Rameshwaram Discussions X Social Media Gist

A friendly discussion at Rameshwaram about the place, where to stay, what to see and how social media is relevant for a hotel promotion. It was one of those days of north-east monsoon storms that we get usually. So it was windy and hence you might have to use an external speaker or use your headphones to listen with good volume. You can learn a great deal about Rameshwaram and can buzz Raghu who is in the video by using the above link of his hotel.

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How To Start Pharma Digital Journey

courtesy: HubSpot offers

courtesy: HubSpot offers

Context

I recently had a discussion about “going #digital” with a pharma executive. I showed him this. He confided that he believes digital as the way forward but simply does not know how to propose to his management. He also said that it all looks fantastic to talk but when you want to start, you go nowhere. He was sure that his management will not accept any proposal which talks about a budget for gadgets.

We shall go about discussing some aspects of it to the extent a blog post would allow it. I confine this discussion to what pharma can internally decide and execute because that’s where I want them to start with their learning curve. I welcome you to join this discussion by reading, making notes of your thoughts and sharing your comments.

Pharma Campaigns

Pharma marketing operates with 3-6 campaigns every year. On an average, a minimum of 4 meetings (one per each quarter) are called for, to meet with the reps within the company. The expenses incurred for such a campaign briefing meeting (every company has different names for such meetings) include

  • Expenses of Reps travelling from the towns they are based to where the meeting is held (to and fro)
  • A place for them to stay for 2-3 nights
  • Food for them on all these days
  • A meeting place
  • Paper-based stationery and training material
  • Going by our own experience, atleast two working days get spoilt other than these meeting days (yeah! you can contest that)

What happens in a campaign briefing meeting? The following list (indicative but not limited to) gets discussed

  • Product priorities (seasonal, new launches etc.)
  • Mapping the product priorities to the Drs List (a term pharma people understand well)
  • Sampling strategy
  • Detailing strategy
  • Detailing priorities within that individual detailing strategy
  • Follow-up calls (Number of times to visit each category of doctors)
  • Targets (primary and secondary)
  • Training/briefing reps to execute these
  • Analysis of last  quarter sales figures or YTD sales (year-to-date)
  • Announcements of incentives against achievements and for future achievements

You will find that most of the above are mere communication except the training part. In my experience such meetings will not allow time for individual attention of reps and hence not much of individual discussions happen during these briefing days. They happen with respective bosses after these meeting days (mostly while working in the field).

Now consider the fact that most of these can be done through digital platforms with much more efficiency at a fraction of the costs that are currently incurred.

Efficiency because

  • The training material as videos can be played back any number of times by the rep to learn without additional costs. A series of 2 minutes video learning in between Dr calls might be more effective than once in a quarter learning.
  • Mock sessions through digital platforms, which will improve the rep, costs next to nothing and can be a continuous process as part of the work regimen.
  • Product quizzes can be done online and can be part of the evaluation for further training.
  • Feedback Systems that I spoke about here

Generally I get two objections:

1. Nothing like physically being together for motivation, team spirit, blah, blah, blah…(I come from the traditional background and hence I know every inch of that territorial objections to give soltuions).

2. Investment costs of gadgets are high

1. Being together:

You can do the 3-6 campaign briefings through digital platforms and use that savings to take your reps to exotic locations for being together, develop team spirit and for unwinding once or twice a year. That way, you fund yourselves and, I bet, the reps will like both being sophisticated in work with the gadgets, learning and also the exotic unwinding trips. You will start a trend which others shall follow. You will attract the best talent too.

2. Investments

This is a false objection. Because you dont need to be a maths genius to know that if you calculate the costs of all those campaigns over a period of 1-3 years you can fund yourself for the gadgets and still might save some money. And listen, the benefit is not just the cost. Imagine how your company will get transformed through this and also how customers will perceive your reps and your company. Hence investing(initially) and transforming your company through digital platforms should be a no-brainer. It is an investement that pays itself off and also ensures your future. In the long-run you can have huge cost savings too. All those digital creations can be used in the training departmernt for new comers. That again is a big benefit because these are created for real situations and a huge experience with instituitional memories come along. Such realistic company owned training materials will stand you in good stead for years to come. So much of ROI. Think about it.

