Should Pharma Go Culture Casting?

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by Carl Turner, SVP, Director of Insight and Brand Strategy, Palio

If 2011 showed us anything, it’s that the people have the power.

Marketing messages and buying digital advertising is still important, but companies today are using advertising less to promote their products and more to direct consumers to their Facebook or Twitter pages. With conversations taking center stage for extending brand messages, it’s time for pharmaceutical companies to go culture casting and find brand influencers to support them in communicating key messages.

Pharmaceutical companies have long relied on other people to pitch their products and tell their story. Key opinion leaders such as physicians who hold academic titles at medical schools often partner with pharmaceutical companies to speak at industry events or participate in detailing prescription drugs to doctors. Physicians have also long been the conduit of information for patients. But, with more individuals going online for health information, their role is changing.

Physicians will continue to play an active role in influencing decisions, but having a doctor endorse a drug or treatment is similar to a mother giving advice to a teenager. While parents are often right, it’s the peer group that holds the most influence. The same is true for communicating with patients; other people may be the most influential opinion leaders. Going culture casting and finding the most active patient participants can help influence public opinion in an authentic manner.

Pharmaceutical advertising has incorporated the stories of real patients to connect with customers. Smoking-cessation drug Chantrix has people sharing their experiences quitting smoking. Long Island Jewish Medical Center uses a narrator to tell the tale of real patient encounters. New York Columbia Presbyterian hospital features actual patients who are undergoing treatment or have overcome an illness thanks to physician expertise and state-of-the-art facilities.

Market research supports the power of peer influence. Tapping into the power of empowered patients can play a meaningful role in other’s health care decisions.

Why should pharma cultivate more brand ambassadors?

*There will be negative stories. Transparency is a must, and that means patients will be posting about procedures that went wrong or drugs that weren’t effective. Encouraging patients who had a more positive experience to post and share their stories can provide balance and perpetuate positive messages.

*Buzz builds buzz. An expert word-of-mouth network can support the launch of a new drug, foster discussion around new health guidelines, or raise awareness of a clinical trial. Getting people talking – whether that’s posting comments on your blog, retweeting messages or interacting with their followers and sharing opinions and views – can provide the support patients need to help them make informed decisions. And, the more influential and vocal an individual becomes, the more their network listens to them and turns to them for advice.

*People remember stories. People tuned into your culture tell the most compelling stories – which are much more memorable than marketing messages. That’s because people remember stories that elicit an emotion and it’s sometimes hard to differentiate marketing messages. Plus, as people develop a following, they build trust and their opinions tend to be valued.

The current pharma landscape still doesn’t offer guidelines for social media participation, but it’s not stopping patients from talking and influencing their networks. Going culture casting and enlisting the help of the most influential patients can help companies establish an online presence, inform people of an unknown disease or treatment, elicit hope or provide support to patients and improve disease care.

What are you doing to engage patients and get people talking?

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

 

(Image credit: biojobblog.com)

The Life and Death of Ideation

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by Guy Mastrion, Chief Global Creative Officer, Palio

Some of the many things we tend to do with our global creative raves is to always try to bring fresh voices into the room, find fresh locations, tear down barriers and fail rapidly through hundreds of ideas until we succeed. And then, with a smaller portion of the group actively debating and editing the ideas, we push harder and deeper until we arrive at a set of discreet ideas. This is a lot of heavy lifting for the people involved, and one of the key aspects of making brainstorming work is to create a safe environment that encourages the rapid failure and spontaneity needed to spark fresh ideas.

But also there has to be a method to the madness.

Critical thinking is essential to success. An open critique that pressure tests the ideas through effective moderation of a strategic discussion is always needed. Effective critique is a lost art. Too often misunderstood and mislabeled as negative thinking, critique – when understood and harnessed as essential to the evaluation and elevation of ideas – plays a key role in all aspects of business, not just ideation. If the groups are a relatively small (10-15 people), then I think open critique can be effectively moderated. If your group is bigger than this, select a smaller, cross-sectional subgroup as your critical thinkers.

