Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

10 Questions to Build Your Strategic Communications Approach December 4, 2012

Filed under: Betsy,Business,Decision making,strategy — betsymerryman @ 2:58 pm
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education_ins1I just returned from a college reunion in New Orleans.  One of the things that I loved about going to school in New Orleans was that the education occurred both in and out of the classroom.  As I reflect on that now, I realize that the same still holds….  My education has continued throughout my career, not only from graduate school, seminars and reading books or periodicals.  I have learned on the job and in the trenches, in the frying pan and sometimes in the fire, from people who were mentors and from people who were – well, let’s just say not mentors – and from other team members, clients and employees.

Marketing and communications is a discipline where you need to constantly learn both tactically and strategically.

  • Tactically, we’ve had a revolution over the last several years with the growth of new technologies and evolving and maturing ways to reach and engage with our target audiences.  We had to learn how and when to integrate them into our efforts.
  • Strategically, we always have to quickly get our arms around a new situation, challenge / opportunity, product, audience, etc.   We always have to learn and figure it out fast.

I learned how to zero in strategically from tools I got in a classroom, refined by years of real-world hits and misses (fortunately more of the former than the latter).  I now find myself going back to the same fundamental questions to help me figure out the best approach.  You see, I have a list of 10 questions I always start out with, the answers to which I must learn, research and often intuit.   I’m not saying that this is all I need to learn, but it’s a great head start.  For what it’s worth, here are my 10 questions:

  1. What are the business objectives?
  2. What are your main challenges/opportunities?
  3. Confirm target audiences and what they’re looking for
  4. Confirm marketing and communications objectives
  5. What are the key benefits of product/service and why should anyone care?
  6. Who are the competitors and what have they been up to?
  7. What have you been doing already and what’s worked/not – and why?
  8. What does success look like?
  9. What is the budget range?
  10. And you need it done by when?

Now I want to see yours!  (And let the education outside the classroom continue….)

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An Appreciation of DVD Extras January 31, 2012

Filed under: Business,Corporate Preparation,Debbie,Innovation — Debbie Donovan @ 11:39 am

Most in my circle know of my passion for the work of George Lucas, especially the Star Wars Universe filled with fascinating characters, exotically imagined locations and classic good vs. evil plot lines. I adore watching the DVD extras especially those that pick apart how the movie come together:

  • who spoke with who to initiate the project—frequently it’s a small miracle the film was ever put into production
  • how casting and directing decisions were made—great films always feature a palpable chemistry between the players on screen and off
  • how the roles of certain specialty professionals (music, editing, special effects, makeup, costume, sets, props) combine to create the overall look and feel—some elements become characters in their own right to elevate the final experience.

It’s helpful to pick apart and study successful marketing programs both inside healthcare and in the consumer arenas. There are many lessons to be learned and applied.

What behind the scenes programs have enlightened you and what lessons do you remember? Share the wisdom.

P.S Oprah’s Next Chapter interview with George Lucas was wonderful, worth catching on OWN. And yes, I am looking forward to the 3-D versions of my favorite saga on the big screen once again.

(C) 2012 eGold Solutions; all rights reserved.

 

A Word About Events: STOP November 30, 2010

Before you move forward to develop an in-person event-based marketing program, I am begging you, please STOP and ask: am I trying to create independent events or am I leveraging existing in-person events?

If you are creating a program to execute individual in-person events STOP again and ask: do I have any real ROI from previous efforts? I will bet the answer is no.

If you are creating a program to insert your product into an existing in-person event then good for you.

Two tests to use before committing budget dollars for an in-person event:

  • Does the in-person event already have committed attendees (e.g. industry meetings, community events)?
  • Is the in-person event being actively promoted by the organizers and sponsors (e.g. clinical organizations, hospitals)?

If you can’t answer yes to both questions, walk away from the event. Here’s why: everyone is busy!

Why would anyone want to attend an individual event put on by a group of people they don’t know on a topic to which they have no perceived connection?

It is so difficult these days to get the attention of your target audience (see Lisa’s post). Put yourself in your target attendee’s mind–would you want to attend? Is there anything interesting being said that will actually change your future behavior or is this just another opportunity to get a free meal?

Now if your organization wants to host a webinar, you are really thinking along the right lines. Why?

  • No travel, venue or food costs
  • Invitations and registrations are electronic
  • Attendees can ask questions before and during
  • Webinars can be recorded and posted to websites for broadcast and sharing (and posted transcriptions contribute to SEO)
  • Anyone who missed the actual “event” can participate at their convenience.

