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]
2. Zipcar is creating a BEMI—a “big enough market insight.” A BEMI is an insight that serves as the foundation for the creation of a major new business. To identify a BEMI, companies/brands must answer three questions:
- Is the insight big enough for your company? While it is always tempting to think BIG, the authors of Jumping the S-Curve caution that it just has to be big enough and executable.
- Is the insight valuable enough to customers? What will customers be willing to pay for the new product or services, and how many customers will exist?
- Is the insight certain enough? A genuine BEMI comes from a wise reading of technological, geopolitical, or demographic trends. [Business Week: Finding a Big Enough Market Insight]
3. Success didn’t come initially, not until Zipcar keyed in on business design and redefining its core business issue— density with a new hyper-local strategy. How to make Zipcars plentiful when Zipcar’s lack of popularity limited the number of cars available? Zipcar needed to build density because they understood that consumers didn’t want to walk more than 5 minutes to a car. This led to concentrating Zipcar’s marketing efforts in a few carefully selected locations populated by young, tech-savvy, environmentally conscious people. Once a market achieved critical mass, they expanded to the next community fueled by word of mouth.
4. Zipcar looked for new ways to fuel density, through creative partnering, including 'unlikely' partnerships. Early on, Zipcar partnered with universities to provide cars for students and faculty. [Read Harvard example] Most recently, they’ve announced a partnership with Ford on 250 college campuses—an unlikely partner given that Zipcar touts its car-sharing benefit and not having to own a car. [Ford and Zipcar in Deal on Campuses]
5. Zipcar intimately understands their customer drivers and triggers, and importantly, stays focused on delivering consistent value and customization. They understand that they need to insure convenience and low cost via proximity with clean, reliable cars and no hassle paperwork. But they also understand that each neighborhood desires different cars to drive, and they accommodate different tastes.
6. Zipcar focused on technology to help ensure service and convenience. Click here to read about the Zipcar technology.
7. Zipcar focused on segments that competitors overlooked or didn’t consider priority opportunities, such as college campuses and small business.
8. Zipcar didn’t overlook creating and supporting a unique brand personality—"Zipsters" are cool, hip, educated, smart consumers. Zipcar keeps the brand a little edgy and fun.
9. Zipcar and the market are taking a longer term view to profitability…The IPO is based on future market potential, not quarterly profits...
Implications for how BioPharma and Healthcare brands can improve their magnetism?
1. Incrementalism will no longer suffice in this increasingly payer driven and generics-dominated industry. We need to start thinking differently; focusing more on creating new markets, identifying BEMI's and trying new go-to-market strategies that answer patient insights...Supporting customer segments that are often overlooked....and feeling more comfortable that bigger isn't always better.
2. Might Zipcar's hyper-local market strategy provide some new thinking for Pharma new product launches? Can coordinated hyper-local efforts help increase traction and density among payers, physicians and patients, especially for smaller brands operating in smaller disease states? Are there some new partnerships to consider?
3. How can Pharma leverage new technologies to improve customer experiences along every touchpoint? Mobile health applications are just the beginning for what technology can mean for patients and physicians. Zipcar worked hard and long to optimize its RFID chips and GPS technology to support its unique business model. And the customer benefits of their seemless technology payed off in greater word of mouth and loyalty.
4. How can Pharma make prevention, staying healthy and treating certain diseases more hip, fun, smart? Clearly, this is a critical element to creating greater 'magnetic moments'!
Do you have other thoughts to add? Do you know of other BioPharma or healthcare companies that are leveraging hyper-local business models? Leave your comments...
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.
What Would Jake and Rocket Do?
1. Run like a dog. Dream on. High end destination.
Optimism, hope and dreams are crucial for human beings, healthy and/or sick...If you forget what it feels like to ‘run like a dog', take a look at: 19 Seconds of Pure Joy and Steve Woodruff's young dog experiencing snow for the first time! Or listen to Dr. Groopman speak about Hope and Medicine on NPR. You can also read Jen McCabe's blog on the importance of hope.
