Feb2

For Optimized Brand Strategies, Look to Market Research

brain_gears_on background_Who knew that Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors, knew a thing or two about market research? Proof is in one of his great quotes “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

That’s a comment on discipline, and it takes on a whole different—and cautionary—meaning when it’s applied to primary market research.

As a market researcher, my first order of business is to help clients “get the facts first.” The discipline of gathering the right facts from the right stakeholders―and in the right way at the right time, to boot―allows us to not only uncover our customer’s drivers and motivators, but also to help inspire changes in behavior.

There are certain activities and processes that are important for us, as an agency, to shepherd our clients through. For instance, we don’t want brand team members driving the creative according to their personal beliefs and perceptions about the product. Rather, we want our clients to clearly hear their customers’ voices, and shape their brand strategy accordingly, with our guidance.

As market researchers, we help ensure that clients “hear” their customers by answering 4 key questions:

1. What are the right facts?

  • The right facts can be as simple as the customer’s geography (physical location) and demography (age, gender, occupation, socioeconomic status), or as complex as their behavior (product consumption level, use patterns, frequency, and loyalty), and psychographic profile (interests, attitudes, and opinions)
  • By targeting the specific questions that our clients need to answer, and by understanding how that data are meant to inform business decisions, we determine the right facts to gather

2. Who are the right stakeholders?

  • Pharmaceutical clients often believe they have a “physician problem,” but chances are they could also have a patient, caregiver, payer, or pharmacist problem (And I could go on!). Sometimes it’s even more than one problem! Healthcare is a sector defined by intricate interdependencies among a long list of stakeholders that ultimately impact product usage
  • Well-designed market research takes into account all relevant stakeholders, including them as the research questions dictate. We often talk with clients about, at minimum, viewing patients, physicians, and payers as three legs supporting their product’s stool—the “length” (eg, importance) of those legs can vary by therapeutic area, but they all need to be taken into account when planning brand strategy

3. What is the right way to gather the facts given budgets and timelines?

  • Do we need one-on-one conversations with customers where we can take the time and latitude to investigate the “why’s” behind responses, and explore topics that might be challenging to articulate in front of others?
  • Do we need small groups of customers to talk with us about our clients’ products’ features and benefits, and the extent to which they produce functional, emotional, and/or personal benefits?
  • Do we need to use projective exercises in which ambiguous or vaguely defined stimuli grant customers’ considerable freedom in their responses? Images and metaphors can sometimes reveal a deeper dimension of thought/decision-making processes and feelings than objective, “correct” responses to explicit research questions
  • Do we need to survey a large number of customers, and on a big enough scale so we can obtain results that are statistically significant?
  • Do we need to survey various types of customers to understand the number and size of diverse market segments, including what those segments look like?
  • Do we need to deploy mobile or app-based methodologies that allow us to track customer thinking and behavior in real time?

4. When is the right time to gather the facts?

  • Sometimes we want to conduct research, either to take the market pulse on the heels of a significant marketplace event, or to get a “snapshot” of the market at a particular moment
  • Sometimes we want to be in the field when the market is quiet, so we can get a baseline against which to compare the impact of future disruptive events
  • Sometimes we want to longitudinally gather the same metrics from the same customers at certain intervals to get a long-term understanding of customer behavior and product usage
  • Sometimes we simply have materials or concepts to test. This might warrant multiple rounds of research, depending on customer response

Contrary to Mr. Twain’s memorable comment, the second order of business for market researchers is to make sure that clients do not distort those facts to fit their own view of their marketplace–or the marketplace they want instead of the one they have.

It’s therefore our job not just to provide the facts, but to give them meaning and to make actionable recommendations. The beauty of being part of the larger Ogilvy CommonHealth organization is that we have a wide and deep network of resources to help us round out our interpretation.

Drawing on our own backgrounds in multiple therapeutic areas, and working closely with our account team counterparts, optimizes our point of view on the research. Having our secondary research, data analytics, and digital colleagues weigh in allows us to ensure that our recommendations are deep and broad, and showcases our capabilities as an integrated agency.

