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EDITOR’S NOTE:  Razorfish Health is committed to the development of the future digital marketing talent of tomorrow.  Over the course of the last year, we’ve invited over 20 students from universities in the Philadelphia area to become part of our team for up to 6 months.  Our interns learn the ropes of our business and contribute their ideas directly to client projects – and more often than not, we even learn from them.  Read on to hear what recent intern Joshua Robbins has learned from his time with us this year.

As I finish up my six month stretch interning in the project management department at Razorfish Health, I wanted to take the time to reflect upon what I have seen while I was here. I have had a short but varied professional background so far – working as a process engineer on the manufacturing floor of Neutrogena, researching word choice of different types of leaders in the US army, and organizing volunteers for a soup kitchen in West Philadelphia. Even though the fields I have worked in are varied, I have come to find a bit of a pattern that emerges whenever I start a new job.

Step 1: Become dizzy from the new language of acronyms in the industry.

Step 2: Figure out the acronyms and realize how simple everything really is.

Step 3: Realize that it actually isn’t that simple and watch as my list of topics to learn grows really, really large.

Razorfish Health has followed this pattern – and our work here has proven to be anything but simple – but as I reflect on my time here, I’ve learned a few new things that I’ll take with me as my career continues forward.

1. The client comes first.

Coming directly from a manufacturing background, this idea was not as prevalent. In manufacturing we aimed to do things in a way that let us produce the most product at the highest quality at the cheapest price. This seemed logical enough to me and so I didn’t question it. At Razorfish Health there is an added element. Even if something may be the easiest and best for us, it is not necessarily the easiest and best for our client. If we have a system that works well but our client would like to use another system, we will make recommendations, but at the end of the day, our objective is to make it as easy as possible for the client to meet their objectives. We are a high end agency because we do good work and we value the clients’ needs above what we may be used to doing.  We tailor solutions for our clients – and our clients appreciate us all the more for it.

2. Our organization is built like a piece from a board game.

When I think of the structure of Razorfish Health, I think of a piece from the board game, ‘Sorry!’. Razorfish Health is small (the slim vertical side of the game piece), but it is part of a much larger organization (the flat side of the game piece). There tend to be benefits and drawbacks to both small and large companies and one great feature of Razorfish Health is that it has some of both. Benefits from the small side – I have had one-on-one lunches with three of the VPs here and I also feel like I can walk into anyone’s office and ask a question whenever I need (as long as it is not 9pm on the night before a new business pitch). On the large side – when I asked our HR director for international contacts within our agency network to reach out to for my next internship, she gave 16 email addresses about 15 minutes later. I feel like the culture here allows me to spread my arms out both wide and high.

This comes as a big asset to our clients as well because when they are working with one person in the company, that person has wide reach to everyone else here. On the flat side – we are small enough that most of us probably know most people here by name. At the same time we can reach out to our greater network for skilled people who bring specialty experience to our clients.

3. Creativity can be planned.

Artwork and creativity seem to me like they cannot be planned. If you try to constrict the artistic process, you will crush it. What I learned here is that when you have seen enough art go down, you know about how long it will take, who will need to work on it, and how much it will cost. It was fascinating to me when I heard a project manager tell me that it would take 80 hours for the creative department to design the pages of a website, because I didn’t think it was possible to be able to accurately predict how long it would take someone to brainstorm and construct a creative concept. When I asked this project manager how they knew this, it seemed like a simple answer:  “Well, I have seen them do this kind of thing many times before, and that’s what it takes.”

Razorfish Health hires experienced people, and I think that works in their favor. I’m told that scoping out a creative process is challenging to some agencies, but with experienced people steering the ship, it seems that there is science to the art – and creativity can be planned.

4.  Do things the long way (the right way).

The largest cost in manufacturing in America is re-work; redoing product because you messed up the first time. In fact, the purpose of my last job was to prevent this. I tracked downtime on the production lines and methodically looked at problem areas and then decided how to fix them. We would frequently be doing rework at the plant. I don’t see much rework happening here, at least not rework that is caused by our own inefficiencies (sometimes our clients want rework, but see #1 for my thoughts on that!).

