Forgoing Face Time? Get Tethered!

Todd LaRoche, EVP, Managing Director of Creative, Palio

There is no slow season in health care. Whether seeing patients in between personal and professional appointments or a spike in patient visits during cold and flu season, doctors are always busy. For sales reps, this results in a greater challenge getting face time with doctors.

Sales reps may not be used to communicating in a two-minute window, but doctors, nurses and office staff are conditioned to interact that way. Last year on Pixels and Pills, I wrote about being brief and getting to the point when communicating with doctors. That still holds true, but with more doctors tethered to their smartphones and iPads, we need to use technology to change how we communicate with doctors.

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Who’s Responsible for This?

Gregory Alderisio, Senior Copywriter, Palio

Let’s say you see an ad in a magazine or on the Web and you absolutely hate the headline. Who do you blame? Naturally, the wretched, abominable writer. Or what if the art direction is so banal or so hideous you recoil in horror. Whose fault is that? Of course, the hapless, no-talent art director.

Pretty much everything wrong with an ad can be laid at the feet of two people: the AD and CW. It’s the same with the glory. A good headline: well, obviously that came from the unique mind of a gifted writer. An inspired visual? Kudos to the innovative genius of the art director. Why would it be any other way? A pair of people did the ad so let’s praise/stone them depending upon how it turned out. And of course at their year-end review, the creative team with too many boring, dull, moronically-simplistic ads gets labeled as lazy, timid or unimaginative. On the other hand, the team with award-winning work gets a raise, a bonus and a big fat ego.

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Location-based Technology

Bob Mason, EVP, Managing Director of Brand Strategy, Palio

Last year I wrote about the “Checking in” fad, but is it gaining momentum… especially in the pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing world?  Checking in is still a niche activity but with over 50 percent of mobile users armed with smartphone technology, this will be the year it’s moving to the masses as individuals use these apps to discover new places, people and information. Why are “geo-services” appealing? Because they are an exciting, interactive way to engage an audience, particularly in health care, and there is a pool of opportunity for all the applications and services out there as health care marketers look for new ways to engage consumers.

How does location-based information help?

Be in the Know Wherever you Go – Most people pack their prescriptions prior to traveling but there are times when you need a “vacation fill.” Years ago, being in an unfamiliar area meant driving in circles to find a neighborhood pharmacy. Today, with applications like Foursquare, not only can people find the nearest location, they can also access reviews, promotions, tips and driving directions.

Imagine needing emergency medicine such as an epinephrine pen. A mobile device with a geographical information system can help people find the nearest pharmacy, check drug availability and get required medication in time.

Map your Destination – Most rental car companies offer GPS tracking devices for an extra fee and most smartphones come with GPS pre-installed. Travelers and first-timers can also use location-based technology to find the nearest hospital, walk-in medical clinic or dialysis facility.

Connect Environmental Concerns with State of Health – Individuals that check in everywhere can uncover patterns that may provide insight about how their locations affect their state of health. Does Chinese Restaurant Syndrome strike whenever you visit your favorite take out?

Network with Like-Minded People – Newly diagnosed with diabetes, fibromyalgia or breast cancer? Social media applications bring together people from anywhere in the world, providing a forum for virtual support and exchange of ideas right from your iPhone, Blackberry or other handheld device. Want to meet in person? Location-based social apps can help you find people in your vicinity with the same concerns.

Location-based technology is changing how we shop, communicate and learn. Foursquare has surpassed six million users, but people are interested in more than checking in. Interest in on-the-spot mobile coupons is growing, and health care providers can use location-based technology to not just educate and inform consumers, but inspire them into action. Social mobile communication has a strong outlook for the future and should be a key component of the marketing strategy.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

The Peril of Privacy

Jessica Henkel, Assistant Account Executive, Palio

Are you concerned about your privacy? Nearly half of online users are, according to a 2010 Marist poll. Whether it’s fear of corporate spying, unwarranted access to private information, personal details landing in unscrupulous hands or breaching patient confidentiality, there are always sensitivities when sharing information online. Some people and companies have taken an extreme approach, choosing to limit or avoid participating in social networks. But what happens when you don’t participate?

