As the year ends, Life Science clients need to “think content” and fast in 2014!

As the year ends, it seems to me that for Life Science companies, they need to start "thinking digital" aggressively in the new year. Two really useful articles for clients to read.

First from the Content Marketing Institute,! What is particularly interesting is the pragmatic advice that clearly would rub the creative approval process the wrong way — i.e. "cutting people out" — because everyone wants their two cents in on the most minuscule piece of creative.

The second is a post by Richard Meyers of He frames the approach to content around the Google algorithm changes (Hummingbird) and the need to consider SEO and the relationship to content.

Why pharma marketers must focus more on content

While Life Science companies search for the right infrastructure for omni-channel marketing, they better be using that RFP and install time to focus on organizational change and stop making digital an add-on aspect of marketing. As I heard someone say this fall, "Digital is dead, it is all digital."

A very good study about attributes of innovative people — here's a taste with the "tips" part of the article (!)
The five specific skills that are key to generating novel ideas are:

1. Associating: Innovators associate ideas that are previously unconnected either to solve problems or create something new. This is how Gutenberg created the printing press. When forming teams, keep cross-pollination of experiences and perspectives in mind. But you also need the glue. You need someone in the room with loose associations who can pull ideas together.

2. Questioning: Innovators ask a ton of questions. In fact, they treat the world as a question. Managers ask ‘how’ questions — how are we going to speed that up, how are we going to stop this from happening. Innovators ask ‘why.’ They are the kid at the back of the class the teacher hates (and often, the person in the meeting the manager hates.) Not only does this help you filter bullshit, but it helps jolt people from the status quo.

3. Observing: You can’t learn if you don’t observe. You need to always be observing. This mindfulness is what allowed Sherlock Holmes to solve cases.

4. Networking: Talking to people is a great source of ideas. People offer different perspectives. They may have just failed at something but you may be able to apply the same idea to a different problem. You need to be open to these perspectives, even if you just file them away for another day. (see #1)

5. Experimenting: If the world is their question it is also their lab. Fail often. Fail fast. Fail Cheap. Try again. Never give up.

Check out the article. Short but highly useful.

This is classic…CareerBuilder's has a great content marketing operation. Business cliches, here ya go!

The corporate buzzword you'd like to eliminate
If you're anything like the members of CareerBuilder's social media community, you're ready to take a stand. We asked them a simple question: If you could eliminate just one piece of office jargon, what would it be?

Based on the responses we received, there was a clear winner: "Think outside the box."

1. "Of course it's good to be innovative, but this term for innovation has become quite the opposite and a cliché!" — Corinne K., via Facebook

Other pieces of office jargon on the chopping block:

2. "'Ducks in a row.' Unless bowling is truly your line of work, it doesn't apply in an office setting." — Ilada W., via Facebook

3. "'The trajectory of the project' … The average employee isn't on top of the latest buzz phrases. Then to add insult to injury, the definitions change with each corporation and between the public and private sectors."– Dianne J., via Facebook

4. "'Let's take this offline.' Didn't know I was online." — Darcy D., via Facebook

5. "I absolutely despise the way my company throws about the word 'bandwidth.'" — Jennifer S., via Facebook

6. "'Clarifying question'… I'm pretty sure that is the definition of asking a question." — Elizabeth Q., via Facebook

7. "'Utilize.' Just say use for crying out loud." — Todd N., via Facebook

8. "'Silos.' Just say everyone needs to work together!" — Nora C., via Facebook

9. "'Low-hanging fruit.' Reminds me of one of my least favorite bosses who always used that phrase at brainstorming meetings." — Colleen H., via Facebook

10. "'Perception is reality.' Hate that one." — Crispin J., via Facebook

11. "'LEVERAGE!' Gag." — Franklin D., via Facebook

12. "'Synergy,' like nails on a chalkboard!" — Kim V., via Facebook

13. "'Lean in.' It's everywhere! Can't we go back to talking about being invested in our employees, clients and communities?" — @RadRachie, via Twitter

14. "'Our value-add is that we have been in business for 1,000 years.' No, that's trivia." — @BillFlorin, via Twitter

15. "'What is your takeaway from our conversation.' This phrase is so overused. I just cringe when I hear myself using it!" — Suzanne M., via LinkedIn

If you are sick of hearing the word “Storytelling”; some fundamentals, examples, and some advice for Life Science clients

If you a literary type, you'll know that many literary experts declare that in all humankind, there are only 12 true stories arcs. 