I love the style of the project management department here because they all operate in a way which emphasizes a very important element- detail, detail, detail. I don’t think they even try to be detailed – it just comes naturally. There is a process in the way that they all go about things whether it is naming a file a certain way every time or recording every single detail which comes their way about a project or conversation.

Reflecting, I think it was silly that I initially felt slowed by this because I think that this is certainly the best way to do things. Our brains can only hold so much, and when you are working on fifteen projects at one time, it only makes sense to leave the details on paper and leave your brain empty for actually thinking. The project management department here thrives because it values (useful) process and procedure – and pushes back and challenges when process gets in the way.

5. Leaders care about people first.

This is something I have seen everywhere I have worked. The people at Razorfish Health are smart and talented. Some of them are smart, talented, and memorably charismatic. These are the people who are looked to as leaders in the organization. It does not matter what discipline or level, but the people who I see who do their job the best are the ones who are caring, amiable, and professional at the same time. It is truly inspiring to observe, and I continue to learn from just watching these people.

At the end of the day, two things are apparent – 1) We are all human, and we work the best and enjoy our jobs the most with people who are personable and 2) Leaders who are personable are the ones who turn task-work into something more exciting, note-worthy, and memorable. I think that this is the most important and translatable lesson, and I will continue to place myself into environments where this is prevalent so that I can always have a model to try to base my own behavior off of.

Most of what I have learned here has become so ingrained in me that it’s even hard to see these as learnings at this point.  One thing is clear – Razorfish Health will not just be a memory, but an organizational model that I will keep in mind regardless of whatever path I follow.

Recently, at Eye for Pharma Customer-Centric Conference, I gave the keynote speech to set the stage for the two day event. Here is the gist of that presentation which was intended to frame the fact that customer-centricity is a moving target, not a single insight that drives your marketing for a year. The five “realities” are:

  1. Change is the new reality. And it is accelerating.
  2. For everyone the world has turned upside down.
  3. You are no longer in charge of your brand.
  4. Each day you become less relevant to your customers (to doctors and patients alike.)
  5. It’s not Share of Voice. It’s now Share of Influence.

          Change is the new reality. Change is the current running like a rapid river under all of our marketing work. Digital adoption is an accepted reality among the populace but not yet fully-embraced among Biopharma marketers. Take the pulse of change and breathtaking pace by audience: doctors are buying iPads (40%!); they are online for their practice (8+ hours a week) upwards of 50% of specialists have opted-out from seeing Sales Reps; and finally according to Datamonitor, “…most calls end up at the sample closet.” And no clear strategies or replacement for a decades-old sales model is in place; true there are lots of fits-and-starts, but I can count two major Pharma companies who tried non-personal promotion through HCP self-service portals, and then pulled them down after failure to engage.

          For those brands that rely heavily on offline TV and print, consumption of those traditional media is down year over year, and – especially radio and magazines. Across the board, Pew Internet says 74% of all adults are online – and even the 65+ group is growing.  I heard two women the other night speaking, both in their 80’s and one said, “I meant to let you know but I could not find your email address.” Even those who favor offline materials – as in over 65+ — are still using email and Search for health information.

          Across the spectrum, health is a major area of engagement in the digital space with 80% of online Americans being health information seekers. The means that brands are less relevant to customers whose habits and attitudes are changing rapidly – unless they keep pace with this change in consumer habits.  Right now Biopharma is being left behind in the Age of Engagement.

          So, for consumers and those that market to them, the world has turned upside down. For brand Biopharma marketers, even the insurance companies, PBM’s and drug stores, this turns the old media and push-marketing model closer to the graveyard. But marketers are not alone, for everyone the world has been turned on its head. Just think about how we consume media – from growing up with a few TV’s to now potentially having one family in the same room each consuming different media  – Dad watching TV, mom doing email, daughter using Foursquare to become Mayor of her favorite store and the son checking the online real-time stats for the sports event dad is watching. (Oh, and dad is skipping the pharma DTC spots with his DVR fast-forward.) I guess it is worth throwing in that they all watch video online – over 70% of online users did so last year. Although ComScore says on average each member of the family is exposed to 247 ad messages a day that bombardment was once overwhelming, now it has trained the patient/consumer to sort and filter what is relevant or engaging. What may seem like a series of data points and family observations is that the new reality is everyone is all over the place in how they consume information, interacting when they want, how they want.

