Nov 28, 2011

Rise in use of QR Print to Online Codes

hSince I last blogged about these 2-D print  "action codes,"  especially QR codes, in February, boy has there been a dramatic increase in their usage.  Take a look at the exponential increase in 2-D action codes in magazines:  over 500 in the month of September, as Mediapost quoted a study by NellyMoser.

QR codes have the highest market share of these at 60%.
The codes are mostly in consumer magazines, and mostly in advertisements.  Healthcare specifically is not cited.

 Thanks to the comment (below)  by reader Ardash K, we can also see there has been a dramatic rise in Google searchers for QR codes.

This shows the mainstream exposure to certain core demographics, and that is a trend that consumer healthcare marketers should realize is at least worth a test.

Nov 23, 2011

Copay cards - follow the money

Co-pay cards are an often used tactic to encourage patients to try a new branded medication that is prescribed by their physician, eliminating the concern for an expensive co-payment that can come with a Tier 3 drug. In CRM terms, they are used as a conversion tactic, and can even be the gateway to an adherence program.

Here is another perspective on co-pay cards:

In a very interesting article and interview in MMM, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association is cited in an estimation of how much additional cost must be reimbursed because of the use of copay cards: $32 billion over the next ten years. In addition, the PCMA clarifies who is paying for those costs: employers, unions, and state employee plans. As well as taxpayers.

In other words, someone has to pay the insurance companies the money they expected in their copayments. Some is borne by the phramaceutical manufacturers, but some is also paid for by those who contractwith the insurers, like employers et al. The details of this analysis are not crystal clear, but it most likley is based on the missed savings that would come from generic usage. In any regard, this is a thought provoking total.

Want to read more about the perspective of the PCMA?: Browse their website, or a research report (by Visante) about their planned drug cost savings over the next 10 years.

Nov 19, 2011

Turning the Waiting Room into an Education Center

The medical practice waiting room can be a point of either acquisition or conversion for CRM, depending on how educated the patient is about the therapeutic category, and whether that patient is aware of the treatment options.

Come read this week’s MediaPost Marketing:Health Blog to get a perspective on how waiting rooms can be leveraged for better education, and facilitating the patient-doctor dialogue.

There are discussions of how to better educate patients before they see the physician, and techniques for measuring the effectiveness of waiting room programs.

Nov 18, 2011

High Stakes Business Analytics Across Industries

This Wednesday I had the pleasure of participating in the first Aberdeen Business Analytics Summit in Boston. It was a fascinating collection of business and I.T. speakers across industries: banking, packaged goods, semiconductors, auto, health, etc. These business leaders have critical jobs like forecasting customer demand, optimizing the supply chain, or monitoring efficiency and profitability at retail locations across the country. Having access to real time, insightful analytics is critical to performing these jobs.

I participated in a panel on how better alignment can be achieved between "business users" and the "I.T." community. There was a surprising statistic that Aberdeen found which as 57% of business user do not see the value of business analytics. What shocked me was that... the business users should be defining and driving the value in the first place!

At times it can seem like two very different environments: the world of data and technology on one hand, and the world of marketing, sales, and supply chain on the other. I've been fortunate in my career at General Electric, Pfizer, and even now at The CementBloc, to be part of a "bridge" department that spans both worlds.

However, in these days of convergence, the more each of us can understand the language and motivations of our collaborators, the better our companies will be.

I would love to hear comments from readers on your perspective!

Nov 13, 2011

Linked in Groups - redundancy and analytics

For those of you participate in LinkedIn, you may have joined a few groups. I must confess that my visceral reaction to LinkedIn groups is an optimistic one, hoping that they are useful for networking and solution finding, and even can recapture the old days in the 1980s of Usenet groups.

However, ever notice how much there is duplication across these groups -- they have similar sounding names, overlapping memberships, and similar content. Here are a few of my groups:

* AWA - Advanced Web Analytics

* Advanced Business Analytics, Data Mining and Predictive Modeling

* Analytics Executives Network

* Business Analytics

* CRM Experts

* Data & Text Analytics Professionals

* Digital Analytics Careers

Get the idea? Can you tell these apart by the names? And I only listed up to the "D's" Plus each of these send me E-Mails weekly (daily is optional too), and I rarely open. Those who are considering making another LinkedIn group, first check to see what is there.

However, there is an upside to LinkedIn group creators. As reported in the Mashable Blog, LinkedIn groups now have analytics dashboards. The new dashboards show displays with various demographics on membership, growth of members, and activity of posts.

For more details, you can also see the LinkedIn Blog.

So, let's keep this valuable networking resource user friendly.

Nov 11, 2011

Brainstorming: food for thought

Ever get a group of cross-functional people in a room for a CRM or PRM tactical planning session? Perhaps to plan media placement or other promotional ideas? Better ask them to do some self-study ahead of time.

A recent article in The Washington Post by Jena McGregor comments on a research study about brainstorming. The study was done in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology by Nicholas Kohn and Steven Smith, two researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas A&M University.

The researchers asked undergraduate students to contribute ideas, both individually and in collective groups. They shared the ideas on a computer, either in small chat groups or alone, but combined together after the fact. As expected, those made up of individual ideas that were later pulled together, outperformed the real chat groups, both with the number of ideas and the diversity of them.

Thus, think about asking teammates to make a short list before hand, to avoid the herd mentality.

Nov 6, 2011

Convergent Times

Check out some great healthcare, multidisciplinary thinking on the new website: Convergent Times There are articles on ipad selling, managed markets, consumer experiences, and much more.