Consider how primary market research can help your organization’s brand teams to get the right facts first (distortion-free!), and use that data as a platform on which to build robust strategies that firmly stake your brands’ positioning in the marketplace.

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Also posted in advertising, agency life, Clients, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, Medical Education, Patient Communications, Research, Data, Content Strategy | Tagged | Leave a comment
Jan25

Top Picks From CES 2016

Author Pic CES

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens (left) and Nelson Figueiredo (right)

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens, senior engagement strategist and Nelson Figueiredo, VP, director of technology, applied their experience as a healthcare communicators to identify the most impactful technologies from their year’s CES.

Each year, technologists, strategists, start-ups, major manufacturers, and consumers gravitate to Las Vegas for CES. This is becoming the premier event to showcase new consumer electronics, technology, and products. With the growth of healthcare as a key technology topic, CES is also an important venue for healthcare brands and influencers.

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens and Nelson Figueiredo spent several days on the floor at CES and have curated the following list of products and technologies to watch:

CaptureProof: like HIPAA-secure Snapchat…only better

CaptureProof is a new HIPAA-secure platform for sharing media and data between patients and providers. CaptureProof allows doctors to monitor patient progress and symptoms, triage via media, consult colleagues, and link to wearable devices and EHRs.

It’s recently been used in pilots for remote physical therapy (reducing in-person appointments by 75% and resulting in an overall cost savings of $7,500 per patient) and its diagnostic capabilities are currently being studied by the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at MAYO Neurology.

Currently an invite is necessary to set up an account. However, we’re in discussion about the various ways brands and agencies can utilize the platform and looking forward to developing partnership opportunities with them.

CaptureProof

Holograms still have show-stopping power

With the exception of Shaq walking the showroom floor, preordering robots, when it comes to show-stopping power, hologram technology still reigns supreme.

The Kin-mo booth caused the steadiest stream of pandemonium and buzz at the event, literally, stopping hordes of people in their tracks and compelling them to ask questions and snap pictures and video.

Here at Ogilvy CommonHealth we’re exploring the practical application of Holograms in medical education and are working on making the technology less cost-prohibitive for use in the field.

Holograms from CES2016

Meet flic, the wireless smart button that could revolutionize the way patients communicate with providers

Flic is a small wireless button that you can stick anywhere. It can be programmed to send data and commands to apps on Android or iOS devices.

Swedish developers, Shortcut Labs, designed flic with simplicity, accessibility and safety in mind. It’s currently being used to streamline everyday tasks like controlling your connected home, selecting entertainment and ordering food and taxis.

But the ease of use makes it an intriguing solution for things like symptom reporting and tracking between patient and provider, treatment adherence, atmospheric or environmental controls, and accessibility for patients with limited mobility.

VR was king at CES and controller tech is on the rise

This year the Virtual Reality headset manufacturers exhibiting at CES were too numerous to count and VR environments demoing experiences in space, tech, automotive, entertainment, health and fitness were among the most engaging booth draws on the showroom floor.

While everyone seems to agree that VR is going to revolutionize medical education, it’s recent advances in VR controllers and the impact that they might have on rehabilitation and treatment methods that we found most inspiring at CES this year.

Two groups in particular, 3DRudder and Rink, are leading innovation in foot and hand controls, respectively, and are excited to explore applications for their devices in the healthcare space. Each offer the opportunity to gamify the treatment process in new and exciting ways and extend mobility exercises into the VR realm.

RINK

Sensum, the marketing industry’s new emotions experts

Turning emotions into data, measuring advertising’s effect on the subconscious, tracking the cognitive unconscious, things that used to be qualitative can now be quantitative thanks to Belfast-based Sensum.

They’re already working with some of the biggest media companies and agencies in the world to measure the effectiveness of messages, customer engagement, and usability.

Whether it’s a live event, or a product that needs to be tested for implicit response, new packaging, or a video message, Sensum has the platform and technology you need to capture the real-time emotional response from your audience.

They’re also the creators of the EmoCam.

CES is proving to be a venue for innovators and entrepreneurs to showcase their solutions for healthcare. As the empowered patient and modern physician begin to leverage new technology for better outcomes, there is an increasingly more important role for connected medicine, wearables, and mobile technology to help us live healthier lives.

