Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Visit our new blog Thought Bolts - blog.extrovertic.com

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Illuminating Power of Compassion

“He who knows the customer best, wins.”

That’s what one of the best planners in the business, Nat Puccio, once told me when I started in DTC. Now, years later, I feel that knowing the customer is necessary, but is insufficient to win the hearts and minds of healthcare consumers. Instead, I now believe that, “He who has the most compassion for the customer, wins.” 

My view evolved because the most valuable insights I have seen generated came from a client who developed true compassion for the patient. And they are these shifting, tectonic insights that result in creative executions that truly connect and motivate. When patients are moved to tears by the self-awareness they feel from a headline, you know you have made a deep connection. 

So how do you get to the point of having true compassion for your patients? To go beyond the point of knowing, you have to spend real time with them, not just observe them from behind a computer screen or two-way mirror. You have to interact with them continuously over time. You might not have a breathtaking insight with every interaction, but if you keep at it long enough, you will uncover some rich nuggets that change your view about your patients.

It is often the small, seemingly inconsequential interactions that resonate most powerfully:

The panicked call from a patient at 6:30 am when she reads the hotel invoice slipped under her door and is worried about fronting the expense
The jaw-dropping respect you feel in the presence of someone who has overcome addiction 
The anguish of the soft-spoken, dignified patient who “fell off the wagon” due to grief at the death of his two beloved chihuahuas  

Deep insights have the power to change a negative sales trajectory, even in the most mundane categories. P&G’s legendary sales turnaround in 2006 was driven in part by a consumer immersion program that resulted in more tailored products and better communication campaigns. This program included sending marketers to the rural village in the Shaanxi province of China to do laundry, and to small shops in low-income areas of Mexico to see how customers shopped. 

According to interviews with P&G’s CMO at the time, Jim Stengel, the benefits to marketers are multiple. First, interacting with customers gives marketers a larger perspective, “one in which Pampers is not about diapers, it's about helping a mother with her baby's development.” And secondly, it changes their attitudes about their jobs. People come back from fieldwork “more pumped up” because they “understand the product has a role in someone’s life.” 

They are these changes in perspective and attitude that I think make the critical difference. When you develop a more compassionate attitude towards patients, you begin to have more of a sense of urgency to solve their problems. You give it an extra oomph by fighting for a more generous support program or spending an afternoon running around the company to get a product shipped to a patient. It’s part of a larger concept that I call compassion marketing.  

So in thinking about your research needs for 2013, consider adding some potential compassion builders—opportunities to interact directly with patients—into your plan. These interactions can happen in multiple ways:

Research companies that organize weekends where marketers closely interact with patients 
Invite a patient to your office for a set of meetings 
Work one-on-one with a patient to develop materials 
Use patient ambassadors and field “ride-alongs” to hear patient stories 

If you listen long and hard enough, a patient will say something that will change your view about your product, your therapeutic area, or about healthcare in general. And this tiny, brightly burning insight could change you and your business in unexpected, positive ways. 

Thanks for letting us share.

Next Wednesday’s post introduces Customer Service - how pharma can learn from IBM

To read previous 2013 Planning Thought Starters posts about:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Marketing Drivers Are Changing, How About Your Metrics?

Good planning focuses resources on the key elements that drive product choice. If sales are dependent on patient requests, then we like to say Brand X is a patient-driven brand.

We can measure patient requests for a brand.

Then we drill down a little deeper and consider: What is getting in the way of patient requests? Is it:
  • awareness of the condition?
  • awareness of a potential solution? 

We can measure awareness issues.

But because we don’t know how to measure the effect of the family and friends phenomenon, often called word of mouth marketing (WOMM), we tend to ignore it. WOMM is, however, quickly becoming an important source of information for patients who will ask their doctor for a drug by name.

Patients are increasingly:
  • looking for,
  • relying on, and
  • trusting

commentary about medicines that they get from their friends and family. So how a patient feels about—and what they say about—your brand and company can be a real sales driver.

Consider these three facts:

But don’t worry, we can measure that too.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures the sentiment people have about a brand in one, single number that correlates to sales and profit growth. Marketing masters General Electric and American Express use NPS to help measure the quality of their relationships with their customers. NPS relies on one question:

“Would you recommend this brand to a friend/family?”

For a more complete overview, the 2008 Harvard Business Review article, How the Net Promoter Score (NPS) Can Drive Growth by Fred Reichheld does a great job.