Let us know what you think... join the convergent conversation!

Consumer Youtube channels -- various industries

I've been reviewing YouTube channels of various companies and industries that need to reach consumers. I'm looking for inspirations particularly outside of traditional pharmaceuticals, to industries where consumers need information on how to use products, before making a purchase decision: consider automobiles, cosmetics, and consumer electronics.

The spectrum of channels seems to range from advertising outposts to true peer to peer experiences. At the one end, Honda channels are predominantly commercials, and a few public service corporate videos. Apple's channel is in between in that it delivers instructional videos, but they are delivered in the official corporate messaging and video quality: see this iPad2 video on Apple channel.

Two companies for me have channels exemplifying more of the peer to peer, instructional nature taht consumers in the acquisition stage of CRM really need: must understand how to use the product. See for example The Mercedes channel, with sample start ups. Video quality less slick but authentic, nad I learn something about the dashboards, engine noise, etc. Then there is Destination Beauty by L'Oreal Paris. Sure, cosmetics firms make plenty of slick commercials with movie stars. But rather than show those, this YouTube portal is a series of tutorial videos by consumer-friendly "artists" that present peer to peer instructions on hos to use the products for face, or hair.

The more authentic, and the more helpful, the YouTube videos, the more influential on CRM conversion they will be.

Sep 28, 2011

Upcoming Presentation at INFORMS NY Oct 5th

Analytics for the New Healthcare Relationship Marketing

Ira Haimowitz will describe how the healthcare landscape has changed, and what the implications are for the design and measurement of relationship marketing programs to patients and healthcare professionals. He will also demonstrate a new wave of analytics for measuring program effectiveness.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 from 12 Noon until 2 PM

The Penn Club, 30 West 44th Street, New York, NY

RESERVATIONS: Call Sam Koslowsky at (212) 520-3259 or email
Reservation deadline is Friday September 30.

$50 for non-members, $40 for chapter members
$5 surcharge for walk-in without reservation.

Free meeting to new members: Luncheon seminar fee is waived if attendee joins chapter as a new first-time member (attendee must complete new member application and pay $30 chapter membership fee).

For more information visit our web site

Sep 27, 2011

Toggling Innovation Ebooks on my Nook

The nice thing about carrying around a Nook is that I can toggle back and forth between three books at once, multitasking while not carrying extra weight. So what am I reading now? Three books that address innovation and entrepreneurship in different ways.

Two of these are about successful internet powerhouse companies born in the online boom of the late 90s. The recent book I'm Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards, about the early history of Google. Fasinating case studies about the culture of a start up, and how engineering and technology overrules marketing. Another is Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh [Hachette Book Group]. Again, the hectic, sometimes chaotic life of a startup comes shining through, as well as the continual enthusiasm and perspective to stay happy.

Ten as a sports nut I am finishing up a biography of Babe Ruth, "Babe Ruth as I Knew Him," written by his teammate Waite Hoyt [Dell Pub] Certainly Ruth did not invent the home run, jsut as Google did not invent the search engine. But, again like Google he did make it is own, come to dominate, and even get his terminology: "A Ruthian Blast."

By the way, also interesting to read about Novo Nordisk putting diabetes health education management on the Nook and Kindle for patients, in a new, more cost effective distribution mechanism. I imagine it can increase distribution and reach beyond the doctors office

Sep 26, 2011

Lessons from Industry Conference on "Next Generation"

Several lessons were learned at last week's Next Generation Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing conference in Philadelphia, at which The CementBloc had a panel and a booth.

The predominance of analytics and accountability was quite apparent, as several presentations discussed the need to measure effectiveness of initiatives. There was a start up company bringing dashboards across mobile applications. Another innovative vendor promoted multichannel analytics for "software as a service."

Representatives from BMS and sanofi-aventis discussed centralizing their closed loop marketing practices across categories.

Others emphasized the increased complexity of the pharmaceutical customer base, such as integrated delivery networks, and a resulting need for Strategic Account Management.

At The CementBloc, we emphasized our Convergent Branding across channels and in a panel marked by lively feedback. It was a pleasure participating.

Sep 19, 2011

Milestones - 10K page views

Dear readers,

When I was a kid, I used to hear about sweepstakes contests at supermarkets where the one millionth customers would get free groceries. Did that ever really happen?

Well, the blog counter is over 9,300 page views. Sure the page view is a silly metric; if you are a regular reader then you know that web analytics are about achieving brand goals. Yet, it is the only visible tally I have, soo...

If you visit this website and the reader on this blog turns to 10,000, let me know and I will send you a free:

a) copy of Healthcare Relationship Marketing, Gower Press

b) CRM half hour consultation

c) thank you for your loyalty.

Just let me know when it happens.

Sep 18, 2011

Flipping a Switch for losing 28 pounds

I have been able to successfully lose 25 pounds within the past two months, and 28 so far in 2011. It feels great, and I still have more to go, maybe 10 pounds more. I certainly am very thankful for Gina F. and The Diet Center for my success, but I have thought about what mentality was required of me to change my behavior and improve my wellness.

I am familiar with multiple theories of behavior change (working in CRM), but the best metaphor I can come up with is "flipping a switch" In other words, just changing completely the set of bad habits with my diet, and changing my approach to exercise. Stopping the delusions and dealing with reality. I now no longer eat bagels, muffins, pizza, cake, cookies, etc, that I convinced myself were OK once in a while. I have amped up my consumption of vegetables and salads, and dialed way down my consumption of carbs like bread and pasta. I also now exercise vigorouslu and regularly, not once in a while and piecemeal.