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Also posted in advertising, behavior change, Creativity, Design, Digital, Global Marketing, Great Ideas, Healthcare Communications, Patient Communications, Physician Communications, Technology, Consumer Electronics Show, Culture, Augmented Reality, Wearable Health Technology, Brand Awareness | Leave a comment
Jan15

Stuck in My Head

6608547When I was younger, “great creative” meant a toy commercial with a catchy jingle that was easily memorized. If I happened to be in Toys”R“Us with my mom, I should be able to strategically bust out the jingle while running up and down the aisles. As you can imagine, Mom was unamused by this behavior and was rarely compelled to buy toys I sang about.

While my mother wasn’t heavily influenced by these commercials, I was. I took the ads with me to daycare, and later to school. My classmates and I would hum the chipper tune during nap-time, or screech the whimsical words as we somersaulted through woodchips in gym class.

As I got older I realized that while I initially gravitated towards these ads because of the memorable jingle and the headspinning graphics, another exchange was occurring. It went beyond connecting a product to a consumer. These ads became a part of my lived experience and they helped facilitated human connections – emotionally, physically, mentally, and on occasion, spiritually.

These ads have stayed with me as I have grown up (if asked, I can still sing quite a few) and are a fundamental reason as to why I decided to work in an agency. I’m starting to begin to understand the complexities of creating great creative. The extreme challenges present when staying true to a powerful concept that aligns with the client’s needs and brand goals but isn’t easily forgettable. Most importantly, great creative doesn’t only pertain to children’s toys or consumer goods.

I still believe great creative makes you feel. It takes a snapshot of shared human experiences, of being flawed, of overcoming, of loving, of suffering. Overall great creative should be brave, and it should make you think. It should transcend the relationship between product and consumer, and connect with the audience on a human level. Below are links to recent creative that I believe has accomplished that.

Mogs

Agency/Producer: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Campaign:Mog’s Christmas calamity

 

Exposed

Agency/Producer: Langland

Campaign:Exposed

Maggie

Agency/Producer: Tinker Taylor

Campaign:#itswhatwedo – Maggie

Reader

Agency/Producer: Velocity Films

Campaign:The Reader

One life 2

Agency/Producer: Bleu Blan Crouge

Campaign:One Life

Reunion

Agency/Producer: Ogilvy & Mather India

Campaign:Reunion

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Also posted in advertising, behavior change, Creativity, Design, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, Marketing, Strategy, Media, copywriting | Leave a comment
Dec8

Biosimilars: You Won’t Feel a Thing (For Now, Anyway)

With the recent launch of Zarxio™, the pharmaceutical industry has been buzzing about the impact of biosimilar products. But how quickly will biosimilars enter the US market, and will their impact be as strong as some forecasts predict?

Biosimilars are made through a more complex process involving living cells as compared to generic versions of small molecular products, which use an exact copy of the chemical makeup of the original. Because manufacturing techniques are considered proprietary, there are slight differences between reference products (the original, branded product) and the biosimilar, thus the first set of hurdles to rapid uptake.

FDA guidance has defined requirements for a product to demonstrate biosimilarity to a reference product; however, final guidance around interchangeability and labeling of biosimilars remains open. The gap in defining interchangeability opens a host of clinical hurdles that biosimilars will face in patient and physician adoption, adding layers of complexity to diseases and treatments that already require heavy time investments around treatment decisions. Indications for biosimilar products may be different from the reference product; multiple biosimilars may be considered equivalent to the reference product, but not to each other; sub-populations, including treatment-naive or -experienced patients, may have different responses to reference vs biosimilar products.

Beyond clinical hurdles, regulatory and payment hurdles are additional speed bumps that biosimilar products will need to pass. Unlike the European Union, where biosimilars have been available for years and there are centralized price and access controls, the US market is more fragmented and local pricing and reimbursement will impact prescribing. The recent consolidation of large payer organizations nods to stronger bargaining power for drug pricing, but discounts for biosimilar products are not expected to be as steep as price differences for traditional small molecule products. Novartis has said they will sell Zarxio™ at a 15% discount compared with Amgen’s Neupogen® making it a lower-cost alternative, but requiring large volume shifts before significant savings will be realized. Even in the European Union, biosimilar pricing has been modestly lower than reference products, price erosion has been gradual, and the shift of market share to biosimilar products has varied widely across therapeutic categories.

