Thursday, February 9, 2012

#ePharma Wednesday Updates and Commentary

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Kudos to Andy Smith and his presentation on the Dragonfly Effect. Aside from having one of the best designed presentations (along with @PeteDTweets yesterday), he presented three examples that we not just inspiring, but relevant to almost everyone in the room. While only one was directly health care related, I was impressed by the amount of work he put in to relating these non-pharma examples to pharma. For example, his Coke case study seems anti-theatrical to pharma (they sell sugar water), and yet I, and others around me, could immediately see how to apply the lessons to our work. This was our anticipated return on the cost of attending -- to be inspired, not by a magical future beyond the horizon, but by ideas we can put to work today.

Beyond that came an object lesson from Peter Frishauf and Jay Goldman in discussing the value that SMS message could play in a brand. Text messaging has been relegated to the junk drawer of our marketing tool kits despite the fact that it is functional, useful, and has a reach Apple, Google and Facebook can only dream about. Their presentation influenced any discussion regarding mobile for much of the rest of the day. After lunch, Scott Wearley opened up and gave everyone of us a realistic and reasonable blueprint for relationship marketing. This wasn't broad strokes and vague ideas, this was a set of instructions better than those that come with Ikea furniture. Take it home, build it yourself.  I was very much impressed by what Robert Krensel and William Tunno had to say. The pictures were pretty, but the conversation on how best to utilize Those pretty pictures showed a depth of thought and consideration I wasn't expecting at all. At both these sessions, I took a lot of notes. However, without being too much of a curmudgeon (it seems someone else is filling that slot quite well), I'd like to call a few things out. First, I appreciate the value of great big numbers to grab attention. But telling me that a billion iPhones were sold or a trillion Facebook accounts were created doesn't help any of us. These numbers are as helpful as the fact that it's usually warm in NYC. What's worse is when these broad numbers aren’t just useless, but edge into the territory of obfuscation. For example, when you call out that 37% of all new tablet sales are Android tablets, this is an aggregate number that doesn't reflect the facts on the ground that HCPs are now and continue to be passionate iPad users. The same is true for calling out sites like Pinterest and Tumblr as “hot new properties” without revealing that both site have very narrow audiences (good luck running that Viagra campaign on Pinterest without a radical reworking).

There was an interesting conversation I had with a few people this morning. I won't call out who they are, but it occurred after the presentation that listed all those twitter blunders, notably from non-pharma brands (because pharma always does social right? If you say so). There was a running bet as to what percentage of the audience had not heard all of these twitter blunders before (and some were pretty famous, like the Kenneth Cole/Eygpt tweet and the Chrysler agency posting about Detroit drivers who couldn't drive). Our group assumed that most people had heard of all of them. When we asked around, we found was that most people hadn't, and that some hadn't heard of any. If you are active in marketing, especially in eMarketing, these tales should be as familiar as the case study surrounding New Coke. That conversation turned shifted on twitter, where people mentioned sites like and where news like this is a hot commodity. Plenty of people chimed in with other great sites for Web 2.0-type news until someone suggested that having this conversation on twitter meant that the people who needed to hear about them would be missing out; those people were not just ignoring the twitter back-channel, they were willfully ignoring the rest of the web world. They were only aware of things like Facebook and Twitter and mobile healthcare apps and iPad content delivery in so much as they needed to be for a given project and no more. I worry when I think about stories like these.

One of the amazing things about social media is its ability to create, manage and strengthen the connections between ourselves and so many others. I know so many people who turned their organizations on to twitter because they were hooked on twitter themselves. And yet, here we see a huge segment of the audience paying money to be told how incredibly important twitter (and it's brethren, no need to be twitter-specific) is to their campaigns and to their brands, indeed to their own livelihoods, but never dipping their toes into the water. Aren't these the risks we all said we wanted to talk and have others take within our organizations? Are we just talking, or do we really mean it? So I implore you, you delightful participants of ePharmaSummit 2012, jump in. Be part of the conversation. Agree and disagree. Pick a fight online among your peers and lose. See what those tools your company is paying so much money to leverage can really do. As for places to learn more about the eMarketing world outside of pharma, my twitterzens (twitter citizens? I admit I made that one up) and I came up with the following list: (be aware, they will reference Burning Man on this site. Don't be alarmed.) Notes about what was said on stage can be found at

Big virtual high-fives to Sarah Gordon and Jennifer Pereira for getting Casey and I invited to all these sessions so we could bring the best to you. They bent over backwards to help us help you, and I hope their bosses read this far down the blog post. Thanks also to Casey Ferrell for letting me partner up with him in this blogging experiment. We hope we did you, the presenters, the organizers and our peers proud (so if you got something out of this, let @epharma know! Otherwise we won't get invited back!). Beyond that, please please please feel free to engage me on twitter @digital_pharma or schedule lunch with me if you’re in Chicago. Good night!
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