I have heard others who have lost weight also mention the phrase "flip the switch." In fact, there has even been a weight loss book written by this name, but I have not read it. But I do agree that one way to change bad habits is to turn them off and replace them with much better, more positive habits, that results in lots of positive reinforcement. I am living proof.

Sep 1, 2011

Social Media recruitment for clinical trials

In rare diseases, one often finds active social media communities of patients and caregivers hungry for information. These communities exist for sharing disease state information, offering support, and occasionally advice on treatment.

Another tremendous application can be recruitment for clinical trials. This is the story of a a recent Mayo Clinic study within cardiology. A team of cardiologists led by Sharonne Hayes, M.D., has contacted survivors of spontaneous coronary artery dissection, also known as SCAD, a poorly understood heart condition that affects just a few thousand Americans every year.

The patient community is within a patient network called WomenHeart

The finding was that for this pilot clinical trial study, the number of patients needed was exceeded within a week; the overflow patients are eligible for a second round, expanded trial.

This is a great example of Acquisition for clinical trials, where social media can be a viable alternative, or complement, to paid media or other event recruitment.

Aug 23, 2011

Web analytics trends: more focused, less bouncing

A recently published study, reported on the KissMetrics Bl, is The 2011 Web Analytics Review. The source of the data is traffic trends from hundreds of thousands of websites across the globe, which have participated in Google’s ongoing study of web browsing behavior.

The study shows year over year differences of a three month time period: Nov. 1 2010 to Feb. 1 2011, versus the same time period a year before. The findings generally show:

* lower bounce rates (leaving from the first page) at 47% on average now
* shorter time on website, at 4:50 average now,
* and fewer pages viewed, down to 4.5 on average.

These figures make good benchmarks for judging engagement of one's own website, although realize that results will differ by country, category, and media mix.

Yet, the trends above hold true worldwide, and also in the USA. There are results for other countries in the report as well.

What might explain these trends, over such a large sample? It can well be the benefit of targeted advertising, combined with improvement of website navigation to be more goal oriented. With this combination, a website has more qualified leads, people with interest and intent, who come to visit. Those interested visits are quickly led to a goal page, or to the information they need.

There are also results broken out by source of website traffic. The most efficient source of all? Cost Per Click paid search, with the lowest bounce rate, the shortest time on websites, yet the highest page totals consumed. This is consistent with the interest of a search initiated customer.

Aug 20, 2011

Pharma professional print ads and FDA compliance

I must say I was astonished to read the assessment (in the online journal PLos One) that well over half of pharma print ads to professionals are non-compliants with FDA guidelines.

Working for an agency that makes such materials, I do know that there is a rigorous review committee process by pharmaceutical company specialists to approve ads before
placing the marketplace. Thus a process exists for adhering to these guidelines among agencies and pharma companies, with the FDA regulations squarely in mind.

The findings are somewhat subjective, but this may introduce a cautionary note into the already existing process. Especially in light of the FDA "Bad Ad" program that so far has resulted in two warning letters.

Aug 14, 2011

Trend: Big Data, Competing on Analytics, and MBA programs

A recent WSJ article pointed out that a wider range of business schoools are adding analytics to the curriculum, core or as an elective.
Indeed MBA graduates need to be more familiar with analytics and its potential. In fact, I can see the increased awareness expanding now due to the popular press of articles like Davenport's Competing on Analytics (Harvard Bus Review Press) and the publication by McKinsey Global Institute on "Big Data" and derivative articles such as this Computer Weekly article for implications.

Note that, even with increased awareness of business executives, the trained specialists in statistics, data mining, and I.T. will always be ever more in high demand, and can have analytics as a career. The MBAs can be their "clients," internal or external, and together they will partner to achieve business impact

Aug 2, 2011

Analytics within a pitch: tying a bow

When a team gives a major presentation (often called a pitch), the analytics leader comes in at two places, typically:

* the beginning, to comment on market sizing or segmentation, and
* the end, to discuss how all that has been presented will "go to market" and be measured for success.

In the case of the mini-presentation at the end, I have received an allotment of anywhere from 2 minutes to 15 minutes to tie everything in a bow, and show confidently how we will execute and measure achievement of business goals.

But in this role one does not sit around and wait one's turn. Actually, I find I have to listen very actively, take copious notes of which of my colleagues has used which phrases and which examples. That way I can "back point" to my peers and show connectons and team chemistry. I am also continually reading the faces of the audience, to determine who is attentive and who is distracted. That helps me know where to direct eye contact at the end.

Thus, always be present in a critical meeting, even if you are bringing up the rear.

Jul 12, 2011

Long term consistency: harder than it looks

There has been lots of attention in the USA this past week spent on Derek Jeter of the Yankees getting his 3,000th hit. This is a measure of an expert artisan performing well at his draft for over 15 years, a model of consistency. Even as the game has evolved around him, and some competitors changed.

What does consistency mean in analytics? It means continually providing valuable consulting and insights, even as the promotional channels and the hardware platforms evolve. Even as the clients become more cost conscious than ever, and even as the marketplace for analytic services becomes more competitive. Consistency also means staying ahead of the curve on the prevailing technology trends,and the newest data sources and software tools.

Yet, just like a base hit to the opposite field, some principles of analytics endure: synthesize the right data, reduce the dimensionality, show the insights that are directly linked to business decisions and actions.

Jun 23, 2011

Statistical modeling for medication adherence

Patients not adhering to their medication regimens has been shown in multiple studies to yield sub-optimal health outcomes as well as decreased sales opportunities for pharmaceutical companies. Various CRM efforts over the years have tried to address this. Now a new tool may be avaialable.

