Latest News

November 15, 2016 0

Appealing to millennials is difficult enough for most industries, however the health insurance industry specifically struggles, as millennials feel invincible, and would rather diagnose themselves through Web MD than visit the doctor. Steve McCallion, CMO and creative director at Zoom+, recognizes this, and has developed a new approach to targeting millennials. McCallion says, “millennials are a healthy group, so you have to figure out how they think of their healthcare on a deeper level…not just something they have to do, but they want to do”. The team at Zoom+ emphasizes the millennial love for wellness, by offering incentives for healthy lifestyles, such as running a marathon. They know this younger age group is much more concerned with eating healthy and staying active than seeking medical intervention. One of their first campaigns was an animation, reminiscent of Schoolhouse Rock! The idea was to take the lengthy and confusing language of the ACA, and put it into a platform that millennials can relate to and understand.

To learn more about how Zoom+ is engaging millennials from MM&A, click here.

Lily Stauffer

February 18, 2015
Why innovate? It’s a question frequently asked by many pharmaceutical marketers. From a campaign development perspective, innovation is seen as a way to break through the clutter in order to set new benchmarks for success. Unfortunately, in the process, it’s easy to just innovate for innovation sake, and implement the latest thing without regard to how it will accomplish brand objectives or scale in a meaningful way. Measurement is also often an afterthought that mitigates the cultivation of valuable insights and leads to irrelevant KPIs.

Widespread conservatism within the industry, due to regulatory burden, compounds the issue. Unorthodox innovation initiates a waterfall of time-consuming MLR reviews, which can lead to the dilution of the concept itself in order to gain approval. That new thing you were so excited about? Not only has it lost some of its luster, but the window for launch has been delayed to the point that it is no longer considered breakthrough. To make matters worse, the annual planning cycle compresses your once innovative idea to a four-month flight.

Marketers should never veer from paving new ground. It is essential that we identify and execute new marketing strategies that best align to our brands, can be effectively measured, and also meet the restrictions unique to our industry. In a time where technology, platform and content evolution is happening faster than ever in leading consumer and HCP channels such as mobile, social and point-of-care, it’s critical that marketers understand the challenges of adopting new strategies and utilize a tactful, big-swing approach to overcome each of them. That said, a methodical approach to prioritizing should be considered so that the new path leads to meaningful success.

Herein lies the innovator’s dilemma. How do pharmaceutical marketers embrace innovation successfully while adhering to the constraints unique to our industry?

For all of us, a brand’s life cycle is finite. FDA approval process and patent law has given us a clear start and end point. We’re all under pressure to use this time and our yearly budgets as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, the default is to reinvest in tactics that have worked well in the past. While this is not 100% unwise, there are steps to be taken to reset our baseline for success.

  1. Be Selective: Pursue innovative tactics that are conducive to meeting your objectives. Just because everyone is talking about the next big thing doesn’t mean it is right for you. It’s critical we take aggressive bets on the right innovation, as that is how we can raise the bar.
  2. Think Big: Rather than pursuing many ideas at once, focus on a couple ideas that can make a meaningful difference.
  3. Think Long-Term: Twelve month media planning cycles aren’t going to change anytime soon. What can change is the way we think about our most strategic programs. Rather than approaching impact from an annual perspective, you can focus on ideas that you incrementally improve over time. While you may not be committing to a multiple-year program, empower your partners to ideate with you on what a long-term vision could look like.
  4. Consider Immediacy: Immediacy comes in two flavors – launch timing and time to impact. Innovation doesn’t have to mean creating new assets. It could be deploying them in new ways. Giving legs to proven assets not only squeezes more out of your creative budget, but it also allows for a more timely review so that you can move the needle for your brand faster.

As new technologies, channels and strategies surface in our industry, all marketers will inevitably face the innovator’s dilemma. Take confidence in knowing that innovation can truly change the success of your brand. If we as an industry can take an approach to adoption that is thoughtful, sustainable, and scalable, the pay-off will be tremendous for all groups involved.

Ashik Desai

January 20, 2015

The innovation books on my shelf are typically written by designers, famous agency wizards, marketing gurus, etc., so it was surprising to see a title, co-authored by a team from the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, popup in my Amazon book recommendations. After all, healthcare is rarely (if ever) seen as a hotbed for innovation. Not only was it intriguing to see a healthcare provider launching into the innovation conversation, but its title caught my eye as well –Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast – A Blueprint for Transformation from the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.

So, what can the authors from Mayo – consisting of Nicholas LaRusso, M.D., Barbara Spurrier, MHA and Gianrico Farrugia, M.D. – teach us about innovation and healthcare marketing? It turns out quite a bit! The book probably contains 115 great tips and ideas that you should explore on your own, but here are the top 15 innovation insights that you can start applying right away.

