What Zipcar Can Teach The BioPharma Industry: 9 Marketing Lessons

After reading a recent blog in Fast Company called The Zipcar Case: Zipping from Very Good to Magnetic, I started to consider, what would it take for BioPharma and Healthcare brands to not just be liked, but to truly be magnetic?  And what lessons, if any, might Zipcar’s success suggest for the BioPhama and Healthcare industry?

While admittedly, Zipcar still has a ways to go financially, most agree that it redefined the Rental Car Market by offering consumers hassle-free “wheels when you want them”…

With success in hand and a recent IPO in April 2011 valuing the company at over $1 billion, Zipcar offers marketing and branding lessons for Pharma that transend the car rental market:

1. Start-ups create new markets, or they don’t survive. Zipcar didn’t chase the existing car rental market at airports with incremental change, they imagined a new market—car rentals by the hour, 5-10 minutes from where you live or work.  Zipcar didn’t depend on market data (it doesn’t exist for a non-existent market) or simply asking consumers what they want, which often biases companies toward incremental improvements of current solutions.  To quote Henry Ford, “If I had asked customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” [What Zipcar Can Teach The S&P 500 Business Week and HBR May 2011] Continue reading

Pharma Marketers: Eight Things We Might Learn From Zappos.com

Here’s my take after reading Delivering Happiness:  A Path To Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh CEO, Zappos.com, Inc. While it’s true that Zappos lives in a less regulated business environment than the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, Tony’s standards for communicating with consumers are now part of the context of our work. Patients have come to expect Zappos- level experiences.  This blog accepts that challenge:  what might a pharma company or hospital might look like if Tony were CEO…

Eight marketing insights for Pharma (or any healthcare or consumer business for that matter):

1. Are you sitting at the right table? If not, it’s never too late to change! It’s easy to get caught up and engrossed in what you’re currently doing, and forget that you even have the option to change tables. It’s also easy to overlook that the game starts even before you sit down in a seat… Don’t let inertia win, be sure you’re playing in the right game—one that you can both win at and fulfills your goals.

 While Tony learned this lesson during a phase of heavy poker play, he switched tables quite a few times during his life, and certainly for Zappos, they switched tables when they shifted the company strategy to focus on customer service and experience as a brand differentiator. It caused a shift in their business model from one of drop-shipping to one of carrying their own inventory so that they could be in control of their customers’ experiences…What’s the game your pharma co is playing? Continue reading

Two Takes On Brand Promise

On vacation, I was struck by these two very different brand promises for two successful restaurants.  Like any brand, the promise goes deeper than any visual signage, but also takes in the product, touches and surround…the first impression of the exterior, the number of participants, the location etc. For example, one restaurant was in the heart of ‘fried clam country’ (Ipswich and Essex MA) and the other was in a fishing port (Salem MA),  further contributing to the believability of their brand promises.

We ate at the Clam Box, and I can understand how it’s been in business since 1935…awesome ‘chowda’ and fried claims-not to mention efficient and friendly service- And with an exterior that looks like a ‘clam box’,  I dare say that it differentiates itself among the many fried clam restaurants in the area…

We didn’t get to eat at the Lobster Shanty, but we wanted to with a promise of ‘cold’ beer, ‘great’ food and ‘friendly’ people…and of course it was jammed…

How strong is your brand promise? Is it differentiated? Does it come to life with each touch?

Pharma: Is Private-label Media a New Kind of Marketing?

The growing popularity of ‘private-label media’, as Booz & Co. like to call it, is one of the more provocative – and potentially disruptive- developments occurring in today’s marketing and media ecosystems, according to their recent report entitled, The Promise of Private-label Media.  The emergence of private label media represents both a compelling way to engage consumers and yet another challenge to long standing media business models - And the more that is spent on private-label media, the less that may be spent on traditional advertising, especially in the digital realm.

So what is private-label media?

Just about every company and brand has a website.  But today, many marketers are going much further. They are transforming their presence into powerful media channels. Private-label media offerings bring the brand directly to the consumer, and allow marketers to bypass traditional media. The term ‘private-label media’ usually refers to a company’s website and the turning of the website into a powerful media channel.  Online, consumers interact directly with the brand and other consumers, strengthening brand relationship, fostering new leads, testing new products and even negotiating discounts. (Definition by Ed McMann)

These are not digital infomercials; the best private label media connect consumers directly to brands. Consumers can design and test new products, enter online forums to talk to others who may share their perspective, and take advantage of unique brand offers and ancillary services.  Continue reading

Pharma: Should DTC TV Have A Place In Your 2010 Budget?

Everyday it seems that someone is reminding us of the demise of traditional DTC TV and broad based media in favor of the web and social media.

While web 2.0 continues to power health care today–critical to consumer health care information learning and sharing (How Social Are HC Consumers with their Info)–there are many who believe that traditional TV (when creatively executed) can still play a vital role, as part of the media mix, to help ‘surround the consumer’ and drive awareness, education and action, including engagement online and off. ( Trend Report 2009, MedAd News DTC Alive and Well,  May 2009, Magna Forecast, 2009

  • Interestingly, the recent debut and success of Hulu.com’s traditional TV advertising on this year’s Super Bowl has many online leaders, including Amazon, Zappos and Kayak, reconsidering traditional agencies and offline tactics to help create ‘fast’ awareness and define more broadly what they do (Adweek: Online Brands Turn to Traditional Ads)…”What we’ve found is that if we layer in a little bit of off line brand advertising, it improves  the ROI of our online direct response campaigns,” Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh said. (Many Pharma brands have also found this to be true; TV helps drive web efficiencies in addition to generating quick awareness and MD requests…)  Continue reading

Celebrate Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July from Sarasota, Florida…Home of one of the greatest American iconic images ever!

“Unconditional Surrender,” a 25-foot, 6,000 pound statue created by world-renowned artist J. Seward Johnson, commemorates perhaps the most famous image of World War II victory–“Unconditional Surrender” is a three-dimensional interpretation of a photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt of a Sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, New York City on Aug. 14, 1945, following the announcement of V-J Day.

This statue brings back so many memories of peace, love and happiness,” said Edith Shain, the nurse memorialized in Eisenstaedt’s photo. “There is so much romance in the statue; it gives such a feeling of hope to all who look at it.”

“During the moment of the kiss I don’t remember much, it happened so fast and it happened at the perfect time. I didn’t even look at the Sailor who was kissing me,” Shain continued. “I closed my eyes and enjoyed the moment like any woman would have done.”

To many this sculpture represents hope and freedom…And is a great example of the power of icons for branding and marketing elegance…

It’s a great addition to the Sarasota landscape.

Enjoy your July 4th! …And don’t forget to give someone a KISS!