Well, technology and marketing have caught up with a post I did nearly 2 years ago: the emergence of Human-to-Human marketing. Let’s do an update. The rapid evolution of marketing automation, BI tools, the ability to build a patient or customer profile based on far more than one-dimensional Rx consumption or prescribing habits, the era of Human-to-Human marketing is on our doorstep. Are we as Biopharma marketers ready and able? Probably not. But understanding what has evolved is also to understand how best to take advantage of it.

To start to understand truly “human marketing” you need to see that equal value if the analytical tools, but also empathy and compassion. Cleveland Clinic sets the bar high but we should treat this as training for all marketers:

Just think of it: over 1.5 million views. Biopharma should treat this as a blueprint of how to connect and speak to the aspirations, hopes and fears we all face.

Take IBM Watson. They are on the verge of developing tiny cohorts of patients who will be served up highly personalized medicines and care plans based on their behaviors and attitudes — how does one market to such a needle in the haystack?

Then there are amazing population health management companies, like MissionPoint Health Partners, who are working with a “human-first” model; a holistic view of patient as a person whose disease management goes way beyond the pill and medical tests and visits, to understanding the full context of their lives and how that impacts disease management. Their success is evident in their meteoric growth — and while Big Data and analytics are the backbone, equal use of the heart and brain are what is being applied to create truly better outcomes.

For Biopharma marketers, both at companies and their agencies, this kind of model could portend great partnership opportunities. But the actual marketing would be very challenging due to the barriers of needing both analytics and empathy in equal portions to speak to each patient as a person.

Now to the earlier post, which is still relevant and deal with Bryan Kramer’s great (short) book, “H2H”.

So what happens when Biopharma deploys all the digital/multi-channel technology it is investing in? A vessel without a mission is one adrift. You won’t just be crunching data, blasting emails and refining Segments, you will be speaking with people, on their terms and with their own specific emotions and motivations. Time to talk about H2H.

H2H, in simplest terms, is approaching marketing from a profoundly human, empathetic, authenticity-based common sense approach. It is the wrapper around the technology.

In this post we will review H2H, offer some Healthcare industry examples, and discuss how company’s could begin to structure themselves to deliver on this communications philosophy.

Why is H2H important to know about? Because to ignore it is to court failure of the greatest magnitude and to embrace it is to pave the path to a future where healthcare is truly patient-centric and our industry reputation goes from bottom to near the top.

In Bryan Kramer’s great book, he sets the table and in a generous fashion introduces this concept and lays out the seeds of inspiration for all of us to either grasp or ignore. The book gives excellent examples of the challenges of managing customer expectations in Social Media and multi-channel marketing.

This book should be a bible for Biopharma executives. Bryan focuses on mass market and transactional industries where repeat and often fickle or multi-variant factors influence purchase, re-purchase and loyalty. In these consumer-based industries, Brands and products have to create emotional bonds that inherently lack emotion. The emotion needs to be manufactured. And it is with astounding results. Mercedes, Nike, Apple, Google, John Deere tractors, clothes, yogurt, restaurants — the stories are endless.

But he misses the most emotional industry of all: health. Inside our industry, the unfortunate truth is that emotion is equated with breaking regulatory rules. It’s too risky. Yet, healthcare is THE industry that should be discussing this H2H approach more than any other. Right now it is seeping in at the cracks through the embrace of UX and more insight-based marketing — but that’s just a qualitative trick to fool the current change-resistant cultures by wearing a quantitative suit.

Are there genuine examples of the use of authenticity and emotion/empathy among Brands? Let’s review a brand, unbranded work (which I think is where most Biopharma emotional strategies reside, but I think it is a cop-out), an adherence company and a hospital system.

First, kudos to Gilenya with their 6-hour-wait-in-the-Doc’s-office barrier to adoption. They have taken a patient empowerment strategy and executed it with consistency and through many channels. True, Biogen-Idec oral treatment for MS might be “better”, but this is using the oral treatment as a self-empowerment platform after decades of injectables.

182,000 Likes is quite impressive. I have no idea how they got the “patient count” ticker on their Home Page past MLR, but it sure works hard to say: we believe in you, you believe in us.

Sanofi Diabetes DxExperience…truly amazing. And this screen grab is just the “Relationships” tab! This digital property has every Social channel covered; contributing authors who speak with great authenticity…it is rich beyond compare.

Then there is the patient adherence company called Pleio…instead of nurse lines to support patients starting treatments, they use people who have been tested for compassion/empathy. They are extremely effective: 70% of people opt-in and over 70% across several disease states express high satisfaction (and increased Rx) at the end of the 100+ day multi-channel program. They also use BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits approach, which is common sense and largely ignored by our industry.



Ignoring H2H would be a fatal waste of the millions of dollars invested by CEOs, CFOs and CTOs across the healthcare system. Unless H2H is a part of the plan, all the digital tools, multi-channel integration, the mighty Db and the Big Data tools, are all doomed to fail. Not to embrace H2H as a core philosophy or Credo would also be fatal to the hopes, dreams and health of millions of patients and their loved ones who rely so heavily on the many moving parts of the very dysfunctional healthcare system we have seen develop over the last 20-30 years.

Human2Human is the qualitative structure that a quantitative industry needs to embrace. Let me give 2 examples of the structure of the Biopharma company of the future that will succeed in this world.

H2H would mean re-structuring Biopharma companies so the MedLegal, Marketing and Sales Teams are all run by the same person; this would form core teams of cross-discipline, equally incented, customer-centric groups that deal with the humanity of what doctors and patients face.

H2H would mean that today’s dis-empowered, non-budgeted Centers of Excellence — the true internal engines of change — must be given the power of budget allocation and become the Subject Matter Expert Teams on the intersection of technology, Human-centered design, Big Data, Social Media, content development and patient outreach, to name a few.

So, money and reputation are on the table. But the rise of a new world order of Social Media, the Empowered Consumer and Outcomes-based medicine are engines that should also put H2H at the forefront of discussions.

Richard Meyer, to his credit, (http://worldofdtcmarketing.com/) has blogged tirelessly on the issue of Pharma’s hiring practices and the suppression of innovation at a cultural level. H2H is a form of the emotional intelligence and professional skill that supports his argument. There are many many Change Agents inside of Biopharma companies…and a few seem to be rising to the top.

But we do not have the luxury of time on our side. The market, the media, and the Customer are only accelerating their evolution and with it, their expectations, of how Biopharma and other stakeholders in the healthcare eco-system should serve them and earn their trust, loyalty and $$.

Thanks to Bryan Kramer! @bryankramer / http://www.bryankramer.com/

Thanks to MissionPoint Health Partners, Cleveland Clinic, Sanofi