As we approach the holidays, like many people, I find myself reflecting on the year’s events. I’m drawn to the catalyzing moments, the defining trends, and the wins we got to celebrate with our partners and clients. With just a few short weeks left in the year, I’m confident in saying that it has been a fantastic year, both for BulletinHealthcare and for so many of our friends, association partners, and clients.
When I have a chance to reflect on these sorts of things I find myself wondering: what do my colleagues think? So I put a few end-of-year questions to Lois Smith, Director of Sales.
Whenever I talk to clients, the first thing they say is “How is Lois?” How does practically everyone in pharma marketing know Lois Smith?
Lois: I’m unforgettable! [laughs] It’s simple really, I’ve been in the industry for a long time. I’ve worked directly in pharma, with media agencies, and in both print and digital. The NPP [non-personal promotion] vertical is a roller coaster ride in a death cage. It alternates between breakneck speed and excruciating delays. You develop friendships in those trenches. By far, my greatest pleasure has been seeing many fresh-faced entry level folks advance both professionally and personally over the years.
During this crazy time of year [Q4], what does an average day look like for you?
Lois: It involves coffee, a LOT of coffee. The convergence of RFP season and Q4 optimizations makes for long days. I like to start my day around 7 am. That quiet time lets me focus before my email starts pinging. Some of my clients are based on the west coast, while many of them work from home and have young families. It’s not unusual for me to work until 8 pm or 9 pm during Q4. We are all juggling work and responsibilities at home. You have to stay flexible, and again… drink coffee!
When clients need to optimize their budget after actualization, what do you generally recommend?
Lois: It depends heavily on brand objectives, the time of year, and where the brand is in the drug-life cycle. Fortunately, BulletinHealthcare has a lot of flexible options. Email continues to be the preferred medium for HCPs, so there’s always a fit. Q4 is a bit of a different animal. I was a drug rep at the beginning of my pharma career. If we didn’t use our allotment by year end, our budget for the next year would decrease. This still holds true for pharma brands. In Q4, I like to recommend opportunities that provide unique value, like 100% SOV or specific disease-focused content. And solutions that extend reach beyond target lists are a great add-on tactic for generating broader brand awareness.
As the year winds down, what would you say characterized 2018 for you and your clients?
Lois: Diversification. Pharma is catching up with other verticals when it comes to utilizing the fuller spectrum of electronic media. Brands are investing more in NPP and employing a wider variety of tactics. More brands now have several indications and are reaching across therapeutic areas.
If you could pick one therapeutic area to look out for in 2019, what would it be?
Lois: Gene-based medicine. Currently oncology is leading the way, but there are new compounds coming up in neurology and metabolic disease. I’ve seen a greater focus on reaching pathologists adjunctive to core specialties.
Are there any new industry buzzwords or acronyms that you’ve recently added to your vocabulary?
Lois: The lexicons for programmatic and geo-temporal segmenting, like DSP [demand-side platform], DMP [data-management platform], RTB [real-time bidding], SSP [supply-side platform], geo-fencing, trading desks, private and open exchange, and cookie sync, which still makes me think of my kids eating Oreos together. It was a learning curve to delve into these new offerings but also exciting. I’m a bit of a tech geek. On the media side, KPIs have evolved to strategic imperatives.
What opportunities do you see HCP marketers missing?
Lois: I’d say half of my clients take advantage of our payer associations: AAPL [American Association for Physician Leadership], ASHP [American Society of Health-System Pharmacists], and AMCP [Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy]. I don’t think marketers realize the makeup of these associations. These are folks in managed care they can’t reach in any other environment. Whether a formulary update or a prelaunch drug, these association members are key influencers in managed markets.
What are you most excited for next year?
Lois: As a tech nerd, I’m very excited about programmatic and geo-fencing, as well as our “coming soon” capabilities in behavioral and trigger targeting. We are also going to partner with new associations, which is always nice to announce. On a personal note, I always look forward to new announcements from my clients, like babies, marriages, and new houses! Plus, I have a good track record of predicting pregnancies and the correct sex of babies. A new year full of potentials on every level!
Have a question of your own for Lois? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Marketing