Content marketing and outreach executive Kyle Sowden on pharmaceutical marketing for Assured Pharmacy
Kyle Sowden (KS) My name is Kyle Sowden and I’m Assured Pharmacy’s content marketing and outreach executive.
SMP: Briefly, tell us about Assured Pharmacy
KS: Assured Pharmacy is a UK based online pharmacy. We offer a range of services, but we specialise in more ‘embarrassing’ prescription medication such as hair loss and erectile dysfunction treatments.
SMP: Who are your target audience and why?
KS: Because of the nature of our treatments we typically serve older gentlemen, but hair loss and erectile dysfunction can affect any man, so we try to engage with men of all ages including younger men who are typically less likely to seek help.
SMP: What were you doing before you joined Assured Pharmacy and how did you snag your current job?
KS: Assured Pharmacy was actually my first step into the world of marketing, before which I was working as a duty manager in Tesco. I had been trying to find a role in marketing since graduating university with not a lot of luck in Cardiff, so I expanded my search to Manchester and found the perfect job!
During my interview with Assured Pharmacy I pitched a content idea that resonated with the brand’s voice and I really got on with my manager. A week later I’d accepted their job offer and was making preparations to move to England.
SMP: Briefly, what does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?
KS: A typical day for me involves a lot of thinking and planning before I start researching, creating, and pushing content campaigns. I’ll routinely check up on emails, journalists, social platforms, and the news to see if there’s anything happening that we can jump on or expand upon as well.
SMP: What makes it a great job?
KS: I get a lot of creative freedom in my position which lets me do a huge range of things that keeps it fresh and interesting. I also work with a great team with a lot of experience that I can draw on and learn from – Although I’m in the marketing department we’re under the same roof as the pharmacy so I’ve learnt a great amount about our medications and the pharmaceutical industry in general as well.
SMP: How did you initially attract users to blog, site, social channels et al and how do you do it now?
KS: Before I started, and what I was brought on to continue was to create interesting blog content with a heavy focus on SEO to gain more organic traffic linking to our site. Since my role and skill set has expanded so has our content and overall marketing strategy.
We still focus heavily on SEO on-site and off-site, as well as PPC campaigns, and larger content pieces, but are currently exploring new article types, newsletters, and a few other ideas.
SMP: What are the challenges that you’ve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at Assured Pharmacy?
KS: The pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated to ensure we comply with the law and the particular area of pharmaceuticals we operate in is becoming more and more diluted making it harder to stand out.
Content is king and we’ve really pushed for quality content over quantity and it’s been working very well. Now it’s a matter of keeping it up and expanding into other channels.
SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?
KS: I’ve created content that highlights a lack LGBT representation in the media, pieces on gender imbalance in pharmaceutical leadership roles, and linked up with charities to help raise awareness and money for male suicide prevention.
To not only be able to work on things I feel passionately about with a good message but to also be able to get that message picked up on by the likes of Cosmopolitan, Pharmafield, Men’s Sheds and a few others with a much larger audience is a great feeling.
SMP: How are you ensuring you’re adhered to the legal requirements for the pharmaceutical industry with the content being created and communicated?
KS: With a lot of the content I create I’m allowed a degree of creative licence but anything data-driven or touches upon medication/the treatments we offer is heavily researched, referenced and signed off by our clinical lead which helps my work stay engaging but also relevant and accurate.
The Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also have a blue guide that outlines guidance on advertising and promoting medicines that I became familiar with before starting.
SMP: What are the main social channels are you using, why and which are the most effective for Assured Pharmacy?
KS: We’ve only recently started building our social media presence on Facebook and Twitter @AssuredPharmacy and we’re currently revamping our strategy due to the Strict regulations of the industry’s advertising communications
SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for your sector and the competition that you have?
KS: I think our challenges can also be our best opportunities. The biggest challenges we face in the online pharmaceutical industry would be the competition, trust, and the stigma especially within the erectile dysfunction area.
Online pharmacies are a relatively new concept and a lot of people are still understandably sceptical, especially with the amount of fraudulent pharmacies that operate online, so one of our priorities is to instil trust with us in to the public while keeping a close eye on our competitors it keeps us striving to be better.
SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding content, social media and/or technology for the next 12 to 18-months and why?
KS: With NHS funding being cut and waiting times increasing there has been a rise in the use of online doctors’ services and healthcare providers. In the next 18-months I can see a shift towards the use of AI and mobile apps within the sector allowing people to take more control over their own healthcare.
It’ll be interesting to see how this is implemented as mobile apps and AI often lack the trust and compassion people expect from face-to-face consultations which is one of our biggest challenges, but I think it can bring a lot of value to the industry and the public.
SMP: What are your top five predictions for content and/or social media for the next 12 to 18-months and why?
KS replies with:
- I predict a continued increase in the use of chatbots and live web chat as we’re currently seeing but I can also see it dying out pretty quickly after the novelty has worn off.
- Mobile usage has been on the rise for years and I can see this continuing further and companies will push more and more mobile friendly content and experiences.
- Competition. I think we’ll see a huge increase in the amount of online pharmacies appearing which is pretty exciting but also a bit nerve wracking.
- Content marketing is going to continue to grow. It’s proven itself as an effective and profitable form of marketing and businesses are starting to realise it’s worth. I can see companies investing more into content as a strategy foundation rather than an afterthought.
- Authentic, transparent marketing. Consumers appreciate transparency and are more loyal to brands that are – they’re also more in tune with how their data and privacy is handled than before so I think brands will have to become more open and authentic to succeed which is a great thing in my opinion.
Social Media Portal (SMP) What are your top overall five content/social media tips and why?
KS replies with:
- Build a strategy. It’s easy to make the mistake of creating content for the sake of it. A proper strategy will help you keep your content in line with your goals.
- Quality over quantity. Creating relevant, purposeful content that engages with your audience will always trump one of many blogs pushed daily with no thought behind it.
- Repurpose, don’t recycle. Don’t repost content time and time again until it goes stale – Revisit, update, and repurpose it for all your platforms when it’s relevant. Get as much value out of it as you can.
- Language. In the pharmaceutical industry delivering our medical expertise is expected of us and we need to ensure it is accurate and well-informed, but it’s important to skip as much medical jargon as possible and speak to our audience in a language they understand. This is important for any industry.
- Experiment. Of course, you want to focus the most of your time towards your best performing channels, but allowing time to develop and experiment with new channels could lead to your next big opportunity, or at the very least you’ll learn something new.
Now some questions for fun
SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?
KS: I had a vanilla creme crown and a can of Monster on my way to work this morning
SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?
KS: My little brother has just started his own YouTube channel and dreaming of being
the next big vlogger so I’ve been helping him with his editing and channel design.
SMP: If you weren’t working at Assured Pharmacy what would you be doing?
KS: I’d probably still be with Tesco searching for a similar opportunity to the one I have now!
SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?
KS: I went to Belgium last month to see a band and stayed for a long weekend.
SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?
KS: Catch up with the team, have a cuppa, and check my emails
SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?
KS: I think about this all the time! I can never decide between reading minds or being invisible. I think either way you’d be able to get away with so much!