LeQ Medical

Communicating the ideas that are changing medicine


Too Many Passwords

too many passwordsI am old enough to remember a world where people did not need passwords to access their own information. Then came the era when passwords could be simple phrases, like a child’s name or a birthday.

Then I got hacked. Now I am not sure why a hacker would want to hack a website that contained absolutely no personal data or credit card or other information. What is visible to you online at this website is pretty much all there is to it. We don’t have a shopping cart or other elaborate repositories of personal information. But we got hacked in what I later learned was a “dictionary hack.” My password was a word. It was not a common word, but it was a word, and there are apparently software gremlins that just attempt every password in the dictionary until your website opens up. The hackers then used my good domain name to spam people. I know they did this because I had thousands of bounced emails the next morning.

This happened years ago. My tech savvy buddies suggested that I mix letters and numbers since that made the password much harder to hack.

Now I hear this: if you mix upper-case and lower-case letters plus numbers plus a symbol in a password that is more than 12 characters long, it takes even advanced automated systems 17,000 years to hack it. I cannot claim that this information is correct (the 17,000 years part) but that’s what I heard.

So now my passwords have all gone from buccolic phrases and joyful memories of pets and friends and places to convoluted codes.

That is not the affront. The affront is that people think we know these cruel passwords. Take these recent experiences:

  • I got a call from my credit card company. I missed the call and all that showed up on my phone was a number with no indication as to who it was from. I called back. I get a voice recording and the first thing it said was to type in my 16-digit credit card number. Remember, at this moment, I did not even know who the call was from. I just get a demand–cold–to type in my credit card number. This may come as a surprise to you, people at MasterCard, but I do not have my credit card number memorized.
  • I was recently asked for a PIN number on a web page account for which I have a username and a password. I had no idea I even had a PIN number, much less what it was.
  • An otherwise very nice person asked me if I wanted to join a certain group. When I found out I needed a password, I declined. I told him I couldn’t stand the emotional burden of another password. I think he thought I was being dramatic.

As medical marketers, you might think this does not apply to you. But as medical marketing migrates more and more to online sites and features, the password rears its ugly head. If you maintain web pages or other accounts for which your customers must maintain usernames and passwords, here is some good customer-facing advice:

  1. If you are going to demand that the customer provide a password or other secret code, give them some warning. For instance, you may want to say, “This is MasterCard calling about your account. Please call us back and have your account number handy.”
  2. While you can make your customers jump through hoops to access web pages or other content, remember that each password represents a burden to them.
  3. If somebody ever wants to access something and that person has a legitimate username and password but cannot find it, this annoys them. Every time you make a customer deal with a username and password you are running the risk, maybe even the probability, that you will at some point get them mad at you.
  4. If you offer special services and want to attach a username/password to them, think twice. Sometimes this is the right thing to do. But if you can find a way around it, so much the better. Nobody wants another password.

The main goal in any type of marketing, especially medical marketing, is to keep value, content, education, information high and annoyance low.


Cheezburger Marketing

cheezuburger marketing costs too much

You want fries with your brochure?

Cheezburgers–which is the new fun way to spell cheeseburgers–are hard to resist, even though they are caloric time bombs, waist extenders, sodium jolts, cholesterol infusions, and the potential cause of afternoon dyspepsia. So why do we as American consume so many cheeseburgers? Because we like them. We know they’re bad for us, but we like them. Even the most dour-faced health-conscious individual has somewhere deep in his amygdala Proustian recollections of the last cheeseburger he or she enjoyed.

Some people approach marketing the way they approach cheeseburgers, that is, they go for what seems fun and exuberant and enjoyable, even if it is not good for their marketing objectives.

For example, I have seen medical companies spend tens of thousand dollars on SEO of individual website pages, all for trying to introduce a new product which is not purchased online and which is not purchased by people who ever go to the company website at all. Why? Because SEO sounds cool and the people who do SEO sound ueber-hip.

Here is a news flash. SEO can improve the visibility of your web page(s). But if your customers are not there or do not use the website to in any way inform their purchasing decisions, you are spending a lot on marketing that isn’t going to help you.

Many companies have divorced the whole concept of marketing from sales. That is, marketing is practiced as an art form, like haiku or origami, while the sales guys slog it out in the trenches. I’ve worked in marketing departments that do not even know the top sales guys, much less work with them. When you make marketing a pure art form rather than a meaningful series of tactics, you end up with cheeseburgers.

