Pharmaceutical marketing in a digital world – a prescription for branding success

Ash Rishi continues his pharmaceutical marketing discussion in part two of four articles. Here, he takes a look at how pharma marketing fits into the digital and social media world and the challenges this involves.

(Continued from “Are pharma marketing efforts accomplishing their goals?“)

A comprehensive marketing strategy that incorporates effective use of online platforms is essential for marketing success. However, a vibrant website and the use of social networking sites (SNS) no longer set your products and services apart; they merely permit you to remain competitive. Effective use of an online presence enables pharma to distinguish its brand, thereby attracting consumers and engaging.

While simple in theory, the complexity of certain industries makes online marketing challenging. Take pharmaceutical marketing, for example. As you well know, healthcare and pharmaceutical brand managers, marketing managers and decision makers need clear and concise information to help them improve their digital marketing skills, whether targeted at consumers, hospitals, healthcare professionals or even medical students.

The skills necessary to successfully engage in pharmaceutical marketing involve more than simply understanding the differences between Twitter and Tumblr or whether Facebook is right for you, or even whether your marketing folks are able to put together an educational YouTube video. Although Marshall McLuhan once famously noted that “The medium is the message”, when it comes to marketing sometimes the message is the message.


“The skills necessary to successfully engage in pharmaceutical marketing involve more than simply understanding the differences between Twitter and Tumblr….”


What exactly do we mean by that? Simply this: In order to be effective, online content, should tell your story and tell it in a way that
is informative / educational, interesting and, whenever possible, even entertaining. Remember that you’re trying to reach various demographics and unless your organisation has the resources to create a different marketing campaign for each online platform, you’ll want it to be consistent as well, both in terms of style and substance.

How do you create an online personality? Through content personalisation, otherwise simply known as storytelling.

Why is content personalisation so important? For a number of reasons, all of which are related to the fact that the amount of data available to us is almost unfathomable. For example, it has been reported that a daily edition of the New York Times contains as much information as someone alive in the 1700s processed during an entire lifetime. In other words, personalising content (or telling a story) helps your target audience find you and gives them a reason to revisit your website, your Facebook page, your Twitter feed or any other modality you decide to use.

Here, then, are some important factors to consider when developing online personas:

Who are you?

The first and perhaps the most important decision to be made is identifying what your brand is all about. What is your mission? Your focus? Are you simply considered a price leader or do you provide additional value (e.g., quality service or perhaps your research is considered cutting edge)? Ask your consumers their opinion of what the market’s perception of your brand is. They’ll be flattered you asked (a nuanced form of marketing, by the way) but, more importantly, they are your best source for information about what works for your brand and what doesn’t.


“….personalising content (or telling a story) helps your target audience find you and gives them a reason to revisit your website…”


Who are you trying to reach?

There are several components to this question. The most straightforward, of course, is identifying your target demographic(s). Once you’ve done that, however, you will need to ascertain which method of access to the internet each group prefers. Pharma should start with the website. Individuals, however, tend to use tablets and smartphones. This will impact how you format your information as not all content developed for a website is accessible or easily viewed on a personal device.

Once upon a time…

Now that you’ve determined who your audience is and what platforms you’re going to use, it’s time to engage in the most important stage of converting a consumer into your customer: the content personalisation of pharmaceutical marketing. No matter what information you present or what platform you choose to present it on, your “story” should engage the reader and include one or more calls-to-action (CTAs). Only when you connect with the consumer will you have the opportunity to guide them on the journey to discovering your content online.

Understanding your firm’s position in the marketplace, identifying your audience and personalising your content should result in a healthy prognosis for your digital pharmaceutical marketing campaign and a healthy bottom line.

Part three in this series can be viewed here.



About the author:

Ash Rishi is the Founder and CEO of COUCH. Based in London, COUCH is an integrated digital marketing and creative communications agency focusing on the pharmaceutical, healthcare and lifestyle industry. Ash has over 9 years experience in pharma marketing and has delivered activities across UK, Europe, US, Canada and Latin America. His area of expertise include: branding, communications, stakeholder development and digital marketing. Ash is also the founder of a new pharmaceutical marketing community on Google +. You can reach Ash at or follow him on Twitter @We_Are_Couch and @Ash_Rishi.

How can you overcome the challenges associated with content marketing?