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Measuring your ROE, not just your ROI

By William Martino

If you haven’t already listened to episode 13 of the Dose of Digital podcast, Bill and I spoke about content marketing and brand story telling. We covered a few different sides of this topic, but in listening to our conversation again, one of the most interesting—and important—things we spoke about was how content marketing programs are evaluated and measured.

As I mentioned, we learned in doing this at Wunderman that it’s essential to measure beyond the transaction. Engaging through content is a longer-term strategy, which delivers a host of different benefits back to the business, be they organic traffic, efficiency measures, or improvements in overall brand perception and health. To take such a short-sided and narrow view of success is a bit foolish and, frankly, unfair. I suspect that too many people will pull the plug and stop their commitment to something that may be quite successful because they’ll only be looking at an incomplete view of performance.

But these is another piece here that I forgot to mention, and it’s arguably the most important, which is to look at this as a way to learn and be a better marketer; to grow your Return on Education (ROE), not just your ROI.

In the episode, I mentioned a content program that we launched on Tumblr for Flonase and, yes, it was deemed to be successful from a metrics standpoint, based on our objectives and KPIs. But arguably the most important thing we got from it was practice. It was a learning ground to try things out, experiment, feel what it’s like to get into the rhythm of regular publishing, and to establish a new way of working that was right for this team. We learned how to use marketing muscles that we’ve never had to flex before, and we did it when the stakes weren’t so high (we weren’t selling any product yet). Without that practice run and experience under our belts, we never would have been as successful as we have been when it really mattered in this spring.

This is an important lesson to remember, especially for those brands that are doing this for the first time (or really doing anything new or different). You won’t get it right the first time. Any new marketing endeavor takes time to master, so remembering to stop and measure progress in terms of learning, understanding, and competency is just as important as tracking more direct measures of tactical performance.

WM Head Shot 180x240William Martino is the SVP, Global Client Lead @ Wunderman World Health
As a Global Client Lead, William is responsible for the relationship between Wunderman Health and GSK Consumer Healthcare in the United States. Working across multiple brands and product categories, William and his team help to drive business growth and brand love through digital marketing, content marketing, CRM, and consumer engagement.


“Garbage At The Speed Of Light”

Space Trash


A few evenings ago I was attending a work function and the guests included several senior members of the extended organization who don’t normally interact with our group. Amongst the various conversations that were going on, a very interesting comment was made to me by one of those senior attendees. He joked (I assume), that “digital stuff is just garbage produced at the speed of light.” He wasn’t referring to the quality of the work, or the depth of the creative. His jest, and for the sake of my sanity I’ll assume it was a jest, was that digital as a potential service offering within healthcare was garbage. I was left non-plussed by this conversation not only for the obvious reason, but because in other situations his general disdain towards the digital medium was palpable. He most certainly was kidding, but that sentiment has been expressed on other occasions.

This got me thinking. Is there a greater undercurrent at work hindering digital adoption, integration, and progression in organizations? Could the old-guard leadership of these massive agencies and operating companies be biased against digital leaders and digital talent? Is there such a thing as a digital prejudice?

Read More…

Who Responds To The Responders?

This one is for you, Dan.

As I thought it might, my last post about social media stirred quite a bit of discussion. As such, I thought it would be useful to perhaps dedicate another post as a means of both clarifying my position, and providing some counter-points to the various responses that have been generated around the web.

To recap, my original post wasn’t meant to suggest that pharma should completely abandon social media, but rather that the interest in social engagements is over-calibrated when weighed against the potential business impact for a given brand.  There are two points that encapsulate my thoughts on how social most typically makes sense for pharma. First, for corporate communications, investor relations, and (hat tip to Craig DeLarge) corporate level customer service, social media makes a ton of sense. Second, placing content inside a given social platform, but turning comments off, relinquishes any hold on the notion of that program being even remotely “social.” While placing content in channels like YouTube can be a highly effective tactic, it ceases to be social without conversational interaction.

Those specifics being stated, a healthy debate has arisen to my point of view on this. That’s good. The industry needs more thorough discussion of the why and how communications should be rightly used to better inform all of us. But from my perspective, the counter arguments being posited just don’t hold much water.

Unbranded social media engagements provide real business impact
(Messrs. Mack and Spong)
There’s really only two situations where an unbranded program makes strategic sense for a pharma product; pre-launch, when the market needs to be seeded for a particular indication, and post-launch when a new disease category needs to be better understood by patients. I would argue that the latter makes less sense than the former, but I can see the rationale and so I’ll include it in the debate. Read More…

Is It Time For Pharma To Give Up The Social Media Ghost?


Social media has been a big focus for pharma marketers for a while now. By my count, at least 30-45% of ePharma’s agenda from the 2014 NY conference was focused on the subject, and there is a whole cottage industry of other conferences specifically for social media fin the pharma industry. If you spend any time following pharma folks on Twitter, you can find tons of tweets on the subject and create whole feeds for hashtags like #socpharm, #hcsm, #pharmsm, etc.

I say it’s time to move on.

You read correctly. Before some of you go indiscriminately crazy and lambaste me in the comments for the mere suggestions that social isn’t important, let me offer some points of clarification. As it relates to corporate communications, I think using social media is a no brainer. For J&J, Pfizer, AZ, et. al., using social channels effectively is essential for reputation management, stockholder news, crisis management, etc. It’s the cost of doing business in the digital world we live in. Additionally, using social platforms to seed content is just fine, as long as you’re not expecting huge results. I’m a firm believer in a distributed content strategy, but 99% of the time, pharm brands place content in social platforms with the comments sections (or anything else even remotely ‘social’) disabled.

I believe the whole use of the medium needs to be seriously rethought. Simply put, there are serious challenges for using (and I mean really using) social media for a pharma brand. For instance:

  • Fostering dialogue and conversations isn’t the business that pharma brands are in
  • The marketing teams assigned to those brands aren’t built to sustain the kinds of relationships necessary to succeed
  • PR and marketing rarely coordinate within a given brand
  • The regulatory organizations (FDA or otherwise) will only let you discuss what’s exactly in the product’s label, and
  • Users, by all indications, aren’t interested in pharma infringing on their timelines and feeds

Defining social media
The term “social media” has been hijacked by the pharma industry, and thus, needs to be properly re-defined in order to better comprehend my argument. Social media, as defined by Wikipedia, is “…interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.” If you read this carefully, you begin to understand my point. Pharma does almost none of these things. While the creation of content is part and parcel to the pharma marketing regimen, I would argue that the minute your regulatory team requires you shut off sharing or comments features, the social media aspects of your programs cease to exist. If social media is about the collaboration of ideas and the sharing of communication, is it really a social program any more if the direction of those communications is entirely one-way? Read More…