones is quickly becoming critical
The technology exists for marketers to deliver on the mantra of the last several years—deliver a relevant message at the appropriate time via the customer’s preferred channel. Unlike other digital platforms, mobile devices have the capabilities to make this a reality. I would challenge anyone to name another platform, digital or traditional, where you can pinpoint a consumer’s exact location, behavior, attitudes and preferences like mobile. Unfortunately, neither consumers nor marketers are really comfortable with this level of access to one another. And there have been, and will be, many mistakes made on the road to responsible mobile marketing.
A prime example of marketers’ reluctance to embrace the mobile platform is QR codes. For the last two years, I have been paying close attention to the adoption of QR codes. These small, black and white codes that can be easily scanned by a smartphone and deliver a plethora of information to the consumer held great potential. Unfortunately, marketers started plastering QR codes everywhere without fully understanding exactly how they work. I started seeing them on print ads, in stores, on TV and even on billboards … yes, billboards. And as soon as I started seeing them, I started scanning.
I recently decided to do a little test. I will caveat the results by saying I am not a researcher. I am a marketer. I tried to keep my methodology as scientific as possible, but my results are not statistically relevant until I repeat the test a few more times at least. I set out to scan 100 random QR codes across as many media as I could find. I found that out of 100 QR codes scanned, only two sent me to a mobile-optimized website. Frankly, that is not responsible mobile marketing. It is an exercise in disappointment, ruining the user’s mobile experience before it even starts.
The Application Filter
Another thing marketers have to keep in mind is that your messages are being filtered through a complex application-based aggregation system. Understanding your customers’ aggregation behavior—knowing what applications they use, native or Web-based, and what that mix looks like—will be key to delivering relevant information and providing value via mobile. But it doesn’t stop there. Application-based operating systems have been around for years, and cloud computing will integrate peoples’ intricate aggregation systems across all digital channels. For example, look at applications like Pandora or Evernote. Connecting with users of these applications will take serious understanding of how and when people use the desktop app, mobile app, tablet app, or even the TV app.
Think Mobile First
I feel that with the proliferation of smartphone adoption, mobile’s always-on, in-pocket nature, and users’ disposition to aggregate their digital lives, marketers must consider mobile our primary communications platform. It truly is the tie that binds together your business objectives and marketing goals across multiple channels and tactics. Of course, there is one giant hurdle for marketers to navigate. Mobile is still in its infancy as a marketing platform, and convincing CMOs to invest is difficult. This becomes less of an issue if you start with an integrated digital strategy that includes mobile being developed in parallel with other digital initiatives. You will also find cost efficiencies with this type of planning. If all else fails, make sure your CMO has a smartphone and appeal to his or her usage habits.
Some of you may be asking what about tablets? Aren’t tablets driving a lot of the mobile growth? My answer is simple. So far, studies have shown that tablet usage is primarily in the home or at the office. Until people start using tablets to get directions in their cars, at the grocery store to ask their significant others what brand to buy, at their children’s dance recitals to post a video to Facebook, as a flashlight in the woods, to annoy the people in front of them at the movies, or anywhere other than in the home or office, can they really be considered mobile?
Mobile may be everywhere in 2012. But, there is one more thing I’m looking forward to. Stay tuned for the final installment of the series and comment on what you are looking forward to.
at 2:00 PM
November 29, 2011
Working in digital marketing, I’ve always been a bit reluctant to prognosticate about the future. I’ve been especially careful the last few years, as I’ve watched technology turn on a dime. However, 2012 is different. 2011 has seen the mainstream emergence of two platforms that many marketers have been forecasting would take center stage for nearly ten years – mobile and social media. In my mind, these two platforms have simply matured to the point where it is up to us, as marketers, to truly embrace our consumers via the digital space in new and exciting ways. In 2012, these platforms will continue to provide opportunities far beyond our wildest dreams and force us to start thinking about how they will be integrated into our already-crowded marketing mix. Now, it is simply a matter of choosing how we go about realizing the potential of all of the channels our customers use every day.
