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.