Written by Richard Marcil on March 4, 2015
in Healthcare Marketing

I recently came across an excellent piece in The Economist titled ‘How marketers will win, Six marketing visionaries describe how in five years marketing will be transformed‘. The report is broken down in two parts: (1) interviews with six “marketing visionaries”; and (2) the 15 things marketing visionaries told us.

The interviews are good as they come from different perspectives, and worth a read. I’ve highlighted below a couple that stand out as they relate to our work as Pharma marketers:

  • John Hagel, management consultant – Mad Men marketing was about intercept, isolate and insulate; today’s marketing needs to be about attract, assist and affiliate.  Privacy is different under pull and thus the need for WIIFM.
  • Gavin Heaton, tech leader – The problem with many marketers is that they look at engagement as just having a conversation, rather than having a conversation with purpose.
  • Aditya Joshi, partner at Bain – For the next five years, it’s not a question of discarding traditional and embracing digital. The trick is how to get both to truly work together, in a seamless integrated way (somewhat like we’re doing with PatientConsumer360 work).


The “15 things marketing visionaries told us” may seem a little obvious, but many of the points still remain a challenge in Canadian Pharma, where there is lots of legacy thinking, and in an industry that’s heavily regulated. Still, some of the most relevant are:

1. It’s all about engagement – a real challenge as physicians increasingly close doors to our reps and consumers/patients meaningfully outpace us in terms of technology use & access.

2. Start at the start – product decisions may in fact be made before a consumer/patient sees a health professional; think of the first moment of truth (FMOT) in digital media.


5. Turn start-and-stop into start-and-continue – learn from best marketing practices, which emphasize more continuous test & learns over year-long campaigning.

10. Keep up with the consumers – note the use of the word “consumer”, which defines patient behaviours as well; thanks to companies like Apple, Amazon, Fitbit, etc., consumer/patient expectations are higher than ever.

None of the above should come as a surprise as most brands are struggling with the same issues and opportunities. The key for the second half of 2015 and 2016, however, is making meaningful progress on these fronts, which is immensely doable.  In fact, that’s what we’re doing with a number of our clients, especially in terms of DTC engagement and non-personal promotion. How about you – are you positioning yourself for success?

Richard Marcil (@ariadhealthcare) is General Manager, Healthcare at Ariad Communications.

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