The Problem Isn’t Knowledge. It’s Impact.

By January 12, 2009Uncategorized

In the first post of the new year, maybe it's time to thing big. What do we do? Why do we do it? The answer, of course, is held by Seth Godin.

If it sometimes seems like we worship at the Temple of Seth Godin, well, there's a reason his is the most popular marketing blog in the world — it's really, really good.

Take today's post, entitled In the Mood. If you read it, and apply it to pharma marketing, you arrive at some pretty unsettling conclusions that nonetheless seem to be common sense.

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For instance, how about the conclusion that the last thing most patients with chronic conditions need is more knowledge? That's kind of conversation-stopping, because virtually all pharma marketing drums it into people that the one thing patients all need, all the time, is knowledge. About side effects, about their conditions, about clinical trials.

Well, to quote The Far Side, maybe that's true and maybe it ain't. Pharma companies are required by law to provide information, and most do a great deal more than that. You could make the argument that anyone with a laptop and a brain can learn virtually all the information they could ever want or need about a drug online, instantly. The industry is not lacking in information, and as a group, neither are patients. In fact, if any part of the information isn't quite right, people sue.

What is lacking isn't information. It's something a lot messier — inspiration, beliefs, motivation. The point isn't getting them information. The point is getting them to care, and to act.

  • How do you get a 34 year-old man with Crohn's Disease to stay on his medication when he is suffering so much he has basically stopped caring what happens?
  • How do connect with someone with MS?
  • How do you communicate with someone who has high blood pressure, but doesn't care?

You don't do it by shoveling more information towards him. You do it by understanding him, by researching the living daylights out of him. You then take the information you uncover and you use it to reach out to him wherever he is, however he communicates. If we really thought that skywriting was how most of our clients' patients received their information, we'd do that. The point is that the patient dictates whe medium. Actually, the patient dictates everything.

Because the key to relationship marketing is impact. You have got to get through to the patient. You've got to reach them where they are, and convince them that they have to get engaged with their condition, and their treatment. You have to get them to care.

They know what to do. The hard part is simply getting them to do it.