I attend many live webinars and review recordings when I miss events They are invaluable as a marketing professional on a quest to stay ahead of the curve on topics like intersection of social media channels and healthcare. I am such a believer in the webinar event that I’ve even recorded one of my own (in case you missed it).

(c) 2010 eGold Solutions

 

Public Relations For Business Results August 9, 2010

“It seems obvious to me (and research backs me up) that we are most productive, persistent, creative, and flexible when we’re engaged in precisely the combination of activities that brings us maximum fun.” —Martha Beck, O Magazine- May, 2002

Well, work may not be all fun, but I am a firm believer that we should do work that we love and love what we do for a living. Life’s too short to do anything less.

For me, that means counseling clients on their business. More precisely, providing strategic counsel on how the communications programs I implement can impact their business. What’s that I say? Linking public relations and marketing communications efforts to business results?  Yep.

Another one of my firmly held beliefs is that public relations is NOT the same thing as publicity or media relations.  In fact, the role of public relations goes far beyond just awareness building. Or at least it should.

I’m not the only one who thinks this.  A few weeks ago, a group of public relations organizations met and developed principles that guide the measurement of communications.  The seven principles the organizations agreed to are:

  1. Importance of goal setting and measurement
  2. Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs
  3. The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible
  4. Media measurement requires quantity and quality
  5. Ad value equivalents (AVEs) are not the value of public relations
  6. Social media can and should be measured
  7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement

In future posts, I’ll go into detail about each of these principles and how healthcare organizations can apply them to see greater results from their marketing and public relations efforts.

Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts on achieving business results through public relations.

© 2010 Modern Health Communications, Inc.

 

Good products do not a business make August 3, 2010

I love Mexican wine. Yep, you read that correctly, especially Mexican wine from the small vineyards in the Valle de Guadalupe on the Ruta del Vino. If you like wine, and haven’t tasted wines from this region yet, you are seriously missing out. 

I have a goal to visit and taste wines from all the regions in the world, especially the little known regions. Unfortunately, Mexican wines still qualify as ‘little known’. While wine has been produced there since the 17th century, it was mostly for and by the Catholic Church, after a ban was imposed by the Spanish government preventing ‘New Spain’ from producing highly palatable wine, through a heavy-handed political power maneuver.  Bless the hearts of those defiant Jesuit and Dominican priests for keeping a good thing flowing! 

Fast forward and thanks to Russian immigrants fleeing the czar in the early 1900’s, replanting and winemaking revived many years after the Mexican Reform War.  During this period many church holdings were confiscated by the state, and wine making was abandoned.  

Mexican wines are relatively new again, having taken root, so to speak  in the 1980’s.  I traveled to the region a few years ago to seek out these wines. The wines and the region were more than worth the trouble to get to them.  However, even some twenty odd years later, the wineries were just beginning to develop businesses around the wine.

Wine clubs, restaurant wine lists, tasting rooms, wine events and out of state shipping were not part of the early product offering.  Nor were winery cave tours, branded websites, restaurant lists where wines were served, locations of wine stores where it could be purchased or wine stewards recommending pairings part of the winerys product offering.   Spanish wine was still served for official state dinners at the capitol in Mexico City until the early 2000’s!  Mexican wine, good as it is, was a product, not yet a business.  Each vintner and winery struggled to build businesses, even with a good product.

This situation repeats itself in many life science startup companies. New and innovative products are developed and then introduced to the market with the fundamental wrappings of sales brochures, 800 numbers, return policies and training materials. Companies pin their hopes and earnings projections on the basis of the product being novel, leapfrogging the competition, and winning awards for best in class. 

But it takes more, much more for a good product to be successful and a company to become a business. For a twist in thinking about successful businesses based only on the most innovative  and novel products, read the post by Greg Satell on Crappy Innovation.   Note in particular the references to Charles Schwab – not a crappy product. 

To turn a good, novel or even crappy product into a successful business requires servicing the customer beyond the product.  For life science technologies that includes advertising, PR, education, training, clinical data, publications, technical and reimbursement support, at a bare minimum. 

To develop a strong business the product offering must extend beyond the fundamentals and the traditional offerings.  Servicing the customer must meet their needs beyond the transaction. Providing new services like co-marketing, data sharing, virtual training, community building, cross technology development, and even competitive alliances that facilitate physicians’ abilities and enhance patient outcomes creates significant intrinsic value. If a company is to become a robust business, the product is not the be-all, end-all. Rather a good product must be the beginning of creating a robust business for the customer.

A few final words on Mexican wine – should you find a bottle of Mogor-Badan Chasselas or Casa de Piedra’s blend of Cabernet and Tempranillo, drink them to good health and think of me.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

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