Future Vision

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By Dan Bobear (@dbobear)

In many industries, economic conditions are slowly improving and as everybody becomes less stressed about job losses, furloughs and other ramifications of the recession, theyre ready to get back to business and get back to planning for the future.

For Pharma, that means being able to keep up with the quickly emerging and fast-growing expectations of digital-savvy consumers. Its time to get uncomfortable with being a slow-to-adopt industry and embrace new strategies for digital media. According to this recent report from eMarketer, Internet pharmaceutical activity remains a small component of total U.S. online advertising spend. Other highly regulated industries have figured out how to navigate new technologies and social media. Its time for pharma to do the same.

Hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky once said a good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.

Its impossible to predict what the future holds as new technologies continue to be developed. However, theres every indication that were moving to an increasingly digital society. Most industries have figured out that Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare are great ways to engage with an audience and promote a brand. That is also pharmas challenge today.

For future success, pharma also needs to figure out the next steps in using these and emerging social networks and be able to implement strategies quickly. More doctors are using e-mail. Patients are looking for information or communities to connect to online. As more people carry smartphone devices, theyre looking for information at their fingertips whether thats at the point of sale, in the physician office or while surfing the Web in the comfort of their home.

Its time for company visionaries to paint the picture of pharmas digital future and figure out how to have effective conversations through these new mediums. How can patients be empowered as authentic spokespeople and health advocates yet still comply with FDA guidelines? What does pharmas future mobile strategy look like? Where are the new opportunities for clinical communications?

Future vision requires leadership that is able to communicate what the future state looks like and answer the “why and “how so everyone has a common understanding of success. To create a culture geared to digital success:

1. Recognize that vision is not the same as long range planning. Visionary leaders need to impel people beyond the boundaries and limits of the past and see the business as it could become and then outline a realistic approach of achieving this goal. When people see leadership committed to their vision, theyre likely to support it and champion the cause.

2. Get everyone on board. The power of a shared purpose and vision requires every individual to understand what needs to be achieved and how they can contribute to help the company get there. Leadership should commit to breaking down silos and foster a collaborative environment that benefits from the organizations collective experience and expertise. When people feel a sense of ownership, theyll contribute more.

3. Listen carefully and figure out a way to get in on the conversation. Digital advertising is only part of the communication strategy. Yes, it is a way to control and deliver a brand message, but todays model has people carrying messages to their communities, and infusing them with their own personal touch. Pay attention to where youre being talked about, what value you can add and how you can influence others to continue the conversation.

Digital communication is the new normal. The things that seem cutting edge now such as social media will become commonplace. Rather than wait, its time to create your own vision of the future and then, make it happen.

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