2. Consider yourself a lucky dog.
Go deep. Think out of the box. Don't knock something, build something. Create your own happy hour. This is not a year to wish you had more. Use any financial or human constraints to innovate...to build something big, to go deep. Constraints are not something to fear, but often spur innovation. Read 37 signals Getting Real: Embrace Constraints; a concept duly noted by Tim Brown and Matthew May's Change This Manifesto on Elegant Solutions (no.6 p 22)
3. Whatever you are, be a good one. Style points count. Get dirty.
Successful people and companies raise the bar, and continually strive for excellence with every move they make...If you take nothing else away from What Would Steve Jobs Do?, think about the bar of excellence he sets and expects for himself and others at every step of the way.
4. Get outta town. If you don't go, you don't see. If you don't live it, it won't come out your horn. Who feels it knows it.
Reading Tim Brown's book Change By Design, I was stuck by this quote: "Good design thinkers observe. Great design thinkers observe the ordinary." How true it is that you have to get out to see and experience what your customers are doing and thinking, and how they're interacting with the world. Yet how many busy executives actually do? And then actually take the learning and insights and share them across the organization and find rightful ‘owners' to turn them into action? (Brian Solis often speaks to this very need of leveraging what you hear in social media throughout the organization by insuring rightful owners.)
5. Mix it up.
We seem to be stuck in a world of X OR Y, TV advertising or web, traditional advertising or social media, facebook or twitter, branded advertising or value-add conversations...when we could be mixing it up and thinking AND...The consumer mixes it up, why don't marketers?
6. The little things in life are the big things.
How true it is that what we most often remember is not the big things or the big/expensive presents, but those little special gestures that let us know that people really appreciate us, trust us, care about us, and know us. (You can also read Linda Kaplan and Robin Koval's Power of Small)
7. Takers may eat well, but givers sleep well. Sometimes the best conversation is a game of catch.
We all know that building relationships is a give and take. What better analogy for two-way conversation than a game of catch? When your catching the ball, you can't be throwing at the same time...it's a rhythm of give and take... While it's never this simple, much has been written about how the new world of marketing is no longer about ‘sell and tell' or ‘push', but give and take (with more emphasis on giving than taking), remembering to listen first - sell later, adding value via marketing with meaning), earning trust a la Brogan's trust agents, and ‘earning' customer love and word of mouth.
8. Hold a true friend with both hands.
This is the year for quality over quantity and this goes for relationships as well. Only those that add value to your life will get your time and attention. Who are your true friends? Who are your most loyal customers? What do they need and want? How can you help? How can you bring them value?
9. The best things in life are free.
If you are around kids, how many birthdays and holidays need to go by before we realize that it's not the most expensive present that people/kids like, but the box that it comes in...The concept of Free is everywhere and shouldn't be overlooked or taken lightly. The web is full of content... so it's critical to create content with value or to organize content to bring value: ‘elegant organization'...Think free or the minimum you must charge or take out of the system if you want to maximize growth and usage. Read Jeff Jarvis' What Would Google Do? or Chris Anderson's Free: the future of radical price if you're still are unsure....
10. Change your perspective.
Experts in education suggest that adult learners should "jiggle their synapses a bit" by confronting thoughts that are contrary to their own..."bump up against people and ideas" that are different. (NYTimes: Neuroscience-How to train the aging brain) If you are a ‘social media' guy, look at the world through other lens...most of the world still doesn't know what RSS feeds are, let alone use them...email is still the most widely used way to send others information...Marketers, look outside your industry for ideas, seek different perspectives that may bring new value to your customers' and patients' lives. Look to other disciplines, from science to design, for new thinking.
11. Write on. Read ‘em and reap. Keep Growing.
They say 2010 is the year that Content is King. We know that Links create value. Creating valuable content and acting as a ‘content curator' are critical new marketing and leadership skills...think "elegant organization".
With the number of emails, blogs, tweets, friends contacting us, more and more it will be critical to simplify and focus on what's most important. Only a few can stand out. Focus on less and make each ‘friend', ‘contact', ‘tweet', 'program' more impactful and valuable...both simplify and 'elegance' are at the very core of both Steve Jobs/Apple and Google's success. Do You Have a Stop Doing List? (Also read Power of Less or Mathew May's The Elegant Solution)
13. Laughter has no foreign accent. We will never know all the good a simple smile can do. Celebrate.
Let's promise each other that we won't overlook a little laughter and smiles in our busy lives this year...(You can also read Dave Murray's 11th Lesson of Life)
Marketers: Which ones are most meaningful for you this New Year?
