Jul 28, 2010

E-sampling versus Rep Delivered

A recent report from MMM cites a DTW Market online research study claiming that primary care doctors prefer personally delivered samples to E-sampling . While this may be understandable, E-sampling is an irreversable trend.

It is not surprising that for PCPs favorable to both, rep delivered samples are preferable, as the physician can request directly from the sales rep how many samples, and may get other clinical information, education, and services as well. It is a passive endeavor for the PCP, even if it comes at a busy time of the day.

Not all companies are currently offering E-sampling, and the distribution is not standardized. The implementations can come with restrictions as to who can get samples, and how many, as well as a workflow process that physicians or staff members need to step through. For that reason, the electronic version may be less preferred, even by online doctors liek those PCPs surveyed in the study..

But E-sampling is here to stay, and its usage should grow. It allows for more control, and in the long term should more cost effective, for pharmaceutical companies.

Jul 25, 2010

Iphone for family vaccine tracking

See the enclosed Novartis video on the Apple website for an application of Iphone to Vaxtrack. This is a long-term tracker and scheduler of children's vaccines for parents. Indeed, Apple provides the usability for a medical situation that parents struggle to keep up on, but are anxious about. Also impressive are the I.T. professionals at Novartis describe the iphone as enterprise ready, for patients, and for their internal applications.

One question: how will the data be transferred years in the future when the more advanced versions of iphones and Apple gizmos come around? What about compatibility of data with other manufacturer PDAs? Is there hope of a data standard? Hopefully, this will be as easy as transferring songs.

Texting Language and Emoticons

Perhaps this article is not bleeding edge, but the explosion of off-beat texting language really hit me when I saw unexpectedly in my house the new "Text Talk Vinyl Shower Curtain" from Bed, Bath and Beyond, pictured above, and detailed at this shopping website. Featured are a wide range of "emoticon" emotional symbols. Some may recall these back in the pre-WYSIWYG days of chat on UNIX using EMACS text editing, but by now they are rampant on mobile phones, especially for youth. See Sharpened Glossary for a nice catalogue. The addition of colors, on the shower curtain makes them only that much more endearing.

Furthermore, the list of collective texting abbreviations has grown beyond anyone's individual repertoire, see this Netlingo link for a very exhaustive list -- not all clean, but mostly colorful, and all in the interests of saving keystrokes and being clever.

Why is this relevant to consumer relationship marketing? Say your target audience is the youth segment, as with contraceptives, or meningitis vaccines. Then for awareness and acquisition, it can be eye catching and advantageous to have your brand creative borrow from this pervasive mobile texting language. Or, if a text messaging application is part of your acquisition program, you may want your end of the dialogue to include well-chosen emoticons and shorthand. After all, it is the way of life for your audience.

Jul 15, 2010

Making decisions based on data

When developing a learning plan fo a new RM campaign, one of the most important elements to compelte in your plan are the business decisions to be made should the metrics flow one way or another. There should be an in-market test plan, where the decision making criteria are clear depending on the test results.

Then after the campaign has been running for several months, the difficult decisions have to be made. Shifting media spending, improving your website, changing value propositions or incentives.

Think to yourself: what kind of marketer, or campaign manager are you? Do you like to review all the data, weight the pros and cons, and then choose an alternative yourself? Or do you wish your consultants or agencies to make these choices for you? That can be just fine, as they have experience, and should have the brand's interests in mind.

A third option is to remain indecisive; this is the urge to resist. Metricsare not just for learning. Whatever choice you make, choose the path of optimization.

Also, be sure to record what you have learned: the circumstances and the results. This is what knowledge management is, and where "best practices" and "industry benchmarks" come from, after all: actual recordings of in market events. You may as well make your events part of those benchmarks

Jul 12, 2010

Convergence: Email and Social media

An interesting article on MediaPost last week by Jack Loechner pointed out an
increasing trend of social media and email convergence by small businesses. In 2009 all of these useful cross-digital channel tactics were only done by 20% to 36% of small businesses surveyed:

* Tweet email newsletters
* Broadcast blog entries to email list
* Add sign-up forms on social media pages
* Include follow links in email messages
* Place link to email in social media pages

However, the same survey found that in 2010 roughly half of small businesses plan to integrate in at least one of these ways. Why? Increases brand awareness, grows email lists, and accelerates the ROI of either together.

