Pharma: Is Your Brand Surviving or Thriving? Lessons From Polar Bears and First Peoples of Canada

 Just back from sub-arctic Churchill, Canada, also known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” we had an amazing opportunity to not only see these magnificent animals ‘up close and personal’, but to also meet and talk with some of the First Peoples (which include the First Nations, Inuit and Metis) who shared their interesting history and stories.

Churchill is a small, northern town in the Canadian province of Manitoba and is located on the shore of the Hudson Bay, where the polar bears descend from October to mid-November as they wait for the Bay to freeze, so they can go back out and hunt for ringed seals. The only way to reach this remote settlement is by prop plan or a 40-hour train journey from Winnipeg. (We flew on none other than ‘Calm Air’.)

The first thing that we were told as we were greeted in Churchill: “ At this time of the year, there is every possibility of a polar bear wondering into town, and remember,  they haven’t eaten since July!… In other words, the bear warnings posted around town are not for show or to give tourists a frisson! [We also learned two important lessons should you come face-to-face with a polar bear:  1) do not run and 2) do not play dead.]

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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

Marketers: What Would Jake and Rocket Do? 13 Imperatives for 2010 (part 3 of 4)

What Would Jake and Rocket Do?
This is the third of a four part series for Consumer and Pharma/Healthcare marketers looking to tame the rigors of 2010… In case you’re just coming in now, here is the first of the series: What Would Steve Jobs Do? And the second: What Would Google Do?

Who are Jake and Rocket you ask? Jake and his trusty dog Rocket have become icons of optimism, and Life is good ® America’s little clothing brand that could-that is trying to spread good vibes all over the world. Having recently returned from a few days of holiday skiing in Vermont, and the proverbial t-shirt buying with ‘my three sons’… Life is good was all around us spreading their optimism and good cheer.

Here are some of Jake and Rocket’s insights that all marketers-Consumer, B2B and Pharmaceutical/Healthcare – may want to pay attention to in 2010. Continue reading

My 13 Favorite Business Books of 2009

As 2009 comes to a close, I want to share my thirteen favorite biz books from this year that I found myself writing the most “Notes in the Back of the Book“, and stimulating the greatest new thinking and ideas. The list of books covers social media, marketing and new marketing models, and innovation and leadership. For reference, here are also business book favorites by Fast Company, Mashable, Amazon and The Brand Bubble (John Gerzema).

If you’re looking to better understand and excel in today’s social media and web 2.0 worlds, here are four: Inbound Marketing is a must for anyone who wants to be found online, and is especially helpful for anyone who is actively considering how to get started with inbound marketing. Written by the leaders of Hubspot, they know what they’re talking about. Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julian Smith shows how people use online social tools to build networks of influence and how you can tap into the power of these networks to positively impact your business. Because trust is essential to building online reputations, those who traffic trust are “trust agents” and key people for any business.  Putting the Public Back into Public Relations shows how to reinvent PR around two-way conversations with traditional and new influencers, bringing the “public” back into public relations. Both are consistent thought leaders in the area of PR. Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik begins to bring accountability to web 2.0 online programs with focus on customer- centered thinking and measurement, and builds upon his 2007 book.

Of course, to participate in our ever changing digital and social world, strategic marketing and a deep customer focus are still paramount.  How is marketing evolving? In Marketing with Meaning, Bob Gilbreath outlines the next evolutionary step in a progression following direct marketing and permission marketing. The book calls for the end of “push and sell” marketing in favor of adding value to customers’ lives. Excelling in marketing also starts with listening…In Listen First. Sell Later, Bob Poole outlines the benefits of listening FIRST. And to remind us about customer- centered marketing, I Love You More Than My Dog by Jeanne Bliss is a great read. Who can argue that companies like Lands End didn’t get it right early on? Continue reading

Best Learning Actions for Healthcare Marketers in 2010? (free eBook)

Inspired by Alvin Toffler’s quote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn,” we asked 12 leading bloggers and healthcare thought leaders to share their reflections: what would they recommend as top learning strategies for Pharma and Healthcare marketers in 2010?

Overall, there were six themes that contributors brought to life:

1)  e-Patients are at the center and critical to learning and design;
2)  Authenticity isn’t a ‘nice to do’, it’s a ‘must’ (and you won’t be the one who decides whether you’ve succeeded);
3)  Don’t’ get distracted by ‘bells and whistles’-remember the basics and keep your brand core strong;
4)  New marketing challenges require new ROI thinking…the ROI of connection, authenticity and compassion;
5)  The marketing cycle of life is going through unprecedented change requiring all marketers and communications people to unlearn much-the movement from paid marketing to earned marketing requires a different mindset and skills; and
6)  Effective marketing and engagement will require new kinds of leadership skills.