The economic benefit of a high NPS score is derived from what Reichheld calls the Loyalty Effect. Basically, patient brand-promoters are more likely to:
  • use more of the product for a longer period of time
  • cost less per person to serve
  • say positive things about your brand

An NPS might have been helpful to Sanofi-Aventis in determining the effect on sales of the highly publicized Taxotere issue, where a woman flooded the media about the product’s side effects. If Sanofi-Aventis had understood the impact of the woman’s complaints, their marketing department may have considered investing in monitoring and responding to patient comments online.

Conversely, if we understood how one positive interaction with a nurse educator impacted NPS, we might invest more in nurse educators and less in direct-to-consumer advertising. It’s about matching investments to business drivers.

If NPS has captured your imagination, consider putting one of the courses offered by Satmetrix  on your 2013 agenda. You should know that using NPS correctly is a significant undertaking. Instead, you may want to start smaller by adding the NPS question to an ongoing tracker, or conducting a quick online study.

With customer commentary and relationships controlling business more than ever before, doesn’t it make sense to start measuring the impact that customer word-of-mouth communication has on your business? Maybe even plan for a few customer-care initiatives in 2013 (see our next Thought Starters post)?

Thanks for letting us share.

Next Wednesday’s post introduces Compassion MarketingTM—how a deeper understanding of your target can lead to significant benefits.

To read previous 2013 Planning Thought Starters posts about:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Marketing the Holocaust

As a crew of self-professed healthcare marketing junkies, we know we have a triple challenge to:

  • engage
  • educate
  • encourage people to take action 

Like the rest of the extroverts at our agency, I don’t back down from a challenge. But when I took on marketing to 3rd generation Holocaust survivors in Boston, I thought I might have met my match.

You see, in 2009, my wife, friends, and I started a support group in Boston for Holocaust survivors’ grandchildren (3rd Generation) called Boston 3G. Marketing was my task.

Tough subject to market.

I was striking out until I considered the success of flash mobs at attracting attention. Could that work for us?

On May 29th, at 1:20 pm (to honor the 1.2 million children who died in the Holocaust), our group of 115 people froze on cue, right in the middle of Boston’s Fanueil Hall.

For six minutes—to honor the six million who perished—we held our poses, taking time to:
  • remember 
  • honor the memory of family members
  • be thankful that we live in a country where we are free to practice our religion as we choose
  • reflect on our own lives  

Was it a success?

One way to measure? Listen to the typical conversations among tourist families, like this one:

“Mommy, what are they doing?” asked an elementary-school kid in his newly purchased Cheers t-shirt, the tag still flopping out of his back collar.

“It looks like they are remembering the Holocaust,” she answered, after reading one of our green t-shirts.

“Mommy, what's the Holocaust?”

That sure sounded like success to us.

Marketing the Holocaust presented a tricky, triple set of challenges, to:
  • engage
  • educate
  • encourage people to take action

Sound familiar?

Striving for success is what we do as extroverts. It is our indefatigable desire to make a difference, with just the right balance of:
  • information
  • imagery
  • imagination

All to leave an impression on the people that get touched by our work.

Thanks for letting us share.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Why Boston Is Poised to Be the Hub of Patient-Centered Healthcare

A cross section of 50 members of the Who’s Who of Boston-area healthcare gathered on June 25 at our invitation for a spirited discussion around a rallying call to “Make Boston the Nexus of Patient-Centered Healthcare.” The evening provided an exciting perspective on how many patients are managing their health outside of the formal healthcare system.

Cosponsored by North Bridge Growth Partners and organized by Future Forward, the event’s centerpiece was the panel moderated by Scott Kirsner, Innovation Economist at The Boston Globe. This roundtable discussion among trend setting entrepreneurs and leading policy makers in self-directed health and wellness included:
  • David Dickinson from Zeo, an online sleep-management company
  • Jason Jacobs of FitnessKeeper, which is focused on tracking, measuring, and improving fitness
  • Joseph Kvedar from the Center for Connected Healthcare, which does research in technology-enabled healthcare delivery  
  • Frank Moss of the MIT Media Lab, specializing in new-media medicine
  • David Rose from Vitality, that makes devices to improve medication adherence
  • Sonny Vu of AgaMatrix, the company that made the first iPhone-based blood glucose monitor

The lively conversation focused on the opportunity to make Boston the hub of patient-centered healthcare, just as Silicon Valley is the nexus of technology-based innovation. The group identified some important advantages that the Boston area has in supporting this trend:
  • A strong digital-technology community, including entrepreneurs and developers
  • World-class medical expertise and data capabilities, such as researchers, practitioners, and Big Data from research and clinical trials
  • An active venture-finance presence with a strong track record in funding therapeutic, device, and diagnostic companies

We were indebted to the audience for their dynamic participation in helping make the exchange a success. We were also fortunate to have representatives of many of the major players in patient-centric health present, including:

The group’s collective findings are best expressed in the image above. It shows the Boston-area healthcare ecosystem that has developed over the last several years. Scribed courtesy of CollectiveNext.

