I wasn’t able to attend this year’s ExL Digital Pharma West event, where HealthEd’s Susan Collins presented “Return On Education” with Susan LaRue of Amylin Pharmaceuticals. But I listened in through Twitter, and when our Susan returned to the office, I caught up with her for the conference highlights:
Jeff: A lot of people retweeted that health literacy statistic you mentioned in your presentation. One-third of people have basic or below basic health literacy skills?
Susan: Yes, it comes from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, which assessed 19,000 adults nationwide. It means that pharmaceutical marketers need to ensure their communications follow health literacy principles so everyone understands how to take his or her medicines properly.
Jeff: What else opened people’s eyes at the conference?
Susan: Watson Pharmaceuticals shared a really interesting social media case study for its “I Am Generess” digital campaign. It just launched an oral contraceptive. Watson is about the 14th to the market and cannot differentiate based on cost or efficacy. They decided to differentiate themselves based on a social media campaign instead.
Jeff: What is the hook?
Susan: Women who fill or refill their prescriptions earn virtual coins. They can use the coins to donate to a charity for women in need. The highly integrated campaign includes Web, mobile, Facebook, quizzes, and games that let women earn more coins. There is a sense of community as women see how the money has been donated overall.
Jeff: So you can do social media in pharma, but you have to be strategic.
Susan: Watson decided to take the risk to do this campaign. It’s worth checking out.
Jeff: Give us some of the top themes you took away from ExL.
Susan: One of the biggest themes was the increased emphasis on taking an integrated approach to pharma marketing. Rather than thinking of a digital solution as a “cool, shiny new toy,” several speakers emphasized understanding the unmet needs of the audience and from there building an integrated marketing strategy to meet customers' needs.
Jeff: Because digital, social, mobile, and offline tactics all need to work together.
Susan: Yes. I especially liked what I heard from Vladimir Castillo of Bristol-Myers Squibb. He said digital doesn’t support other channels; it can actually enhance and elevate them.
Jeff: Your presentation was about measuring return on educational programs. I saw quite a few heated tweets about analytics.
Susan: There were many more presentations than last year on the power of data and how to use it to refine and justify digital marketing programs. I heard speakers say that digital marketers are not always savvy in analytics and often bring their analytics team in too late. Yet digital is facing increasing pressure to demonstrate ROI.
Jeff: I have to smile. Digital is all about testing and measuring!
Susan: That came across very loud and clear.
Jeff: Big finish here. What was the most interesting stat of the conference?
Susan: Bob Allen of AstraZeneca said that 85% of consumers surveyed believe pharma has a role to play in educating them about their medicines. That makes me, as a health educator, smile.