          Now, what is a little shocking is that this is not shocking to most of us who read that scenario I just described. This new “norm” has crept in and taken over – and it is still changing – the next generation will have an even higher bar for what they want and how they want it. I saw a fascinating post at a social media photo site a tourist at Versailles took of a little girl reaching out to touch a flat screen in one of the side rooms; he commented that when she realized she could not play with the image or change it with her hands, she shrugged and ran off. Just think of a pediatric brand that could use that behavioral insight to create tools and differentiate their brand.

          All this means clients no longer control their brands. The fact is that your patients and doctors do.  And that means that the traditional notion of push communication simply fails in this world.  Instead the job becomes to stop selling products and start offering a real service to your audience, and help them as they are making decisions about their health.  A full 20% of American adults say that information gleaned from social media impacts their healthcare decisions.  That’s a pretty staggering statistic particularly when you think that by and large biopharma isn’t in that space to impact those decisions.  By being absent you’re not stopping the decisions…you’re simply losing your ability to impact them.  Which takes me to my next point…

          Each day you become less relevant to your patients and doctors.  Our Razorfish CRM group has discovered through research that people are constantly reevaluating their decisions and that the notion of a sales funnel with a nice linear progression is dead.  Instead it’s a constant sales decision loop in which how you experienced the product/brand, both as a product and as a service surrounding that product, impacted whether you purchased again. I’m here to say that biopharma still does not understand and embrace this notion.

          The time is now passed when Biopharma needs to accept that they need to be less about manufacturers and more about service providers.  This is a big shift and one that the industry has been slow to embrace.  The Digital IQ Report put out by the Stern School of Business at Columbia University makes it clear that Biopharma barely “gets” that service, especially real-time digital service, is not only wanted but expected.

          So forget about SOV.  Think instead about Share of Influence (SOI). In a world where brands are not in control, where industries are increasingly irrelevant to their audiences the way to impact an empowered person is to simply give them more power.  That means changing the traditional notion of what biopharma marketing means and instead leverage the trends towards digital consumption, and peer influences and different platforms and find ways to be present in a meaningful and helpful way throughout that sales loop I described earlier.  Not about advertising and push messages but about enablement through information, tools and service.  By doing so you gain a greater SOI and become a more relevant partner as patients and doctors alike seek the best health outcomes.

          So that’s it.  Five simple realities that all marketers, and healthcare marketers in particular, need to embrace in order to have healthy businesses in the future.  Anyone game for transforming your product from a medicine to a relevant, breathing, helpful brand?

          If you’re an online marketer, chances are you are aware of the growing usage of mobile devices within search.

          As of June 2011, Mobile impressions account for 12% of total search impressions, up nearly 100% year over year, and roughly one-third of cell owners say their phone is a smartphone.  As a result of this exponential growth, these cellular devices have become the focus for marketers within the past year, but a new area of opportunity is on the rise: tablets.

          Tablet usage accounts for one-third of non-computer traffic worldwide. This behavior has greatly impacted the health and pharmaceutical industries. With tablet use, gone are the days of 2 AM doctor wake up calls to run to the hospital. With custom applications, doctors and physicians can review x-rays and patient records right from their tablet devices without ever leaving home. More and more doctors are carrying tablets around the hospital. Sharing patient charts and records has become more personal within the clinical setting with tablets. Physicians are not only utilizing patient record and x-ray applications, but utilizing search engines for conditions and treatments to recommend for their patients.

          So, how do we effectively utilize tablets in our digital strategy?

          Google AdWords offers a few campaign targeting options for tablet devices. Users can target all mobile tablet devices on Android, iOS and webOS platforms, or any combination of the three. Google also offers the option of targeting specific mobile carriers.  Landing pages, keyword mix, messaging and budgeting can then be controlled and crafted specifically to your audience and their viewing interface.