When brainstorming fails, when ideation fails, they can fail for countless reasons, many more reasons than those that exist to support why they succeed. There is a fine balance that is very difficult to maintain. Ideas are fragile things that are often doomed before they even begin to live due to the many, ultimately oppressive things an idea must overcome.

Some of the more common bailey wicks include briefs that are unclear, with too many objectives or key communication thoughts, making it near impossible to judge the success of any given idea. This problem is a sure sign the brief has become a parking lot for failure.

Ideas can also suffer from a lack of alignment across team members, where personal bias and opinion, no matter how worthy or potentially insightful, conflict with the tenets of the brief (assuming you have a solid brief).

Ideas also suffer from their own complexity, or I should say from becoming more complex. In a brainstorming session, it is easy to lose the big ideas.

Let me explain. Big ideas very often at first seem quite small and are easily overlooked. A word and a picture, one or the other, sitting alone on a big white sheet of paper can be the most fearsome of ideas. Other ideas, by comparison, can seem bigger at first because they have more going on they seem more dynamic, when in fact, they may simply be loaded down with what amounts to little more than window dressing. These are complexities and complex ideas most often have much less ability to be plastic. What do I mean by plastic? It’s the ability to be moldable, to move with your brand, and more important with how your consumer perceives, experiences, and ever more – communicates with your brand. So, the thought of big ideas being plastic is something to keep in mind – this is just one word to help describe a potentially big idea. It’s not the only word. The point is that a simple idea is an elegant solution. The simple idea – the big idea – is an idea that grows in meaning, depth, and definition the more it is used. When we work up a potentially big idea through our 360 worksheet, it is not limited by this exercise, but is expanded as a result of it. Lesser ideas reveal their vulnerabilities as a result of this exercise.

Ernest Hemingway said something about writing that I think applies to all creativity, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

Coming up with the big idea is not easy, nor is it any easier to recognize the big idea when you see it. This is one less obvious reason why time is such an important factor in creativity. The big idea might be the first idea you come up with, but it might also take days of ideation to see its true value.

If we approach our every day as a brainstorm, days lived without fear of being “wrong,” where failure is understood as part of a larger success – working together – we would more easily and consistently craft work of lasting value.

Highly functioning, idea-driven companies are built on this culture. They also have discipline and order and process and financial goals, but those things are all used to support the creation of a great product and not as rate limiting factors. When these instruments of any successful business become the business itself, then no manner of ideation will ever be truly and consistently successful.

In the end, culture trumps strategy, process, execution, and ideation. Even the most skillful and creative brainstorm session will fail to deliver success if the culture of the company (or teams involved) is not built on an open mind with complete alignment on the goal to be achieved.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

 

 

Should Your Boss Have Your Facebook Password?

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by Mary Kate Hallahan, VP, Human Resource Manager

Should your Facebook password be fair game for your employer? If you care anything about your privacy and the value you bring as an employee, the answer is no.

The expectation of privacy in a digital world is sketchy at best – we’re a culture of over-share, with many people posting every detail of their lives online. It has become natural to meet someone, whether it’s a vendor, job candidate or colleague and hit the search engines and social networking sites to see what they look like and what they post.

Even as informal background checks become the norm, employers need to tread carefully and employees shouldn’t be afraid to take a stance toward protecting their privacy. For employers, there are legal and cultural reasons to think twice about asking employees for their password.

From a legal perspective, organizations expose themselves to risk by asking for access to personal information. For example, if an employee sends a message to six of her friends that she is expecting, and her employer passes her up for a promotion, she may be able to prove discrimination in court.

From a cultural perspective, it’s like telling employees their privacy is meaningless. Even requesting that employees “friend” their manager crosses the line between personal and professional, but an employer asking for an employee’s Facebook password is equivalent to asking for house keys or to peek in their medicine cabinet.

