Ken RibotskyTell us about Brandkarma and what differentiates it from other healthcare marketing agencies.

As an independent company, we are able to partner at a higher level with our clients due to not having set profitability levels to contribute to a holding company, as well as through the involvement of our owners in most projects. Besides structure, we train our team to think strategically first and creatively second. We are consistently looking at how people make decisions and how that process shapes their actions. We then look to see how we can work around these patterns that drive the actions we take.

What have been some of your favorite projects produced by Brandkarma (no more than three)? Tell us about the thought and strategy behind these campaigns.

There are so many that it’s tough to narrow them down, but recently, we had three that stood out. We created a video spot for TV/online usage for our client, Axona. This was a challenge because we were communicating about a product for Alzheimer’s disease, which not many people understand in depth. We came up with a very creative solution that was able to communicate and give the viewer the sense of hope it may be able to provide patients.

We also had two recent projects that involved a similar challenge. These were for a product called Provent, which treats sleep apnea. Patients would receive this medical device directly at home and would not understand how to titrate up to the proper usage — or even how to use it. We watched what patients did when they received the product and then crafted a way to help them through the process.

provent packagingA similar issue needed to be addressed for Axona. Here, too, we created special packaging to help solve the issue. It was very satisfying to see our work make a difference.

Axona Starter KitWhat are some of the biggest challenges occurring in the healthcare field, and how are they affecting the way companies communicate and interact with people?

The biggest challenge today is insurance reimbursement. If your product is not paid for, then your chances of having it used are greatly limited. Many companies have now become customer service experts in order to help patients get the medications they want and need with as few out-of-pocket expenses as possible.

AnserIFX_Ad-1-1With the rise of generic medications and the increase in the number of patients requesting or even demanding certain medications, how are pharma companies changing the way they market to differentiate their products?

They are now starting to recognize that they can’t afford to exclude the patient from the decision loop. Ultimately, it's the patient’s choice to buy or not buy, whether the doctor tells him he needs it or not. The abandonment rate on prescriptions is growing. Marketers need to make sure the patient also knows why the product is needed and how this one may be best or possibly benefit him over a generic.

Why is multichannel marketing so important in the healthcare industry? How is it affecting the role of pharma reps?

Certainly today, the rep needs to be considered part of that multichannel plan, not “the plan” as it once was. They just can’t get the time they need, so marketers have to use additional channels to convey the message and education their target needs.

The “quantified self” is a growing trend, especially with the increasing popularity of wearable tech. Why should health brands be interested in this movement?

We should be interested in this because the future of health diagnosis and management will be ever more reliant on devices. I myself was an early adopter of the UP band. It was novel and interesting at first, but it lost its appeal after a short while because the info was not dramatically actionable — for me, anyway. Eventually, we will have real-time info relating to serious illnesses or conditions. Additionally, we will be able to get self-diagnoses by just being scanned, most likely in a mass merchandise store.

What trends in marketing/advertising do you find most interesting/exciting?

Our ability to target and micro-target online is really exciting. We are becoming better able to create very personal experiences for those we are trying to reach. I am also interested to see how the near field communication (NFC) technology develops to include marketing messages and offers that can be redeemed instantly.

One reason you love what you do: I can help people get better and feel better.

Favorite ad: Kmart’s “Ship Your Pants.”

Must-read book: “Switch” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

Connect with Ken on Twitter @kenribotskyor or on LinkedIn.

Originally published Nov 20, 2013 12:00:23 AM, updated July 28 2017

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