Additional legal challenges will likely also slow momentum of biosimilar products. Although patent infringement rulings were in favor of Novartis, nuances in the manufacturing of biologics will continue to introduce new hurdles for biosimilars –disclosure on proprietary manufacturing processes that impact the efficacy of biologic products will continue to provoke relations between pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of biosimilar products. Beyond the legal risk required, the high cost of manufacturing biosimilars will create additional barriers to entry.

In favor of biosimilars are provisions within the Affordable Care Act (the 2010 passage of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act opening the door for biosimilars), payment reform and bundled payments supporting physician use, and the increased scrutiny on the value of healthcare in the United States.

Other questions remain open: will patient education and support for biosimilars match the reference product, or will specialty pharmacy and large health systems pick up patient support services? How will the integrity of pharmacovigilance be impacted when switching has occurred? What will happen when physicians need to overturn automatic substitution for a specific patient, despite interchangeability?

The introduction of biosimilars has opened the door for many changes to our healthcare landscape, with the promise of large savings in the future. Yet there are many questions to be answered and changes to be made across a large and fragmented system before biosimilars take a majority share, spanning legal and regulatory hurdles, clinical considerations, manufacturing challenges, pricing and contracting incentives — So for now, you probably won’t feel a thing.

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Also posted in Access, clinical trials, Design, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, medical affairs, Research, Pharmaceutical, Pharmacists | Tagged | Leave a comment
Nov30

Modernizing Healthcare Communications

Blog-Summit 160x160Remaining Relevant In an Age of Ubiquitous Information

Last month, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide hosted our first marketing summit in collaboration with eConsultancy. This conference was initiated to bring healthcare leaders, marketers, and innovators together to discuss the changes that need to be made to build more effective patient communications. The summit showcased a massive well of talent, enthusiasm, and vision our industry has already in its ranks and a vision to deliver relevant healthcare information to patients and caregivers.

The Shackles of Our Own Making

Several years ago, healthcare marketing was years behind in its adoption of technology. Where many packaged goods brands had already adopted mobile, social, and eCommerce solutions, healthcare and pharmaceutical brands were still working with self-addressed postage solutions and print-your-own coupons for patients. Today, we are moving at a much faster pace, but there is still room for improvement.

Healthcare and pharmaceutical leaders are no longer trying “me-too” solutions to compete with consumer brands. We are now writing our own rules. Many brands are leveraging both the healthcare start-up culture and our “veteran” status to build strong partnerships for companies new to the space. We are also taking on the burden of regulation with a new vigor — by educating our teams and developing thought leadership around managing communities. We are also playing to our strengths and authority in disease categories and research. We are innovating in this landscape in spite of the burden of being “regulated brands.”

Digital is not separate

Digital is not a separate marketing platform. People don’t generally view experiences with their smartphone, TV, magazine, or desktop computer as unique “experiences” or “channels they engage.” They do see themselves as intelligently choosing the optimal channel to achieve a goal or move back and forth between mediums. This is normal, healthy, and a clear sign that these mediums and their users have matured. Its unfortunate that many clients and agencies compartmentalize their strategies and plans. Regardless of age, our patients are going to begin to question and express frustration as to why different channels have their own messaging, tone, and offers (in the case of coupons or reimbursement).

This is a pain point for the agency as well. If we are unable to unify our messagingand present a fully informed, multi-channel brand experience, we not be prepared to engage the next wave of the “digitally native” patient. We will also miss the opportunity to align the multi-generational conversation that will be more and more common as the digitally-centric children evolve into caregiver roles for the exploding baby boomer population. Our role as healthcare communicators is to unify channels and bring a channels agnostic message to our audience.

