A healthy market opportunity

I was interviewed recently on the latest developments in digital pharma marketing. Here’s an excerpt of the story from the HotHouse blog:

The rise of digital in all its forms – Internet, mobile, social media, online video – has fuelled the shift from selling and marketing products to selling and marketing services, as consumers have replaced manufacturers at the centre of the marketing universe.

Everything from product development to promotion to post-purchase evaluation is today built around understanding and meeting customer needs.”

This is abundantly apparent in an area like healthcare. From a product-focused sector based solely on convincing doctors to prescribe medications based on scientific evidence (and a few educational dinners), drugmakers are building portfolios of services aimed at patients and doctors around their brands, helping healthcare professionals tackle issues like patient compliance and health education as direct promotion takes a back seat.

Big numbers

I discussed the implications of these trends with healthcare digital strategist (and HotHouse content producer) Ray Welling in this month’sHotHouse podcast. And while the growth of online generally as a medium and a marketing tool has been impressive, the numbers for healthcare are truly staggering.

Read the full story

Target those who need you most

From my NETT blog:

Our politicians have shown they could learn a thing or two from small business when it comes to marketing their wares.

You can be the best at something, but if people don’t know about it, that fact won’t get you anywhere.

The federal election brought home for me the importance of positioning and promotion when you’re marketing your business. The shambolic campaign and aftermath showed that you can be running the only western economy to emerge unscathed from the global financial crisis, which should be enough to get you elected a saint, but if you can’t sell your accomplishments – and you let your competitors dictate the agenda – you will be severely spanked.

Policy waffling, backstabbing and leaks didn’t help, but history tells us that Australians give a neophyte government a second chance, even if it’s made mistakes. For the government to have so many runs on the board, the election should have been a walkover. To my mind, Labor’s biggest problems were a lack of firm positioning and an inability to sell itself to its customer base – uh, I mean the electorate.

These principles also apply to running a small business. It’s not enough to be the best-in-class for service, delivery, reliability, range or innovation; if your customers and potential customers don’t know it, you won’t survive.

The first step in this process is positioning. You need to work out what you’re best at; what your salient attribute or point of difference is, and why it’s meaningful to your customers. It’s only worth focusing on a defining attribute if:

  • It’s important and valued by your target market;
  • It’s distinctive and can’t be easily copied;
  • It’s superior – you do a better job of it than your competition;
  • It’s communicable – you can make it obvious to consumers.

That last point leads into the importance of promotion.

You need to be able to use both modern and traditional communication tools to let your customer base know exactly what your points of difference are, and this starts with making it easy for your customers to find you on the internet.

Read the full article.

The more things change…

From my NETT blog:

When the iPad was released last year, there was a cacophony of ooohs and aaahs as geeks, early adopters and visionaries welcomed Apple’s shiny new thing. But if you listened carefully, you could also hear sighs and mumbles. That was from the people who were saying under their breath, “Oh s@!?# – another new technology to try and master – I give up!”

As a small business operator, it can be frustrating to try and stay on top of all of the technologies that may or may not be relevant to your business. It’s easy to question the justification for learning new things that may turn out to be a flash in the pan. Why get immersed in Facebook when it might turn out to be the next MySpace? So tablets are buzzing at the moment – didn’t the Palm Pilot have its day in the sun, to end up on a shelf gathering dust next to my Ipaq Pocket PC? Has Twitter peaked? Should I hitch my star to Foursquare, or Facebook Places – or neither? And I just signed up for a long contract with my iPhone 4 – don’t tell me that Android is the next big thing!

No one has a crystal ball that can tell you which technologies and platforms are going to be winners, or how things will evolve in the future.

Classic examples I use with my marketing students include the VHS vs. Beta wars of the 1980s, or the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD stoush this past decade. Many people – and retailers – who invested in Betamax players and tapes or HD-DVD collections were left with expensive but useless equipment when they lost the marketing battle with their technologically inferior rivals.

It’s an understandable human reaction to say “Enough!” and refuse to adopt a technology until they work out the bugs, or until the winning format becomes clear. When I was a kid, my older brother installed a state-of-the-art 8-track player in his first car. When that technology collapsed soon after, he was so annoyed that he refused to buy a cassette player in case that technology became superceded, too. It did eventually get replaced by CDs, but in the meantime he spent more than 10 years in the music wilderness.

