Social pharma faces: Jim Lefevere

Rebecca Aris interviews Jim Lefevere

Roche Diagnostics

Jim Lefevere of Roche Diagnostics speaks with us on the importance of using data to measure your digital marketing strategy and ensure that you are correctly engaging with your customer.

In the latest of our pharma social faces interview series we interview Jim Lefevere, Roche’s Director of Global Digital Marketing. Jim heads up the digital strategy, marketing and operations for one of Roche’s business areas.

He speaks with us on why he enjoys the industry, his digital strategist blog and how he has overcome challenges whilst leading the global transition from traditional marketing to digital marketing at Roche.

Interview summary

RA: Jim, thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview, could you start by please explaining your background and current focus.

JFL: Hi, thanks, it’s a pleasure to speak with you.

I have always positioned my career at the intersection of marketing and technology. I started in book publishing (technology books), moved to start-ups in the late 90s in a variety of marketing and business development roles and then moved into healthcare in the early 2000s, where I have stayed for the last 12 years. I have realized that I really enjoy the healthcare industry.

In my current role, I spend most of my time developing new strategies and tactical planning for emerging digital activities that can move our business ahead. I don’t think you can fully be successful with digital unless you have an eye towards the big picture while still understanding implementation and measurement.

RA: What would you say have been the biggest challenges that have faced you whilst leading the global transition from traditional marketing to digital for Roche’s Diabetes Care Accu-Chek brand?

JFL: There are many challenges, but primarily I think it’s overcoming the paralysis that has been set with regard to the lack of definition around adverse-event reporting in digital channels and FDA guidance. This challenge is coupled with the need for some aggressive change management initiatives. The industry as a whole is still very nascent when it comes to digital. Digital marketing and media is a significant change from traditional thinking and marketing. That shift requires associated education, planning and organizational alignment.


“…digital is the most efficient and effective way to develop very targeted marketing…”

RA: How have you overcome these challenges?

JFL: I’ve used different approaches, but have focused most recently on using data. Whether it’s using research to develop the right strategy or demographic data for developing the right media mix, I think digital and using a fact based, data-driven approach for marketing is critical to success. It’s tough to argue against facts and data helps prove the case that digital is the most efficient and effective way to develop very targeted marketing and have corresponding measurement. Data also allows you to put the right message in front of the right customer at the right time in the right channel. From demographic profiling to mapping customer behavior, the data we have now allows you to develop proper multi-channel attribution.

RA: What inspired you to set up your blog ‘The Digital Strategist’ and what do you blog about?

JFL: I started my blog in 2007 and it’s really a way to hone my thinking and attempt to stay really tuned into what’s happening with digital and social media. Quite frankly, I don’t spend nearly enough time on my blog as I should.

RA: What advice would you give on creating a digital strategy?

JFL: I think there are some exciting technology changes underway (gamification, mobile, etc) but I would use data to support strategic planning around how to effectively reach your customer, and also make sure you include measurement in your planning. You have to be able to know what success will look like and be able to measure it.

Overall, on a global basis, I think being proactive and aligning new strategies and plans with stakeholders up front is half the task. Digital is still a ‘black box’ to many people and spending time to make sure you involve and educate stakeholders is critical. Make sure people have a say and are bought in.


“You have to be able to know what success will look like and be able to measure it.”


RA: What advice would you offer on using data to drive digital change in life sciences?

JFL: It’s a mind-set that needs to be embraced and driven into any organization. With the adoption of phones and tablets and living in an increasingly four-screen world (phone, tablet, PC and TV) I think it’s imperative and that it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that points out the fact that people are online and go online for health and disease information. Of course I think that you need to have a blend between traditional and digital activities but that blend is increasingly moving towards digital as the primary and best channel. Data helps you to understand how a customer interacts and engages with your company, pill, medical device, etc. across multiple devices, which is critical to developing the right experience for customers.

RA: How do you think we can improve engagement with health consumers?

JFL: Build better experiences across all digital properties and develop solutions that reflect the voice of the customer and meet their needs.

RA: Jim, thank you for your time.

JFL: Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity.




About the interviewee:

Jim is the Director of Global Digital Marketing, Diabetes Care at Roche Diagnostics.

How can we develop digital solutions that reflect the voice of the customer?