But this is business. And one trend that is shouting is the movement to humanize businesses, tear down the walls. Story-telling has been one strategy that has played a big part in this movement. 

But there is storytelling and there's storytelling. And for all the chatter and cow towing I hear from my fellow marketers I keep thinking, "Do they know what they are talking about?" After all, we all love a good story, but very few of us can actually tell one. We as a group have diluted this powerful strategy/concept to a weaker self. There are real, crafted, smart, sequential, stories told by Brands in many categories. Pharma/Life Science holds perhaps the richest repository of stories — the story of drug discovery and scientific inspiration, of patients who suffer, who strive and make more of their lives.  Yes, you can always fall back on Nike or Jeep or some consumer Brand with a great agency, but we need to bring the richness of storytelling to our industry — the sheer impact of the kind of human connection this approach can create can change the course of people's lives, whether it helps them to understand a diagnosis or to stay compliant. 

To make this post useful, I will provide some examples of good Brand storytelling, a 7-step inforgraphic I think is invaluable, and some helpful tips on how operationalize it within your company. 

First, let's look at the Content Marketing Association infographic on the 7-steps to the Perfect Story. I found it on Technology and Mobile Learning site (

  Seven-steps to the perfect storyBest advice here is to folow the categories, they are smart and valid. Some of the detailed content can be a bit hyperbolic! 

A Pharma site for HAE (Hereditary Angioedema) is worth looking at. I know unbranded sites can get away with a lot more, but this is a sad story of "Moments Missed" and the creative and UX tell a story, though mostly visually.

Missing Moments HAE h. page

Kudos to Dudnyk Advertising; they let strong photography do its work and with minimal content tell their tale. 

Another Pharma example, this time Branded and very well done, is:  This insulin pump site is a great example of pulling down the wall between Brand and patient and bringing the two together; the Community area, three blogs, a "Tell Your Story" and other features make this a well-constructed example of how many Pharma Brands can activate their Advocates to generate content and create that extra credibility they need. It shouts authenticity which for a product transforms to credibility, it shouts: a product which believes it can change lives. 


Lantus, a 500-pound guerilla budget-wise, has the which is a fantastic example of how to unify many disparate efforts into one digital experience that says: we're committed. The UX experience needs work, but the home page experience is one of the best in the entire industry.

DX Exp

A B2B, HCP-to-Manufacturer application of this strategy is found on  The overarching strategy was the need to communicate that Amgen really was the world's leading innovator in biologic manufacturing. The art of science is explained by being the Truthteller – being transparent and taking the camera inside this incredibly complex Amgen biologics plant and giving you a 360 degree tour, Google-style.

Biotech by Amgen home page


The operational part of Storytelling for a Pharma Company or Brand could be approached this way:

  1. Social Media listening: find your Advocates and meet with them in person, develop a relationship, see if they want to be a part of an extended Brand Team.
  2. Work with your MLR on the guidelines for what can and cannot be said, but also the nuances like linking out to a blog or a curated piece of content.
  3. Think holistically about your Brand Experience; this is the future emerging now, where the content, the users’ interaction with that content, and the ability to keep the content fresh, is why User Experience and how it impacts everything is the next part of Pharma’s move to consumerism.
  4. This is digitally-centered, but can be applied to all channels. 
  5. Top down leadership, and bottom-up empowerment: the bosses have to be behind the idea that Storytelling is a powerful strategy that can differentiate your Brand. But also empower staff to offer up their own stories and that of the wider organization, to tap into the personal passions of those who have helped create and launch the Brand.

Storytelling does not work for every Brand. There are many ways to go about it and integrate it into your marketing. You can even add it to your KPI’s! As you weigh the pluses and minuses of such a strategy, do not forget that we are now in a world where “connecting” is a collision of personal, professional, technology, and more…and it is at the very core of human interaction and consumer-centric trends; and last, Storytelling in health is happening in a 1000 moments as I write; between patients and doctors, caregivers and loved one’s, in pharmacies, doctor waiting rooms, and on and on…