The recent PharmaTimes meeting was a refreshing opportunity to meet and speak with a wide range of delegates interested in the more practical side of digital engagement within pharma. Whilst its always good to mee familiar faces and learn from the digi-jedis’ at pharma events, it was a pleasure to be able to talk to people wrestling with the ‘how do we do this?’ rather than exhorting the ‘why its so important’.
Despite a decade of executive head-scratching it is still very apparent that many digital projects are either being held back due to a lack of senior management engagement, or paradoxically, are being driven from the top in a totemic – just do it fashion!
I thought it would be enlightening to take a light-hearted look at your top 7 questions form Business Plan challenges and provide ready-made answers. So, for those people who work at the customer interface, and are expected to embrace digital without any clear guidance, training or organisational re-design, here are a some quick-fire answers that may come in handy next time you present your plans and find them challenged – either by the ‘too-much digital’ or ‘not-enough digital’ camps.
Select your response depending on how secure you feel in your current position!
1) It’s a fair challenge. This plan has been built on a strong strategic basis - customer needs, product differentiation, competitor and environmental assessments and our own internal ambition. The level of digital investment reflects the current maturity of the available channels, the way our customers use them, and how relevant they are to our plan. By zero-basing our mix we have been able to be assess digital opportunities from an objective viewpoint. Next question.
2) It’s a good question. Return on investment should, of course, guide all of our investments. I’m comfortable that we at least have a chance of measuring the impact of these strategies, but our belief that they will provide a good return comes mainly from our understanding of customer behaviour – in much the same way as we invested in print advertising and paper mailings. However, the fact that we can measure and adapt our campaigns as we learn, provides us with a fantastic opportunity to improve results within days, not months! Next question.
2a) Yes I understand. But lets not forget the words of Einstein (as if you would) ..“not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.’’ Next question.
3) I understand why you would ask that question. As an organisation we are not ready to turn into Amazon just yet. We are still organised around a salesforce-led model and our mindset is to maximise that channel first and everything else gets the left-overs. Until we bring the same rigour and resource to digital campaigns that we brought to salesforce effectiveness, we will continue to scratch the surface. Yes, I’d love that job!! Next question.
4) It’s a fair question. Rest assured the same rules apply to social media – we can’t and won’t promote to the public, and yes we have our pharmaco-vigilance systems and SOP’s in place should bad comments arise. Next question.
5) Its an interesting idea. My kids use facebook too, but I wouldn’t suggest that we ask them to ‘like’ your Annual Report. Next question.
6) Good point! Yes, we have involved procurement all the way and they have been brilliant – they have such a great understanding of creating value from digital investments. I.T. were helpful too - they love the way we use various new platforms and adopt the latest technology without having to be asked to! Next question.
7) Yes, you’re right. As an industry we do have a problem with public trust, and there will always be those who challenge our motives. However, that shouldn’t stop us engaging – only through open and transparent dialogue can we begin to be part of the solution. Next question.
7a) Of course I understand that floppy-finger syndrome is a major health issue, and terribly under diagnosed. I’ll get my coat.
If anyone has any classic business plan questions I’d be more than happy to suggest an answer.
Please click here to see my feature in PharmaTimes