Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Get Out of The Marketing Bubble

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Today's guest post comes from at closerlook, inc. He blogs at and pretty much lives on Twitter (@digital_pharma) if you'd like to reach out.

Let's say someone commissioned a very special book from you. They already knew the subject, format and title, but you had to supply the content. And, for the sake of this silly hypothetical situation, you’re going to be paid enough money to retire like a prince. So clearly, we need your best thinking here.

The book is called “The One Thing Every Marketer Must Do Well.” Yes, the one thing. Not the one system, not the one methodology or tactic. Just one thing. And the worst part is that the book must fit onto the back of a matchbook cover.

So, whatever you think the most important thing is, you’d better get to the point.
What have you got? What’s the one thing that’s gonna let you buy a plot of beachside property and learn how to paint? Will you fall back on the Four P’s? Do you think that’ll get you a 7:30 tee time at Pebble Beach every morning? What about “think strategically?” Is that ball of meaningless text going to pay for that cottage in the Hamptons?

No. But here’s what my version of the book would say: Understand what the customer wants and give it to them. (And, for the record, I will be retiring to a hotel suite in a new city every year. We can meet for drinks in Barcelona.)

Can you beat that “one thing?” The best part of it is that is leads to a zillion tough questions, all of which are vital to the process.

So how do you understand the customer? The problem with marketing in any industry (pharma is no exception here) is that the marketers all get together and talk and think and write blog posts (guilty!) and articles and read books and end up building a marketing bubble, one where little new thought gets in or out.

How can pharma understand its customer (in my case, the HCP), when it just talks to other marketers? Getting outside the marketing bubble is hard work, and it's far easier to let the focus groups tell us what customers want.

What do HCPs really want? My feeling (and I’m willing to hear opposing views here) is that what HCPs really want is a 25-hour day. Or the need for less sleep. Or more efficient records management.

They want more time.

HCPs know that paperwork is part of the job, but they feel like it takes too much time away from their patients.

HCPs know that medicine changes every day and that part of their job is learning new ideas to keep up. I don't see the surveys that show that they hate to learn new things.

But I see the surveys that show that many see reps as time-sucks, black holes from which there is no escape from marketing hackery. They see tsunamis of email pitches and requests for attention, and they think to themselves, “somewhere in that mountain of spam are two good things I need to know, but how can I know what they are when they all look the same?”

HCP’s have the desire to learn. But more than anything, they hate having their time wasted. This is your customer.

So how do you give them what they want? Start by getting out of your marketing bubble, stop thinking about what you like and think about what your customer needs. What they need is for you to stop showing off all your well-considered strategic thinking, your expensive creative and your cool new technology and cut to the chase and tell them what they need to know.

Right now, I bet each and every one of us could cut the size of our marketing materials in half without losing the inherent meaning within. It may not look as cool or be as flashy, but it will save the HCP time. And if that’s what they want…

Here’s another thought: If we spent as much time on our login form (or better yet, started thinking about ways to make an HCP login once and see more content) as we do on our graphics, would we have more engaged HCPs?

Build a reputation for getting to the message faster and I bet you'll be surprised to see more HCPs better engaged than they are today.

So think about what you can do in every marketing piece to save the HCP time. That’s what they want, and they’ll reward you for giving it to them.

ePharma Summit is coming up fast. Will you be there? Let me know! I'm guest-blogging the whole thing and maybe I'll interview you! I'll make you famous to fifteen people!  Also, if you register to join us mentioning code XP1706BLOG, you'll receive a 15% discount off the standard rate!
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