Tylenol Web Site Pushes Info, Not Sales

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McNeil Consumer Healthcare has launched a Web site for its Tylenol products at www.Tylenol.com that doesn't try to sell pills and is bucking the infomediary trend by not including all things pain related.

The strategy was devised under the advice of agency Medical Broadcasting Co., a marketing firm specializing in health care whose clients include Merck, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb and SmithKline Beecham.

"If somebody looks for Tylenol on the Internet, it's because they have a question and they don't want to be [pitched]," said Linda Holliday, president of MBC, Philadelphia, who was just given permission to talk about the Tylenol site. "The first thing you must do on the Web is satisfy the people who are already looking for something from you."

Because the Internet invites contact from people who otherwise wouldn't bother, a merchant can anger customers simply by failing to post things like basic product information. "On the Web, you've got a situation where you can do something negative just by being passive," said Holliday, who declined to reveal MBC's billings.

As a result, the Tylenol Web site is not so much about getting new business as it is about keeping the business the company already has.

"We built what we call a docking station which is this customer service site and we kept our nose on the idea that people are coming here because they have a question about a product or they don't know which product to use. Period," said Holliday. "Now there's this docking station off of which all of Tylenol.com's promotional efforts hang."

Under the docking-station strategy, MBC will launch three Tylenol-related micro-sites by the end of the year offering information on undisclosed topics and linking back to Tylenol.com.

"Tylenol is not a product. It's many products," said Holliday. "It's Tylenol for arthritis, it's Tylenol for headaches, it's Tylenol for Children," she said. "And those are all different audiences and therefore different messages."

She points to Procter & Gamble's stain-removal advice site for Tide at www.tide.com as a good idea that went awry.

"[At first] you could go online and type in 'grape juice' and it would tell you how to get it out. It was a wonderful feature and people used it," she said. "Then they buried it inside 16 other categories of information like what to do with your kids on a rainy day, instead of being just the stain-remover authority," she said. "Why go to Tide for that? The trick is to do one thing well that people will keep coming back for."
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