Which ones would most help spur growth and innovation for your brand and business?
Pharma and Healthcare Marketers: Which ones would most bring growth and innovation to our industry? Which ones would help bring back hope and trust? Value to our patients?
Stay tuned for part four of 4...What Will Pharma and Healthcare Marketers Do? What Will Champs in New Marketing Do in 2010?
What Would Steve Jobs Do? This is the first of a four part series for Consumer and Pharma/Healthcare Marketers looking to tame the rigors of 2010...by taking a closer look and asking ourselves what three incredibly successful people and companies in business today would do...
The genesis for this series first came while reading Fortune's CEO of the Decade and The Decade of Steve, and thinking about the question that Apple executives asked themselves over and over during Steve Job's six month leave of absence in early 2009: What would Steve Jobs do? Recently, I picked up What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis (great book)... I hope you'll stay tuned for What Would Google Do? And What Would Jake and Rocket Do? And What Might Marketers Do in 2010?
As you're developing new products, services and/or marketing plans this year, here's a question to ask yourself at each major milestone and decision point...
What Would Steve Jobs Do? The threshold for moving forward: Would it pass Steve's test? In the past 10 years alone Steve Jobs has radically and lucratively reordered three markets --music, movies, and mobile telephones--and his impact on his original industry, computing has only grown.
"There's an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. 'I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.' And we've always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very very beginning. And we always will." - Steve Jobs
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." - Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci
1. Know what consumers want. Paint a big-picture vision that will WOW your consumers and competitors. Create new experiences that can change the world...create a story. Create an adversary and a new way to win. In every story there's an antagonist-the hero fights the villain. Introducing the antagonist (the problem) rallies the company and audience around the hero. In Job's case, create and act upon a ‘digital lifestyle' strategy...He was a very successful ‘David' fighting Goliath... iTunes new paradigm, Macintosh launch in 1984 against IBM
2. Make it your business to know everything about your product area and company. Small details matter and are not to be overlooked. Steve is known for being involved in details you wouldn't think a CEO would be involved in. He's also well known for "One more thing".
3. Take full responsibility for the user experience. Apple is about being a system... In 2002, Steve told Time, "We're the only company that owns the whole widget -- the hardware, the software, and the operating system. We can take full responsibility for the user experience. We can do things that the other guy can't do."
4. Design is critical and must be perfect. He's a perfectionist to the nth degree. He has a willingness to be a pain in the neck to what matters most to him. (Time 2005) The company believes in "deep collaboration" and "concurrent engineering" so there are no hand offs...just flawless design. (You may also want to read Inside the Apple Ecosystem and Tim Brown's Change by Design)
5. Master the message. Simplify complex information. The message to the public is always consistent, simple, breakthrough, and expert at bringing the benefit(s) to life. E.g.:it's not just a 5GB iPod, it's 1,000 songs in your pocket; iconic "think different" campaign. Jobs practices the message over and over and only a few deliver it. He is also careful to avoid overexposure, preferring to speak only when he has new products to promote. He crates 'twitter-like headlines'. E.G.: Macbook air. The world's thinnest notebook. iPod. One thousand songs in your pocket. (You may also want to read Carmine Gallo's: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs slide share and book.)
6. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Lessons he learned after he found out that he had pancreatic cancer. "Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma-which is living with the result of other people's thinking. Don't let the voice of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." - Steve Jobs
What if Pharma and Healthcare products/services took full responsibility for the user (patient) experience?
What if Pharma and Healthcare designed the product and user experience to simplify the complex and encourage participative medicine?
What if Pharma and Healthcare mastered the message and dialog so patients and their caregivers immediately and easily understood the benefits and risks and could discuss it with their doctor and family?
Stay tuned for What Would Google do? (WWGD)...
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
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?
Eating the Big Fish still feels as relevant today as it was when it was first published. The 2009 edition is packed with new examples and Morgan's eight credos still worthy of consideration-especially for small specialty and biotech Pharmaceutical brands. In FREE: The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson (Long Tail) argues that in the digital marketplace, the most effective price is no price at all. He illustrates how savvy businesses are raking it in with indirect routes from product to revenue with such models as cross-subsidies and freemiums. But when you stop to think about the real changes in expectations that the web has brought about, this is a book to think hard about.