Have Both?

Some still might feel that their successes live on their physical campagin briefings. Even if you conduct your briefings in a traditional way, digital platforms can help you increase effectiveness by follow-ups in a bettter way. Traditional ways and digital ways are not the same. Hence a word of caution here. Old strategies with newer tools dont work. But you can make a start by demarcating some parts of it to go the digital way. This is not something that you have to achieve overnight and it is not possible too. But you can make a start towards survival for the future.

My question (or rather answer) to those pharma executives

As pharma person, you know from where these false objections come from and why. You also know how to overcome them. Why will you not apply them interally and convince your management to move forward? We are not even talking about rep-physician relationship or relationship with distributors, chemists and finally patients. We are talking about internal implementation with your own people. What say? You are the best judge.

Is there anything that I did not factor in? Add them. Feel free to share your comments. I will be willing to talk to you if you need help.

A Test That I Failed Today And Social Media

Today I was going through my daughter’s English paper and she tested me with this

Eating/what/and/eat/experience/make/you/conscious/a/enjoy 

Rearrange the above words to make a meaningfull sentence. Now dont continue to read the rest before you try it. Did you get it? Good. I failed. But could not stand the curiosity and hence asked my long-time friend Amar Bantwal on Twitter.  Here you go with the rest of the conversation:

9th Std English

Empowering Systems For Pharma

foto courtesy: HubSpot offers

foto courtesy: HubSpot offers

I wrote about a pharma case-study here: Big Data and What they can do

Meaningful reports on time

There are many situations in pharma where quality feedback in a timely manner is of paramount importance.  All of us in Pharma believe, and know, the reports of feedback that are written during the same work session or the same day is of higher value than what is written after a week. Hence many pharma companies have the practice of daily reports or feedback then-and-there. But for a working representative it is highly difficult to write such feedback reports. He has to take the time-out and this is always difficult when he runs from clinic-to-clinic in the race of finishing the day’s work of mandatory Dr calls. (“Dr calls” being the jargon used to state the number of doctors to be seen by a rep every day of work). While the unproductive data of whom he saw and what he did can wait, the feedback from the doctors (whenever, wherever applicable) could be very productive and important. Pharma people can well imagine how this can even work with Doctors’ requests for some information or a sample and how far it can take them with the competitive advantage it can provide. In a cut-throat market any slight differentiation towards better support to the field sales force creates a good distinction resulting in huge success.

Feedback through voice calls

Imagine if the representatives can just give their feedback taken from the doctors by voice calls. These can be submitted online immediately through the phone and will be available to the management almost on real-time. Evaluate such a feedback on the merits of its quality, timeliness and also relevance of being acted upon. It could apply in such a way that that one of the three or all the three could be of use in any given situation.  I am sure the field sales force people will be highly motivated to use such a system and also the results will be much more realistic feedback with better quality and will be timely too.

The system of voice call feedback that I am referring to is being used today by other industries for taking “customer feedback” in an audio form and there is enough proof to say that the feedbacks are getting better going by the number of customers who opt for such systems. I am not even suggesting that Pharma take a leap and start with such systems for “adverse reaction reporting” or for other patient feedback, which needs to be seen through the eyes of regulatory and legal departments in Pharma. But they can sure use it with their representatives for market feedback, which will stand them in good stead and allow them to learn a lot to fine-tune their market strategies.

There are quite a number of options available within these systems and everything is customizable. One can use just a phone for the voice call or through Internet or through APPS or through a smartphone APP with Internet. So it will fit many situations in many ways.

Incremental efforts yet effective results

Pharma has to think of new systems in the coming years to reduce the barriers of reporting and equip their field sales forces in a better manner in this digital age.  Many such systems are simple, yet effective and can offer solutions for many of Pharma’s pain points today.  Pharma can take incremental steps to try out newer ways and solutions towards a better future.

Feel free to post your comments on what you think.

Sharing As A Competitive Advantage

foto courtesy: Hubspot offers

foto courtesy: Hubspot offers

Let me share a few good articles on healthcare that I had read recently and bookmarked:

Are physicians still responsible for mistakes in health care?

