'Pharma needs innovative digital marketing'

'Pharma needs innovative digital marketing'

We see that MedTrix with its products, services and a global footprint is ideally suited to ride this wave of change in global pharma today.

'Pharma needs innovative digital marketing'

A specialist in product launches, identification of new opportunities, training of colleagues, developing newer marketing initiatives at a global and a regional level, Vimal Narayanan is the CEO and founder of MedTrix Healthcare, a Bengaluru-based healthcare medcom and IT company.

In an interaction with Mamta Bhardwaj of Deccan Herald, Vimal, who has been associated with global pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis and Sanofi in various roles of sales, marketing, and training, outlined the trends in digital marketing in the pharmaceutical sector.

Describe the inception and journey of MedTrix Healthcare?

MedTrix is a bootstrapped, cash-positive company, which started operations in late 2012. In conventional terms, it is an advertising agency for pharma companies. It is one of the few companies in India that has this business model, in an industry that is dominated by Manhattan-based and London-based agencies.

With a total of 50 members in Bengaluru, the team at MedTrix constitutes of a technology team of programmers, graphic designers, developers, UI experts; business managers; and a team of medical content writers, who are certified medical doctors.

Our three major markets include, the Middle East, the US and Europe. In the Middle East (Dubai), we have clients to whom we offer a full spectrum of services, including scientific events, medical writing, technology, e-Marketing solutions etc. In the US and Europe, digital or technology-based solutions including web meetings, apps, websites and specific digital tools take lead.

 As for goals, if we continue to grow the way we are growing, maybe in about 5-7 years, we stand to become a $100 million company. In the long-term, however, we want to launch services pan-healthcare segment, moving beyond just pharmaceuticals. 

What is the nature of MedTrix’s marketing solutions?

Marketing solutions are primarily e-marketing solutions, where we might develop a website with content on a disease and its management. This is driven by highly credible medical bodies or senior physicians at globally acclaimed medical institutions. We also develop product specific or patient education/engagement apps, games or videos. In addition to this, we support global pharma with some of their internal training and medical event management. We have a specific suite of proprietary products and services which we employ across these instances.

Some 90% of MedTrix’s clients are from the pharmaceuticals sector, out of which oncology constitutes 70%, because most of our clients are big in oncology.

Could you highlight some trends in digital marketing in the pharma sector?

While the preferred medium, across the globe, remains mobile phones, the total spend on digital marketing could start at 1% and go up to even 30% in some products depending on the product lifecycle and other promotional support. 

However, it is highly dependant on what the marketing activity is for.. for a new launch, which involves a host of activities such as brand creation and market positioning, the quantum of digital might be small.

For a more mature brand, digital spend might be bigger considering that the brand is established and now it is about information dissemination and farther reach. The quantum could go up to 10-30% at times, as compared with the pan- industry average of 5% of the marketing budget. It comes up to about 2-3% of the revenue.

How is digital marketing in pharma  different from that in other sectors?

Digital marketing is highly regulated as other initiatives within a pharma company. Most of the programmes would go through stringent compliance, legal and regulatory reviews before getting launched or introduced in the market. Pharma companies would also have unique challenges, like not being able to access the user details of some of their programmes, especially patients due to privacy restrictions in most of the countries. Hence, it is a challenge and at the same time, a necessity to introduce innovative digital marketing programmes in the pharma space.

Could you exemplify some effective digital marketing solutions in the pharma sector?

Pharma has been slow to adopt the technology in reaching out to its customers. However, some of our clients like Novartis, Bayer, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer, among others have been pioneers in bringing changes to this scenario. They have allocated large scale apparatus and teams to support digital marketing, social media and other technology-based solutions. They are backed by strong technological tools, processes and people that these companies have acquired or outsourced all across the globe. We see that MedTrix with its products, services and a global footprint is ideally suited to ride this wave of change in global pharma today.

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