It’s true that the actions of employees in and out of the office are more transparent today and it has created new concerns. But, if employees are trusted to interact with customers or business partners on behalf of the business in the real world, they need to be trusted online. After all, there are no great companies that were built on a culture of fear.

If you’ve hired the right talent then they’ve proven that they exhibit the company’s values and behaviors. That also gives testament to the ability of hiring managers to use traditional screening support – resume review, interviews, reference checks, etc. — to make good hires.

Responsible users take time to lock down their profiles, including their personal Facebook page, and they have a right to privacy when it comes to personal property. Plus, employees who stick to their guns and keep their password protected not only demonstrate self respect — they also show they understand the boundaries of privacy.

Many companies have policies in place prohibiting employees from sharing email passwords, security cards, etc. Unless companies are using this question to screen out employees who would breach other security protocols, it’s best to respect an employee’s personal life.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

Compliance and Community

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by Maureen Wendell, VP, Account Services, Palio

Put a physician, a pharmaceutical expert and a sociologist together in a room, get them talking about their work, and you’ll eventually come around to something everyone has an opinion on: compliance.

The physician might bemoan how, for lack of patient compliance, millions of people suffer long-term health degradation and shorter life expectancies. The pharmaceutical expert can probably bring data to the discussion, talking about how there are endless studies correlating certain types of information and patient education to better long-term compliance.

The sociologist? She just smiles and says: “People are going to act like people. You might want to leverage that.”

Compliance is the big win-win issue for pharma – crack the code, patients have better outcomes while marketers sell more product. But broadly boosting compliance – especially with social media and marketing tools – often becomes a game of gizmos. This product has an app, that product has a web portal, etc.

Good stuff, but it’s ultimately window dressing that doesn’t get to the heart of compliance. For that, we need the sociologist’s insight. “People are going to act like people,” means several things for compliance:

Community builds compliance. Physicians – even trusted ones – are a lot like newspapers for many patients. They get information from a physician, but they form their opinions about what’s important through interactions with trusted peers.

These interactions have lots of opinions, lots of shades of gray and are very unlike the cut-and-dried information that comes from physicians or other medical providers. And while that’s certainly a cause for concern among medical professionals who want to make sure the right information is conveyed, one fact remains: People most strongly believe the stories they tell themselves.

So, the role of community in compliance is to give them a place where they can find those trusted peers, bounce their thoughts around, and know that they are not alone. It’s a strategy that’s worked for many compliance-intensive medical treatments and conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and lap-band surgeries.

A community is more than a Web forum. The sociologist would probably also tell her companions that communities – going as far back as civilization – have a few common rules. Successful communities have onboarding processes – ways that new members can learn the formal and informal rules without stubbing their toes along the way. Communities also recognize and celebrate the wisdom of “elders” – people known to provide value and wisdom over time – and generally make it known what behavior is celebrated, as well as what is not tolerated. Finally, communities recognize that there are both public and private conversations, and have provisions for both. None of those things are particularly hard to implement in a Web or social-media environment, but they’re often treated as afterthoughts – when in fact they are the heart of the community-building infrastructure.

Your app? It’s not that big a deal. The flip side of how compliance and community fit together is that, if community is of great importance, then the tools are just that – tools. Make them user friendly and, yes, make them fully social. But the big strategy behind your app should be how it connects users to a community of compliance. Because the community will provide far more positive reinforcement and, ultimately, greater compliance, than a standalone tool on a tablet or smart phone.

Getting to the win-win of broad, self-reinforcing compliance for pharma marketers is a big job, with a seat at the table for everyone from marketing to PR to the social media director and the advertising team. But also save a seat – if only symbolically – for the sociologist. And for people acting like people.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

What did I miss at SXSW?

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by Mike Myers, President, Palio

It’s a week out since my departure and I’ve been asking myself that question since I stepped on the plane home.

According to their own press, “The South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences and Festivals offer the unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery.”

Focused on the interactive portion of the conference, I had a great time. It was an engaging experience. I learned and relearned things in multiple areas that will help me and help us help our clients be stronger in the market.