There was a fascinating article in the NY Times Health Blog recently about Fair Isaac (FICO)creating a logistic regression style "medication adherence score" much like their credit score, that predicts likelihood to adhere based on demographic, financial, and transactional variables. For example: Are sixty-something
middle class Midwestern grandparents with low net worth particularly non-adherent?

If a score comes up as such, would a pharmaceutical company target them with a an extra adherence mailer, kit, or a premium adherence pill bottle? Or call center support? Since these are expensive resources, targeting using a validated model score seems attractive.

Of course, these resources could be offered to anyone, but could be promoted selectively.

I think likely the modeling score was validated on historical data. It will be fascinating to see how accuracy is tracked moving forward. Also, whether pharmaceutical firms or communications agencies will adopt it.

Jun 18, 2011

List purchasing and direct mail

One of the ways healthcare companies perform acquisition is via direct mail. It can be a targeted approach to acquire lists and then send patients information. Of course, direct mail can be expensive depending on the piece, and you might expect to get a 1% to 2% response rate on actions like website registrations or calls. Definitely this is an acquisition channel where you can create a basic pro-forma spreadsheet model to gauge potential ROI.

I would recommend Email as an more cost effective alternative for consumer acquisition. These also can be list purchased.

Where do the sources of the lists come from? They are opted in at various sources by the consumers who note that they have a particular condition. The sources of a pharmaceutical direct mail piece to patients is illuminating; see this blog entry and article.

I recommend a test and learn approach when it comes to pharma lists for direct mail or email. Rent a random fraction of the list and see the response rate. Or better yet, use a quantitiy you can afford. Also, consult an agency you trust to find the right list suppliers.

Jun 17, 2011

Invest a Bit to Measure

When investing millions in a new major promotional campaign, or a new selling technology, think about this: how will you be accountable for that investment? How will you know if that investment in advertising, communications, and technology is actually paying off? In today's corporate environment, answering those questions is paramount.

The Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (1853-1926) cleverly remarked in rhyme: "Door Meten tot Weten:" Through Measurement is Knoweldge.

Yet I often see clients, and agencies, omit the small proportion of the budget required to measure, which insures understanding of success, and the ability to optimize and improve. I would say 8% to 10% is a good minimal requirement benchmark for a measurement budget -- others would go much higher -- see this ClickZ point of view.

What does measurement look like? Especially with new technologies like multichannel, closed loop marketing, RM, iPads, QR codes, etc?

Ultimately, you want linkage between your promotional investments and incremental sales.

However, there are other critical evaluations that should be performed, on how the marketplace is behaving and how perceptions are being changed. Some call this "engagement." I like to think of it as: "are my stakeholders behaving the way I intended?"

Measurement is in large part the comparison of actual behaviors to what you expected when you set up your mutli-channel program, or your sales force automation system. Are the sales reps detailing as you intended? Are the physicians or consumers interacting with the media you have placed? Is navigation on websites achieving to goals that move your brand?

Therefore, when investing in promotional platforms, give some thought as to the expected marketplace experiences. And save some funds for measurment to confirm or optimize your plans.

Jun 10, 2011

Healthcare is Digital and Pervasive

This Tuesday our firm The CementBloc hosted an event during New York's Internet Week demonstrating multi-channel solutions in the Health and Wellness Sector. We received an impressive response of over 100 registrants, and we showed four waves of attendees through our offices. The context was a patient journey for a prospective traveler to the Far East, and how that consumer learned about all of the required vaccinations from web, mobile, office materials, EMail, and so on. Furthermore, healthcare professionals, be they primary care physicians or travel clinic specialists, hear about vaccine updates via professional portals, Epocrates, and ipad tablets from their pharmaceutical sales representatives.

For some first hand accounts of this exhibit, please see Yahoo and also Mediapost. For an impact on how this affected TheBloc and beyond, see My Life as a Focus Group.

Communications in healthcare can only be impactful when they can reach the target audiences where they gathering informations and making decisions. By necessity, that means placing portable information assets at various places: online, within communities, in office, (E)mail, out of doors, and in various media: print, digital, and video. The days of building monolithic websites with many bells and whistles is drawing to a close. Instead, one must design an interconnected distributed system that collectively accomplishes CRM or PRM.

Furthermore, that means working in medical communications is an exciting place to be.

May 25, 2011

Facebook silent no more for pharma

Until now pharmaceutical companies could launch a branded Facebook page, post news and offers, yet disable comments by viewers to avoid monitoring for adverse event postings. Typical for corporate pharma facebook sites, product pages are harder to find.

However, Facebook has notified pharmaceutical companies that by August 15th they must allow dialogue on these walls. The reason was to enforce and preserve the social spirit of Facebook.

What choices do pharmaceutical companies have after this deadline? There seem to be three options:

(1) Keep their wall pages post free, rendering them like a static website and discouraging return visits and engagement. Per this example.

(2) Continual monitoring and vigilence of content for adverse events using a specialized app or wrapper around the facebook page, and reserving the right to screen for event tracking.

(3) Stay on the sidelines, hard to imagine viable in the long term, given the millions in target demographic consumers that regularly browse Facebook daily.

I would predict an increase in option (2) by this time next year.

