Internal Noise and Relationship Marketing

Explaining to traditional pharma marketers what relationship marketing is and how it works is tricky sometimes. In a post yesterday entitled "That Noise Inside My Head" Seth Godin provides a really nice metaphor for explaining RM.


Godin poses the simple, yet difficult, question: "Why don’t people do what they know they should?" In other words, and I’m going to quote Godin here:

Why do people struggling for an income end up using an
expensive check cashing service when the bank right next door will let
them have a checking account for free?

  • Why do students spend an hour fighting about their homework instead of ten minutes just doing it?
  • Why do customers fall for slick come ons or fancy financing instead of buying what’s best for them?
  • Why is it so easy to fool voters with patently false accusations?
  • Why do some people turn a routine traffic stop into a life-endangering argument with the cop?
  • Why can’t worthy charities (with dreary stories) raise more money than they do?

The answer, according to Godin, is an internal " noise that keeps them from being rational, that forces them to
avoid the simple truths sometimes, that makes them unable to take a
shortcut when a long (more emotional one) is available."

Bingo. If patients listened to their physicians, did precisely what the physician told them, including staying on their prescriptions, utilizing all the additional or secondary techniques to support them (i.e., exercising regularly to help combat depression) and in general, uniformly acted like model patients, there’d be no need for RM.

But here in the real world, they don’t. Patients are complex, differ radically from one another, and are subject to a wide range of influences, some of which are good for them and some of which are distracting, wrong, or downright destructive. And this emotional space is the field we play in.

RM is about realizing how patients actually think, feel and act, and responding to it in a way that helps them manage their condition better. Rather than ignoring the white noise, as traditional pharma marketing is sometimes wont to do, we acknowledge it, and strive to create marketing programs based on how patients truly are, rather than how they should be.

Which is why it works.