What is changing that model

There is a bright future ahead: Stimulus from the start-up community, a new type of self-educated patient, and a trend towards wellness in our culture are all fueling a new kind of healthcare marketing. This new perspective is focused on content and delivering a value that is rooted in supporting the patient with what pharmaceutical and healthcare brands can provide best — information about their products, the efficact of those products, and guidance to help patients manage their therapy through pharmaceuticals.

It may seem trite, but content is truly king. For brands looking to reach patients, content, when executed properly, is channel agnostic, portable, and scalable to every stakeholder in the chain of care. It is also something that can unify the phases of a patient journey and support a segmentation model for improved ROI of paid media

To not be lost amongst the WebMD’s, Dr. Oz’s, and patient influencers of the world, brand leadership needs to develop a vision for their brands. Specifically, a content strategy that will result in an “ownable” space that is the brand’s own and provides a strong foothold for patient interaction and discovery. From this place, brands can carve out a meaningful role in the patient’s journey that builds trust and provides a valued source of information about the product, disease state, and broader meaning to wellness in the patient’s life.

Changing the healthcare marketing model

The presenters at the Ogilvy CommonHealth Marketing Summit represent leadership from every facet of our industry. Each of them, from the perspectives of technology, content, company they work for, or patient service, all echoed the same refrain: The healthcare industry is at a pivot-point. Patients have access to a near infinite amount of information of varying degrees of utility. Our physician population is under new types of pressure to care for patients while managing group policies, provider requirements, mounting financial pressures, and patients equipped with massive amounts of their own data. Let these challenges be a call to action for marketers and content creators: Our focus needs to be building communications that are relevant to each phase of a physician’s journey and creating content based on the authority we have as drug manufacturers or brand management experts.

See more insights and opinions from the Ogilvy CommonHealth Marketing Summit at https://tagboard.com/OCHWWSUMMIT/245462?.

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Also posted in Creativity, Digital, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Social Media, Strategy, Data, Content Strategy, Pharmaceutical, Digital Advertising | Tagged | Leave a comment
Nov24

The Battle for the Inbox: Giving Your Email Campaign a Fighting Chance

Inbox_OverflowI don’t know about you, but my inbox is a war zone. I’m fighting a losing battle daily.

It is under constant barrage from companies, organizations, and campaigns that at one point I trusted enough to exchange my email address for a ride through their marketing funnel. However, for some of these companies, that trust was quickly eroded once I became bombarded by an endless barrage of uninteresting updates, overly aggressive offers, and endless e-begging for change. By the way, if anyone needs a coupon for Bed, Bath & Beyond, let me know. I can make it rain coupons.

But seriously, as a marketer, I understand and appreciate the ease in which email allows my brand message to be crafted, targeted, and scheduled exactly how I want and to whomever I want for only pennies a send. It’s magical. However, marketers also have to understand that our job is far from over once we hit send. Our email is now just one drop in a tidal wave of emails, making it look less like the carefully crafted brand message chocked full of utility that we intended it to be, and more like a groaning zombie in a mob of other groaning zombies with one single-minded purpose, to eat your brains. And by brains, I mean your attention.

Earlier this year, a study released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information noted that the average human attention span dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015, which as the study noted, is 1 second shorter than that of a goldfish. No shock there. Humans have a lot going on. We have emails to delete, zombies to kill, etc. What do goldfish have going on? Exactly.

As marketers, we know that we have a fraction of a second to pique our audience’s interest before our email’s fate is determined with a single swipe (no pressure). With so many messages competing for those 8 seconds of attention, your email is going to need a little help.

To give our email campaign a fighting chance at relevancy, we need to ensure we’re effectively communicating our brand’s value to our audience. We must first ensure that we’ve employed a sound segmentation methodology that groups targets by quantifiable value metrics. Depending on campaign objectives and visibility into the audience data, we may determine that value is measured by the audience’s likeliness to respond, say from previous responses, or their projected business impact.

We also want to ensure that we’re measuring success with metrics that actually matter. Oh sure, we might glance over our post-campaign email report to see some double-digit open rate and some non-zero click-through rate and conclude that we just did marketing. But why stop there? Email open and click-through rates alone only provide clues, not insights. In addition, these metrics can be misleading, as they are often over- or under-reported due to different email settings. For example, aggressive spam filters may activate links within an email prior to it reaching an inbox to determine if the links contain malicious content, which is usually reported as an email open.