Not having a social networking presence can severely limit your connections and cultural literacy. For companies this can be especially detrimental, especially as more people conduct internet research as their first point of contact when making decisions. Like the lottery, you can’t win it if you’re not in it, and if you’re not participating where your customers are interacting, you’re missing opportunities and potentially leaving money on the table.

We meet online. How relationships are formed is changing. It used to be community social events, business conferences or the racquetball court that brought people together. Today people hang out on online listservs, Facebook pages, Twitter chats or make connections as the result of reading and replying to blog posts. We know more people from around the globe, who speak different languages and enjoy different cultures. Not participating in social networks severely limits your connections and hampers your ability to form relationships with people outside your immediate geography.

Credibility can also be called into question. Patients considering a medical procedure or partners interested in working with a company and its employees go online to gather background information. They not only check your Website to learn what you do, but they’re searching social networks to see what you are posting and what your customers are saying about you. Social listening and support can boost credibility by showing how you respond to customer feedback. There’s also something to be said for approachability and accessibility – both of which are conveyed through social interactions.

Build trust and authority. Social media can make the difference between being found and not found because of its high SEO return. More contributions, discussions, and shared links lead to greater social influence. When you stay out of the conversation, you miss the opportunity to position company thought leaders as experts or establish your brand as the leading solution to your customers’ problems.

You give others control. Even if your stance to shun social media is firm, your customers are not going to follow your lead. Messages about your company, products or services will be broadcast by others and without your lead can contribute to misinformation at best or reputation damage at worst.

Building a strong brand presence requires social media participation. While it’s right to be concerned about privacy and take steps to protect it, it’s also important to realize that walling off your company or yourself can put you at a disadvantage.

With GPS technology on our smartphones, optical readers used by airports and government facilities and technology to monitor our online behavior, privacy isn’t what it used to be. Purposely avoiding the social networks – even under the guise of privacy concerns – is no longer feasible for companies that want to succeed.

What are you doing to increase social participation in your organization?


Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

Is Search Technology Changing How We Think?

Tess Okura, VP, Account Director, Palio

Like many children of the 70’s, I could rattle off the phone number of every person I knew and other random facts. Learning and memorizing things came easily, but it was a necessity – it was a time when there was no smart phone or Internet to look things up.

Today, however, technology has provided with so much information at our fingertips that our critical thinking skills are often less exercised or, perhaps, are over-stimulated, and that can be dangerous if you want to lead with thoughtful strategic thinking in the pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing space.

Though we’re now incredibly aided by technology, we’re also bombarded with more information than ever before. Everything we do from work to play to interacting with families and friends stimulates our brains, helping us learn and acquire new information each day. Add in the amount of digital information being created through emails, instant messages, blog posts, Web sites, Facebook updates, digital phone calls, podcasts and more, our brains are constantly in overdrive.

Technology has certainly made information more available and accessible, and it offers unprecedented convenience. Many technologies are sold on the promise that it will free up time to help us be more thoughtful and creative thinkers. While Google and ubiquitous access to a variety of media has put a world of knowledge at our fingertips, it may not necessarily be making us any smarter.

The decline of critical thinking skills is one area of concern. Education reporter Trip Gabriel recently discussed the quality of learning in online curriculum, where advocates cite its convenience and critics say that it’s all about saving money.

Jack London was the subject in Daterrius Hamilton’s online English 3 course. In a high school classroom packed with computers, he read a brief biography of London with single-paragraph excerpts from the author’s works. But the curriculum did not require him, as it had generations of English students, to wade through a tattered copy of “Call of the Wild” or “To Build a Fire.”

Hamilton, who had failed English 3 in a conventional classroom and was hoping to earn credit online to graduate, was asked a question about the meaning of social Darwinism. He pasted the question into Google and read a summary of a Wikipedia entry. He copied the language, spell-checked it and emailed it to his teacher.

Google may help speed the time to answer, but changing the depth and breadth of instruction can be detrimental to developing problem solving skills and memory recall. These proficiencies are important for intellectual development and fostering innovation.

Search efficiency is also changing how we interact. Whereas people might have deliberated at length over a given topic, being able to readily access information lessens the need for debate and argumentation. What’s the point when you can just Google for an answer? This can be potentially limiting because new ideas are born from looking at old concepts in a new light.