Tim Brown's Change by Design suggests that innovation in today's world means taking a design thinking approach, and one that is human-centered. The CEO of global design consultancy IDEO offers a guide for thinking and organizing our everyday creative processes. A great book and a nice break from so much focus on social media...
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs is a must read for anyone looking to improve their own presentation skills. Why not learn from a master, who is consistently voted the most important CEO of the decade? Knowing how to present is critical today, but this book goes beyond just presentation tips...Power of Less is a very useful reminder to focus (and act) on what is most important and forget the rest. It's simple and direct without the fluff. Born to Run, while not a business book per say, provides lessons in mind and body, and shows the advantages of anthropological learning from others, in this case a special Indian tribe from Mexico.
Favorite Business Books of 2009
1. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media) by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
2. Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
3. Putting the Public Back into Public Relations: How Social Media is Reinventing the Aging Business in PR by Brian Solis and Deidre Breakenridge
4. Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity by Avinash Kaushik
5. The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect With Your Customers by Marketing With Meaning by Bob Gilbreath Listen First Sell Later
6. Listen First Sell Later by Bob Poole
7. I Love you More than my Dog: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad by Jeanne Bliss
8. Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan (2009 reprint)
9. FREE: The Future of Radical Price by Chris Anderson
10. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown
11. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great In Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo
12. Power of Less The: Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential...in Business and in Life by Leo Babauta
13. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race The World Has Never Seen by Chris McDougall
Other books you think should be on this list?
Books I plan to read in the New Year:
1. Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves by A Penenberg
2. Googled: The End of the World As We Know It by Ken Auletta/What Would Google Do? By Jeff Jarvis
3. The Social Media Marketing Book by Dan Zarella
4. Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation by Grant McCraken
5. Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations by Garr Reynolds (due December 28, 2009)
6. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink (due out December 29, 2009)
7. Lynchpin: Are You Indispensible? by Seth Godin (due out January 26, 2010)
8. Rework by Jason Fried (due out March 9, 2010)
What about you? What's on your list to read?
Other blogs to read related to these favorite books of 2009:
If You Charged For Your Content, Would Anyone Pay? By Jonathan Richman Dose of Digital blog
Marketing With Meaning: Is there any other way? Advertising Age
Pharma: Are Current DTC Ads Meaningful? By Ellen Hoenig Notes From the Back of the Book blog
How Marketing With Meaning Can Save Pharma (3 Part Series) by Jonathan Richman
Book Review: I love You More Than My Dog - Small Business Trends
Pharma: Say NO To More Bullets! and Presentation Tips by Ellen Hoenig
Pharma: Is Your Marketing Designed to Engage and Educate or Sell? By Ellen Hoenig
For my list of top books of 2008 and 2007, click here.
Happy New Year to all! See you in 2010!
[Full article: 2010 Outlook: Doom and Gloom For DTC? 10 Points for Winning with Patients, published in DTC Perspectives, December 2009]
Despite many gloomy predictions for DTC advertising and the pharma industry overall, there's never been a better time for marketers to forward their brands and consumers' lives with new thinking about what constitutes patient marketing in the 21st Century (DTC 21). Ten prescriptions can help improve focus and strengthen DTC efforts in 2010. Important media and technology trends are also "musts" to actively consider for those who want to bump impact and value.
- Adopt an updated definition for DTC that considers the full picture of how consumers will interpret and interact with a brand TODAY. This calls for attention beyond "big bang" marketing spends, and begs for identifying meaningful levers to drive education and growth. DTC is no longer just an awareness or acquisition vehicle to move "eyeballs" through a linear marketing funnel; it's every influence and touch needed to bring new information and education, help convert, instill loyalty and inspire advocacy.
- Consider "long-tail" marketing; don't be afraid to focus on smaller targets that matter. Long tail marketing has the potential to treat consumers as individuals with unique interests and needs.
- Go to your consumer--surround them where they get their facts, learn, and socialize. Today's consumer is not looking for your marketing messages. Study after study points to both the growth of the Internet, and the fact that consumers and e-patients get their information from multiple sources. (The Social Life of Health Information - PEW Internet and American Life Project) Depending on your target, this suggests a mix of relevant touches and begs for the right combination of off line and on line media and social media tactics.