So instead of just scratching the surface, why not look to understand how well your campaign did at driving the desired on-site responses that it intended? By designating a hierarchy of desired on-site actions and tracking our campaign to those actions, we can begin to see a much clearer picture. From here we should be able to make some strong assumptions about why actions were taken or not taken on our site and prioritize areas of focus in order to get better results in future iterations. Did our message properly communicate utility? Was there enough of a value tradeoff for our audience to take a desired action? Was the right message targeting the right people?

Now we’re getting somewhere. We now know that we sent this message to these people and this percent performed at least one of our desired actions on the site. Knowing things is cool. But as we are reminded by the great philosopher, GI Joe, this is only half the battle. Although I can’t recall GI Joe ever actually revealing what the other half of the battle was, I think it’s safe to assume that the other half of the battle is “doing.”

So what actions can we take to bring our performance to the next level? Based on what we know about how our segmented email audience responded to our recent email, we can begin to formulate and test some additional hypotheses using A/B split testing. One thing to note here is that we must ensure that we have a cohesive testing framework in place where our tests are driven by our hypotheses about our audience segments and those tests must prove or disprove those hypotheses.

After the conclusion of our tests, we should have answered some of our burning questions about our audience, which we will then use as insights we can apply in other areas of the campaign in future communications. Insights such as: people may not want to be e-stalked with daily branded emails. Who knew?

At the end of the day, we’re seeking to change behavior by providing value to our audience in the quality and relevance of our communications. Force-feeding our brand’s message will likely end with a quick swipe to the Deleted folder, or worse, on the unsubscribe list. Your campaign deserves better than that.

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Nov4

I’m excited about the new Facebook Search!

Facebook Search

The new Facebook Search feature is a pretty robust tool that we should be excited about as both marketers and users. Here are a few thoughts, as well as a few predictions around where Facebook might be going with this.

As a regular Facebook user, I was really impressed by the amount of content I was served up when I did a simple search for “cough.” The results were divided into three buckets: Pages, Friends and Groups, and Public Posts – and the keyword was highlighted in each of the posts. There is also a sub-navigation that lets users filter results by Top, Latest, Photos, Videos, Places, and even Apps and Events. Having immediate access to relevant posts that were outside my network was really refreshing, and it was cool to see who was talking about coughs within my network specifically. It will be interesting to see how the results will update during a political event or a big game. In many ways, it reminds me of the way current events can be followed on Twitter.

For users who have privacy concerns, this new feature should raise red flags. Facebook provides users with privacy settings in the actual post window that allow them to choose who can view their post. Those rules will continue to hold true within the search results. If your post is only visible to your friends, then it would only appear in the search results of users in your immediate network. If it is a public post, it will be visible outside of your network. The same applies to comments on posts, as well.

As marketers, we should be excited about the role that brands can play within this new space. Since this is new to all of us, we don’t yet understand the rhyme or reason behind the order of the posts that are displayed when a user searches. That being said, this is a great opportunity for brands to ensure their social engagement strategy is buttoned up. Brands need to be ultra-focused on creating relevant content on their feeds that is keyword-rich, and that includes image and video descriptions.

It will be a matter of time before we are able to advertise in this space. Like Google, media buys will likely dictate your brand’s rank within the search results in the Pages section, with native advertising appearing throughout the Public Posts. When we factor in the Buy Products feature, it’s easy to see how Facebook can begin to position itself as a direct competitor to Google and Amazon, although I think that’s still some ways away.

Visit http://search.fb.com/ to hear all about it from the proverbial horse’s mouth.

This article was originally posted on Ivan Ruiz Graphic & Web Design.

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Also posted in advertising, Analytics, Creativity, Design, Digital, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Media Placement, Physician Communications, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Data, Media, Content Strategy, Digital Advertising | 1 Response
Oct30

Learning to Speak Agency

Learning to speak agency Thumbnail 130x130When I started at my first agency, after 10 years at a medical journal, I knew there would be things I would need to learn. I knew the work would have a different focus, and there would be more people and more steps involved in going from manuscript to finished product. But I was not prepared for the flood of unfamiliar acronyms and jargon I encountered. Sure, I understood what a word-for-word (aka WFW or W4W) was, I knew that “stet” meant I had been overruled, and I could expand NCCN without even looking it up. But what in the world did “PRC,” “AFP,” or “CTA” mean?