It was not, however, filled with any mind blowing, my socks are off type moments filled with new discoveries.

From what I know of previous events, SXSW often sits at the epicenter of evolving technologies that quickly spread from the conference through the digital messiahs who attend.

Twitter and Foursquare are two examples. Apple even created a pop up store to sell the iPad2 in 2011 in order to capitalize on the tech guru mob in Austin.

Don’t get me wrong. There was engaging dialog on: mobile technologies, location based services, the ever changing digital landscape, augmented reality, hacking the Microsoft Kinect, yadda, yadda, yadda.

It was fascinating. It wasn’t groundbreaking.

My thoughts on what I did learn were covered in a prior post on our blog.

In retrospect, the biggest thing I learned may have been that the “next big thing” is still yet to come. In the interim, we better continue to get smarter with the incredible innovations that we just haven’t maximized to the point of extinction yet.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

Mobile Apps – Just What the Doctor Ordered

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Saul Morse, VP, Multichannel Integration, Palio

Personal questions. Needles. Uncomfortable smocks that don’t close in the back. Getting – or just waiting for – that phone call with your lab results. With your doctor’s office closed will you even hear before the weekend starts or will it loom overhead? Pokes and prods too numerous to count.

The list of healthcare anxieties goes on and on. And while they are different for nearly everyone, there’s no denying that they exist. Could technology help soothe addled patients and make them feel both more in control of their health? Evidence suggests that may be the case.

The medical industry and patients have developed some comfort with first generation social media sites and often have significant experience with them. Whether it’s looking for cold relief or sharing real-world experiences working in an emergency room, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn are increasingly populated with healthcare information. A second wave, including Pinterest, Google+ and StumbleUpon offers hospitals, medical device and pharmaceutical companies a new set of tools for building a social media strategy.

But public-facing sites are only half the picture; and their very strengths – a large and public base of users – can be a drawback, because patients are rightfully leery of handling private medical data in such public venues. Even pure-information sites in the healthcare space deal with overall perceptions about the Web: It’s big, it’s insecure, and you never know who’s looking at your visitation patterns, search history or other personal details.

But health apps for mobile and tablet platforms may hit a sweet spot.

Apps can offer a more-personalized, more-intimate experience for users, while addressing many security and privacy concerns. While the Web can also deliver this, apps avoid some of the “Who’s going to see this?” perception challenges that a major website may face.

Apps also offer an opportunity for specialized drug-specific, condition-specific or treatment-specific platforms. Many conditions, such as diabetes, are best managed with a steady flow of information – from the patient to a data log, and then on to a physician or other caregiver. The ubiquity of mobile apps and the tendency of users to interact with them many times a day make them a natural for this sort of application.

Finally, mobile apps can reduce anxiety by allowing for always-with-you, always-on anytime access to a community. Whether it’s patients with the same condition, a support group or even real-time access to caregivers, mobile platforms mean that feeling alone with your condition – a major source of anxiety for many people – can be alleviated.

Mobile apps aren’t perfect – from platform compatibility to security issues, they face many challenges with other healthcare 2.0 technology. But for a nation of nervous and worried patients, they offer real opportunities for better education and better care. Also, use PharmApps.com as a resource for healthcare apps.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

5 Takeaways from SXSW

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By  Mike Myers, President, Palio

When asked by a coworker what I learned at SXSW, I had to pause to reflect. My days were spent running from session to session, reviewing what exhibitors were rolling out, and gobbling up as many insights as I could.

“It was overwhelming and energizing” was my quick response.

In the 18 hours since my departure, I’ve had more time to digest the information epiphany that came with my pilgrimage to Austin.

For marketers in the healthcare (or any) space, here are my five key takeaways:

  • Misery loves company.  While we’re often told that pharma is behind the times, everyone in every industry is struggling with utilizing new media and technologies. While there were great examples of success, there were countless discussions on overcoming obstacles like legal hurdles and clients who “just don’t get new media.” The key message given consistently was stick with it.
  • Likeonomics is the new “currency.” When communicating with customers via social media, being personal and likeable are “common sense” keys to success. Discussed with many examples during a session led by @rohitbhargava, many marketers still ignore the basics of one-to-one focus and overall communication relevance in their brand communications.
  • Traditional tactics still have their place.

