Practical Perspectives

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How Much Content Is Too Much for Your Brand?

Content strategy came into fashion in Marketing circles nearly a decade ago, driven mainly by a need to ‘fill the pipes’ created by the multitude of new digital and social platforms. Agencies and consultancies soon began to pitch it as a complex, expensive and essential gap to fill, and they were happy to oblige. To me, ‘content strategy’ initially was just a modern euphemism for ‘editorial plan’ – but it has since transformed into something else. An editorial plan or calendar lays out which content we must develop, for whom, and in which channels it must be delivered (by when)

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Marketing Funnel vs. Cylinder

Is the Marketing Funnel Still Relevant?

A few Marketing concepts have weathered the past few decades pretty well. However, it may be time to give the ‘Marketing funnel’ a fresh look and see if it’s still relevant in our mobile-social-digital-data world. Before precisely-addressable channels like the internet, email, SMS and digital cable – there were primarily mass media like broadcast TV, terrestrial radio and print publications. The Funnel Is Inefficient I’ve worked in product management roles in which I spent upwards of $100M per year to buy broadcast TV media that provided a base level of brand awareness that we needed to stay competitive with peers.

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Do less, get more done

Do Less. Get More Done.

We spend hours each week speaking with pharmaceutical executives and managers on their way up the career ladder. Our conversations often focus on the work they are doing, and how to do it better. We don’t claim the title of “coach,” however several of us have been in this industry for a long time and have had significant roles in building companies and brands, so it appears we qualify as reasonable sounding boards or shoulders to cry on, depending on the person and topic of the moment. After more of these conversations than we can count, we’ve started to see

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System that uses gears

Why You Need a Marketing System

One of the strangest concepts to me when I started in biopharma marketing is that of the POA, or Plan of Action, which many brand teams that focus on healthcare professionals (HCPs) and the Sales team refresh every six months or so. And by “refresh” I mean throw out all of the plans, insights, programs and creative assets and start over. Every six months, year after year. One reason for this is the belief that the target audience (primarily doctors) doesn’t change much over time, therefore the messages need to change regularly to stay fresh, relevant and somehow different to

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Dunking a basketball

Boost Career Success with a Better ‘Inside Game’

Over the past few weeks we’ve received more calls than ever from brand leaders, CoE leaders, and other managers and executives, all with the same problem: They’re trying to get things done within their organization, but they’re running into internal roadblocks, apathy and bureaucracy that stalls their projects and hinders their success. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Across the industry, it’s getting harder for marketers and team leaders to get buy-in and internal support from colleagues within their own company. And when that happens, it can seriously jeopardize a team’s success and a manager’s career. Yet we know

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Amsterdam Canal with Tour Boat on Fall Day

Selling the Value of New Technologies

The airline industry does a masterful job of selling travelers on the destination, not the actual bundle of services its companies provide in getting you there and back. Their evocative communications show sundrenched beaches, iconic architecture and carefree vacationers having the time of their lives and creating lasting memories together. I took the photo above during a business trip to Amsterdam in 2017, and it reminds me of the picturesque Sunday afternoon walk I was able to squeeze in among a week of meetings. Not surprisingly, I didn’t photograph the security line at the airport on a Saturday night, waiting

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Entrepreneur in Frankfurt Train Station

What ‘Close to the Customer’ Means Today

The picture above was taken just after the weekday rush hour in the Frankfurt Am Main train station. The people, symmetry, shapes and colors in the composition caught my eye immediately. For me it’s also a perfect metaphor for customer closeness, where the man in the snack shack stands literally in the stream of people that buy from him, every single day. Many solo entrepreneurs like him have the benefit of talking directly to prospects and customers regularly, and gathering continuous feedback about their offerings, pricing, communications and overall experience. However, as businesses grow in size and complexity, only a

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Milan Faces

Is Differentiation a Lost Art?

Pharmaceutical marketing is a sea of sameness in which clever key messages, celebrity spokespeople and p-values do not compensate for poorly differentiated products. Do marketers and their agencies simply fail to understand their customers, or do they really believe that the science will sell itself? I concede that one major difficulty in differentiating an Rx brand is that the product itself fundamentally doesn’t change during its brief patent-protected life. Uses may expand, formulations may be tweaked, new data may be generated, and patient support programs may be created—but it’s the same medicine with the same properties it had on launch

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Newton balls, orange and silver

Solving the Perpetual Pilot Problem

While working at several leading biopharmaceutical and medical device companies over the past twenty years, I participated in hundreds of ‘innovation’ pitches from internal colleagues and external suppliers of all types. It was sometimes frustrating for me to sit through their presentations without intervening to help improve the offering, the value story and the marketing communications. I’ve lived the ‘perpetual pilot problem’ firsthand, and below are a few of the lessons I’ve learned that may help others avoid the trap of dead-end pilots that are rarely measured and almost never make it to scale. Life is Short. A Marketer’s Time

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Philadelphia skyline in Fall

Selling Innovation (Change) inside Big Companies

I’ve lived most of my life in the Northeastern part of the US, and autumn is a special time of the year. Despite a few weeks’ delay likely due to climate change, most of us still look forward to the change of seasons and the fall colors that paint the trees like dominos falling from north to south. I took the photo above a few years ago in Philadelphia, and each time I look at it I hear that classic Hall & Oates song. Change is natural and inevitable, and humans have adapted for a very long time. In the

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