Fortunately, I had extremely helpful team members and colleagues who got me up to speed on all the new terminology, and within a month or two I was rattling off cryptic acronyms with the best of them. But as I gained more experience in the agency setting, with different accounts, different clients, and eventually different agencies, I realized that even within the insular world of agency life, there was incredible variation. It’s only been five years (and three different clients) for me so far, but I’ve already heard more than six different terms used to describe the committee each client has to review work for medical accuracy, legal risk, and regulatory compliance. And what do we call those hardworking folks who take our beautifully constructed print and digital pieces out into the field? No, not “reps”—they’re COSs, FMLs, TBMs, AEs, ARMs, and probably hundreds of other titles I’ve yet to come across.

There’s not much we can do to stem the tide of terminology that comes at us from clients, regulatory bodies, professional associations, and our own organizations. Each agency, each client, each branch of healthcare, each disease state, comes with its own lexicon that we must master. We are in the business of communication, and so it falls to us to absorb the unique language we find ourselves awash in, and learn to harness its power and beauty to shape our clients’ messages in a way that will captivate, educate, and effect change.

Still, language doesn’t need to be an impenetrable barrier, keeping out the uninitiated and insulating the inner circle from the rest of the world. Let’s make sure we’re taking the time to explain unfamiliar terms to new team members, keeping tools like style guides and cheat sheets up to date and easily accessible, and above all, talking to each other—across accounts, departments, and disciplines—about what has worked for us, what our challenges are, and what opportunities we have to explore new paths and keep growing as creative entities. And don’t be afraid to ask questions—especially if you’re new. We promise, we won’t laugh when you ask what a “job bag” is.

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Also posted in advertising, agency life, behavior change, Direct-to-Consumer, Great Ideas, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, Strategy, Culture, Digital Advertising, employment decisions | Leave a comment
Oct20

Do we need a healthcare awards show?

Health_AwardsWith all but one or two award shows done and dusted for the year, I can honestly say that I have been delighted to see the standard of creativity in healthcare grow from strength to strength. It’s been inspiring, but at the same time it’s been frustrating.

Recently I judged at one of the major healthcare award shows along with some of the industry’s best—people I respect deeply.

We had some interesting conversations around a few of the entries. The main discussion point being, is this really health?

Saving dogs, a hashtag for mums about how amazing their child is, helping hungry people or recruiting medical staff for the armed forces—for me seems broader than health or not even health at all.

We did discuss the fact that it lifted the game in terms of thinking and execution, but it was acting as a guide stick of where we need to be rather than being a true health entry.

But do these types of entries make the interactive visual aid that has been under the red pen of medical advisors feel boring? Does it make the print ad idea that has made it through the treacherous journey of a pharmaceutical marketing department and research group feel flat? Does it make the medical education program that the regulatory body has scrutinised to the inch of its life look dull?
The answer is yes.

There is no place for pharmaceutical work in a current healthcare awards show. If it isn’t bringing you on the brink of tears or changing the world as we know it, it won’t get a real look in. It will be blindsided.

So should we have a healthcare awards show? Why not simply have a health category in the mainstream shows?

Think we know the answer to that one.

The bigger question is (and part of the reason why award shows were there in the first place), how are we going to lift pharmaceutical communications to a better standard? How are we going to inspire true healthcare agencies that live and breathe health every day?

I believe they deserve to be judged in a very different way.
The idea and great execution, without a doubt should be there. But pharmaceutical communications goes deeper than that. It’s the strategy that creatively and intelligently weaves its way through the minefield of regulations and treatment indications. The medical writing that’s taken highly scientific information and made it code-compliant yet highly persuasive to a cynical physician.

So with all this in mind, I believe we do need an awards show for healthcare, but it has to be very different from the shows we currently have. They are mostly celebrating work that’s for the good of man (or animal) kind and I believe you could tack anything to that and call it health.