May 15, 2011

promotional planning on rainy days

Sometimes rainy days come unexpectedly, and one must rapidly determine how to respond. This weekend was a great lesson for me and thousands of others in Blacksburg Virgina. At the Virginia Tech graduation, the initial ceremony in the large football field was curtailed as lightning and rain approached. However, spirits remained high. Some wondered if the ceremony should have been moved indoors, meaning more safety but far fewer attendees. Anyway,the next day grads got diplomas, the sun stayed around for photos, and then the rain continued off and on. At a barbecue were wetness made it seemed lost, a group of us pressed on and served up a happy lunch repast in celebration.

In business, rainy days can mean a quarter or two of disappointing product sales, and businesses should keep two things in mind:

* dig deeply into your analytics dashboards as to what the root causes are. Which customer segments are performing better than others, and in which channels? Which promotions and media are more effective than others.

* plan for efficiency in promotion, and invest where the highest sales leverage is.

* use quality and six sigma frameworks to trim the inefficiencies. However, by all means, keep investing in what has been working.

May 2, 2011

A thought-provoking, whirlwind 48 hours

After some hiatus from blogging due to vacation and burnout, I return to writing the blog. The reason: a stimulating, but all too short trip to the PMSA conference in Miami Beach.

Many lessons were learned.

First, I was still in the wake of The CementBloc Agency of The Year Win from Med Ad News. Lesson learned: winning makes the toil and long hours of entrepreneurial agencies turn from bitter to sweet.

Continuing in the entrepreneurial spirit, on the plane ride to Miami, I grabbed a copy of Fast Company Magazine. I had forgotten how good this was; especialy because of the plethora of business growth ideas across all industries: sports, consumer goods, energy, environment, autos, etc. Lesson learned: do not swim in your own bathwater, do not read trade press only from your clones -- get stimulating ideas from elsewhere.

Then the conference itself. Lots of thought provoking talks and meaningful exhanges.

Christian Schuler, Partner and Head of Life Science, of Simon-Kucher & Partners, gave a nice tutorial on pharmaceutical pricing and manged markets contracting. The lessons learned were about value-based pricing, and one of its foundation, the preceptions of innovation. Additionally, a wealth of market research techniques on finding acceptable prices for stakeholders.

The opening pleanry session by Jeffrey C. Bauer, Ph.D., Health Futurist and Medical Economist was thought provoking, touching on technology, personalized medicine and health economics as fundamental waves of the future. Lesson learned: we are in an exciting times for quantiative analytics types in healthcare.

At the vendor fair there was an onsite independent bookseller from Miami called Books and Books, selling technical books for the audience. Including my textbook, and many more pop-culture, yet lower priced. It was fascinating to see people's reactions. Even autographed and sold a few. Plus, Raquel of Books and Books had a wealth of information about the publishing and bookselling industry. Lesson: you can learn from everyone and every situation.

Apr 2, 2011

Social media for healthcare - april fools vs reality

OK, how many took this article seriously?
Supposed social media guidelines on MMM.

How many passed it to co-workers without even reading it? Who thought it would impact their upcoming project? Of course, reading this through makes it apparent as an April Fools joke, either developed by the magazine, or done by a hacker getting into it.

The reality is that social media is already a viable communication channel in healthcare, and is being implemented responsiby, respectfully, and meeting whatever guidelines do eventually come up. Especially for unbranded, disease category communities, as noted in this Wiki on Dose of Digital.

Peer to peer advice and case based learning have always been powerful forces in medical decision making, for professionals and consumers.

When the real guidelines come out, they should take into account the positive good already taking place.

Mar 27, 2011

Team Chemistry - Sports and Analytics

Late March is as good time to speak about teamwork. For basketball teams, the right group chemistry is essential, and this on display in the winners of the NCAA tournaments. You can also see how fragile team chemistry can be, in the shift that results when an NBA team adds a "superstar" yet changes their whole approach to playing. The coach has to decide how to best leverage the new individual talents while still maintaining a winning framework.

If you are growing or leading a sales or marketing analytics group, you have choices to make:

- the mix of hands on analysts versus consultants

- whether to staff in house or outsource, or even offshore

- having people steeped in your industry as well as other categories, for a fresh perspective

Then of course, the coaching and training are critical. Analytics is rooted in mathematics and algorithmic techniques which have been around for decades. Yet there are innovative digital, multichannel methods. Thus a leader must find the right mix of setting standards, yet delegating and allowing the group to develop some new innovative thinking.

Mar 22, 2011

Methodically removing balls from the air

Ever feel like you are working on so many responsibilities and immediate deliverables at once? It can be just like you are simultaneously juggling many balls in the air. This can happen in the "functional service areas" like analytics.

The key is to focus on getting items completed, one by one. Not on getting overwhelmed with the total set. Each completed and transitioned result will provide satisfaction for oneself and one's "clients."

But how to choose which one to complete first? You need some kind of "greedy algorithm:"
- first in, first out?
- nearest to the deadlines?
- easiest to get over with?
- task with the most pressure and stress attached?

The "greedy heuristic" you choose for getting the first one off your plate may be up to you, or handed to you.

As you plow through your list of tasks, some might be thorny, and need a new perspective, even a chance to put aside and "sleep on it" before solving.

I remember fondly my days on the high school mathematics team when there was a book called: How to Solve it, by George Polya It gave great problem solving techniques for seeing mathematical puzzles and theorems from a new perspective.
Examples of these techniques are:

* break into sub-problems, relate these to each other, and solve the core sub-problem.
* draw diagrams to represent the core issue
* apply a rotation, or a transformation, so the relevant dimension is more obvious
* find an analogous problem and solve that.

For the technically and mathematically inclined, this is a paperback investment well worth it.

