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Get stuck into digital – the right way!

How to execute digital: First in a new series from Faisal Ahmed explaining the practical steps on how pharma can use digital technology

How to execute digital: First in a new series from Faisal Ahmed, formerly part of the start-up team at Amazon, explaining the practical steps as to how pharma can use digital technology.

We've recently seen two events that really helped our industry embrace digital a lot more – the Digipharm conference and the PM Society's Digital Media Awards.

It was really good to hear the response from everyone following these two different takes on the impact of digital in healthcare, with both audiences posing the question "How can I do that?" and realising "That's a great idea…."

A big thank you then to all the speakers and companies entering their work for the digital awards, however digital should not be about keeping up with the Pfizers or the Janssens, it should all be about relevance to your target market.

Digital should focus on how we can enhance our target market's life, not the assumption that if we create a website they will come. It's about how we can increase participation and amplify their experience with your brand.

Push the boundaries as much as you can but be relevant to your end-user – don't build it just because your competitor has it. Look at what they've done and improve it Research the user too – don't go for a technology that nobody uses in that particular demographic. Make it seamless for people, so they don't think "Forget it, this page takes too long to load and I can't find what I really need - I'm off." Instead, look to personalise their experience.

Quick tip

Purchase a Manhattan research report on digital usage in Pharma (it's by far the best one out there); Google whatever information you need; visit Comscore for their latest data on digital usage; buy an iPhone, iPad, Android powered tablet PC and phone; and download all the web browsers on the market.

Once you've researched the end user, get the tools they use and experience what they do, before starting any digital plan.

Never think that because it's been done already, I cannot do it. There's an advantage in being second to market in today's digital world as you can learn from the mistakes of the first mover. If your website or mobile app can create a better, more engaging experience for the user and if it makes their life easier, you're on to a winner. Just imagine Man MOT open 24/7, instead of just Mondays; imagine a mobile version on all platforms; and just imagine if you could have a partnership with the English Premier League, Football League and FA where they promote the site to millions of male viewers every week.

This is the first part of our series, 'How to execute digital', where we look at all the disciplines in digital and offer some guidance and learning from the mistakes made.

However we also want to add a twist to the series, we want you to comment and ask for the advice you want from digital – any way we can help with your project. We'll also list some great campaigns so far with examples and suggestions on improving the campaign, including things to avoid along with quick tips.

We'll explain the process with quick easy to understand guides, covering website build, usability, search engine marketing, mobile applications marketing, social media marketing, augmented reality, e-detailing, online video and content creation and a lot more.

The following example is adapted from the SOSTAC Planning framework and other planning models. This can be used as a template before you make the decision to go digital. Tweet us or leave any comments if you want clarification:

• Situation analysis
• Objectives
• Strategy
• Tactics
• Actions
• Control.

Where are we now?
The situation analysis:
• What are our digital internal capabilities and resources?
• What's the brand perception digitally at the moment? What are customers and employees saying?
• A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the marketplace
• What customer insight do we have and what DO we need to get?
• What are the goals for this project?

Where do we want to be?
Your objectives:
• What do we want our customers to do and how engaged do we want them to be?
• What are the customer acquisition and retention targets?
• What are the targets for customer satisfaction?
• Do we need to be the primary resource for this subject?
• What's our value proposition?

How do we plan to get there?
The strategy bit:
• Sit in the consumer's chair and be them for a minute. A digital detail aid may not be the solution; other digital disciplines may be more appropriate
• What are the different segments (gender, interests, location, profession, age etc.)?
• Where do our customers spend their time digitally and what are their habits?
• Where do we target our digital messaging or product?
• What is our positioning in the digital world?
• What tools do we use?

What methods can we use to get there?
Your tactics and actions bit, the nitty gritty of your strategy:
• How do we fit this into the overall marketing mix?
• Where are we planning to implement digitally?
• Who is responsible and who reports to whom on this project?
• What are the internal resources and skills?
• What will the external agencies do?
• List the timelines.

What's our performance?
The control bit:
• What web analytics do we have in place?
• What usability testing are we doing?
• How are we profiling our visitors?
• Who is managing the analytics and how is this going to be reported back?

The biggest mind-shift for our industry is that Digital IS CONTINUOUSLY IN BETA.

It's all about: launch, getting feedback and amending to make your customers digital experience with your brand better.

You should always:
• Plan
• Build
• Test
• Launch
• Test
• Get feedback
• Amend accordingly
• Test
• Keep going, digital is always in beta and new technologies will come along that will enhance your offering.

The Digital Plan Structure
So now you've been through the planning process and have been brainstorming from the findings, choose the right digital tools. The following structure will help with your plan.

1. The digital project's goals
2. Insight (consumer and market)
3. Your digital messaging. (Make sure you do not retro fit printed materials digitally)
4. Your big thinking – "The Strategy"
5. The tactics and actions
6. Budgets.

Digital Disciplines that can be used:
Search engines, email, websites, micro-sites, social media, mobile applications, augmented reality, online video, online PR and gaming.

I hope this helps with your thinking. Next time, I will look at website build.



Article by
Faisal Ahmed

head of digital at Life Healthcare Communications. Ahmed was previously part of the start-up team at Amazon, and was later responsible for digital strategies at 90 football clubs, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the World Rally Championship. He was also previously head of digital at Langland, winning over 30 awards for his digital work.

16th November 2011


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