Read the rest of the article

– Ray Welling

Online technology and the 8th P of marketing

(Excerpted from this month’s column in Nett magazine)

We all know that online technology has irrevocably changed the way we do business. It’s high time that it changed marketing theory, too.

If you’ve read up on marketing theory, you’ve no doubt heard of the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. They form the elements you need to consider when planning your marketing strategy, and were recently joined by three more Ps: people, process and physical evidence.

I’d argue that because of technology changes of the past 40 years, particularly the rise of online, an eighth P needs to be added: partnership.

The technology-fuelled exponential increase in information sharing has fundamentally changed the relationship between businesses and their customers. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, businesses have been firmly at the centre of the universe, with information from the business (advertising, product information, product development, etc.) travelling in one direction to customers, with little or no information travelling back.

But the net changed all that. Businesses are no longer at the centre of the universe; the customer is now firmly at the centre, with the power to choose from a huge number of businesses and information sources. This has been described as a Copernican shift, because in business terms it’s as radical as the shift in thinking from believing the Earth was at the centre of the universe to the realisation that it was just another planet revolving around a huge and powerful sun.

There has also been a shift from one-way communication flow (business to customer) to two-way flow. Customers can and do tell you what they think of you, your products and your customer service.
As a businessperson, the simplest way to understand this new situation is that it’s not about you, it’s about them. The master-servant style of relationship doesn’t work any more.

Read the rest of the column here: http://nett.com.au/blogs/online-tech-and-the-8th-p-of-marketing/152.html

Ray Welling

We now resume regular programming

Yikes – a digital content consultancy that doesn’t update its blog. 

I’ll avoid all the obvious analogies such as the plumber who doesn’t have time to do the plumbing at his own house, and instead just point to some of the things that have kept me away from the blog:

Also the hundreds of assignments, group projects, essays and exams marked for my uni classes this semester. Onward and upward to more frequent  blog posts!

Cheers, Ray Welling

Now appearing in NETT magazine

I was asked to put together a workshop article on how to promote your business online using video for NETT magzine, a technology magazine for Australian small and medium businesses. The article has been published in this month’s issue (see a PDF version here).

Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:

“Online video is no longer a nice-to-have addition to your marketing mix: it’s becoming an essential tool for small businesses trying to stand out in a crowded market. Yet, often the biggest challenge for SMEs interested in creating online video is taking that first step. Your dream may be to create something that goes viral, but where do you start? How do you make it interesting enough to get people to watch – and then spread the message? The good news is, creating online video is getting cheaper and easier to do.

“….The biggest challenge for businesses, especially SMEs, is taking the first step. Video can confound people who are only familiar with traditional marketing. Developing an interesting concept is the next challenge. Viewers have been conditioned by years of television watching to expect video to be entertaining as well as informational, so that talking head presentation from your MD is an online video no-no.

“….Each video and each campaign is different, so work out ways you candetermine the success of your video in meeting your goals.How can you tell whether increased sales are due to your video? You do things like link from the video to a particular landing page on your site instead of the home page. Measure hits to this page and add a call-to-action…. As you produce more videos, you can see what type of content gives you the most business impact.”

Content trumps transactions

Hitwise has released a report based on UK web traffic showing that content-driven websites receive 73% more traffic than transaction-based ones.

Hitwise data over a three-year period shows that entertainment and social networking sites have significantly increased their share of visitors, while shopping, classifieds and travel sites have lost market share.

Overall, transactional websites accounted for 5% more visits than content sites in July 2006, but since then content has grown steadily to now account for 73% more visits than transactional sites.

Content_vs_transactional_websites_chart

Hitwise’s Robin Goad writes: “This data chimes nicely with the findings of the latest Ofcom Communications Market Report. It concluded that the communications market has not been particularly harmed by the recession, and that ‘the internet and TV is regarded as a higher priority than almost anything except food.’ Hitwise would agree with this analysis but, although people are using the Internet more than ever, the way they use it and the sites they visit is constantly changing. In particular, the above charts show that just because people are using the web more, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are spending more money online.”