When is digital strategy not digital strategy?

I want to pick up a bit more on the closing remark from my DigiPharm Europe 2010 posts. If you recall, I said:

To survive in this landscape, Pharma must make inroads into developing a digital strategy – and by that I mean integrate your digital tactics into your overall strategic plan, and at the same time, generate and maintain internal buy-in by developing a corporate digital strategy that integrates digital into the fabric of your organization’s culture and operations.

Although I work on the agency side myself, this is something that I face every day – My agency is full-service, so we integrate strategy with digital as well as traditional medical communications and we employ a range of highly skilled staff to satisfy that requirement, so there can be a challenge of enlightenment with regards to the uses of digital as a means to communicate with some people internally. Its a balancing act, and there is always resistance from those who don’t see the value of these channels or those who are set in their ways, unwilling or unable to move from their comfort zones. I approach these individuals with a mix of elucidation (e.g. demystifying microblogging), training (e.g. the concept of information architecture and the process of designing and developing a web project), encouragement (setting up a LinkedIn profile is a start) and information (circulating good examples of digital communication); all mixed in with the ol’ Jacobs Charm(tm).

For Pharma, the challenge is greater, as we have to layer on the regulatory and legal aspects (not to mention the challenge made by the boundaries of geography, where regulatory jurisdiction hinders us at every step!). For Pharma marketers wanting take advantage of the rich digital opportunities out there, it can be a daunting and frustrating task. However, with a bit of perseverance and the right inclusive and encouraging approach, it is achievable even in the most conservative of companies to gain buy-in from key stakeholders.

As a strategic thinker, its important to consider digital in your corporate, franchise and brand strategy, but I want to make absolutely clear that the phrase ‘digital strategy’ is a misnomer when it comes to a communications plan. When we consider the use of digital channels or tactics, we must also remain mindful that these are tools within the communications plan to serve the strategy, and not to replace the strategy. Pharma marketers need to be very clear that using a digital tactic will achieve those strategic imperatives. We all love iPhones, gadgetry, social media, interactive games and multimedia – but we must also make sure we take a step back and think – will this suit our needs? Or will we be better off with a simple or traditional print tactic?

Still having trouble? There are loads of great agencies out there who can help. Get a recommendation, throw a stone or ask me.

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About me

Hi, my name is Paul Jacobs and I write the Medigital blog, as well as being the Director, Digital Strategy at Sonic Boom, a digital and social agency. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts about the digital domain in pharma and medical communications/education.
Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are my very own and do not necessarily reflect those my employer, family or pets. Twitter: @PJ_Medigital
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