Before diving in, this brief video tour of the Center for Innovation work environment will help you to put these 15 tips in context:

3 Core Principles
The title of the book –Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast is also Mayo’s trademarked operating philosophy and provides an excellent starting point for effective and powerful innovation.

  • Think Big. First, by thinking big and tackling important problems, the team at Mayo Clinic is able to help insure broad organizational support for its projects.
  • Start Small. Then, by starting small, complex challenges are reduced to manageable size, allowing the team to get immediate traction and tangible results.
  • Move Fast. Finally, by committing to moving fast, hypotheses can be tested quickly and interest in particular innovation projects remains high. The goal is to implement a major prototype of the concept within six months of launch. As Steve Jobs famously told his team at Apple, “Real artists ship.”

While the foundational principles of Think Big, Start Small, and Move Fast help power the overall innovation engine, at the core of Mayo’s innovation process is a deep commitment to the customer/patient experience: “Transformative innovation is an evolutionary form of innovation built on an undivided focus on the customer and customer experience… We constantly ask: Will our actions have the potential to profoundly impact the experience and delivery of health and health care?”

However, as you probably recognize, a mission statement espousing the importance of enhanced customer experience is not particularly unique in the marketing and innovation space. Where Mayo has differentiated itself is in terms of execution and long-term focus to this ideal. To make its vision of innovative patient experience come to life, the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation has followed a carefully sequenced series of iterative steps over 11 years. In other words – building a genuine culture of innovation takes sustained effort over time, especially in healthcare.

To achieve this success, Mayo has narrowed in on “4 Habits for Gaining Deep Customer Insights” and “8 Executional Disciplines for Innovation.” Together, this innovation framework has helped it not only drive innovative programs throughout the Mayo Clinic, but also become innovation thought-leaders in its own right.

4 Habits for Gaining Deep Customer Insights

Customer understanding must go beyond traditional surveys and focus groups and identify the explicit, tacit, and latent needs. According to the authors, “the best innovations start by making the customer observations and doing the synthesis yourself.” This commitment to first-hand customer insight is realized through a number of customer-centric organizational habits.

  • Scanning and Framing. By constantly looking at broad trends – both within healthcare, as well as in a range of other industries, Mayo is able to uncover unique insights about the customer and then align those insights with its core strategies.
  • Experimenting. By constantly experimenting and measuring results, a clearer understanding of true user needs emerges, and allows concepts to be redefining.
  • Prototyping. A culture of prototypes helps to crystallize ideas and validate tangible models through a series of iterations.
  • Implementing. The end goal of broad implementation is kept clearly in mind. Solutions and innovations need to be scalable in a real-world context, not just in a small test.

8 Executional Disciplines for Innovation

In addition to these habits for delivering deep customer insights, Mayo has instituted a range of disciplines for building a culture that consistently delivers high levels of innovation.

  • Build a discipline of innovation. The Center for Innovation’s mantra about innovation is to “Build it, live it, champion it throughout the organization.” Commitment to innovation cannot just be lip service. True marketing innovation takes discipline and structure. The organization of the marketing innovation team is also important – allowing others outside the group to understand what the marketing team is doing, and how they can best align.
  • Recruit a diverse team. At Mayo, engineers, architects, product designers, and anthropologists are aligned with scientists and organizational experts to drive unique perspectives. How diverse is your marketing team? How often do you seek outside perspectives?
  • Embrace creativity and design thinking. For Mayo, failures are expected and tolerated in its pursuit of innovation. This Mayo video discusses their willingness to actually embrace failure!

How risk tolerant is your marketing team? Are you truly embracing creativity, and listening to your customers or just copycatting what other healthcare marketers are doing?

  • Environments matter. Innovative marketing is difficult to create in a cube-farm type of office space. Find a working environment that fosters Silicon Valley-style lab experimentation and collaboration.
  • Co-create with your customers and stakeholders. While it is tempting to “go it alone” with your marketing campaign, have you considered ways to incubate and accelerate you customers’ and stakeholders’ ideas, not just yours?
  • Organize around Big Idea platforms. Marketing innovation needs to address key brand strategic objectives. All projects must fit the big picture and vision.
  • Collaborate inside and outside. Encourage outside participation, partnership, and sponsorship wherever they make sense. In a rapidly changing marketing environment, some of the best campaigns are born from cross-functional, or even cross-industry, collaborations.
  • Consistently share your vision, process, and results. Be visible, and be easy and useful to work with. Marketing innovation cannot happen in a vacuum. Sales, commercial operations, customers, and other stakeholders need to embrace your innovative approach – otherwise your campaign will fall flat.

As you can see, the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation has stepped up to meet the need for healthcare innovation in a big and meaningful way. It has also uncovered innovation principles that can help drive healthcare marketing innovation as well. When you have more time, Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast is well worth reading in detail.

Jim Walker