- Move beyond selling to engaging and providing meaningful marketing and value. Look for new ways to extend patient value, and support a more positive customer experience along each and every touch point. This also means giving consumers and e-patients what they are looking for and not just your "brand sell". Engagement requires looking at each patient as a unique human being who, by the way, would "rather not e your customer" (After all, who wants to have a chronic condition and take medication for the trust of their life, whether it be your rand or a competitors?). Think hard how you might provide relevant value real-time, every time. To improve engagement, 6 C's are crucial: 1) Content that is based on meaningful insights and provides context; 2) Customization via new ways to personalize treatment, process or support; 3) Conversation is encouraged for better service, learning and sharing: 4) Confidence is built with trust and transparency; 5) Community Connectedness - directly or indirectly- create your own, or better yet, tap into an existing one; and 6) Consistent Commitment is demonstrated to your customer base--no one shot deals here.
- Consumer power is a fact of life requiring brands and companies to walk and talk "patient-centered" -- consumers are finely tuned to what's valuable and authentic. Ask yourself one simple question over and over: Will this bring meaningful value to our patients?
- Keep your brand's strategic core strong and grounded, despite the onslaught of messages and tactics, and the speed with which they require action. A strong core requires a compelling and relevant brand promise that focuses every strategy and tactic so they're synergistic and supportive. The payoff is staying on message by protecting the brand from chasing every new, cool digital and new media tactic coming your way.
- Insist on elegant solutions that do more with less. Smaller budgets don't negate innovation and may have just the opposite effect in spurring new thinking.
- Don't overlook the details. While they may seem small and trivial, find out which are important to patients and their families. This can help instill better ROI efficiencies.
- Refresh brand metrics and measurement to drive current brand objectives and initiatives. Think beyond traditional reach and frequency measures and try to ensure a flow of metrics and measurement from beginning to end of the patient "buying process" for maximum learning.
- Be the best listeners in you category. Listen with vigilance, and act on learning across the organization. Listening, and what you do with your learning, is the responsibility of the entire organization. Be sure that each 'tweet" or customer learning gets mapped back to a rightful "owner' in the organization.
In 2010, important media, social platforms and technology trends can't be neglected. Below are some helpful questions to ask as media and technology continue to quickly change (yes...an understatement!):
Pharma: Are you ready for 2010? Despite continued budget tightening and generic growth, and open areas such as health reform and FDA social media and web guidelines, it's going to be a big year for those willing to step up and experiment with new ways of marketing and 'not marketing'...What do you think?
Other Suggested Reading:
The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson. Wikipedia's summary of long tail here.
Pharma: Are Current DTC Ads Meaningful? The Next Evolution of Marketing My Book review.
The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with your Customers by Marketing with Meaning by Bob Gilbreath, Bridge Worldwide
Susannah Fox, PEW Research Center: The Social Life off Health Information, Twitter and Status Updated, Fall 2009
Pharma: Is Your Brand Patient Centered? 5 Critical Success Factors by Ellen Hoenig, MedAd News, November, 2009
I love You More Than My Dog: 5 Decisions that Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty In Good Times and Bad by J. Bliss
Strong Brand Core: More Core Than Ever?
Pharma: Is Your Marketing Designed to Engage and Educate or Sell? My book review of Listen First Sell Later by Bob Poole
Pharma: Do You Elegantly Use What You Have? My book review of In Pursuit of Elegance by Matthew E May
Photo Credit: Courtney Justice/The Cournell Group
Pharma and Marketers alike, as we approach the end of summer, perhaps a little introspection is warranted?
In the latest McKinsey Quarterly, Dan Vasella, CEO and chairman of Novartis, shares his personal approach to management and leadership, and discusses health care reform, the economic downturn, and executive compensation...During the discussion on compensation, he poses an interesting question worth pondering:
"...I think it much more important to ask, 'How do you use what you have?' It's like with talents you have, do you really use them for the best of society? Do you give something? How do you use the money you have? Is it just to have more zeros on the bank account at the end of the year? Or do you do something right with it?"
So in these tough economic times and with healthcare reform looming, might it not be important for each of us to ask: How does our business, or our brand(s) use what they have?
How do we use our talents to add maximum value?