          If your brand does not have a tablet optimized site, Google recommends targeting Desktops and Tablets in the same campaign, as user experience does not greatly differ from a desktop given most tablets’ screen sizes.  In fact, Google now automatically targets tablets within existing desktop campaigns. As with all things search, further segmenting campaigns can yield greater efficiencies.  Through segmentation, marketers can drill down to the most efficient device and carrier to allocate advertising dollars.

          With growing consumer interest and usage, screen size and application offerings, tablet targeting is an asset to a brand’s digital strategy. Search trends continue to evolve rapidly each day and right now, tablets are the next big thing.

          How can I prove the value of my marketing campaigns to the executive management? Who should I target to drive the most value for the business? How should I optimize my marketing campaigns to maximize returns? If any of these questions sound familiar to you, you are not alone. Most marketers face these problems which need to be addressed in order to make informed marketing decisions. The 2011 Unica Annual Survey of Marketers reveals that turning data into action and attributing success to marketing are the most important issues that marketers face today.  The good news is that in recent years, we have seen the ability to measure the value driven by your marketing campaigns grow stronger and stronger.  We see this trend persisting over a very long time, as businesses become more digitally focused and the ease of tracking behavior and success continues to increase.

          As marketing programs continue to leverage the internet and other digital channels more and more, we see the field of analytics grow exponentially.  Low cost of implementation, ability to accurately track detailed user behavior, and the speed of execution are all driving forces behind this growth.

          With all the advancements in analytics – viral tagging, eye-tracking, tying online behavior to offline behavior, etc. – we sometimes forget that these advanced solutions are trying to answer simple marketing questions.  Thinking back to your marketing 101 classes you probably remember the 4C’s:  Customer, Competition, Content, and Channel. Analytics, no matter how complicated the methodology, is looking to provide solutions to some of the most basic marketing questions:   who are your best customers, how are your competitors differentiating themselves , what content resonates best with your target market , and what are your most profitable digital channels.

          Analytics can be leveraged in a variety of ways, but most importantly it helps marketers and brands to have a personalized conversation with their customers. In today’s digital world, personalization is what drives value for your business. Consider Netflix.

          I suspect like many of you, I decided to test out Netflix about 2 years ago. As a self-proclaimed “data-geek” one of the features I love most about Netflix is seeing what movies they will recommend for me.  Recently I watched ‘The Departed’, ‘The Aviator’ and ‘Shutter Island’. The next movie I was recommended was ‘Taxi Driver’.  So, of course I tried to analyze how Netflix made this happen. When I signed up for Netflix they asked me about the types of movies I like to watch (I’m a drama guy). Here they make an attempt to better understand me, their customer. They then keep track of the movies I watch and leverage the historic profiling data they have about me with my ongoing behavior. Netflix solicits my feedback at the end of every movie to understand if I actually enjoyed the movie and thus continuously updated their recommendations for me after correlating this information with the data from other Netflix users. All this is possible because of the analytics platform that Netflix has built to understand me better and thus serve me relevant personalized content. This is analogous to a marketer who understands his target audience, develops relevant digital content and continuously improves his communications to his consumer.

          We see a clear trend emerging in which marketers are adopting analytics to better understand their customers and optimize their online campaigns. However with the abundance of information across the internet, marketers are finding it difficult to make this data more actionable. Most marketers find it difficult to make a connection between the marketing goals and link this with the data they have.

          Our next analytics blog will talk about how this can be achieved.

          Sharagh Gokula is part of the Razorfish Consumer Insight Group, with expertise in advanced analytics, surveys, customer research, and measurement.

          Parent-teacher conferences not only offer some powerful insights into your child, but also into how fast our world is moving. I don’t mean, “oh my goodness, I can’t believe my boy is going into kindergarten.” I mean the skills a three-year old is expected to have.

          “You should work on his computer skills at home,” my son’s teacher told us.

          “Really? He uses his mom’s iPad at home, and probably can work it as well as I would expect of him,” I said. At home, my son has been using a touchscreen since he got his hands on his dad’s first iPhone. But, at his school, students need to use a mouse. There was the rub.

          Parental insight: We must cover off on the basics and use a mouse on the computer at home with the boy.

