Tuesday, February 24, 2015

#ePharma 2015: Day 1

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Today marks the start of the ePharma Summit in New York City- three days full of presentations, networking, and information sharing between marketing, pharmaceutical, and healthcare professionals. I am excited to be attending the summit and learning more about how pharmaceutical companies and working to digitally engage with patients on a higher level.

If today’s pre-conference sessions are any indication, participants are going to come away from the summit with the knowledge and skills necessary to start better engaging with patient communities online.

I was particularly interested in two sessions today- one presented by Robert Muller, Roche Diagnostics Corps’ Digital Marketing Manager, and one from Bob Brooks, Executive Vice President of WEGO Health. Muller and Brooks both focused on the need to listen to patients and online activists and engage with them in a meaningful way in order to improve brand reputation, appear empathetic, build relationships, and stay relevant.

Here are some of the top line messages from these sessions:
  • You can’t serve a community you don’t know. You have to learn about your audiences and meet them where they are.
  • Patients want you to empathize with them, not sympathize. Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy fuels disconnection.
  • Listening is the key to engaging with patients- listening gives you the power to understand what’s important to your audience; know what they are discussing; identify how you can add to the conversation; learn what they are saying about your brand; and figure out how you can enter the conversation space without offending them.
  • You shouldn’t focus on controlling the message- the more you try, the more irrelevant you’ll become. Instead, you should be part of the conversation- it’s immediate, personal, and will bring personality to your brand.
  • Your audience won’t care about you until they know you care about them. You need to build a report with them in order to get them to care about your messages.
  • Don’t try to be something you’re not. If you are going to go out and join an online community, be very transparent about whom you are and why you’re there.
  • One of the basic tenants of business is that people like to do business with people they like- provide a human touch in your communications in order to accomplish that.
Stay tuned for more ePharma summit updates throughout the week!

About the author:
Rebecca Kaplan is a communications consultant, freelance writer, and blogger. You can read more about her life loving someone with Crohn's disease on her blog, on Huffington Post, or follow her on Twitter

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