As a marketer, you’re inundated with information about the hot new media channels. Everything from Facebook® to augmented reality promises to be the holy grail of brand marketing. The sheer number of catchphrases makes you want to “tweet" about the good ol’ days. When all we had was print, advertising was print. When radio hit, advertising became print and radio. And so on through television and into the early Internet. Recently, new channels, devices, and mediums have opened up fresh advertising challenges and opportunities. But this is nothing new. Marketers and advertisers have always been on the cutting edge of the newest technology. Historically, as new technology emerges, marketing techniques evolve to leverage new communication channels. Advertising Follows Technology Although paper has been in use for millennia, advances in printing technology sprouted new applications for an old medium. Advertisers recognized a new marketing opportunity, and developed advertising campaigns in newspapers. As newer technology evolved, advertisers continued to find creative ways to leverage these new tools. Consider the trails that were blazed with the “new technology" of the day, including the postal service, telephones, radio, television, magazines, and newspapers. Marketers decoded the cutting-edge technology of their day and figured out how to use it to sell a brand message. When you get down to it, we’re still doing that today. Modern Tech To appreciate today’s digital environment, you only have to look back a few years. For most, the consumer Web became available in the early 1990s. It was a mysterious virtual place for people with good technology skills, a computer with a modem (at a blazing fast 1,200 baud!), and a willingness to be part of a worldwide community of strangers. Many people think of online social networks as a modern phenomenon, but it’s actually the oldest of all online technologies. The Internet was created around a need to share information. As it became publically available, the Internet was a text-based medium. In the era before ad banners, advertisers dropped text-based messages into fledgling online communities, because that’s where people were. Eventually Web browsers allowed people to experience communities and to interact with text, images, e-mail, and even multimedia. And, of course, advertising was there every step of the way. If there was a new media opportunity, marketers developed ways to use it to share their brand message. Today’s Tech for Pharma Marketers Now new technologies and channels seem to spring up daily. High-tech geeks and computer scientists now sit on strategic marketing teams because today’s technology is complicated, perhaps even a little intimidating. For every great marketing channel that achieves results, there are ten that fall to the wayside. If your e-marketing partner can’t help you spot the winners, you’ll always be wondering if you made the right choice with your marketing dollars. The marketing challenge is even more daunting in our industry. What works for mainstream consumer brands often doesn’t make sense for pharmaceutical brands. But that’s not to say that we’re not using new technology. There are pharmaceutical brands on Facebook, YouTube™, Twitter™, and other new media channels. Of course, we have to proceed with an appropriate level of caution. We can’t expose our brands to the kind of risk that warrants an FDA letter. That’s direct mail that you don’t want. Tech Tips for Pharma Brands If you want to use the latest technology in your campaign, you need a trustworthy partner who will help you identify and leverage the most appropriate channels. Review all the new media opportunities and work with your digital expert to see what’s right for your brand. Ideally, your partner will understand how to drive the right leads and analyze how these leads motivate a call to action. A good technologist will help you steer your marketing efforts into channels and technologies that have the most potential for delivering a high ROI for your marketing dollars. From newspapers to telephones to radio to television, marketers have always looked to new technology to deliver their brand message. New media — including websites, mobile devices, and location-based services — offers exciting opportunities for marketers to motivate their target audience. That’s how it always was, and how it will always be. n Qi, part of CommonHealth Marketing Techniques Evolve With New Technology New media — including websites, mobile devices, and location-based services — offers exciting opportunities for marketers to motivate their target audience. Buddy Scalera VP, Interactive Content and Market Research Qi, the full-service digital agency of CommonHealth, launched the first pharmaceutical presence on MySpace and has been active in researching and leveraging social networks since 2003. For more information, visit commonhealth.com/qi.