Monday, February 6, 2012

#ePharma Summit, Day One Summary

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Day one at ePharmaSummit is done, and I figured you’d like to know what you missed if you didn't get on the flight to NYC. You can catch the blow-by-blow on my live notes site at (I plan on updating again tomorrow, so keep an eye out.)

But for those looking for something closer to an executive summary, there were definitely some significant trends that kept popping up. The word of the day was Segmenting (and/or Targeting, which is just the other side of the same coin). Treat different people differently and they will respond in great numbers and with deeper engagement. Data was presented that shows that it's easy to say that an email has a 6% response rate, but if the rate is really 11% in one group and 2.3% in another, how useful is that 6% number? It doesn't just apply to email.

Even videos appeal to very different audiences in very different ways. For example, Die Hard is a great movie to a very specific audience segment, very different from those who think Dirty Dancing is the greatest movie ever. Rather than just throw something out there you like, know your audience, know your targets, know what they respond to and become a hero. Segmenting was a fundamental concept in at least four different discussions. My concern is that there was a lot of talk about segmenting, but not a lot about how to segment, or where the data is that helps you segment or how to manage your segments. One talk mentioned that you could just buy demographic (and maybe psychographic) data to help you segment, but how will that tell you if an audience prefers email to mailings to video to conferences? How will you learn if your audience is the kind that sees their condition as a burden, or as something you barely acknowledge?  Maybe that's to be discussed in future sessions.

The other watch word(s) were the dual terrors of Mobile and Social Media. Either separately or in conjunction, these twin villains were going to make every pharma marketer’s life rough. Why? Because these are symbols of change. The fact that they are technological advances means little: they are the things we point to that are forcing the industry to change for the first real time in decades.  The most interesting viewpoints in the room never said, but certainly indicated, that all would be well if we would simply take the time and care to evaluate and choose. A great example was a process that helps one firm get an unscripted video shoot through MLR. It was simple: they took the time to understand what the objections would be, planned for them, found alternates, or faced them head on. Ignoring what you see ahead is tantamount to failure. Surely this same idea can be applied to social media and mobile? 

Finally, I will say that sessions that presented data seemed to be the most interesting, not just to me, but to everyone in the Twitterverse. We've reached the point where we don't need to be told what the difference is between Twitter and Facebook, but we do need data to help us make decisions for ourselves. Not data we can all get from a quick Google search (though some of that was excellent, I'll admit), but from research we've done ourselves. Too many people throw out that 102 million people watch health care videos. But that number isn't useful because We don't know how many were about diabetes and hypertension, and how many were about the proper way to exfoliate and the best way to execute a dead lift? Healthcare isn't our industry, pharma is. And it will make things very messy very quickly if we start confusing the two. But there was data in spades. Two email research sessions were based on data collected as recently as last week. Another firm opened their kimono a little to show us their internal numbers. These things can do a lot to help people in my world understand far more than broad generalizations and semi-applicable case studies.

I look forward to tomorrow, though, as I don't have my schedule in front of me, I have no idea what ePharma has in store. Good night, kids. See you bright and early in the morning.
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