How do we use our financial and human resources to create maximum benefit with the minimum effort? [loose definition of an elegant solution. For a more comprehensive one: "marked by concision, incisiveness and ingenuity; cleverly apt and simple, as an elegant solution to a problem."- Webster's New World Dictionary]
What should we stop doing? What should we keep doing? Do we need to add something to the mix? [Ideally, we choose to stop doing more than we choose to add and we should actively question keeping 'sacred cows' in the mix...]
How do we use our budgets to do something right for our customers in addition to generating a positive return financially and/or qualitatively?
During planning, it is typical to look to reach for the maximum budget we can get...we're all used to thinking that innovation comes from big budgets and big resources...but what if that wasn't true?
The vast majority of the millions of innovative ideas have zero budget (Toyota is a great example of this). Looking for the killer app can be a deadly trap if your bias is something other than realizing that the greatest innovations in the world generally spring from resource constraints...
Lesson: if you want to change the world, you need the ability to see extreme resource constraints as the very source of sustainable innovation. - Matthew E May Author of Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing
For me personally, across my 20+ marketing and consulting career, the times I've innovated most successfully have been due to having the toughest constraints going in...
And by the way, if you haven't read Matt's second book, In Pursuit of Elegance, you should pick it up and find out why elegant ideas have four characteristics: Symmetry, Seduction, Subtraction, and Sustainability.
It also has perhaps one of the most elegant forwards I've read in a while, by Guy Kawasaki-Author of Reality Check and co-founder of Alltop.com
While brevity may not cause elegance, long-windedness certainly prevents it. In that spirit, here is a 140-character foreword. Why 140 characters? because that's the limit of a Twitter "tweet."
"Less is the new more." Easy to learn: symmetry, seduction, subtraction, and sustainability. Very valuable to do. Step 1: Read Matt's book!!"
Also for a good summary of Matt's thinking, read Guy Kawasaki's interview with Matt: In Pursuit of Elegance: 12 Indespensable Tips
Any thoughts you want to add?
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...)
3. Roxanne Quimby (co-founder of Burt's Bees): The Other Side of Failure
"...I really believe that success is just getting up one more time than you fall." (How many companies enable failure?)
4. Scott Adams (creator of the Dilbert cartoon): On the limits of Technology
Commenting on the initial impact of technology in the early ‘90's, Adams said in 1994, "The biggest impact of technology has been to allow us to do more unproductive things at a far more impressive rate." (...technology is an enabler, but often not a strategy unto itself...)
5. Michael Bloomberg: Go Out on the Top
Clearly a skilled businessman, he maintained that progress only happens when organizations are purposely thrown off course... (Often innovation comes from dealing with constraints and challenges...But never be content with status quo)
6. Pat McGovern: The World is Yours
Founder of International Data Group (IDG) in 1964, McGovern spent a majority of his career abroad, forging ahead in new global markets and practically writing the rulebook for doing business in foreign countries. Reflecting on building a global company: "Even after 40 years, my adrenaline starts pumping every time my plane touches down in a new country. Every trip is a story waiting to happen." (...it's essential to keep ourselves open to learning and new ideas--creating new stories)
7. Harvey Mackay: The Importance of Connections
Author of How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, Mackay's guiding principle in business is to build strong relationships with customers and employees, and practice the lifelong art of networking. True to his philosophy, he told Inc. in 1990, "If the house is on fire, forget the china, silver, and wedding album-grab the Rolodex." (Today, it would be to grab your iPhone or your Blackberry .... but networking is especially critical- now more than ever...)
8. Ted Turner: The Upshot of losing $8 Billion
When Time Warner subsequently merged with AOL in 2001, Turner's stock in the company collapsed and so did his position as an executive at the company. Undefeated, he returned to his entrepreneurial roots and started Ted's Montana Grill, now a nationwide chain of 55 restaurants...(once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur...)
9. Ken Hendricks: In Praise of Modesty
His Building Supplies Company, ABC Supply was a No. 1 Inc. 500 Company and hit $3 billion in sales in 2007. Despite his huge financial success, Hendricks always kept the business small at heart and spoke often about frugality in business (an approach Pharma would have been wise to consider during the past decade and moving forward...)
10. Peter Drucker: The Right Kind of Leader
Frequently referred to as the 'father of modern management'...Drucker observed a great deal about the leaders that emerged in the entrepreneurial community and found that not all managers are cut out for the world of big business...In 1985 he said, "There are people who don't belong in large organizations." (Ain't that the truth! Enough said...)