Mar 20, 2011

Chronic conditions, and amplified milestones

In the recent Mediapost "Marketing: Health" online article, Elizabeth Elfenbein and I describe how the basic accomplishments and milestones of daily living are amplified and made more challenging for a patient having a chronic condition. Landmarks that would be ignored or taken for granted are now significant accomplishments. Timescales that would move quickly slow down.

All the more important is the measurement of progress to a patient treating such pain. Diaries, assessment tools, and interactions with caregivers and healthcare providers are critical to obtain positive feedback on treatment.

Have a read at this case study, and let us know your thoughts.

Mar 14, 2011

Perspective in measurement and in life

In measuring time series data, one realizes that significant outliers or spikes will take on significance only over a certain duration and a certain time scale of granularity. A daily spike in website visits may seem signficant within last month's daily visitor plot. However, it may seem less so with a weekly plot. Or it may lose significance further compared to other larger spikes on a duration plot of an entire year.

This spring weekend has brought a new meaning to judging the relative importance of events, and in juding magnitudes of scale of importance. This humble overworked professional has tried to keep up with assignments over the weekend. He's also watched his Amazon rankings of his book on a daily basis, and wished they would nudge higher. These issues pale in comparison to the pleasure of riding bikes and playing baseball with kids as spring draws near. On the negative side, both hassles and joys are tempered by stuggles friends have with flooding nearby.

Furthermore, all of these are tiny in perspective when considering the natural disasters in Japan that happened within a day but whose duration of impact will be measured in years and tens of thousands of lives.

Mar 4, 2011

Consulting workshops and passing the ownership baton

In the consulting business there comes a moment of both risk and reward, and that is the delivery and handoff to the client. Especially true when the consultant is preparing a workshop that the client wishes to lead.
Seems odd to say, but nowadays manufacturer marketers are so busy that they may require consultants, or agencies, to prepare workshops and slides for even their most critical business functions.

When this happens, we on the agency side go through heroic efforts to make the slides, materials, and flow as captivating and engaging for the audience as possible. There may be a couple of check ins with the well-intentioned client, but uncertainty remains.

Finally, the workshop day arrives, and the group that has prepared the messages, visuals, and slides has to transition control. Like a relay race team, the final pass of the baton is to the client running the show, in front of dozens (or even hundreds) of attendees. No talented, speedy relay race team wants to drop the baton, and so consultant have to put the time in and work hard right up until the end of the final pass off of materials.

The moment of euphoria, the proof of the pudding, is when the client moderator takes our presenations and makes it his or her own, adding special corporate and department flavor that only he or she can. The finish line is crossed, and the client company makes strides.

Mar 2, 2011

Convergent branding: hitting the spot.

When I was studying for my math major at MIT, I learned over and over theorems about convergence: how a sequence of numbers gets arbitrarily ever closer to a target. The same concept holds in multi-dimensional space, like in the figure to the left: from all directions, follow the trend and get to the same point.

At The CementBloc, we also talk about convergent branding. From whatever channel a consumer, healthcare professional, or payer comes from, they experience the brand in the same consistent way. Ironically, this does not mean that all of your marketing is located at one point in space. Quite the contrary, the convergence is to the customer, wherever the customer goes, in whatever channel, that is where you place the consistent message.

This has implications for promotional planning. Say you have an audience of healthcare specialists, or consumer caregivers, with a high-volume central portal or community. Then make that favored location part of your convergent messaging plan. But in a subtle way. If you seem promotional, you steer the sequence off course; rather, continue the pattern, and let your true message flow within the direction of that active customer destination.

Heavy stuff? Want to find out more? Make a comment or send an email.

Feb 26, 2011

Wisdom 2.0 - sure wish I had gone here

Reading through my Twitter for news items, I stumbled across tweets from a range of delighted and peaceful attendees of the Wisdom 2.0 Conference. Check out the speakers, and the agenda. You can watch live if you are in synch; but I think I missed it.

Anyway, seems to be a Silicon Valley SF Bay Area assembly of high powered software executives, yoga instructors, and people in between. For 3 days, talking about work-life balance, being at peace with rampant technology, and what is real connection in the age of social media.

As our communication and connections become more rapid, global, and superficial, we struggle continually. The pendulum has swung to reactivity, rather than the proactive days of deliberate appointments and letter writing. The ancient ritual of Sabbath days can be a pause to past times, but those traditions are harder than ever to keep. Would have been nice to sit outside with a cup of Java and a biscotti with other nerds stretching to yoga and pondering the implications.

Already thinking about booking for next year...

Feb 20, 2011

Youtube: unbranded health video channels on demand

The increased usage of healthcare videos on Youtube is rampant, it is taking on many forms, official and non, and is as complex a network as the whole Internet itself. The YouTube growth is surprisingly prevalent among both among consumersand heathcare professionals.

A 2010 study of Manhattan Research study reported in Med Ad News notes that "the majority of physicians visit YouTube ... nearly 2 in 3 physicians are using this website for personal or professional reasons."

Youtube healthcare videos include the polished, consumer unbranded health content from the Johnson & Johnson health channel. I get my leads for this channel from promotion by a Twitter feed from Robert Halper

Both consumer and professionals benefit from YouTube channels of major medical institutions like the Mayo Clinic Youtube channel.

More purely professionally oriented videos covering the latest studies and medical conventions are found on the Insider Medicine Channel
and The MD Conference Channel. What is most striking among these are the high volumes of views yet low number of memberships. The metrics are about viewing and downloading.