          Non-parental insight: Digital technology is disrupting the marketplace like never before. Today’s mainstream consumer technologies and behaviors will be yesterday’s news sooner than we can imagine.

          What does this mean for us? Marketers can’t afford NOT to keep up with consumers’ seemingly voracious appetite for technology and the new behaviors that come with them.

          New technology = New expectations

          Despite the rapid change we have seen in consumer behaviors and technology adoption, we are really just scratching the surface.

          Think about it:

          You might say, “So what? What does this all mean to me today, as I sit looking at 2012 planning proposals?”

          It means time is short for waiting and watching from the sidelines. Consumers’ expectations of brands and services grow as they interact with other brands and services within new channels. It wasn’t long ago that efforts such as mobile apps and live chat support were “nice to haves.” But that really isn’t the case anymore.

          Innovation in marketing has never been more important.

          Staying on the sidelines can put brands in a bad light in our ever more connected, fast-paced society and opens the door to competitors – some of whom might not even be an obvious threat in your category right now.

          What can you do? Understanding what is on the horizon, taking some smart risks, and a little trial and error to find out what works best in a particular technology or media channel will create competitive advantages in the marketplace for marketers willing to take some chances.

          Your audience is expecting you to be where they are.  Sit and wait at your own risk.

          Argelio “Arch” Dumenigo, is a Senior Strategy Manager at Razorfish Health with more than 10 years of experience in digital media and technology. As a Senior Strategist, Arch applies knowledge and research of consumer, market, technological and social trends to help develop ideas that change lives

          Recently, Google disclosed that they would be setting aside $500 million dollars to resolve a case with the Department of Justice.  While few details are available, it is known that the case revolves around whether or not Google knowingly accepted and profited from Paid Search ads submitted by illegal pharmacies based in Canada.

          These types of accusations are not new to Google. In 2007, Google along with Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. agreed to pay a combined $31.5 million fine to settle similar accusations that they had accepted ads from illegal gambling sites. Google is also facing multiple investigations into possible antitrust and privacy violations in several other countries.

          While Google has taken steps to avoid these types of accusations, they have historically had challenges with rogue online pharmacies.  In 2003, Google said it would stop accepting ads from unlicensed pharmacies to avoid legal action. In 2004, Google stated that they would continue to carry ads for Canadian pharmacies that sent medicines to U.S. customers.  In February 2010, Google updated its policy again, stating it would only allow ads from U.S. pharmacies accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and from online pharmacies in Canada that are accredited by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. This latest accusation states Google knowingly profited from ads placed by illegal pharmacies. Google has stated they were unaware and that these illegal pharmacies were able to circumvent the barriers put in place to protect against these types of ads.

          While it’s unclear of the scale to which these rogue pharmacies where advertising, removing them from Google will ultimately be a positive step for both marketers and consumers. For marketers removal of these advertisers will eliminate the competition for share of voice which drives up cost per clicks.  Without these pharmacies competing for keywords, legitimate healthcare marketers will be able to buy search terms for less money.  Consumers will benefit by eliminating the risk that comes with buying prescriptions from unregulated pharmacies, which lack the same types of controls to prevent prescription errors. So we could say the only losing party in this scenario is Google itself which will see a decrease in revenue.  Given the larger financial impact of fines and federal scrutiny, however, we can expect Google to be much more diligent in scrutinizing ads from online pharmacies which ultimately serves all parties – except illegal pharmacies – very well, indeed.

          Ray Rosti, Search Marketing Director for Razorfish, provides consulting and strategy for clients to enhance their search engine visibility nationally and internationally, .

          The healthcare industry has adopted technology at a much slower rate than other industries. Why aren’t patients able to have a single place to view all healthcare records? Why is it so difficult for two practices or hospitals to share patient records electronically? The answers are very complex but I will provide some simple insights; comprehensive answers would require much more space that this blog allows. In this post I will use the term electronic health record or EHR to refer to an electronic health record used as part of a clinical management system within a provider’s practice and a personal health record or PHR to refer to a patient’s universal healthcare record that obtains data from multiple EHRs.

          There are a variety of factors driving the slow adoption of technology in healthcare, specifically around electronic records. The promise of a single PHR for an individual that captures all their health related data in one place and can be accessed by any of your providers is still a pipe dream for most patients. If implemented universally, they could make patient care more efficient by eliminating duplicate testing and procedures. Since they allow for a holistic view of the patient’s medical background they could help providers make better decisions about treatment that could result in better patient care. Given the clear benefits, what is preventing PHRs from becoming commonplace?

          Consider the financial model under which many healthcare providers operate. The provider gets paid, primarily by an insurance company, according to a contract where they provide certain services for a fixed fee. This leads to a system where the provider has little incentive to invest in costly technology that doesn’t directly increase their efficiency or provide better clinical care. Could an EHR meet these criteria? Possibly, but it is dependent on the provider’s EHR system being able to interface with all the other provider EHR systems to enable a consolidated PHR for the patient.

          There are hundreds of clinical systems for managing records that a provider has to choose from and doing the IT work to enable the EHR in an individual practice to interface with every other EHR system in the market is a daunting task. The cost of implementing these systems is very high; adding interfaces to allow for consolidated health data adds exponentially to the complexity of implementation. And the current reality is that after the practice makes this massive investment, they are still getting paid the same amount of money for each patient they see.

          Lastly are the privacy issues associated with EHRs and PHRs. When a patient sees a healthcare professional, the information provided is confidential and not necessarily something a patient wants to share with every healthcare provider they see. So with a universal healthcare record, how does the patient control access to the record or parts of the record? Once a patient sees a doctor and has accessed his or her healthcare record for treatment of a specific problem, how long can the healthcare record be accessed? How can the patient deny access to a healthcare record at some point in the future? I believe that universal PHRs, the ultimate system that will really control healthcare costs and provide better care, will have a hard time gaining traction with patients until a mechanism is provided to allow patient control of the highly confidential data contained in PHRs and EHRs.

          Recent legislation has mandated that medical practices begin using EHRs within the next year or two, but the legislation doesn’t deal with how these EHRs will interface with each other and allow patients to establish PHRs for themselves. Without the ability to create PHRs that show a comprehensive medical history, the benefits are significantly limited and in reality silos of patient-inaccessible hard-copy medical records will be replaced with silos of patient-inaccessible electronic medical records.

          Jeff Smith, Director of Technology, leads the technology and quality assurance teams for Razorfish Health with experience ranging from the development of custom web-based applications to large-scale projects involving the integration of packaged software solutions into the enterprise.

          Category: Healthcare  | 3 Comments

          Remember when Facebook made it a point that they wouldn’t ever partner with advertisers only to announce a few years later exactly the opposite? I do. Facebook felt that advertising conflicted with what it stood for. Of course, that was well before the company’s net worth was over $30 billion and had an award winning film based on its creation, starring Justin Timberlake. Never the less, from a business model standpoint, Facebook made the smart decision to accept ads and, according to a recent report by eMarketer, they generated about $1.86 billion in 2010 alone from advertisers. Not bad.

          But the question still remains: does Facebook annoy users with ads and in turn suffer user drop-off? I think it’s safe to say that the answer is no. But what would happen if Facebook decided to charge its users $100 a year? Would you pay? Perhaps some of us would, but there would certainly be a large number of users who wouldn’t. Users would be unhappy to see their friends go, and the overall number of users would decline. Facebook is not the first company that decided to monetize using advertising. There was a time when network and cable television was “ad-free” and since the first television ad in 1941, both cable and network television have seen revenue boost year over year.

          There are lessons to be learned from Facebook and TV, and it appears as though smaller sites are taking notice. Recently, a group of us at Razorfish Health met with Sermo Inc to hear about some of their new offerings. Sermo is a closed network online physician community that has been around for about five years. In order to join Sermo you must have an ME (Medical Education) number and are asked a series of questions to establish credentials and identity.

          Similar to Facebook (pre 2007), Sermo is a small and young company with big ideas. As it stands, only about 10% of doctors use Sermo and all verified users are able to enjoy its services for free. For doctors, Sermo aims to be a trusted destination where physicians come to learn, discuss, interact, and network. For brands, Sermo aims to be a place to observe, share, research, and promote. However, unlike your typical 160×600 banner ad, Sermo offers a unique array of advertising features. Some of these features allow a brand to purchase a seat to post questions in order to spark conversation, visit as a Sermo client to see peer-to-peer doctor discussions, and more recently, purchase a Sermo Sponsorship.

