Day one in a new job and the brief for this article hits my desk: 'If I could change one thing…' Blimey, where to start with this?
Digital marketing has been around in healthcare for at least 15 years. The first generation of digitally native doctors is now moving swiftly into key opinion positions throughout Europe and those graduating this year know how to use networks to their advantage, both socially and professionally.
During this time screen-based marketing in pharma has endured the growing pains associated with all things that develop. As the pace of our digital audiences quickened, companies' early initiatives, innovations and general excitement moved through a transition phase, slowly realising the extent of the impact digital was going to have and what was needed to adapt.
Smaller marketing teams, stricter legal, medical and regulatory rules, a less secure financial environment and new technologies rolling out annually, all combined to create an approach that often starts with safe and yet ends with bland. We have a tendency to lurch from one fad to the next in the knowledge that someone else took the risk and set the precedent. We have established a pattern of behaviour that looks for reasons why not to do something rather than to be brave and bold enough to challenge and plan our way towards thinking differently and being truly pioneering.
Within the healthcare sector, we work with one of the most advanced R&D industries in the world, which is able to deliver products that fundamentally change patients' lives. We bring together communities of intelligent, driven, experiential healthcare professionals and yet when it comes to our digital marketing behaviour, we have simply forgotten how to be 'daring'.
The nature of digital marketing and the art of optimising the new channels and technologies that assist modern life rely on people and companies taking risks, being bold, having a sense of adventure. It's this more than anything else that I encourage you all to look to change. Just remember, nothing sensational is achieved without risk and who dares will ultimately win!
Nick Bartlett is Head of Digital at inVentiv Health Communications/Europe