While there are channels for professional associations like American Society of Plastic Surgeons and American College of Rheumatology, content streams are by no means standardized. There can be:

* association announcements
* clinical cases
* training videos
* career advice
* information for pateints.

Then, aside from all of these "official" channels are thousands of independent healthcare professionals and interest groups generating content they deem valuable for others. Any Youtube search will show you that. For example, many professional journals are not quite on YouTube, but a search for "New England Journal of Medicine" will demonstrate the wide variety of posters.

What is the implication of all this?

* Professionals are on YouTube, posting and downloading videos, but in non-predictable ways.
* Search here is as important as elsewhere on the web.
* The situation will continue to evolve, perhaps consoliating, or remaining de-centralized.
* Advertising models still seem to be forming; some of these links have ads or sponsored links, others not.

Stay tuned.

Feb 16, 2011

Nerds on TV -- the right way -- IBM Watson and Jeopardy

As a computer scientist, trained in artificial intelligence myself, I am delighted to see the development of the IBM Watson parallel computer competing on evening TV Jeopardy! episodes. See this Google search for the plethora of results on the Jeopardy shows.

Heck, as a parent, I love it that my kids are running to me with how awesome the smart computer is doing on their favorite quiz show!

See this great PBS News Hour video to find out more about Watson, Jeopardy,and the artificial intelligence background.

When are computers really "intelligent?" People have been pondering this for at least 100 years. Alan Turing developed a "Turing test" of the computer responding to a person's questions and having the answers be undecipherable from that of another human being. Then in the 1980's came the chess playing machines. First with algorithms, then with brute force statistics, and finally Deep Blue beating grand master chess champions by the turn of the century.

But now having smart computers compete on glitzy evening game shows and educating the world about parallel intelligence of computers? Love it.

See a great write-up by James Taylor on the Smart Data Collective community as to what the IBM Watson episodes mean to Decision Management and Analytics. In essence, computers can now make decisions on the fly leveraging large databases, and continually get smarter in our results.
This is after all what people do in decision making.

Think about that the next time you are creating your marketing and sales analytics systems. Rapid feedback loops, shorter decision cycles,and continual optimization.

Feb 10, 2011

Search Engine Optimization -- feeling the impact

Often I am asked by clients I consult with how to improve their search engine optimization. This is a great question, since data shows that:

* Organic searchers are expressing intent and are highly engaged after landing on the website

* More search clickers find the organic listings than the paid listings

* Google is roughly 90% of search engine traffic and is of particular interest.

* It does not require any additional paid media spend

Put it all together, and organic search is a terrific ongoing strategy to enable acquisition for CRM programs.

There are best practices for SEO, and they apply whatever the size of your website.

Consider this Blog you are reading now. As a small time, twice a week technical blogger, I need to get my blog website traffic from where ever I can. Sure I have a few long standing referrals, like Gower Publishing and The CementBloc. Those contribute some traffic. Lately my order of magnitude of visits has doubled, knock on wood. I see this on my Google Analytics reports. The reason is organic search, one of the most high quality sources of traffic you can have.

How did the organic search to this Blog here grow so much, especially on Google? That is a lesson for all website developers in Search Engine Optimization.

Just try running the Google search of "IMS acquires SDI."
Good grief with all the news wires out there, how did this mid-frequency blog of Healthcare Relationship Marketing get to be a top 5 result (and top 5 gets over 70% of the visits) on such a major news story of an industry? This was not planned, I can assure you, but every day, traffic comes here from organic Google keyword searches on that topic.

* Become search-able. Include textual content on highly searched areas: such as tablets, digital trends, health industry and social media, often. Avoid Flash embedding of key text areas.

* Use relevant meta tags. I think my titles and labels really help here.

* Try to become "authoritative" and have valid factual sources on particular areas.

* Multichannel promotion of the website. -- as I update my website, I Tweet, Email, Linked in, and Facebook others so they can have a path to come back here.

* Get your website pointed to by highly respected and trafficked sources. For this blog, things really took off once I got pointed to from highly Followed Tweeters like Relationship Marketing update by Bruce Brown and Salesforce Daily from Paul M and technical blogger J. Polonetsky. Getting pointed to by industry websites by Kyp and adPharm were tremendous helps in not only referral traffic but in establishing credibility for organic search. a big help

Want to dive into SEO traffic for your organization? Feel welcome to contact me at The Bloc.

Also, there is a website from SEOmoz that can give a tutorial and a blog community called SEOMoz where diehard practitioners of search engine optimization best practices for years have been congregating and sharing best practices.

Feb 8, 2011

New Book and Special Discount

Very exciting! After over a year of researching, writing, editing, proofreading, and the patient support of so many, we are just one month away until the new book is available. Printed books to be out early March; E-books in April.

Whether you are a practitioner of CRM or PRM, a healthcare marketer, or a university instructor, there should be something in this book for you. It is intended as both a course and a reference that pulls it all together in Healthcare RM.

Come talk to me with any questions or interest. This author would be happy to give a guest lecture as well.

Pre-orders can be made now, and below is a special 35% off discount offer valid through March 31st:

Discount 35% off new book Healthcare Relationship Marketing at Gower Press website Enter code G1DLT35 at checkout

Book description below:

Healthcare Relationship Marketing: Strategy, Design and Measurement

Ira J. Haimowitz, Ph.D

In recent years there have been dramatic changes in the pharmaceutical promotional landscape, affecting both consumers and healthcare professionals. One consequence of these dynamics is the need for pharmaceutical companies to plan new kinds of dialogue and relationships with their stakeholders. The evolution has been from mass-channel "push" marketing to two-way, multi-channel relationship marketing. Targeted Emails, webinars, mobile messages, and social networks are expanding in usage.