You could see it in the Exhibitor Hall. You could see it on the streets of Austin with tactics like this Hootsuite Bus. You could hear it in the different sessions. New media and digital tools are lauded, but traditional marketing approaches still have a role in a brand’s tactical plan.

  • Creativity is an art and not the hard science people want to make it.  Whether discussing, ideation or the common desire many have to be “edgy” in the marketplace, presenters and attendees spoke to the need to recognize that creativity is a fragile beast. It needs to be nurtured and supported. And to truly be done well, it needs a clear brief with objective(s) that everyone supports – especially the client(s).
  • We are in information overload, and to be effective you need to be on top of it.  Ray Kurzweil provided me with a quote that truly summed up a good portion of the conference – “A child in Africa with access to a smartphone has more information at his fingertips than the President of the United States did 15 years ago.”The conference and everything there truly brought home the point that relevance and success in the communications field requires insight that can only come through effort. Regardless of your role in our industry, you must spend time spent reading and experimenting if you want to succeed in the changing environment.
Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

We’re off, on the Island!

Todd LaRoche, EVP, Managing Director of Creative, Palio

Just last summer, Hyper Island brought their brains to Saratoga Springs and about 50 of us Palio folks devoured every minute of their Hyper Island Master Class – an intensive 3-day immersion into digital media and strategy development.

If you’ve never heard of Hyper Island, take a look at their Web site. In a nutshell, Hyper Island is a Swedish-based, global learning leader that helps companies “stay up to date with the latest trends in interactive media…” and “fully understand how to create efficiency within [their] organization.”

There was a lot of excitement and anticipation leading up to Hyper Island’s visit, and once they got here, things took off quickly. The three days we spent with the Hyper Island team had an immediate and lasting influence on our organization; one that is paying great dividends in terms of how we’re engaging our clients and how we’re structuring and managing our Agency resources and overall growth.

Overall, and among other things, the Hyper Island training has helped us:

• Identify ways we can jumpstart our digital thinking on any given brand,

• Brainstorm digital tactics as part of an integrated, 360-degree media plan, not simply as “add-ons,”

• Bring more depth to our strategic thinking,

• Attain a higher-level understanding of the Web and digital media,

• Wield practical tools that have helped us to better understand the interrelationships of social media and traditional media and bridge the two.

Here’s what some folks were saying once the training was underway. Following are a few post-Hyper Island learnings/observations.

Going Digital – It’s a Frame of Mind

One of the most important things we learned from our Hyper Island experience is that no one group or individual should, or can, own digital strategy and deployment. Today, no one can escape the grasp of digital (screen-based) technology, and no brand can ignore the power of social media as a communications conduit. Digital/social media is ubiquitous and it has to be something that all of us – in creative, account, planning, media and production – leverages and shapes in each of our brand engagements. In other words, everyone is, to some degree, an expert in digital communication because it impacts all of us constantly. And that leads to the realization that smart digital thinking can come from anywhere in the Agency – it’s a frame of mind, not a skill to which some siloed, techno-savvy group lays claim.

Fundamental Shifts

The furious growth of digital/social media has spurred some fundamental shifts in the marketing world, and these shifts, at a macro-level, need to be understood and embraced in order for any marketing or advertising agency to stay competitive. Here are some randomly related thoughts/learnings from our Master Class that capture this (and check out this footage of folks talking about their experience after the training):

• Digital technology is now allowing for content-based marketing strategies, designed to “pull” rather than “push” brand awareness and messaging, to become the rule rather than the exception

• Digital/social media has put never-before-seen power into the customer’s hands

• Having a digital footprint is essential to brand survival

• Marketing is now very much about conversations… and brands need to partake

• Don’t always be a slave to the big idea… thinking tactically first, in some cases, can be the best way to meet a specific marketing challenge

How Is Palio Different After The Island’s Visit?