Pharma is a weird and wonderful world and a very specialised one, so when it comes to judging creativity, should it not be seen through a slightly different lens?

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Also posted in advertising, agency life, behavior change, Clients, Creativity, Design, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, Medical Education, Physician Communications, Strategy, Media, Culture, Medicine, Pharmaceutical, awards, Innovate | Leave a comment
Oct15

Pitch Perfect?

Pitching Blog Image 170x127“Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about. They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another.”

-Vince Lombardi

 

Well, it’s football season, so what better way to start things off than with a coach who understood the roots of winning.

While football season is only with us when the air cools and the kids put on their backpacks to return to school, pitch season is always upon us.

For those of us who are pitch junkies, it is an amazing blend of S&M-brink-of-pleasure-and-pain that makes the experience so fulfilling. There is a magnificent energy that, if harvested correctly, can have your team humming along towards a victory at the finish line.

Recently, I was part of a winning team that came together perfectly, so I thought it would be interesting to showcase what went right and provide a few guideposts to follow on your next pitch adventure.

1. Don’t Check Your Ego at the Door

We always hear that to work as a team, you need to tone the ego down a bit. I’m not so sure this is true. Keeping your ego in place can elevate the work and push others on your team to do the same. Challenging each other while still respecting team members can make all the horrible ideas fall by the wayside. Remember, ego doesn’t mean you’re always right. It just means you are confident in yourself. If everyone’s feeling the confidence and not being threatened by it, victory shall be had.

2. Account People Are Creative

Creative doesn’t just mean fancy words and amazing visuals. In our industry, it calls for a deep understanding of what the client is looking to do with their product: Do they want to create a new category or separate it from their competitors? What impact can they make and what space do they want to play in? This is creative thinking, so if you see it this way, if you make the Account lead’s brain part of this process, your creative will be elevated with a strong reasoning behind it. Remember, our Account friends don’t live to fill in boxes of spreadsheets. They’re here to be part of the fun. Let them play!

3. Digital Is Not Separate From Creative

We have a strong tendency on pitches to not bring Digital in until the last minute. At this point, they are usually asked to produce a few “tactics” to help elevate the overall big idea. This is like constructing a building and then asking someone to come in and give their advice on how to decorate the lobby. They won’t have a vested interest in the finished product. Digital folks are up on the latest technology trends, so there their tactics greatly help to push the creative to a higher level. If they understand the science and are part of the medical download, their chops will be even more valuable. Bring them in early.

4. Your Medical Director Should Be Along for the Whole Ride

The science leads on your project are not just people clicking through PowerPoint slides, explaining disease-state information. Understand that they are an integral part of this industry because they bring what they’ve learned in the lab to the people. We, the pitch team, are their first point of contact, so embrace their information. Ask questions. Probe. It will come through to the client. Medical Directors have tremendous minds to explore, so if you make them your partner instead of just your teacher, you’ll find the relationship to be a boost to all. When it comes to pitch time, they are going to be the ones answering the client’s most challenging questions, so it’s best they feel like they have contributed to all aspects of what’s being presented.

5. Your Creative Team Is Always Listening

This is where all of the science, strategy and direction comes together as an idea. Good creative is the combination of thoughts into a beautiful idea that has a life of its own. While embracing an idea is important, it’s essential that the ownership of the idea go to the pitch, not the creative team. Beautiful creative is an offering to the greater good of the team. It’s a manifestation of everyone’s hard work. To perform at a heightened level, the creative team needs to have all the possible information available to them. Invite them to meetings and let them hear your internal debates. You never know where a creative idea is going to come from.

There you have it. The quote at the top by Lombardi is the overarching theme that can guide your pitch. There is that intangible bond that all pitch team members feel with each other that comes through to the client. Remember, they want to have confidence in the team that will be carrying out their vision for their products.

Nothing is more potent than the fuel of love. And perhaps a drink or two along the way to help get you across the goal line.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

Also posted in advertising, agency life, Clients, Creativity, Design, Digital, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, pitching, Strategy, Presentations, Planning, Culture, leadership, Brand Awareness, Innovate | 1 Response