Now, more than ever, innovation and leadership is needed in Pharma... and business today--We can learn something from these successful stories! Which entrepreneur(s) do you think Pharma can learn most from?
Yesterday, Pfizer announced a FREE Medicines Program for newly unemployed Americans. The new program will help eligible unemployed Americans and their families who have lost their health insurance maintain access to their Pfizer medicines for free for up to 12 months or until they become re-insured (which ever is first).
More than 70 Pfizer primary care medicines will be available through the program, including such chronic medications as Lipitor, Celebrex and Lyrica, but not some of the costly specialty drugs for diseases such as cancer. A key requirement is that a person must have been prescribed and taking a Pfizer medicine for at least 3 months prior to becoming unemployed and enrolling in the program.
The inspiration for the new program, called MAINTAIN (Medicines Assistance for Those who Are in Need), was generated by Pfizer employees who were witnessing friends, family and neighbors struggle to make ends meet after losing their jobs. "We thought there must be some way we could help recently unemployed people who are taking Pfizer medicines to continue treatment during theses challenging economic times," said Dr. Jorge Puente, Pfizer's regional president of Worldwide Pharmaceuticals, a leading champion of the initiative.
Pfizer employees proposed the idea of MAINTAIN to the company's senior leadership team just within the last month. Pfizer employees also asked to be able to do their own part by donating their own money to the program, and the Pfizer Foundation will match their donations. Unlike most pharma financial assistance programs, which are aimed at low-income patients, Pfizer's new program doesn't have restrictions involving enrollee's incomes prior to their job losses.
Sounds a little bit like the groundbreaking Hyundai "Assurance" offer --to cover monthly payments in the event that a person becomes unemployed --which received tremendous publicity during this year's Superbowl coverage.
Across pharma, the barrage of free prescription offers continues to escalate. BMS' Orencia (Rheumatoid Arthritis) introduced a rich offer Qtr. 1 to help fight the recession--6 free months and one month co-pay for a competitive product if the patient isn't satisfied with Orencia. Other Pharma companies have also recently expanded patient-assistance programs to help Americans combat the recession.
With nearly 46 million Americans lacking health insurance coverage, and the number increasing as unemployment rates reach their highest levels in 25 years...the steady growth of generics continue to create intense pressures on branded pharmaceuticals...
"Pfizer is counting on word-of-mouth to bring attention to the new program. It will not advertise through traditional media, and it won't need to," according to Advertising Age.
This is a smart and calculated move given the political pressures on the industry right now!
Beyond drawing some favorable publicity to itself, and perhaps even to the broader pharma industry, will Pfizer's program dramatically help it to keep patients from actively switching to lower cost generics? How many Americans will actually take advantage of this program and will it have a noticeable impact on prescription trends?
Pfizer's new program is sure to set off more action across the industry...but true to a leader, they've taken a bold first step-- trying to stay current with today's customers.
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.
In his Ted talk, Seth outlines 4 key steps that move in a continuous circle:
- Tell a story
- Connecting a tribe
- Leading a movement
- Make a change
Seth believes that leaders today:
Challenge status quo--"they are heretics"
Build a culture through their curiosity and ability to connect like-minded people
Gain charisma by leading (and not the other way around)
(You can find the book and more information here.)
My friend Sophie is just embarking on starting her own movement. She's trying to incite awareness, funding and greater use of the many miles of open space trails right here in Princeton, NJ--the most populated state in the country--with a new book that outlines 16 great walks. She's not doing it for the money (all the profits go to local land preservation organizations), but to bring the simple joy of using and appreciating our local open space land to as many in our area as possible. For years, I've enjoyed many a morning walk with Sophie and friends--a few moments of connected friendship, health and activity surrounded by nature and beauty. (Yes, there really are a few trails that you'd be hard pressed to think you're in 'jersey'...)
In 1998, Jenifer Estess, her family, and friends, started Project A.L.S. when Jenifer was diagnosed with the fatal brain disease (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) at the age of thirty-five. Upon discovering that there were no effective treatments, Project A.L.S. set out to put medicine into place.
The mission today is to bring the best science to ALS patients in the form of effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure. Project A.L.S. has raised over $37 million, directing 81% to research programs. The hallmark of Project A.L.S. research is collaboration. Researchers who were competitors now play on the same team, meet regularly, share data openly, and work rationally, constructively, and aggressively toward shared goals.