Or as Steve Woodruff would say, “it’s a holiday grab-bag of nuggets from the wise travelers–some myrrh, some gold, some SEO, some patient communities–stick your hand in and grab some goodies!”

My heartfelt appreciation to the 12 contributors-yet another example of the power of the community.  Continue reading

Strong Brand Core–More Core Than Ever?

This has been quite a year for pharma and marketers:  big market changes and budget cuts, not to mention a continued explosion of noise, with less time to absorb and respond.

As we head into quarter 4, I’ve been asking myself,

What disciplines would take good care of our brands in this vulnerable moment?

Creativity gives the brand wings.  David Ogilvy is famously quoted, “Give me the freedom of a tight creative brief.”  When the strategic core is strong, it serves as a foundation to produce the richest creative that can make your brand soar.  The triangle’s three points: meaning to consumers; elegance and balance; and rigorous execution act as foundational questions to help marketers check-in with their brand and test new strategies and tactics.

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Leadership: The First Unassisted Paraplegic to Summit Mt Kilimanjaro

Think about using only your arms to crank 528,000 revolutions of your pedals to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro! 

Click to watch the video and participate in helping Chris to reach his dream.

While this blog is usually focused on pharma, healthcare 2.0 and consumer marketing…Today, I’m writing to help out a friend, Chris Waddell, who is undertaking a project to help countless other disabled people [estimated at 600 million globally and nearly 1 in 10]. Chris is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of the plight, and potential, of the global disabled community.  He is seeking contributions to fund both his climb and the making of a documentary about his climb.  What makes Chris’s undertaking and leadership so compelling is that he himself is a paraplegic.  [Learn more about Project One Revolution]

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Can Pharma Marketers Glean Insight From 10 Successful Entrepreneurs?

In a recent article by Inc., a group of visionaries share their reflections on the rise to prominence of entrepreneurship, and how their lives and perspectives have changed over the course of the past 30 years. What insights surrounding innovation and leadership can Pharma Marketers glean today?

1.  Donny Deutsch: There are No Geniuses 

This frees you up to think “I can do that”  ( …We desperately need this kind of thinking in business right now…)

2.  Scott Cook: Why Culture Matters 

“People who suggest the end of the workplace totally misunderstand the social nature of work.  There is a social fabric to work.”  His greatest entrepreneurial legacy has been fostering an environment of open-mindedness and a culture where great ideas are nurtured  (Sound familiar in Pharma’s highly political environment? I don’t think so…)

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The New Marketing: Leading A Tribe to Create a Movement?

Every once in a while, it’s good to take a step back…

The Ted Tribe Talk: “Tribes are what matter now” just went live.  In 17 minutes, Seth Godin bring to life his story: the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change… Everyone and anyone should step up–find something worth changing and start a movement by asking the tribe to spread the idea…

Seth speaks to the evolution in marketing from factory, to mass market and “push” advertising,  to the growth of the internet and the idea of tribes as a way to lead and connect people and ideas. He believes that tribes are what people want now–tribes can create movements that can help change the world– not because of force, power or money– but because people want to connect especially to something worth changing. Seth makes the point that its not about the numbers, but creating a movement among the people that care–the true believers–and as little as a thousand believers is enough.

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Neuroscience in Business: What we can’t do while ‘multi-tasking’

The brain does not multi-task. This simple biological fact has huge implications for business…says Marsha Shenk in her blog “Neuroscience in Business: What we can’t do while Multi-Tasking.”

Marsha, long time friend, business anthropologist, and student of leadership in commerce is in the continual search for how organizations and the people in them can do more than succeed, but thrive in today’s tumultuous environment…

So what if your corporate culture accepts-even demands-multi-tasking? (Do you know one that doesn’t these days?)

As Marsha writes, “You’re as sharp as a drunk driver. You will miss-and misinterpret- as much of what is going on around you as someone who could be arrested for DWI…

Not only will you miss important information, you certainly will not generate new questions or solutions. Responsive to market changes? Forget it. Figuring out new ways to deploy resources? Not a chance.”

…Imagine we’re in an economic downturn (sound familiar?)– markets and people are worried, jittery, fearful…”Your enterprise will thrive – or not – based on your ability to:

  • Notice what’s going on-Be curious about what might be valuable in this new reality
  • Generate new solutions for new concerns
  • Provoke Customers’ curiosity about new solutions.

Multi-tasking may be the most dangerous habit we’ve ever allowed,” says Marsha.

“Driving while talking on a cell phone is worse than driving drunk,” says John Medina, author of “Brain Rules.”  Continue reading