This conversation is far from over. We will continue it in upcoming posts, where we’ll focus on the substance and implications of patient-centered health, including:
  • What’s Goin’ On?: Who is managing their own health?
  • Rage Against the Machine: Giving consumers healthcare control and independence
  • Love the One You’re With: Opportunities for providers, payers, and pharma

Check back with us periodically and, in the meantime, thanks for letting us share.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Marketing Insights of the Grateful Dead

One of the more beachable business books I’ve read is “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. What every business can learn from the most iconic brand in history” by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan. It's a fast, 156-page read of the Dead’s marketing breakthroughs, coupled with examples from other industries. It includes helpful application tips (labeled “Rock On”) for your own business situation. Here are my top 3 takeaways:

1. Be on the lookout for new business models. The Grateful Dead pioneered a multitude of new business practices. 
  • Unlike other bands that relied heavily on selling records, the Grateful Dead made their money primarily from concerts and merchandise. 
  • The Dead eliminated the middleman by selling tickets directly to fans rather than going through major ticket sellers.
  • And finally, they pioneered relationship marketing by including the following on one of their record sleeves:

Who are you? Where are you? How are you?
Send us your name and address and we’ll keep you informed.
Deadheads, P.O. Box 1065, San Rafael, California 94901

New business models are even starting to emerge in the traditionally risk-adverse pharmaceutical industry with Pfizer’s new approach to the Lipitor patient expiration being a prime example. Rather than let brand sales plummet into the sunset, they extended Lipitor sales by selling directly to patients—at a generic price—by enlisting help from specialty pharmacies. With all the upcoming changes in the healthcare industry, it pays to invest some thinking time into how medicines can get into the hands of patients more quickly and cheaply.

2. Experiment and continually adapt. No two Grateful Dead concerts are alike. The Dead experimented continually as a group, and individually, both on and off the concert stage. This uniqueness increased the value of their concerts and concert tapes.

In applying this relentlessly innovative mindset to the practicalities of business, the authors advise that “marketers should shorten their planning cycles to monthly—versus six to twelve months out—in order to become more agile in response to changing marketplace dynamics, new product developments, changing competitive landscapes, and new marketing technologies.” 

While a monthly planning cycle might be impractical, it does make sense to plan for regular quarterly reviews to evaluate the current direction and environment. At the annual planning session, it would make sense to: 
  • highlight how the environment could change 
  • note how you will monitor the potential change 
  • identify some alternative ways to address any environmental shift 

Ask your team: What if a competitor comes out with better than expected data? What if your brand suddenly has a shorter or longer expected life? Identify and plan for these potential pivot points.

3. Get some fresh perspectives. One of the reasons why the Grateful Dead was so innovative was that the band members came from diverse musical backgrounds. For example, Jerry Garcia was also a bluegrass banjo player in addition to rock guitar. To think more expansively about your team, the authors suggest searching for employees using very broad criteria, such as finding someone who is good with numbers and someone who is good at getting found.

A more practical approach for the upcoming 2013 planning season would be to locate a few people from different industries and brainstorm around a key issue; say, retention. Or encourage each team member to take a course outside of healthcare. That’s how we encourage our extroverts to expand their thinking. For example, one of our extroverts will be taking an online course with Berklee School of Music on Online Music Marketing. Just thinking about how you would develop a fan base is sure to result in some new acquisition and retention strategies.

The book is full of lots of other practical business advice engagingly served up with tales of the Grateful Dead and their loyal Deadheads. So put Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead on your summer reading list. Try bringing the book to work and reading it at lunch; it’s sure to start a new conversation and that’s what you want.

Thanks for letting us share.

Next Wednesday’s post is about setting up metrics that can help your brand succeed.

To read previous 2013 Planning Thought Starters posts about: