Packing personal into non-personal promotion

The Pharmaceutical industry’s “Non-personal promotion” or NPP. What a weird concept. As my extrovertic partner, Bill Fleming says, “In any other industry—the direct mail, digital marketing and telephonic selling—would just be called marketing.”

In fact, most other industries involved in business-to- business (B-to-B) marketing are focused on making every contact, no matter what the channel, more personal. Consider IBM and Cisco.

1. IBM – Using social media to personalize telesales. According to an article in ChiefMarketer.com, when telemarketing and email were failing to produce results, IBM got personal. IBM’s studies showed that IT decision were likely to use social media as a part of their purchasing decision making.

So IBM created social media profiles for a small team of inside sales representatives on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. To make it seamless for the reps, IBM created a robust content calendar and provided hash tags so the reps could listen to relevant online conversations.

The results? IBM got 50,000 LinkedIn connections (up from 535 in the beginning of the test), over 20 major sales wins and has experienced a quicker uptake of their promotional offers. Check out Stuart Michie’s YouTube video for a good example of how to talk about a representative’s expertise.

2. Cisco – Video takes center stage. Again, customer understanding formed the basis of their strategy. According to an article on OnlineVideo.net, Cisco’s research found that 96% of IT decision makers and tech buyers watch videos for business. And most importantly, 84% either forward, share or post tech-related videos. So Cisco started creating videos, over 1,000 new videos a year.

Too expensive? Think again. You don’t need the production values of a DTC commercial or a MOA video. According to Cisco’s Leslie Drate,“it doesn’t really matter how much we spend on producing the video. The results for what we spend $100,000 on could be similar to what we spend $1,000 on. It just has a lot to do with content and audience.”

B-to-B all-star companies keep up with their customer information seeking habits. They adopt the technology their customers use to market to them. It is even possible in health care. Check out GE Healthcare’s YouTube Channel. Or better yet….

  1. Try a social media pilot program. Provide either a telesales rep or payer national accounts manager with a Facebook page. Levels of access to information can easily be controlled. Content could include interesting stories related to your therapeutic area, patient support material or journal articles. According to a QuantiaMD study cited in Ragan’s Healthcare Communication News, over 65% of physicians use social sites for professional purposes.
  2. Get into the video business. Evaluate all your printed materials and determine what makes sense as a video. Distribute the video widely, especially on YouTube. The Google algorithm favors social media such as YouTube and Facebook over other online media properties.