This is all about channel convergence. Make the different promotional media work together to reinforce each other, and cross-reference each other. Especially because our consumers are fickle, and are swapping and experimenting in the digital world. Know what else this means? Move beyond just the "hub and spoke" architecture of the website in the middle and other online venues pointing to it. The "spokes" or "channels" can point to each other just as well, and the consumer journey can stay exclusively on the other digital channels and never get to any "core" website.

In healthcare, one just needs to make sure the appropriate experience is well documented and approved by review committee, as needed.

Jul 8, 2010

Adherence Hardware

As reported in MMM, there is a very interesting development by a startup firm called Vitality, which is an adherence designed pill bottle called Glowcaps. We have seen a demostration and it is quite an interesting device, which has a cellular connection that can communicate adherence status, and in a closed loop system can lead to SMS,emails, or call reminders. Also and intersting business model: funded by PBMs like Express Scripts who have a vested interest in keeping patients adherent, from a financial and a health outcomes perspective. Pharmaceutical companies piloting this sdevice are also asked to pay performance of sales lifts, though no specific companies are disclosed in the article.

In principle, this has benefits of reducing the false positives of typical adherence "reminder" programs. An alert is sent out only when the bottle is not opened for over a day, or two days, as set. More importantly, there has been a documented adherence lift.

Read more, and ask what else the future brings, with wireless, mobile, and microelectronics, we may be seeing more of this adherence hardware in the future.

Jul 7, 2010

Project Management: The Mythical Man Month still holds true today

I've seen many health care relationship marketing projects, and the challenge of project management that goes along with it. Delays, multiple stakeholders, multiple developers, many moving parts, and compromises to try and meet deadlines.

This has been seen before, and written about exquisitely in Fredrick Brooks's timeless classic, The Mythical Man-Month, Essays in Software Engineering, from Addison-Wesley. Strongly recommended reading for anyone in project leadership or managment of large software systems, and RM systems are large indeed: especially when they involve a new database, tablet based selling , website portals, and multi-channel promotion.

The book was written about the old IBM 360 systems from the 1960's, and updated for the pre-internet 1995, however the software project management lessons still hold today.

See this great lecture note from University of San Francisco for the key lessons learned: throwing staff at an overdue project makes things worse. There are specific roles on a software team, and Brooks uses the metaphor of surgery to illustrate this.

How to avoid CRM project management pifalls:

*adequate staffing from the start,
* clear roles,
* make collaboration structured,
* voting power weighted by expertise
* plan milestones of phased deliverables, setting up for success.

Take a read of this classic, come back, and leave a comment!

Jul 5, 2010

Consumer media consumption: major age differences

Recommended reading: The Experian 2010 Marketer report that provides lots of statistics on consumer attitudes and behaviors across different media channels,

While not specific to healthcare, they point to what devices Americans need to have, where they go first, how they use digital to make online purchasing decisions.

Not surprisingly, younger audiences are highly weighted to mobile and social, and older audiences more biased toward computers, email, even TV.

Multichannel experience is also emphasized; more and more marketers are using multiple channels to reinforce each other, Emails reference social media.

Direct marketing is more complex than ever, and more innovative, but worth putting in the effort

Jul 3, 2010

Campaign Management Playbooks

It's a great deal of effort to design a relationship marketing campaign, from the first brainstorming of business goals, to the user experience designs, through to the final creation of communication pieces and the media planning. It's critical not to let that careful thought go to waste as you are about to head into market.

The campaign management playbook is where all of the operational specifications sit in one well-structured document. The playbook includes the segmentation specifications, and how segments are computed at registration time, or from the database. It maps out the communication plan by segment, and the business rules for determining under what conditions each communication is sent. Also included are the fulfillment requirements for each communication, and each testing plan.

The playbook should not be massive or burdensome; 10 to 25 pages, including figures and tables. This is the necessary script that all vendor partners must follow, so put time into a clear design.

Having this playbook is critical to insuring that when executed in market, your relationship marketing program brings the consumers or healthcare professionals have the experience that was designed.

Is this topic a bit dry? Sorry about that; but the intention with playbooks is to avoid the excitement of in-market mistakes later.