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Think about this: are search engines changing or are search engines changing because how we search is changing?

If there’s one thing I have learned in my many years as a professional marketer, it is this: once doctors and big pharma start doing things, you are on the brink of a Tipping Point (to steal a Malcolm Gladwell phrase). It’s nothing negative (at all) or even a slight against them. Doctors are traditionally slower to adopt to technology (though some of them are at the bleeding edge, so yes, this is a generalization) and big pharma usually takes time to adopt new marketing platforms because of regulations and compliance (again, not a slight against the industry and yes, there are some companies that are more progressive than the lot).

Big pharma and doctors have been embracing Social Media more and more and their online habits are changing.

Just take a look at the healthcare professional marketing space, and you’ll see the changes taking place. But, it’s not just doctors and pharma that can help us see change when it comes to the Internet. Pew Internet released a study titled, Mobile Health 2010, recently which revealed a very interesting kernel of information: 17% of total cell phone users used their mobile device to look up health information.

That’s small. That’s a big deal. 

While 17% may seem like a small number, just look at the trending and how fast that is going to scale. The basic pretense is also important: more and more people are using their mobile device as their primary connection to the Internet and information via search. Along with that, more and more people are doing this in real-time (as needed) versus trying to remember what it was they were looking for when they are in front of their laptop of desktop computers.

One-line of connectivity.

Companies tend to have an online strategy and a mobile strategy. I believe this to be a critical marketing flaw. Brands need a digital marketing strategy that looks at one-line of connectivity. Consumers are simply connected now. They’re starting to care less and less about what they’re using to connect (a mobile, a tablet, an e-reader, a laptop, etc…) and they’re simply expecting to have a similar experience whether it’s a two-inch screen or thirty-two inch screen. When someone recommends something to someone else, they no longer wait to get home and do an online search to check it out, they’re whipping out their mobiles and making those searches happen in real-time and out in the wild.

This trend is not going away.

Digital Marketing as we know it today is going to look very different in twelve-months from now. Tablets will continue to flood the market and blur the lines between mobile devices and computers. The mobile wars between Apple, Google (Android), RIM (BlackBerry) and others will continue to intensify, and connectivity (wireless, 3G and beyond) will not only become ubiquitous… it’s going to become seamless. Right now, people still struggle to find zones of connectivity. We’re going to have connections everywhere (and very fast) in short order. Think about online access as prevalent as radio airwaves or electricity (and, hopefully, with a cheaper cost of access associated to it). The lesson here is not to be disenfranchised with a small number like 17%, but take it with a "glass is half full" attitude so you can better predict where this is going.

Doctors everywhere are making digital house calls. Is your Marketing doing the same?


  1. Hey Mitch,
    Although I’ve been reading your blog for some time, this is the first post I have chosen to comment on because I agree so strongly with your main point. “One-line of connectivity” truly represents the reality of how consumers are behaving today, I would say in both a B2B and B2C environment. It’s almost as if brands have to now be where the consumers are, rather than hope the consumers will choose to come to them.
    My question for you is one that I derived after reading about the latest actions of Starbucks (launching a digital platform for consumers in store). My question is this: Consumers now have one line of connectivity into brands, what role do you think brands will play in connecting consumers to each other?
    Would love to hear your thoughts. I thoroughly enjoy the blog and SPOS weekly podcast (especially when Joseph Jaffe is on and the arguments ensue!).
    Keep being an inspiration!

  2. For a while (years, actually), I’ve been saying that brands need to have “real interactions between real human beings.” I’m less interested in the channels and platforms and much more interested in how brands make a serious go at that type of relationship and connectivity.
    …and thanks for commenting… I hope you’ll keep at it πŸ™‚

  3. At the very least, you have to have a cohesive, overall strategy at the highest levels. Stool legs (much like channel-specific strategies or tactics) hold a stool upright, but only when there is something like a seat (a larger strategy) to hold the legs together.
    Channel-specific strategies are fine, but they won’t get much accomplished without something larger to hold them together.

  4. Mitch: just yesterday I took my kids to the Doctor. He was a much younger Doctor than my regular one. Filling in. Probably close to forty. When we were almost finished the appointment, he said, “Wait while I double check this diagnosis.” Then he pulled out his Blackberry and proceeded to double check the symptoms of my child’s rash. This led him to ask one more question, and we were done. It’s the first time I’ve seen my family doctor use a Blackberry right on site.
    While Doctors and Pharma may be slow. I think banks are slower. Always on the cutting edge is Tourism and, often, Real Estate agents.
    I really enjoy reading your blog and I usually do so on my iphone because of its easy-to-read format on there. cheers, Courtenay

  5. Hi Mitch!
    This piece is particularly interesting in the sense that “search” really must function as a utility for life, not just something that parses through language banks and serves up information that is hit or miss. Analogous to the “house call” (love that), search & other forms of digital marketing must be a catalyst for intent and action, and ideally, a real solution to a real human need or problem.
    Great stuff, mon frere πŸ˜‰

  6. Just wait until these healthcare professionals get their hands on tablets (iPads, etc…). It’s going to change everything (especially if they can cross-reference it with your child’s medical record/history, etc…).

  7. My only fear is that those spiders and bots are going to think they know more about what I’m searching for and what I like than I do, based on my social media interactions, and then only serve up what they perceive to be relevant to me.
    That could lead to my missing out on some of the surprises I now enjoy when searching. I don’t want to miss out, yet I would welcome more relevant search at the same time too. A delicate balance…

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