Connecting in the Digital Age

How Pharmaceutical Companies Can Use Marketing Outreach to Better Engage with Global Consumers

By Guillem Vidal, Welocalize Life Sciences,

Most companies are stepping into the digital age when it comes to their marketing techniques and strategies, and pharmaceutical companies should be no different. For these companies to continue to survive and thrive, new marketing tools should be considered and deployed so they can connect with those truly using their products: the patients, customers, and clinicians.

Direct Connections Between Consumers and Companies

First and foremost, pharmaceutical companies must be prepared to connect with their consumers directly. Today’s digital-savvy and connected consumers like to directly interact with the companies they patronize, which shifts the nature of their relationship from company–doctor–patient to company–consumer, according to a recent article published in Social Beat.

Connecting in the Digital Age

What is the most successful way pharmaceutical companies connect with their consumers? Through digital marketing. People want to be significantly more informed about their medications and obtain that information themselves straight from pharmaceutical companies. Some of the best ways to offer this to individuals are through digital marketing strategies like:

• Content writing with SEO strategies
• Social media
• Interactive websites
• Online message boards and communities
• Chatbots

All of these strategies, used daily by many other types of companies, can be translated easily to the pharmaceutical sphere. In this instance, patients become more directly connected with companies, increased accountability is ensured, and the process of purchasing medications becomes similar to other company-to-consumer processes.

Winning in Emerging Markets

Most pharmaceutical companies have spent the last few decades laser-focused on staying relevant in mature markets like those of the United States, Japan, Europe, and Canada. However, emerging markets such as Mexico, Brazil, and India are important to the future of these companies as well. Winning in emerging markets will be a vastly important part of marketing outreach for pharmaceutical companies going into the 2020s.

Yet, penetrating and succeeding in emerging markets is often difficult. As indicated in a recent article in PharmExec, many factors account for this difficulty, including government protectionism of local drugmakers (particularly generics), cultural or linguistic differences, and a lack of IP Protection. For example, each country has its own cultural nuances and dialects and may respond differently to marketing messages and images. The people of Peru predominantly speak three different languages: Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara. In Colombia, there are about 65 indigenous languages and nearly 300 dialects.

In spite of these obstacles, the opportunity for success is there. Strategy& conducted a survey of 12 of the top 15 global pharmaceutical companies, which revealed that more than half of respondents expected more than 30 percent of their global sales to originate in emerging markets in 2018.

To reach new consumers in these markets, global brands are using on-screen text (OST) in the localization of their multimedia content to drive advertising campaigns and training programs in multiple languages. Global advertisements of drugs, for example, often include images of the product, taglines, and sample text content to highlight certain features. Use of OST can also reduce any ambiguity and display legal or disclaimer content to meet local advertising standards.

The winners in emerging markets, according to Strategy&, will be companies that strategically balance their global competences with tailored approaches for local markets.

However, to roll out advertising campaigns at a local level, content can be culturally adapted using OST localization techniques to recreate original effects and animations. Furthermore, OST localization can sometimes be more cost-effective and quicker than voice-over work.

A Step-by-Step Adaptation Process for Pharmaceutical Marketing Campaigns Using OST for Local Markets

Properly adapting and localizing a multimedia campaign requires technical skills, creativity, local market knowledge, and subject matter expertise. Michael Anderson, senior multimedia engineer at Welocalize Life Sciences’ parent company, Welocalize, explains a roadmap to follow the OST localization process:

• Obtain video. Simple analysis of the original footage identifies what text requires translation and reintegration into the local language version, including all content, text, and animation. Ideally, multimedia localization providers would have access to the original design files and artwork; however, quite often the original content is not available.

• Create in baseline. Extract and transcribe the relevant text to generate translation and cultural adaptation. This could involve straight translation or linguistic copywriting. For more technical content, the translation will stay close to the source; however, for marketing content like taglines, this content requires recreating to suit the needs of the target demographic. Any local version of video footage, which will appear on broadcast media or for web advertising purposes, must look as if it has been created in that language.

• Integrate new content. If the original design files are not available, then the new content can be overlaid and recreated onto the original text to display in local versions. Whether you have access to the original design files or not, most localized content can be seamlessly integrated to generate high-quality localized versions of video footage.

• Adapt special effects and music. Video footage, whether for global pharmaceutical advertising or employee training programs, often contains certain special effects that must be emulated in each local version. For example, the text fonts must be consistent, along with text shadowing and line breaks and synchronization to music. Quite often, the music track may be changed to suit the local audience, and new content must be adapted to the new music. Working with localizing OST also involves a creative process, especially if the original design files and artwork are not available. Specialist teams work with large, high-resolution files and must apply localization techniques and creative skills to generate high-quality video output in multiple languages.

Future Marketing Strategies for Pharmaceutical Companies

Marketing and other content for pharmaceutical companies are often highly detailed and lengthy. The need for accuracy in translation and market localization is obvious, with consequences including health and safety, as well as lower market penetration. Cultural practices and values can affect substantially a drug or device’s successful market adoption, influencing everything from disease diagnoses to a patient’s definition of life. For example, in some Latin American cultures simpatía is an important word and cultural value. Translated as “congeniality” or “affection,” the level of simpatía that patients perceive in the clinical setting influences how satisfied they feel with their care, potentially influencing their willingness to disclose their complete patient history, to adhere to treatment, to report adverse events, and to make follow-up visits.

With necessary changes to marketing strategies to help companies win over emerging markets, these ideas can create an effective digital strategy that works both in emerging and mature markets, allowing for a full and successful marketing strategy for pharmaceutical companies looking to the future. Digital marketing tools such as OST can help life sciences companies better connect and better engage with their consumers.

With more than 15 years of experience in the translation and localization industry, Guillem Vidal plays a key role in formulating a solid, effective, and achievable market strategy for Welocalize Life Sciences. As a member of the sales leadership team, he is responsible for optimizing the strategy, process, and technology to strengthen relationships with clients in the European region and ensure clients are assisted in maximizing their operational efficiency and achieving their business goals. Over the years, Guillem has held various positions in the translation industry, from being a linguist to being an executive team member, while gaining continual market insight, client connections, and expertise in sales and leadership.