A college friend of mine recently started a new business – Heard it From a Mom – that revolves around a unique viral marketing concept called the “Product Relay.” Heard It From a Mom Product Relays leverage the power of Moms when it comes to product endorsement. In the Relay, a Mom can try a product for free and then refer other Moms she knows to try the product. They can in turn refer other Moms and so on. Since it turns out that 70% of Moms purchase products based on another Mom’s recommendation, the relays have the potential to drive sales by generating Mom-to-Mom product endorsements. And since this all takes place through the Web site and via the many mom blogs, the results are highly measurable and can range from volume data to psychographic/demographic data on the highest value customers.
All very interesting for the consumer packaged-goods sector, but how can the relay concept enable pharmaceutical companies to harness the power of viral marketing, product trial, personal endorsement and word of mouth promotion? Since we cannot head down the road of product recommendation, we need to find another leverage point that can motivate patients to care for their health and develop a relationship with our brands.
One of the greatest unmet needs in healthcare is education. If we can find ways to reward patients who engage in educational activities along with a brand, it’s a win-win for patients, pharma companies and healthcare overall. With the tools at hand today – games, apps, video – we have the power to engage patients in the most basic (and boring) disease state information and start an Education Relay.
Take diabetes for instance. A patient who understands carb counting, their insulin sensitivity factor, their insulin:carb ratio and how to translate frequent BG readings into hbA1c is empowered to not only control their disease but to also influence others.
What’s in it for the patient?
- Fun: If the tools are engaging and mobile, it can be a great experience. One need look no further than the Farmville and Mafia Wars to know that games are HOT and people are willing to devote a significant amount of time to playing.
- Savings: Patients that participate and relay to others can earn points that can be used to reduce their broader healthcare costs (vs. discounts on a pharma sponsor’s brand), such as a pharmacy card.
- Altruism: Sponsors can donate to a relevant cause for each engagement/relay.
What other “hooks” can we explore to start an Education Relay and allow pharma brands to develop brand advocates and spread their influence?
Palio is a full-spectrum global pharmaceutical and consumer advertising, marketing, and communications agency that excels in brand creation and specializes in brand strategy, product launches, global marketing, and digital and integrated media.