In fundamental ways, Palio hasn’t changed at all: we’re still an idea company, we’re still all about connecting brands and consumers. But how we go about that has changed in places. Here are just a few examples of how the Hyper Island experience has brought change to Palio:

Now, when we present campaign concepts to our clients, we include what we call a 360-degree Worksheet. It’s a way for us to develop and present our creative thinking in the context of media channels, traditional and digital alike. If an idea doesn’t easily spawn executions around the media horn, it’s probably not something we’ll want to pursue.

We took what we were calling our Incubator, or our digital production group, and eliminated its name as a formal reference. This has served to help break down lines of distinction between digital and non-digital work teams. And though this might sound like an academic change, it has actually gone a long way to promote an efficient and homogenous work environment whereby all of us in the company, not just those in the “Incubator,” are engaged in developing digital strategy and tactics.

As well, we centralized our multichannel production services in the Project Management group and shifted our role definition of Project Managers to Producers. And we evolved the title of our Digital Strategists to, simply, Brand Strategists. Again, it’s pretty amazing how these rather academic-sounding changes have served to unify the company in a media-agnostic fashion.

We looked at our own brand’s digital footprint and made it bigger and more robust. In part, that included creating a new Website and deploying a more focused and active SEO strategy across all of our social media outlets, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr. We also developed a pharmaceutical app wiki called Pharmapps. Right now we’re building the mobile app for it.

We founded our Social Media Council – a committee of cross-functional roles that is tapping people across the organization to help expand our brand’s awareness and develop messaging to potential clients and employees as well as industry watchdogs.

Internally, we’re using Facebook and Yammer more and more for various closed-group communications. That shift has created a more dialogue-driven type of thinking and behavior across our organization… one that also brings a more immediate sense of involvement among team members. How much longer will office e-mail be around?

In a nutshell, Hyper Island was a brilliant rallying cry that brought our organization a new focus on digital media and strategy. Check out the video here/above to get a sense of how inspiring the entire event was for us. In some respects, it was a reaffirmation of what we already knew: digital media is not rocket science, and since we’re not trying to put our clients’ brands on the moon, that’s a good thing. We’re still here to put our clients’ brands into the hearts and minds of the consumer, which digital media can help us with in more effective ways than anything we’ve seen in the past. As Guy Mastrion, Palio’s Chief Creative Officer, says in the video, “Now it’s just a matter of aligning the opportunities and the resources with the right clients.”

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

Put a Little Love into your Social Media Program

Leap Day

Jessica Henkel, Associate Account Executive, Palio

It’s Leap Day!  The last day of the month of love. We’ve eaten the candy, given and received the Valentine’s Day cards, and are thankfully done stressing out about what to buy our significant others.

Love is still in the air! But is it in your social media effort?

It’s a more important question than you might think, because what we know about love – that most powerful and social of emotions – can teach us a lot about what does and doesn’t work in social media.

You love what you take care of; people love what takes care of them. In a relationship, that might mean things like remembering purple is her favorite color or making sure the pizza place leaves the mushrooms off your order. In social media, it means listening to and honoring your users’ preferences, treating them as individuals rather than a set of aggregated eyeballs and communicating with them in a one-to-one tone. Think remembering your fans’ birthdays or other little touches don’t matter? Think again.

People in love like to talk. “People compose poetry, novels, sitcoms for love,” says Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and something of the Queen Mum of romance research. “They live for love, die for love, kill for love. It can be stronger than the drive to stay alive.” The easy-to-see social media metaphor is that committed fans love to talk about your brand. However, relationships are a two-way street. Think about the brand talking to the committed fans, giving them reason to extend the conversation. Are you writing them sincere messages and making them feel special?