Here is another medical marketing cheeseburger: social media. Does a medical manufacturer or pharma company need a social media presence? There is a lot of debate going on right now about that, mainly driven by people who sell social media services to medical manufacturers and pharma companies. The point is that most medical companies cannot even issue a meeting agenda or an email without having it reviewed by a cadre of grim-faced attorneys. How on earth can a medical company participate safely in the high-speed world of social media? And here’s the other thing: are the individuals who purchase medical services, drugs, and medical devices really hopped up on Twitter? Does Facebook help hospital administrators know which heart valves to buy? But medical companies have heard about social media managers and they all want one the same way, deep down, we all want cheeseburgers for lunch instead of salad.

Other examples of cheeseburger marketing include:

  • Exorbitant ad campaigns for customers who ignore ads
  • Knockout convention presence with product managers who throw out the leads about five minutes after getting back to their office
  • Huge, complicated websites for products that are not purchased by people who go online to look for them

Cheeseburger marketing often results in real tactics getting overlooked. There may be genuine marketing value in companies that:

  • Produce multilingual patient-facing materials
  • Develop high-end training materials for the field force (and not just elearning modules or photocopies of presentations)
  • Craft clinical or scientific white papers

Those are just a few examples, but they are all Brussel sprouts. Rarely have I encountered clients excited about doing Brussel sprouts marketing, but let’s face it: Brussel sprouts are good for you. They’re healthy. They keep you strong.







Did You Hear That?

medical marketing opportunities are exploding

Medical marketing, as you knew it, is dead

Medical marketing, as you knew it, is dead. Unless you were literally were born yesterday, all of the rules have changed. It’s not just the media that are new, it’s the whole approach. In case you haven’t noticed it, people do things differently than they did even five years ago and vastly differently from the way they did things 10 years ago.

Here are some of the ways that marketing your medical business, medical products or services, hospital, or practice has changed.

  • In the olden days, most medical marketers relied on print (often in journals or daily newspapers) and the phone book. We still recommend a phone book ad but not for the same reasons. Nobody will find you in a phone book any more because nobody can find their phone book. Daily papers and even print medical journals are going the way of the horse and buggy.
  • Medical marketing is under intensive scrutiny which makes the executives who run large pharma and medical device companies more attention-deficit and reactionary than usual. This means if you’re a marketing team member of such a company, you have an inside game to play to even get your execs comfortable with the concept of marketing.
  • Print materials, a mainstay of medical marketing, are on the way out. Everybody has embraced the electronic. Only here’s the part nobody seems to understand. Electronic materials are fundamentally different than their printed counterparts. People read differently on the web. People in 2011 want to consume information in different ways than they did in, say, 1947, which was a grand time to be in the brochure printing business. You have to write, design, and present information much differently online. If you’re just putting your old-fashioned brochures online, you’re missing out.
  • Most medical organizations do not know what to do with social media. But it’s an essential part of the marketing mix nowadays.
  • Review sites and boards like CafePharma mean that everyone in the medical business is now living a very public life. Reputation management is now an important service that most high-ranking individuals in the medical world need. But do you even know what that is?
  • Right now, half of all search engine queries are made from a mobile device. That number will increase. Yet many medical organizations do not have an optimized mobile website or mobile presence. This means that about half of the people looking for you online will have a bad-quality mobile device experience, and this number will increase next year.
  • About half of physicians do not have a website. It’s time. Even if you think you do not need a website, you need one for the sake of your credibility. If you are in any kind of serious business endeavor, you need a site the same way your business office needs a front door. It’s a way for customers and patients to get to you.
  • You need to deliver your messages by text. Most people with a cell phone text more than they call. And you can reach people by text if you know how (we know how, by the way). But here’s the kicker. Right now, if you email market, you’ll be lucky to get an “open rate” (that’s how many people actually look at your email message) of 8% to 10%. That’s considered good, even on a very carefully groomed, double opt-in type of list. But text people, and your open rate soars to 90%. Wow, wouldn’t that be a good thing to know how to do?
  • Marketing takes time. There was a day and age when your company could hire a few weirdos and let them do marketing. Marketing is more integrated into the total business today. And it takes more time. The tools are better and the potential is exponentially greater than in the old days of Yellow Pages and printed brochures, but it takes time. And you need to be consistent at it.

Give us a call at LeQ Medical and we can help you out.