          The sponsorship now allows brands to appear on the physician’s customized homepage in a section titled, “Highlights”. These highlights consist of topics relevant to that physician’s specialty. Brands can then use the custom destination to feature product information, clinical data, case studies, and more. The Sermo Sponsorship is an excellent example of how an advertising opportunity can help enhance the user experience by allowing companies to build a brand site and share content on their custom destination, similar to Facebook.

          From a digital advertising perspective, the Sponsorship is innovative, targeted, and relevant. Sermo has offered a creative solution to invite pharmaceutical companies into the world of social media. Not only have they developed a way to generate revenue through advertising, they have managed to get their advertisers in front of the people who matter most, physicians. According to the representatives at Sermo, physicians are comfortable with the Sponsorship and in some cases even embracing it.

          The new Sponsorship is not all that Sermo is doing to expand; just recently they announced in a press release their new partnership with Janssen Global Services, LLC. The two have joined forces in an effort, “To develop and deliver new mobile and web services that allow physicians to move their patients more easily and efficiently through the healthcare system.” Sermo is capitalizing on smartphone penetration (something else our friends at Facebook have done very well) and just like their new Sponsorship, are offering their users a relevant and helpful tool.

          Although Sermo won’t top the $1.86 billion that Facebook generated, they will likely see a significant boost in revenue if the offering catches on, proving that advertising is an effective and viable option for online social networks of all sizes. The new Sermo Sponsorship has potential to enhance the user experience by making the network feel customized and contextually relevant. Some may say that Sermo sold out, I say that they are cashing in.

          Category: Healthcare  | 2 Comments

          In this global market place in which we work, it is easy to get lost in the pace of the work, and the volume of projects, emails, IMs, texts, tweets, likes, friends, … never mind the complexities and anxiety inducing task of ordering a “coffee” (was that a soy two pump no whip cappuccino); the end result can be missed goals and sleepless nights. But, I suggest there is a solution, by adding a splash of structure and workplace awareness you can recover time and energy.  Here are three tips to increase the likelihood of project success and restful nights:

          1-Appreciate and understand the nature of project team dynamics

          Early in my career a colleague mentioned to me that you manage projects not people.  For the most part, we all work with talented professionals who understand what it takes to successfully complete their work.  People should manage themselves given the direction, scope, and or assignments.  But, add others to the mix or create a project team and now enter project team dynamics.

          Establishing relationships between new project team members and building the cohesion necessary to perform effectively can be difficult and, at the same time, should not be unexpected.  This can be especially true with projects comprised of a mix of new employees, long-term employees, recent graduates and seasoned professionals. What matters is that the project is new and the project team members have little or no experience working with one another.  It is quite possible this is the first time they have worked together, so understanding group dynamics and the team lifecycle will help you understand what is happening around you.  There is a team lifecycle; it starts with storming flows through forming, norming, and, hopefully, performing.  My experience leads me to believe that a team can move back and forth between storming and norming until there is a comfort level with roles, responsibilities, and trust.  Watching for visual cues, observing behavior and body language and one-on-one conversations will help you detect the problems and issues. Simply knowing there is an issue will help you devise a plan to address it.

          2-Embrace the unexpected because it will happen

          How do we know that the unexpected will happen? Because there are books with titles such as: Extreme Project Management, The Agile Samurai, Radical Project Management, Scrappy Project Management, Brilliant Project Management. Then there are theories such as Murphy’s Law or Chaos all of which indicate or imply that stuff happens.  So, it will happen; it is just a matter of how well you plan for it, as Stephen Covey wrote: “Begin with the end in mind.” At the start of a project and periodically throughout it, take stock of where you plan to go and then document where you do not expect or want to go (these are the risks). Prepare a strategy to get you back on track or at least to take another road to success (this is known as mitigation planning), and then determine the downside and impact of taking a wrong turn, i.e., is it “bridge out”, “wrong way”, or “speed bump”.  The combination of the risks, mitigation plan, probability and impact will provide the material to embrace the unexpected and have a good night’s sleep and then and only then can you relax with the “The Lazy Project Manager” (my favorite title).