Love is not a static thing. It has stages, and how you react at each stage matters. The things you say on a first date are not the things you say to a spouse of 20 years; the familiarity of a long-term relationship allows you to do more – and learn more – in every conversation. In social media, the wisdom of Seth Godin’s groundbreaking 1990s book, Permission Marketing, often gets left by the side of the road in the search to wholesale sign up thousands of Facebook or Twitter followers. But the way you talk to a long-time fan or customer isn’t – or shouldn’t be – the way you talk to someone who’s just signed up for more information. Be polite, ask for information incrementally and provide lots of opportunities for feedback along the way. Take this approach and you’ll end up with committed fans that you actually know about and have the right information to hit their sweet spots.

“I love you, but not like that” doesn’t mean you can’t still be friends. If we’re drawing parallels between social media and romantic love, then it’s worth pointing out another parallel as well: Know when you’re in the “friendzone,” and live with it. Some perfectly good customers won’t become passionate fans. Others will be passionate fans but won’t want your never-ending tweets or wall posts. And all of this is OK – as long as you don’t become creepy. And what’s creepy in social media? Ignoring opt-outs and communications-frequency preferences, endless “we want you back” drip marketing and keeping the same isn’t-all-this-just-great tone after a user has a bad experience.

So on the last day of the month of love – sit back and think about really making a connection. You might be surprised at the results.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

Today is World Thinking Day

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Gillian Slattery, Producer, Palio

On a sunny spring day in 1977, Girl Scout Troop 275 banded together with other local troops in an effort to clean up trash at local playgrounds and parks. Woodsy Owl encouraged us to give a hoot and not pollute; our planet was ours for protecting.

Fast-forward 35 years and the Girl Scouts continue their focus on going green and increasing environmental awareness. The organization has themed this year’s World Thinking Day as “We Can Save Our Planet.” Held each year on February 22, the purpose of World Thinking Day is to celebrate international friendships and work together for greater good.

Making strides towards saving the planet is everybody’s job. More companies are demonstrating their commitment through sustainability initiatives and encouraging employees to go green. Pharma is no exception, even though the industry has not, generally, engaged in the sort of high-profile green initiatives that many other consumer sectors have.

In celebration of World Thinking Day, what can you do to help your organization reduce its environmental footprint?

Go digital when possible. From marketing communication strategies to automating internal processes, going digital does more than fuel efficiencies and open new communication channels – it’s gentle on the environment. For example, companies that incorporate video interview technologies into their recruiting processes reduce the need for flying candidates in for interviews or driving to an office location. Technologies like FaceTime enable the sales force to get in front of individual doctors without having to get in a car. Take that, carbon footprint!

Please consider the environment before printing. We’ve all seen this phrase at the bottom of an email, but have we stalled on thinking of new ways to reduce reliance on paper? Whether personal or professional, it’s time to make a commitment to going fully digital, whether that is requesting electronic invoices from vendors or replacing a paper calendar with a smartphone app. Digital processes offer a host of benefits from conserving energy to increased efficiencies. They’re just kinder to the planet. At work and at home, shouldn’t we all be thinking before consuming?

Prevent environment-related illness. A clean, safe work environment ensures workers have the best opportunity to reach their potential. Think of the basics – clean air, access to healthy food, a workplace free of environmental hazards – but also consider the culture. Work stress, workplace bullying and even the wrong temperature can jeopardize morale and cause the best talent to flee. Whether its town hall meetings, engagement surveys or encouraging more frequent conversations, keep a pulse on company culture and address issues before they become problems.

Understand your partners’ business practices. Gain a better understanding of the processes of your suppliers to ensure they align with your commitment to accountability and green initiatives. From green chemistry to technology techniques, recycled packaging, and barcoding initiatives, use good green guidance across the entire supply chain. By working with like-minded partners, companies can show customers that they’re committed to being a strong corporate citizen.

From its inter-office practices to its physician-facing and consumer-facing marketing efforts, pharma has literally millions of processes that could likely be adjusted to reduce their impacts on the environment. How do you plan to think differently?

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

© 2011 Palio.com