My childhood friend Valerie and her sisters never asked for permission, and have accomplished incredible success with no formal pharma marketing or product development experience...just intense focus and the belief that status quo wasn't good enough...
Seth argues that leadership is the best marketing tactic for any organization--and a marketer's role today is to find, connect and lead tribes in order to make change happen.
In thinking about pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing... who will take that leadership role?
I hope to contribute to changing the role of marketing in pharma and healthcare today from one historically based on "push" (and I don't just mean DTC advertising but also the whole R&D Development and Salesforce selling approach) to:
authentic product and marketing differentiation, and
simplicity in design and execution (more emphasis on the "elegant solution" vs the shotgun approach).
This would mean that the consumer/patient is not only fully integrated into the development and business model, but actually has a seat at the table at every important decision (which unfortunately is still not the case across the industry). This would also mean leading change in how we engage and collaborate with customers and consumers...which includes, but goes beyond the use of social media...DTC in the 21st Century (DTC 21)
What are you not happy with? What do you want to change? What is worth starting a movement about?
As we were developing our website to pay off: "Elegant Prescriptions for Leading Performance", I stumbled upon Matthew E May and his book The Elegant Solution, and went on to read his two "Change This" manifestos:
Elegant Solutions: Breakthrough Thinking the Toyota Way and Mind of the Innovator. I was struck with Matt's insight and unique perspective on Toyota's ability to continually innovate and produce elegant solutions. I was instantly a fan...
Matt wrote a blog to usher in 2009 that has stuck with me since I read it a few weeks ago--so much so-- I would like to share it: "2009: Don't Just Do Something." It flips on its ear how we often approach problems and life: ...always looking for what to do, rather than what to not do.
He recounts a story told by business guru Jim Collins (of bestselling Good To Great fame). It was called "Best New Year's Resolution? A 'Stop Doing' List."
Collins told the story of how, in the throes of his early post-Stanford Business School career at Hewlett-Packard, his favorite former professor redressed him for a lack of discipline over a busy yet unfocused life. Her words rang true: at the time, Jim was aggressively chasing his carefully-set stretch goals for the year, confident in his ability to accomplish them. Still, his life was crowded with the commotion of a fast-tracking career. Her comment made him pull up short and re-examine what he was doing. To help, she did what great teachers do, constructing a lesson in the form of an assignment she called "20-10": Imagine that you've just inherited $20 million free and clear, but you only have 10 years to live. What would you do differently-and specifically, what would you stop doing?
The exercise did exactly what it was intended to do-make Jim stop and think about what was important to him. It was a turning point, for three reasons: First, he realized he'd been racing down the wrong track spending enormous energy on the wrong things. Second, the assignment became a constant reminder of just how important and precious his time is. He now starts each year by choosing what not to do, and each of his to do lists always includes "stop doing" items. Third, the strategy helped him identify what factors led the companies he was studying to become "great" while others remained merely "good". The great companies routinely eliminated activities and pursuits that did not significantly contribute to the following criteria: profit, passion, and perfection. Profit meant engaging in only the activities that would result in value for both the company and the customer. Passion meant having a sense of noble purpose beyond just making money. And perfection meant focusing on flawlessly executing each task in such a way as to make the competition irrelevant. All three criteria had to be met in order for any activity to remain in these great companies' repertoires.
For Matthew May, this was a thunderbolt of insight:
"A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally what is not. It is the discipline to discard what does not fit--to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort--that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company, or most important of all, a life."
"As soon as I shifted my perspective, the vaunted Toyota Production System became for me a study of what wasn't there, and of how and what to stop doing. The Lexus line of cars, which had by then become America's leading luxury nameplate, was suddenly a shining example of eliminating anything that lacked passion and perfection. The singular thought that what isn't there can often be as or more powerful than what is presented me with a completely different view of the world."
How often do we all look at the problem or the opportunity taking a natural and intuitive approach: looking at what to do, rather than what to not do?
It's tempting to want to do everything that our competitors are doing, and more, but maybe it's time to only do those things that provide profit, passion and perfection...In these days of intense budget and resource constraints, this may be the single most important perspective we can bring to our marketing planning, teams, companies and our life...
I've started my "Stop Doing" list; won't you join me?