This book is a practical overview and resource guide for the design and measurement of pharmaceutical relationship marketing (RM) programs. There are descriptions of each aspect of pharmaceutical RM design and measurement, including a running case study with follow-up exercises. The author has also conducted interviews from several pharmaceutical marketing industry experts, each having 15 years or more of working healthcare RM knowledge, and each speaking on their specific specialities.

For newcomers to healthcare marketing, this book can serve as a foundation and introduction that provides framework, details, and examples of both relationship marketing designs and associated measurement disciplines. Healthcare Relationship Marketing will also be valuable to readers currently working in pharmaceutical marketing or sales who may not have exposure to the particular disciplines of relationship marketing and direct response measurement and optimization. Even for the experienced practitioner this will serve as a convenient reference that pulls together all of the program components and measurement frameworks within a single book. This book may also serve as a textbook within a university course in marketing, or a pharmaceutical business program.

Contents: Preface; Healthcare trends and relationship marketing's role; Foundations of relationship marketing; Discovery: situation assessment; Strategy: planning the relationship marketing program; Analytics planning for relationship marketing; Execution: placing in the marketplace; Measurement of healthcare relationship marketing programs; Optimization and the new cycle; Conclusions and the future; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.

Feb 6, 2011

Facebook: cost effective, quality CRM leads

Lots of news recently about advertising on Facebook. Online Media Daily cited E-Marketer data that projects Facebook advertising revenues doubling in 2011.

Yet, on the other hand, an Adweek article last week that Facebook click through rate performance is "abysmal" at about 0.05 percent. Furthermore, the article notes that "The worst performing ad category on Facebook, per Webtrends, was healthcare, which generated 0.011 percent click-through rates and an average cost-per-click of $1.27." That Facebook CTR seems too low for what we've seen, but do not let that deter you either way.

Here is a missing piece of the puzzle: We at The CementBloc have seen that in several major consumer female health categories, that the Facebook click-through leads on pharmaceutical websites are fairly engaged and qualified, far exceeding the goal oriented activity of banner ads on behavioral media networks. However, the Facebook leads are less engaged and goal oriented than either paid or organic search.

What do these numbers mean when put together: A compelling short term Facebook campaign in a high volume consumer health category may let you place 100 million impressions; with ever more demographics on Facebook continually, gaining your large impressions is becoming quite easy. Then your campaign (if having a slightly higher CTR than cited for health) would get 20,000 website visitors for about $26,000. If 10 percent of those attain goals, you have 2,000 highly qualified leads (e.g. registrants or screener takers) at about $13 per qualified lead.

This makes Facebook still more efficient than paid search, and indeed worthwhile considering as a small to mid-scale part of your direct-response consumer marketing mix.

Feb 3, 2011

2-D "QR" bar codes

There has been an acceleration of awareness and usage of QR (Quick Response) 2 dimensional bar codes over the past year. A current article in the trade publication CRM Magazine has a QR code overview. This technology is described as an innovative gamble that marketers are taking; it is a low budget allocation, and small but growing awareness by consumers, and readability by smartphone apps. There is even a running blog about 2-D bar codes with very active community postings, including about which mobile phone bar code readers are effective.

A good overview of QR codes and their history is in Wikipedia; they started in auto manufacturing for tracking parts and shipments. Now, an active growth area in QR code usage is in commercial sales and marketing applications.

For an array of pharmaceutical and healthcare advertisements using QR codes, see this link in AdPharm.

At The Bloc we have healthcare clients investigating QR codes for RM related purposes. The primary reason is consumer acquisition, driving from printed offline pieces to a registration website or a promotional offer. The QR codes may in principle be on:

* print ads

* packaging

* patient brochures

* outdoor advertising

All of these are typically a challenge to measure accurately, particularly in a direct response way. As consumer usage of QR codes grows, they may serve as a replacement for vanity URLs which are not always remembered.

Hard data on response rates for QR codes is not standardized yet, but that may be forthcoming within a year or two. In the meantime, this appears a worthwhile experimental healthcare CRM acquisition tactic.

Jan 29, 2011

Twitter, my second business news channel

A Twitter account can serve multiple purposes, but it is best not to mix them. Some people view Twitter as a way to keep track of the latest whereabouts and activities of friends. Others, including myself, find it a terrific, focused continual news source.

I am fairly selective on who I follow on Twitter, and on what I tweet about. I keep it to business and professional interests. If you would like to see who I follow on Twitter, check it out.

The categories include Analytics areas like:
BI Analytics News

Analytic Bridge, by Vincent Granville

KDNuggets, by Gregory Piatetsky Shapiro

and Health Topics like:

Dr. Jenny K

New York Times Health

and advertising news such as AdTech, Ad Age, and Agency Spy
There are also a few pharmaceutical companies that tweet, and I follow some, and try to keep pace.

Finally, there are like minded professionals I respect for passing along good news.

Why is this my second favorite professional news source, after The Wall St Journal? Because the social network is sending my way filtered content rapidly; like a marketplace of filtering. My network of colleagues and sources has interests that overlap mine, but do not exactly duplicate. They re-tweet breaking topics that I find fascinating, and I try to reciprocate when I can. So I am exposed to news items and trends that are aligned with my interests.

I suppose RSS Feeds can accomplish the same thing, but Twitter also enables the multi-way, networked interaction. I do not check Twitter often, maybe once every other day. But that's enough for me to keep track of the industry and professional trends I care about.