Observing the pharmaceutical landscape makes me realize that the urgent need to reinvent marketing in this sector is still – unfortunately – not being addressed adequately.
Issues such as paralysis by analysis, scepticism, procrastination, fear of failure, rejection of the unknown, lack of skills, and the sense that the comfort zone within which the industry now resides will endure forever continue to block the rethinking of how best to approach a rapidly changing marketplace.
According to Joseph Schumpeter's theory of 'Creative Destruction', only those who innovate will survive within evolving economic scenarios. This prophet of innovation would have never imagined that the new 'collaborative economy' was going to permeate all the sectors, industries and functional areas in organisations bringing a radical change in the way things have been done up to now, whether it is wanted or not.
Fortunately, some fearless innovators on both the advertiser and agency sides are working hard to understand what it means to reconfigure the marketing scenario, challenging long-established ways of doing things.
In our sector, few European pharmaceutical companies have set about the task of endeavouring to become truly human and social brands, capable of establishing meaningful connections and creating shared experiences with their stakeholders, both known and new.
And no, it is not about new technology. I am personally fed up of reading and hearing about how this term is being used, manipulated and commercially exploited: neither is new, nor is the core reason why that explain what is happening and fostering the undeniable exciting fact: a disruptive change of understanding how to build strong brands is happening right now, in many cases still hidden in plain sight.
It is about facilitating and rediscovering the human experiences we have lost somewhere along the way in the last three decades of comfortable growth which has focused too closely on the financials. This era has come to an abrupt end, as Judy Shapiro states in a recent article posted at Advertising Age: whatever benefits are realized due to mergers, they are likely to be short-lived, as the weight of a huge, centralized organization invariably stifles innovation, imagination and initiative.
The new social currency within the sharing economy is called trust. It's that simple.
So, stop just marketing and start socialising. Take advantage of (much as I hate to have to mention it again) new technologies to tap into truly human connectivity, based on honesty, openness and transparency.. Listen to your audiences, learn from them, design your strategy around them, and integrate your message into their conversations in the existing digital ecosystems. Build and deliver collaborative, inspiring and unforgettable experiences, and recognize your communities' voices, views and power.
In most cases your product or service is just one more commodity. The era of push marketing is already over, as is the one-way creative delivery of functional and emotional messages. By doing just that, you can be happy of nurturing your ego and the belly button of your company or brand. And your traditional agencies will be happy of invoicing you while trying to accomplish their financial goals, and even more happy if they are awarded at the out of date still existing creative festivals (that by the way, need to be reinvented as well).
What do you stand for? What are you trying to convey? What are you working towards? Who are you working for? Is it about you? Is it about your agency? Don´t miss the point: out there are individuals – your audience - waiting for meaningful connections and shareable human experiences with their peers…around your brand.
The thing is: you already know this. You knew it before you started to read this article.
Now, have the guts to do it. Be trustworthy. Get trust.