Gary Small, professor of Psychiatry and Aging at UCLA School of Medicine has looked at how search is affecting our brains and notes that it’s not making us smart or stupid, but it is changing how we think.  What search does, he says, is change how we use our memory.

Unlike children of the 70’s who had to memorize phone numbers, people today can simply look them up in their handheld device or press a button for speed dial. There is no need for active thinking. However, we still have to pick and choose what we need to remember. Individuals attending an industry trade show need to be able to remember people’s names, what company they work for and if and when they’ve interacted. It would be awkward to need to look up that information on a handheld device.

Our prior experiences, education and ability to activate short-term memory help us search online, but for interacting in the real world, technology can be used to encourage brain fitness. Small suggests activities such as Sudoku puzzles, games and other memory techniques in addition to physical training and healthy living to improve brain efficiency and brain health as we age.

Search and other technologies are indeed changing how we think. The way we use memory is being altered as we move to a society of searchers and gathers. Technology has created a world where information changes quickly, and ideas can be distributed almost instantaneously. Individuals need to develop and nurture critical thinking skills so they can continue to innovate, evaluate information and arrive at thoughtful conclusions.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

What’s Your Disaster Plan?

Michele Boxley, Account Director, Palio

Most businesses – certainly, most businesses that have been through a crisis – understand the value of a good disaster plan. Whether you’re an advertising agency like Palio that specializes in pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing, or any other kind of business, when trouble strikes, that’s exactly the wrong time to be sorting out how to talk to customers and the media, or how best to communicate with employees.

So, if we stipulate the value of having a plan in place, then what goes in it? Or, more specifically, how can you leverage the new social, digital and mobile communication tools when disaster strikes? And what should you watch out for? Consider the following:

Have a formal cascade of options. If disaster strikes and you need to communicate with a far-flung workforce, employees should have no question about which channel or tool is the right one for official company updates – that’s a core component of most disaster plans. But, what if your primary tool is damaged or unavailable? Depending on the scenario, it’s possible for email, phones and the company intranet to all be down simultaneously – and that’s when employees need to know what other official options exist.

Keep risk management front and center. The organizational imperative in a crisis is not to communicate with everyone and anyone who wants information – that’s a time sink, a risk and a distraction. Rather, the imperative is to manage risk at every turn. That means looking at social, digital and mobile communication tools through two lenses, at once both weighing their potential to quickly reach a dispersed and mobile workforce, and understanding their potential to generate distracting and counterproductive public chatter in a crisis if not properly managed.

Your vendor’s disaster could be your disaster as well. Many organizations have embraced enterprise-level social collaboration platforms like Socialtext, gaining great benefits from the software-as-a-service model. But, that begs the question: What happens when disaster strikes a core communications vendor? If your organization can’t afford the lost productivity of downtime, go beyond simple service level agreements with strategic communications vendors, and ask to see their actual disaster and business-continuity plans. Not only will you have more insight into their resiliency during a disaster, but you may walk away with ideas for how to better prepare your own organization.

Social and mobile media are an incredible asset in a time of crisis, particularly as today’s workforce gets out of the office and into the field in ever greater numbers. However, “social for the sake of social” is never a good idea – especially in crisis and disaster communications. So, explore your options, but don’t assume anything is a must-do just because social currently gets so much attention.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

Job Opening: Social Media Strategist

Bob Mason, EVP, Managing Director of Brand Strategy, Palio

If you’re relying on in-house public relations or marketing staff to handle your social media interactions, you may want to think again. Social media done right requires dedicated resources and specific knowledge and skills. And, because social media is still a relatively new medium, internal training and development may not be available.

While platforms may evolve, social media will remain a prominent fixture on the business landscape. To successfully navigate the social stratosphere, many organizations are creating the role of social media strategist to support community and brand building.

Last year I wrote about social media strategists and this new job category on Pixels and Pills. A social media strategist will have the skills to guide the organization in exploring new methods for listening to and interacting with customers, analysts, investors, employees. Savvy social media strategists are experienced with the tools and techniques to learn about customer preferences and understand how to interact with the target audience across multiple social media platforms.

What can a social media strategist do for you?

