What Pharma Could Learn from Mad Men

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by Jason Brandt (@jasondmg3)

Mad Men protagonist Don Draper works in the shows fictional advertising agency, but the challenges he faces are real, and not much different than what many healthcare marketers face on a daily basis meeting deadlines, incorporating new technologies, managing perceptions, and influencing behaviors all while ensuring personal growth.

The pharmaceutical industry and Mad Mens advertising world have a lot in common: both include vibrant and competitive industries, have major players that influence standards and rely on a targeted audience to boost their business. What can pharma learn from Mad Men?

The devil is in the details. Producer Mathew Weiner pays meticulous attention to every detail from casting to the story line as well as ensuring the props and the set accurately reflects the time period. Creating an authentic and engaging experience with every dialog, interaction and visual is why fans flock to the three-time Emmy Award-winning series. Pharmaceutical companies looking to create that same level of customer loyalty should incorporate that same attention to detail, whether thats using an authentic voice when communicating on social networks, creating intuitive, customer-friendly applications and services or delivering outstanding customer experiences.

Pick a job and then become the person that does it. Bobbie Barrett delivered this little pearl over cocktails with ex-lover Don Draper. Explaining how she became her husbands manager a man who wouldnt have a career without his wifes revealing bust line and shrewd wheeling and dealing she tells him she invented the job.

Ten years ago there was no need for an HTML5 programmer, social media strategist or elder care services coordinator – those jobs didnt exist. With technology and increased access to information changing everything, companies need to have their pulse on what skills will be needed in the future and recruit a workforce with the right skills to support growth. Individuals also need to develop skills that continue to add value and take control of their internal career path.

Dont overlook the value of reinventing yourself. Don Draper is a chameleon. Born Dick Whitman, hes no stranger to reinventing himself, whether its changing his name or leaving an established New York advertising agency to launch a start up.

Pharmaceutical companies may find themselves needing a reinvention with the expiration of drug patents expected to affect drug pricing, marketing and patient usage. Surviving patent expiration will require pharmaceutical companies to refocus their marketing messages to ensure they dont lose significant market share to generic competitors. Shifting the strategy from brand loyalty to one that includes a more life-cycle branding and consumer education emphasis can deliver a competitive edge.
If you dont like whats being said, change the conversation. When a New York City developer didnt like how he was being treated in the press, Don Draper suggested changing the conversation.

Brand management today is a two-way engagement with consumers often having louder share of voice than company-issued messaging. Putting processes in place to monitor online conversations is no longer a nice-to-have but a business necessity. Before things go south, develop strategies for how youll respond to negative or inaccurate information. Changing the conversation doesnt necessarily require hijacking a thread, but paying attention to what is being said and offering truthful information can help consumers maintain a positive perception of your brand.

While we may not wear the narrow ties or hair pomade of Don Draper, we can still follow in his footsteps by keeping track of the details, owning the conversation and being unafraid to innovate when reinvention is the best option.

Like my image? You can get yourself one over at Sterling Cooper.

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One Response to What Pharma Could Learn from Mad Men

  1. Jason Boies says:

    Nice theme for a post today, Jason.

    Pharma needs to be ready to jump into conversations and set things straight should the discussion not stick to the facts.

    It’s the inaccurate information that is the real problem. Dealing with negativity is no walk in the park for any brand. Misinformation, however, for this industry can be potentially devastating.

    Can’t wait for Season 5.

    Cheers

    Jason Boies
    Radian6 Community Team