Adapt or Die! Why Pharma Needs To Get In Line


by Sven Larsen

#Adaptordie is an apt hashtag to sum up the teachings of digital-media punditBrian Solis. Its also an apt hashtag to describe the current state of affairs in the pharmaceutical industry.

Solissnew book,The End of Business as Usual, a follow-up to the popularEngage, focuses on this need of business to change the old ways and become adept at dealing with consumers in new ways – as part of individual conversations that provide value, rather than as stoic entities that wait for customers to come to them.

Soliss “Conversation Prism is a hugely popular graphic that illustrates that point – that conversations are happening all at once, in a lot of different places, and digital engagement must be in the same vein.

This is hard for any old business to hear – especially one that has been made large and powerful by doing things the old ways. For pharma, with roots in old-fashioned strongholds like medicine and manufacturing, these are painful changes.

As anyone in the industry can tell you, though, these changes have begun. Just as just-in-time manufacturing took over in the 1980s and 1990s, engagement is slowly, slowly becoming the way that marketers and communicators are learning to work with their audiences.

Its not, as the hashtag goes, optional. #Adaptordie might sound pithy and edgy, but its true. Imagine a pharmaceutical company that refused to have any website presence – no corporate site, no brand sites, nothing. Do you think it would be taken seriously? Do you think it would be around for long? Probably not. Yet if you tried to make that argument 15 years ago, youd have been met with utter skepticism.

Were in the midst of that same conversation. Convincing pharma companies of the need to join social media is a battle that is, if not won, at least well underway, thank goodness. But what to do once you get there? Thats the big battleground at present.

Yes indeed, companies would be far more comfortable without open Facebook walls, only posting links to pre-approved press releases. But the best are starting to realize that engagement is not a terrifying, ticking time bomb. (For proof, seeBIs Facebook page.)

The next step is to proactively start engaging conversations.

#Adaptordie brings to mind dramatic spear-rattling movie-montage scenes of action and drama. In practice, the current pharma “adaptation is not much like that. Its more like trying to lure a scared pet out from under a bed. No sudden movements, no loud noises, and let them see that theres nothing scary thats going to swoop down upon them.

Dramatic or not, Solis is right. If pharma doesnt get the hang of engaging their customers in a real way – and in good time – they will, indeed, die. Slow or fast, dramatically or quietly.



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