Establish a social media strategy. Is Facebook the right place to reach your target audience? Are they participating in private communities? A social media strategist will identify where you should be by first understanding where your audience is participating and the corporate objectives you are trying to achieve. They will identify influential individuals as well as groups your organization should participate in. They’ll also know how to set up groups, moderate them and build participation.

Monitor the blogosphere. A social media strategist is not only responsible for creating and managing content for the corporate blog, but also monitoring, and when appropriate, responding to comments from readers. Monitoring other bloggers helps acquire competitive information and identify prominent or influential bloggers. Tools such as TweetDeck or TrackUr sort social media mentions by keywords, twitter handles, and hashtags, which is helpful in keeping apprised of blog or other social activity.

Show Up with the Necessary Skills. A strong social media strategist should have a firm grasp of search engine optimization strategies, be able to recommend, implement and manage social network policies and procedures, know how to use a mobile device to simultaneously update multiple social networks, upload videos to Vimeo and YouTube and add photos to Flickr. They also should have solid writing skills to create blog posts and have excellent communication skills to respond in real-time to customers, prospects, other bloggers, etc.

The role of a social media strategist is dynamic. Beyond posting and tweeting, the social media strategist will spend time working with a brand monitoring solution to discover all the places that the company needs to monitor or participate. They’ll also work internally with employees, the sales force and customers to help share insights and strengthen relationships.

In today’s increasingly social world, having a social media strategist on staff is essential. By taking a disciplined approach to social communication, companies can take advantage of social media to ultimately build their brand and business.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

The Power of Listening

Todd LaRoche, EVP, Managing Director of Creative, Palio

I’ve just gone through our archives and realized that here at Palio, we mention listening quite often in our posts. I was very pleased to confirm this with my little bit of research. It means we’re doing something right, especially as an advertising agency in the field of pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing.

But I also noticed that when we talk about listening, we’re usually mentioning it in passing, as part of a larger goal, as a step in a process.

Listening can, and should, and needs to be, more than that, particularly in social media work. All too often, we relegate it to a baby step on the way to doing “real” things. When clients are nervous about entering the digital social media sphere, we tell them first to start out by listening, and then eventually they’ll work up the courage to really jump in to interactive social media work.

This is, of course, true, but it can lead people to think that listening is just that first baby step, and no more. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and this is the myth I want to dispel.

If you’ve let the listening aspect of your social media work slip to the back burner, now is the time to rectify that. Convene a “listening camp” and spend a few days really focusing on it. Start off by bringing your interns in to teach the first class. We know that’s who you’ve had doing the work of monitoring and listening. Listen hard to what they have to say about what the conversation about your brand is. Not the conversation that YOU have been trying to have. That’s different. You need to know the conversation that’s actually happening apart from you.

  1. Are people still complaining about that little product glitch that you wrote off as “handled” three months ago when the official work to address it ended?
  2. Is the most specific praise you’re getting from people coming about a product feature that you never really thought much about, and never highlighted very much?
  3. And what about your competition? What specific praise and specific complaints are they getting?

Our Hyper Island training experience in June (read more about it here) really helped us think long and hard and critically about what we do – what we should do differently, what we should do more of, and what we should change. We’re all doing our best to make sure that new mindset sticks with us.

One way we can get that started is by looking at listening in a brand new light.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

The Psychology of Sharing

Carl Turner, VP, Research Analytics Director, Palio

They say everything you need to know is learned in kindergarten. A common mantra heard in my childhood was “sharing is caring.” Whether that’s information or a prized possession, sharing demonstrates passion, caring or empathy for others. Sharing is deeply embedded in human nature and is evident in the digital information age.

Understanding why people share can help advertising agencies who are revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing design content that is most likely to be passed among as many of the appropriate people as possible.

While the desire to share hasn’t changed much over time, how information is imparted certainly has – especially with the explosion of social media. Today there is more content, a plethora of sources, a greater number of people communicating with more frequency and exchanging information more quickly than ever before.

The New York Times Customer Insight Group surveyed 2,500 medium/heavy online sharers to understand why people share and the motivational forces behind letting someone in on what you know. What they found: Sharing helps people do their jobs, process information more deeply, increases memory retention and creates a bond – a deeper connection – to the information. It also helps them feel valuable. According to the study, 94 percent of respondents carefully consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient.