Communication: the missing piece in the adherence puzzle

RESPECT FOR THE PATIENTS AND THEIR TIME

What do you do when you read a nice meaningful article? I share them through twitter, linkedin, Google+. If you are around, let us get connected there. I bookmark some of the articles that I read to share later. I share them in a relevant way with people when we have related discussions. This helps me substantiate what I say during the discussions and add a lot of credibility. It makes other people share what they find relevant for me to learn. Talk about win-win.

I look at sharing as a competitive advantage.

The two major tools that I use are diigo and evernote. Emailing to my evernote is an awesome feature that I love. I share my lists from my diigo library with associates and my clients so that when we discuss a topic I can refer the shared article and they would know what I am talking about.

What do you use? How do you share ideas? How do you store them to use it in a relevant way for the future?

Feel free to comment and also get connected.

Include Social In Online Marketing

Online Marketing

Is your company doing online Marketing? Today lots of online marketing initiatives are available. 
Search Marketing(Search Engine Marketing or SEM) is the process of gaining traffic from visibility on search engines. To gain better visibility, techniques which involve search engine optimization(SEO) which ranks you better than your competitors are done. This is a good strategy when you consider internet as a medium of information alone.
People do search marketing and email newsletters using distribution lists. Few people have gone beyond this. 
What Is New
Today so much of information is available on the internet. A customer can get to them easily. Customers just do not trust information unless they get it validated with peers. Today people talk to each other about the information they find.  Customers also check reviews of the products. They check for endorsements and also for negative comments, if any. Customers also pass on information to their peers. They do this using social networking tools. So internet has become social too. Hence it is better to consider social media optimization and include social media marketing.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing is the process of promoting yourself to different online communities. The dynamics are very different from traditional marketing. Here you will be talking to a collective community and they will also talk among themselves. Hence it involves listening to them in a better way and building relationships. Such listening will help you to respond well, learn new information and using it positively. Social Media Marketing works better only when you gain trust and gain endorsement of the people within the communities. Social Media Marketing not only helps in terms of search marketing but also gives you the benefit of endorsement and earns trust and immediate relationships across communities in the internet world.
Social Media Marketing is a cheaper and good alternative to traditional marketing. To get high returns, you need to learn the rules of engagement in this new media, participate within communities and use the emerging trends to your advantage. You need to work sincerely with human interactions and conversations and create a positive expression for your company, product and service. Focused effort and persistence will quickly get you good returns from Social Media Marketing.

Feel free to buzz me if you want to talk more on this.

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Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Why Should Anyone Be Interested In What You say

Today a friend asked me why should what he has to say through social media tools interest anyone…a good question.

In traditional world people call you and check with you when
1. They know your expertise and know that you are the most updated on a given subject.
2. When what you say/comment/advise is useful to them.
3. When they know you enjoy such discussions either in your professional capacity or personally.
All these attract people to come to you and initiate conversations.
Social Media tools allow you to have more such conversations and the usefulness of your conversations get amplified. You also get more questions and get more thorough with your subject. Over time, your sharpness increases.
With Social Media tools you can allow people to come to you by sharing such things on your own.
My answer always revolve around the definition that Social Media is a productive tool for conversations. My friend seemed convinced.
How about you? Are you convinced? If not let us continue to dig more. Feel free to converse.

Why Should Anyone Be Interested In What You say

Today a friend asked me why should what he has to say through social media tools interest anyone…a good question.

In traditional world people call you and check with you when
1. They know your expertise and know that you are the most updated on a given subject.
2. When what you say/comment/advise is useful to them.
3. When they know you enjoy such discussions either in your professional capacity or personally.
All these attract people to come to you and initiate conversations.
Social Media tools allow you to have more such conversations and the usefulness of your conversations get amplified. You also get more questions and get more thorough with your subject. Over time, your sharpness increases.
With Social Media tools you can allow people to come to you by sharing such things on your own.
My answer always revolve around the definition that Social Media is a productive tool for conversations. My friend seemed convinced.
How about you? Are you convinced? If not let us continue to dig more. Feel free to converse.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com