As everyone runs to digital, is it a boot camp, catch-up or race?

If you are a client, how would you measure the sophistication of your own digital efforts? What is your Digital IQ?

Digital iq form columbia report 2010
At a recent Ad Age Digital Day, it was declared that: digital is dead, it is integral to everything. Then, the other day, a friend of mine in the industry made an observation, to paraphrase: pharma seems on the verge of a Transformation, but what does that mean and what will it look like? 

And since "Digital" is the catalyst and the challenge for clients at the center of this "Transformation" take a look at your Digital IQ — where do you rank? Most companies still build a site and basically walk away for a year; many do not apply CRM Best Practices, like true segmentation, parsing data gathering, value-exchange and subject line and content testing. 

Thus, are you in boot camp (starting point), catch-up (we have pieces in place, but it is uneven) or race (where you use it for competitive advantage and competitor blocking)?

First thing when I think of digital and clients is: what is their Digital IQ? This concept was brilliantly described by a White Paper Report ( from 2010 by L2 consulting — and I find this still timely to share. They applied a type of score card across many digital efforts and therapeutic categories.  

Now, what is interesting is that if you go to the MM&M Awards for 2013 (, you see that even among the best of the best, digital is still somewhat hand-cuffed by skills, legal skittishness, and a slow manufacturing-based culture. Centers of Excellence have done a good job integrating digital into the overall marketing mix, and the results are clear in some of the better more interactive winners. But the Best winners are still unbranded work, which is like wearing a disguise to make yourself look better. 

One Silver Winner I am proud to say I worked on was for Amgen's biologic education campaign to professionals, called "Manufacturing Matters." (

Buildingbiologics home page

What was fascinating, was that it was a corporate initiative which had billions on the line: what does the world's largest biotech do about the upcoming biosimilar market? The client knew they had a tough education process to accomplish to get HCP's to understand biologic manufacturing was complex and could not be easily replicated. They used education as a tool to blunt.

Offline marketing was all drive-to-site — but we knew that the information was so complex it would have to be delivered in a different way — infographics, with a call-to-action to submit a question to a KOL. So, we coupled complex information with simplified information design, and what could have been a passive Brand-like exercise, had a strong direct marketing and human element by allowing the conversation to continue via the KOL. From a Digital IQ, this meant we used smart visual approaches and new information to engage and provide value, then provided a human connection in the form of the KOL to lead them on, deeper in to their understanding. In other words, we used every means to not let the visitor just visit and leave. 

What was our Digital IQ? I am not the one to judge. But the simple fact is, we based the work on insight, used Best Practices from Information Design and provided a KOL to answer questions — something many many HCP's are drawn to. The client's IQ was pretty high.  

How can business match the Speed of Consumer?

While marketing buzz goes on about Big Data, Accelerated Review, Multi-channel marketing, a more nettlesome trend is emerging: the growing acceleration of Society and Technology and whether companies can keep up. 

Some can. Pharma? 

People have always moved faster in their habits, behaviors, styles, shopping, choice-making — faster than companies can react. But in the old days, let's say 30 years ago, most companies and media produced and sold on a seasonal cycle. So, the speed of the Customer was somewhat kept at the speed of the manufacturing and holiday cycle. 

Now we have all adopted the multi-screen world. We all know we now watch other screens more than TV. (Even my 80+ mom has her iPad facing her TV).

We have all adopted the insanity of a computer in our hand still called a phone (but not) — which some reports say we look at the screen an average of 150 times a day. First thing you grab in the morning, last thing you put down at night. 

My daughter never goes in a store without going online and shopping the local area for the same item first.

I used my iPhone Sunday in a Barnes&Noble to compare a book to a Kindle version for my iPad. 

I was shopping in the GAP last week (yes, people still do) and the girl at the check-out pointed to the counter where multiple"calls-to-action" were glued to the white counter: 20% additional savings if I "Liked" them on Facebook RIGHT NOW or 20% off if I used the QR code next to the Facebook logo. 

The fact is, given the adoption and acceleration of technology, the line between shopping and health is blurring. Soon we will all be Health Shoppers. Just looks at how Deloitte in 2012 captured different age groups decision-making:

Screenshot_1236 behaviors Deliotte

Multiple trusted sources accessed by multiple trusted devices. Creating the Health Shopper – where the crossover off our normal shopping behavior into health impacts how we approach our medications. 

Imagine a world where as you check out of the pharmacy, they had the same thing. And if you use the QR code to sign up for their loyalty program, you can schedule a free pharmacist consult on your phone. 

Imagine a world where as you were leaving your doctor's office, and they had the same thing: Like him on Facebook, write him a good review on Angie's List, or Sign Up for a free mobile adherence program..and if you do any or all, you get a free eye exam. 

First, one has to accept that there is no large organizations — especially in the regulated industries of financial services and pharmaceutical/biotech — that can ever re-shape themselves to match the needs in time for their Customers. But playing catch-up is a lot better than rolling over and giving up! That is not a choice. 

As I have always said, once the tipping point occurs that a Customer starts viewing your Brand not just by the efficacy of what it does but by the efficacy of your support, true Transformation will occur.

Perhaps when all the elements of Transformation are in place — real-time Social monitoring, ubiquitous Social Media, action-oriented mobile-media, Multi-channel coordination and measurement, then the companies will have a chance at playing catch me if you can.