Sharing is also a way of defining yourself to others. Whether you’re updating your Facebook status with political rants or posting success baking meatloaf cupcakes, you’re giving the world details for your personal dossier. More than half the people in the survey (68 percent) said they share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about. They also share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about.

Other key motivators are to stay connected, feel a sense of community, discuss similar interests and keep in touch with people they might not keep in touch with otherwise. Sixty-nine percent said they share information because it helps them feel involved in the world.

The study identified six sharing personality archetypes:

Altruists – These folks want to be helpful and appreciated for their usefulness. Think of the girlfriend who sends you links to WebMD after you mention going to get your thyroid tested.

Careerists – Do you participate in LinkedIn Groups? Forward interesting business articles to your colleagues? Spend hours researching and reporting on CRM systems? A careerist makes a job of sharing and being “in the know.”

Hipsters – If sharing is part of who you are – too cool/busy/mobile for email, but not too busy to frequently update your status, send out tweets and are already drinking the Google+ kool-aid, you’re probably a hipster.

Boomerangs – This type knows that you are what you post and invests in sharing edgy, provocative content. When their content doesn’t get re-shared, they know they missed their mark.

Connectors – Need a plumber or an engineer fluent in Japanese? Every network has someone who can connect you to the information or resources you require.

Selectives – They know their audience and only share information they deem relevant. If you want to engage a selective, help them understand the WIIFM.

It’s important to keep in mind that people want to share with other individuals – not just your brand. Being a facilitator that drives online conversations requires understanding the motivations of why people share, especially as consumer touch points have increased and taken advocacy to the next level.

People who share want to be relevant, helpful, considerate, informative, creative, cutting edge and popular. To help them, keep your messages simple, appeal to their sense of humor, and embrace a sense of urgency.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

The Rise of Social Influence

Jeremy Lichtenberger, Senior Brand Planner, Palio

Everything old is new again: Reaching influencers – long the Holy Grail for advertising agencies and pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing organizations like Palio  – has gotten some 2.0 polish in the online world.

Today, there a host of products and services that let marketers track and measure influence online. But that begs the question: Is it really all that different from offline influence? And, if so, why does it matter?

Although real-world and social influence can often be different things, the driving idea is the same:  A small number of individuals can often have an important effect on the opinions, beliefs and consumption habits of others. It’s something most marketers are trying to understand better – word-of-mouth and social media marketing.

So what is social influence? Carol Leaman: CEO of PostRank Inc., a company that monitors social engagement across the Web, defines an influencer as someone whose opinion or information has an impact on someone else’s thought process or action.

That influence can be rooted in many things, from topic-area expertise to age, long-term relationships or simply being “loud” and getting attention – good or bad – online.

Why does social influence matter? Although the easy answer is the right one – knowing who influencers are and how they can be motivated helps health care marketing efforts – there are subtleties to consider as well:

Those 50,000 followers on Twitter? That might not be influence. Network size alone doesn’t tell the story. The key to determining influence lies in the actions people take such as retweets, likes or sign-ups.

It’s a new metric for marketing spend. How much a person spends during their lifetime as a customer is a common marketing metric for determining marketing levels. Since influence can be measured, network value can also be factored in to see how much business a customer might be able to refer to you through their network.

Social influence and real-world influence are different animals. Marketers who want to track their brands’ influencers would do well to track both online and offline metrics. Online, social media has democratized influence – there are more people shaping groups with their opinions. However, online influencers, while capable of driving low-intensity actions such as a retweet, or pressing a like button, cannot always drive high-intensity activities. Offline influencers, on the other hand, tend to be smaller in number but capable of driving higher-intensity activities.

“Masspersonal” is a new mode of communication, and it matters to marketers. Social media creates a new category of contact between the traditional categories of personal and mass communication. Traditionally, a brand needed an intermediary – a media channel – to communicate with fans and customers. Now? Everyone’s a broadcaster. Tools like Twitter allow for mass individual communication via the same channel, and create a more personal experience, even if the message isn’t personalized.

In the new model of marketing customers have a voice. Because of the viral nature of social networks, businesses need to harness that power, listen to feedback and empower customer evangelists. By using the Web effectively, marketers can foster a greater presence in online conversations and give rise to social influence.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

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