Nov 25, 2010

Thankful for an Astonishing Age

Thanksgiving is a day when we all can be thankful just for health and family. Yet since I was a boy I've always admired sports columnists on this day who write about being thankful for professional reasons: athletes who are good leaders and exhibit sportsmanship, inspiring stories, etc. As I reflect on Healthcare Relationship Marketing, here are some reasons to be thankful for professionally in this revolutionary age:

* The astonishing era of new drug development we live in. Thanks to genomics, stem cell research, and other technologies, diseases once intractable are gradualy becoming dissected and understood, and innovative medicines are extending lifespans and their quailty. See this MIT Technology Review index for a few examples of the cutting edge. Or start at The National Cancer Institute and see the wide range of clinical trials.

* The multi-channel revolution in promotion to both consumers and professionals. No longer is it merely print and TV to consumers, and sales forces and congresses to professionals. There are alternative tactics that can be rapidly developed, orchestrated according to designed experiences, tested, and measured for success.

* The remarkable acceleration of data mining and visualization software tools with gradual learning curves. See KD Nuggets for a great software index. Gosh, in graduate school I wrote my own LISP code, and then I thought SAS and S-Plus were transformative. Now it's revolutionary just being able to install a shrink wrapped software and dive right into clustering, decision trees, multivariate modeling, or 3-D trellised scatter plots. Unbelievable.

* Search engines, around since Archie and Veronica of the early 1990s, then Excite and Ask Jeeves of the mid to late 1990s, to today's Google dominance, Bing challenge and embedded search in online portals. Gives the masses access to critical health information, and delivers a way for mid-funnel interested parties to reach their health seeking goals.

* Social media, that is giving people with serious medical conditions access to clinical trial and treatment information critical to their health in ways faster than ever. Could Patients Like Me have existed ten years ago? Of course, caveat emptor, not all news in the social frontier is accurate; still see a physician for treatment. But social media helps you know which specialists to see and how to discuss health topics.

* This transformation of the publishing world, where E-books enable wider and greener distribution of traditional edited tomes (mine included, see forthcoming book and an online book seller ), and blogs like this one can spread readership virally around the world in a loose meritocracy.

* Most appreciative to forward thinking marketing and sales clients who are willing to push the envelope of their professions in order to better serve patients and healthcare professionals.

Nov 21, 2010

Advertising's future in the digital world

An interesting article this week in FastCompany about how digital is transforming the advertising industry. The perceptions are changing about traditional notions of "agencies of record," and marketing clients need to have digital, traditional, mobile all in place for consumer, professional, and payer to effectively launch a campaign.

How can this be achieved in the most nimble and cost effective way: some may say
via networks and sub-networks of conflict shops each with their own niche and specialty. Our CementBloc solution is a different: a single convergent agency across disciplines and customer segments, in one shop. With a strong campaign management group to insure the components and channels are working together, and with a multi-faceted analytics team to measure the synergistic effect across segments and channels.

Nov 17, 2010

Quality Time: when to be there in person

Working for a marketing and sales consulting agency, where some of my clients are hours away by plane, I think keenly about when to travel for an expensive face to face meeting, and when to conduct a phone call, perhaps with a Webex or Netmeeting presentation.

Here are some guidelines I've determined:

Need to be in person when:

* Creating relationships
* Major milestones
* Significant decisions made
* Building of trust
* Showing new creative concepts
* Discovery gathering, or knowledge engineering
* Creating consensus as a group

Over the phone or webex is sufficient for:

* Updates to presentations or analyses similar to those seen before
* Direct transfer of orders among people who have already met.

I have seen poor decisions made on both sides: consultants giving up a major trip and taking a phone call when in fact consensus was needed, or when their client relationship was shaky. I've also seen clients insist on face to face meetings continually even for matters where a phone call is sufficient.

The best account directors will think through the scenarios and consequences of each fly vs no-fly decision.

Nov 5, 2010

Moms on Social Media -- Behavior Segments

I've worked on a variety of consumer social media monitoring analyses across therapeutic categories. When analyzing the source of consumer posts, there is one commonality: mothers networks. Conversations on allergy, immunization, nutrition, diapers, cosmetics, and a host of other health topics are being talked about on major Moms' social networks. After Facebook and Twitter, the next leading source is often from Moms.
There are plenty of communities, have been for years, and they keep growing. Here is one search result which leads to indexes of Mom social sites.

Thus, it was fascinating to find this recent article in the latest print edition of Quirk's Marketing Research Review, a great synethsis of practical research results. (see the online portal).

The article summarized the BabyCenter 2010 Mom Social Influencer Report. Definitely worth a read if you are marketing in a health category where mothers are a core segement.

The emphasis is on influence, and breakouts are by segment. Take a read, and learn about:

Influencers are:

* Field Experts: Young, stay at home, 8% of Moms, 33% of influence

* Lifecasters: Lifecasters, tell everything online, 8% of Moms, 34% of influence

* Pros: Gen-X Moms, sharing expertise and advice, just 2% of Moms, but a high index at 11% influence

The influenced are:

* Butterflies: Young professionals, self-confident, online to socialize; 16% of Moms, 7% of influence

* The Audience: online to listen, 66% of Moms.

Essentially the splits are based on generation, educator vs listener, and how much social media is within your life's fabric. Field Experts and Lifecasters are large and disproportionately influential, in sharing their experience, and also recommending brands they favor. Pareto's 80/20 rule also holds: according to the segmentation and analysis: "18% of social moms wield 78% of the overall influence." Most are learning from the hard core bloggers, posters, and stay at home enthusiastis.