Refocusing on Multi-Channel
Mobile and social media, as stand-alone platforms, are pretty significant. People’s reliance on their mobile devices has been growing steadily enough for every year to be coined “The Year of Mobile” since 2000. But, as of 2012, we are on the verge of more people accessing the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs. eMarketer estimates the number of U.S. tablet users to reach 54.8 million by 2012 and 89.5 million by 2014. There will also be 90.1 million smartphone users by the end of 2011 with a projected 148.6 million by 2015. As marketers, we can no longer think of mobile as a “channel” or something we may “test” this year. It is a legitimate platform challenging television for peoples’ attention. It is time to take a long look at our marketing mix and understand that mobile will be where we reach our customers. It represents the largest opportunity for us to provide valuable information to people where they are at any given moment. “Where” being the operative word here.
In pharma and health care, we are seeing explosive growth in mobile adoption by patients, caregivers, HCPs and pharma companies themselves. The pool of valuable content that can be delivered via mobile is limitless and we are seeing many companies dipping their toe in the water by providing simple brochures via iPad for their sales force to use when they meet with doctors. At Intouch, we’ve fully invested in mobile and have built multiple applications for our clients. But we know we have only scratched the surface. To truly provide value, we look to build fully interactive mobile experiences and services for patients and doctors that allow our clients to engage with the people they serve at an unprecedented level across multiple channels. Integration with traditional and mature digital initiatives will be key to success.
Much like mobile, social media has been around since AOL was in its heyday. For most marketers, social media has been more of an annoyance than a marketing platform. It has been the place customers go to air grievances, review their products and services, and generally disrupt one-way messaging. As social media has grown, we now know that this is where the field between marketers and consumers is level. Marketers don’t own the space. The people own it, and we have to follow their rules. We have to provide what customers want. And we’ve found they want help. They want us to hear their grievances, ideas and preferences and provide value far beyond what they may receive by calling the traditional 1-800 number.
The most positive thing to come out of the emergence of social media has been the change in marketers’ mindset. The simple loss of just a bit of control over our message and branding has taught us to think more like the customers we serve. Granted, no one has fully figured out how to be a marketer and use social media like a customer. But we are getting there. I’ve seen many health care and pharma companies embrace social media this year, providing more genuine access to customers. Some have taken small strides, like creating a Twitter account , YouTube channel or Facebook page, and some have developed larger efforts to create a social media ecosystem.
I expect to see the companies that Intouch works with not only take social media and mobile into the fold of their marketing mix but start to reevaluate their entire marketing mix. Mobile and social media have forever changed the landscape, and 2012 is the perfect time to create a marketing strategy where all platforms and channels work together. Companies must adopt multi-channel thinking and invest fully to build a marketing mix that encompasses the best attributes of traditional and digital marketing, blurring the lines between them to provide exactly what customers need and want. I know the full extent of this change can’t happen in 2012. As some companies are finding out, it takes a multi-year plan to discover the benefits of adopting multi-channel thinking. This is a new mindset to many, but evaluating your marketing mix over the next year and investing fully in these platforms may very well be the most important business decision you make.
Of course, multi-channel marketing isn’t the only thing to look forward to in 2012. Stay tuned for the rest of the series and comment on what you are looking forward to.
at 10:00 AM
November 11, 2011
Gamification has arguably been one of the top marketing buzzwords over the last few months. It seems every time I mention the term, there is some argument over what it actually means. Some think it is all about creating a branded game. Others think it is about attracting gamers to their brand. And still others think it is about in-game advertising. It just goes to show there is a lot of confusion around the term.
Recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to see game-based marketing, game mechanics and “the game layer” described by the likes of Seth Preibatsch, Gabe Zichermann and other gamification thought leaders. And, immediately, I have recognized two things. First, gamification is still a very nebulous term… even for the experts. Some of them describe it as incorporating “fun” or “play” into relationship marketing. Others believe it delivers “real rewards” or allows customers to “level up.” Both views are correct and are a large part of the discussion around gamification. However, they do not get to the heart of how game mechanics affect people, their brand loyalty and lifetime value of a customer.
Second, I recognize the huge potential impact that gamification could have on health care. I define gamification as utilizing game mechanics to tap into people’s natural instincts and providing authentic challenges that lead to truly valuable results. Not a good marketing definition, right? But it makes much more sense when you apply this idea to health and wellness. A great example is Fitbit.
Gamification in Action
The Fitbit is quite simply a health and wellness device that does some amazing things. This technology tracks your activity throughout the day using motion sensors, much like the kind you would find in the Nintendo Wii controller. It tracks your steps like a pedometer, the calories you burn as a result of those steps and your daily mileage. It can also be used to track the duration of physical activities and sleep. The personal data is then fed to a website via the device’s wireless connection to a base station that can be connected to any computer. All anyone has to do is wear the small device every day and his or her activity is logged.
At this point, you are probably asking how this relates to gamification. The exciting part of the Fitbit has nothing to do with the small piece of plastic and circuits they are selling. It has to do with the personal data they are collecting. To activate a Fitbit, the user logs into the fitbit.com website and creates a profile. Using Facebook’s Open Graph API, the Fitbit profile can be linked to your Facebook profile and search for your friends who are also using Fitbit. Once friends are identified, they become your friends within the Fitbit network.
And here’s where gamification starts. Now I am compelled to be more active, because I want to be on top of the leaderboard of all my friends. I want to take more steps, burn more calories, lose more weight, eat better, have a better heart rate, etc. You get the point. My reward is better health, and Fitbit has tapped into my natural, competitive instinct of wanting to be in better health than anyone else I know.
So, what’s the end result of this type of gamification? Just by playing along and using the device, I have a wealth of health information I never would have tracked before. Not only do I know how active I am, I know my sleep patterns, eating habits, blood pressure, and my heart rate. And, it is all in a place where I can easily export that information for my doctor. The doctor can actually practice preventive medicine in my case because of all of this data at his or her fingertips. And all I’ve been trying to do is be more active than my friends and family.
As marketers, we are tasked with making sure our products become irreplaceable. We want our brands to become part of peoples’ lives. Gamification is, quite simply, another way of providing value to customers beyond our products and connecting with them on a personal level. It is about gathering personal information on the user’s terms and giving them real value from participating with the brand. It’s about getting to know and supporting our customers.
For many products, implementing game mechanics will be simple. For others, it will be difficult. But for all products, it requires a change in mindset from traditional marketing. This is definitely a different approach. Marketers will have to define “challenge points,” or times when their customers are open to change and ready to make a commitment to changing their lifestyle. In pharma, this happens at the point of diagnosis, when people are forced to take a different approach to their life and treat their disease.
We will also need to understand how to tap into peoples’ competitive nature. How do your customers compare themselves to others? We will have to take a different approach to collecting personal data and provide value in return. The days of getting a customer’s data from one registration form are over. We can connect people across their social graph and make them feel good about their “position” within that community or try to change their position or “level up.”
Changing the Definition of Gamification
If we were looking for a good marketing definition of gamification, I would say it is really about:
• Collecting personal data at necessary “challenge points,” or times when people are open to change and ready for help in making lifestyle changes
• Allowing people to tap into their competitive nature as they compare data across the database, national averages and their social graph (friends and family)
• Making them feel good about their “position” (high score)
• Helping them try harder to change their “position” (level up)
• Providing them with truly valuable rewards
Today gamification seems to fit best as a retention effort, with the business objective of increasing the lifetime value of a customer. But as this idea of “the game layer” matures, I’m sure creative marketers will expand on this definition, further changing how brands communicate with their customers.