Digital is rapidly becoming a mainstream part of every brand's comms toolkit now that iPads are so common – but have we adapted our strategic approach enough to encompass this?
I think most of us are surprised by how fast the iPad has changed things in the world of pharma sales. In an industry where change is often slow, in the space of just over two years iPads are fast becoming mainstream sales support tools.
So perhaps now it is time to go to the next stage – to move in essence from 'interruption marketing' to a new kind of interactive, responsive marketing.
The term interruption marketing is used in consumer marketing to refer to the days when campaigns were largely about TV ads demanding to be listened to between programmes.
This has now been replaced by a new, more involving dialogue with customers over the web, social media, experience marketing and, of course, a few old-fashioned ads too.
We are about to have to deal with our own version of this change.
This is because the changeover to iPads can mean a brave new world of connectivity between all of your marketing and between you and your customers.
This is more than CRM - we all know about CRM - this is like CRM with a turbo fitted.
That's because we should have much more than statistics about the screens viewed – though that is a component – it is about using the information to actively change your communications.
Imagine the situation where your iPad metrics show that customers are interested in a couple of aspects of the sales story in a way you didn't expect. Instead of just having usage data, you can build in the ability to ask and record the questions, the results of which will be fed back every night as the reps go home and sync up with the server.
So then you have a real-time view on what your customers think, and the ability to react quickly, changing pages here, adding more information there, as well as a much more involved relationship with the salesforce.
And this is of course only the simplest scenario – it gets much more valuable and rewarding for customers when all the points of contact appear joined up and responsive – from the iPads and emails, to the websites and presentations.
To manage this we use a mapping process to work out how these separate comms can best be linked up – then use a mixed-media planning process to judge this against the marketing objectives.
It's a big change for pharma marketing but it's the right time for it, as it adds responsiveness and efficiency.
It changes the pharma marketing process from an oldfashioned one of just broadcasting messages to a new and more modern one where the customers are involved in the campaign and therefore closer to the brand, making them more likely to prescribe in the future.
Dominic Owens is Managing Director of Seven Stones firstname.lastname@example.org