          3-Manage projects with active intention

          Intention is a determination to act in a certain way (to have intent, purpose, or a goal). Active is to engage in an action; marked by present operation, transaction, movement, or use. This is the opposite of passive chance (i.e., laissez-faire which is characterized by a usually deliberate abstention from direction or interference especially with individual freedom of choice and action).  You can sit back, let it happen and get blindsided by the unexpected or, as I suggest, take action and drive the project, and guide the process to success.  This active intention can be subtle or overt, but the results should be the same, delivering projects on-time and on-budget and meet or exceed client satisfaction.

          In the end, expect the unexpected so that you can continue positive forward momentum toward project success. It is the management of project through the soft skills that will help others free their minds of operational issues so that they are free to concentrate on what they do best.

          You know it when you see it.  It’s disorganized, unsatisfying, and only purports to be related to the topic you came to explore.  It’s superficial content, and while it can be found in every sector – from pharma and healthcare to news and entertainment – you must avoid it if you want your site to be important to your readers.

          Here are 5 tips for keeping bad content at bay:

          1. Relevance is relative. Anyone involved in user experience will tell you this.  Know your audience, treat it well, and in return, they will return to you as a source of good information.  Strike the right tone for each of the audiences you anticipate reaching, and use that tone consistently so readers can tell when they reach the right piece of content.  Respect readers’ level of understanding, and meet them there.  Finally, don’t just tack a brand message onto your content; write with your communication goals in mind.  When messaging has no apparent connection to the content around it, or a statement has to be traced four links back to the context that makes it sensible, there’s a relevance problem.

          2. Don’t spread your resources too thinly. You need to dedicate time, money, and expertise to content creation and maintenance.  Sounds simple, but for every planning-meeting nod to the idea of good content, there’s a squirming look around the room when the topic of dedicated staff time follows.  If you’re concerned about how much original content will cost, generate a system of time tracking for discrete tasks associated with writing:  the reading and thinking that have to go into the writing, the research that supports the writing, and then the actual time spent composing.  This gives your author a scalable amount of time to create solid, meaningful content.

          3. Write well, or get someone else to. Your content should convey the depth of knowledge you have at your fingertips: what you have to offer, what you know from experience, and what you’ve learned from doing business lately.  These are the things your audience is interested in.  Also – and this is critical – sharing “deep” content doesn’t always mean publishing lengthy copy.  In fact, the person who understands something extraordinarily well is often the person who’ll be able to explain that thing in the simplest way, for whatever level of detail the situation calls for.  In the health care industry, tap writers who are health specialists, if they’re available; alternatively, consider the strategic use of third-party content provided by vendors.

          4. Make context happen. Placement of related links, tools, and text alongside a piece of content demonstrate the connectedness of the services you offer and the value to the reader.  Of course, relationships between various types and pieces of content aren’t always readily apparent.  To optimize use of your content management system and your content simultaneously, you may benefit from implementing a taxonomy.  Whatever you do, put your mark on it: Readers will return to a site that gives them good information in an insightful way.  Don’t give them reasons to look elsewhere for the content you’ve already got on hand.

          5. Once you’ve defined the context, let your readers redefine it elsewhere. Give people the chance to consume, collect, distribute, and repeat your content in ways that fit with their own content consumption.  Their community-building will involve yours by extension, and every link that points back to your site is a chance to engage a new visitor within the fuller context you’ve created.  Communities that center on health and wellness are especially well-rewarded by information sharing, since the knowledge of the group can go to improve the group’s well-being.

          If it’s all too easy to poke holes in your existing content, you probably have at least some of the problems listed above.  Overwhelmed?  Begin by understanding what your readers expect from you.  Once you have a handle on their needs, the content strategy puzzle will start to come together.

          If you’ve already walked over these coals, hit us back with your findings – what else can we do to establish quality, credibility, and long-lasting relationships with our online audiences?