A Letter from the President of AMTRAK: what do you think?

I am a loyal AMTRAK user — and complainer. I’ve seen enough great railroads to know how primitive ours is. Yet, it is what it is. At this moment, I want to share the letter I received from the AMTRAK president. I found it quite moving and appropriate. But others might not.

Here it is:

A message from President and CEO Joe Boardman
View as a web page
The derailment of Northeast Regional Train 188 was a terrible tragedy that we are responding to with every resource we have available. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation to determine the cause of the incident, and Amtrak is providing full cooperation.

With truly heavy hearts, we mourn those who died. Their loss leaves holes in the lives of their families and communities. On behalf of the entire Amtrak family, I offer our sincere sympathies and prayers for them and their loved ones. Amtrak takes full responsibility and deeply apologizes for our role in this tragic event.

We recognize that for everyone onboard the train, including those who suffered injuries, the healing process may be long. Within 24 hours of the incident, Amtrak set up a Family Assistance Center in Philadelphia to work closely with the family of passengers and crew on the train. We are also working with the individuals and families affected by this event to help them with transportation, lodging, and of course, medical bills and funeral expenses.

Amtrak is ever grateful to the City of Philadelphia—its first responders who bravely worked in difficult conditions, including the dark of night, to rescue and provide aid to hundreds; its hospital personnel who went into full alert as patients arrived at emergency rooms; its officials who quickly implemented a response plan; and its citizens who opened their doors to offer assistance.

Although our current focus is on the passengers and employees affected by this incident and the resulting service disruption along the Northeast Corridor, we must also take time to learn from this event. Passenger railroading is at its core about people; the safety of our passengers and employees was, is and always will be our number one priority. Our goal is to fully understand what happened and how we can prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future. We will also continue to focus on completing Positive Train Control implementation in the Northeast Corridor by December of 2015.

Thank you for your support of America’s Railroad during this difficult time.


Joe Boardman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Joe Boardman
President and Chief Executive Officer

Video + Emotion + Customer Experience = the Magic Mix?

YT 9 billlion health searches 5.17.15

The three inputs for this post are: Millennials’ overall growth in video consumption, the role of emotion in moving people to believe in a treatment, and the almighty Customer Experience which delivers it all.

We are all in the business of decision-making; in some cases, as marketers, we are in charge of creating decision-making moments and messages.

Is Video + Emotion + Customer Experience = the Magic Mix?

Just watch this video…why can’t we  Biopharma marketers use emotion? This YouTube commercial is compelling, functional, hopeful and joyous? And yeah, this is an App. The string that that ties this approach to using emotion for Rx marketing is that they both solve problems and help you.


With an economy and healthcare system so in flux, the real game is influence. People are making their own decisions. So, best we can do is work like hell influencing those decisions.

Le’ts start with Millenials — actually all ages — and video habits. From YuMe* and eMarketer**, digital video consumption is up to nearly 1 hour per day, across all devices.

What is noteworthy is both the higher level of video consumption and how device impacts intent to purchase — one could hypothesize many of those using a Smartphone may be in the middle of a retail experience making a decision. Another reason your analytics should show device/content/time of day; if you line this up you can often glean what the mindset was of the visitor to your web property or video content.

Now, the role of emotion. While video is the core approach to visual storytelling, animations, drawings, any creative execution that tells a story can be considered.

There is a wonderful article/POV on FastCompany*** (http://goo.gl/L41nrA) about the role of emotion in purchasing. To quote David Von Praet:

“One of the longest-running debates in marketing is whether to use a rational or emotional advertising approach in marketing—but cognitive science says that argument is pointless. While emotions overwhelmingly drive behavior, it is misguided to believe that thinking and feeling are somehow mutually exclusive. Emotion and logic are intertwined.”

Many leading edge Brands are already applying this approach, from luxury to cars to even Harley-Davidson motorcycles…here is their Community page:

So, this Magic Mix is obvious in mass market categories. But — other than in unbranded use — how does that translate to Biopharma?

While App and device marketing is very different from Biopharma, emotion is a universal need, best played out in video as the most compelling way to communicate, and differentiate your story from your competitors. Every Pharma Brand can have  a Position, an MOA, a CRM program on and on…but do they have a story?

Yes! Your employees can speak to their Mission. Your lead researchers can speak to their passion. Your patients can share their Journey.

Now go find your stories and own them before your competitors do. 

Last but most important is Customer Experience. I define Customer Experience as looking at all aspects of where your customers ‘touch’ you. They certainly expect you to think the same way. And the chart below form Watermark Consulting****

Usually I would focus on an infographic or a Web site to make my point, but Customer Experience — the analysis, the planning, the crafting of message and measurement — is too all-encompassing. So, to make the point, follow the money!

To close, let me quote an Accenture**** recent study titled “Is Digital Killing Loyalty?” (The answer is “YES!!”):

“Digital has revealed that what truly drives loyalty is the quality of the experiences customers have before, during and after a sale. Their loyalty to an experience, as opposed to a company or product, is evident in a number of Accenture’s research findings:

  • 65 percent of consumers use online channels—not primarily for price advantages, but for convenience, speed, the quality of information provided, and access to a broader range of choices
  • 60 percent find “being promised one thing and delivered something else” the most frustrating experience they can have with a company
  • 65 percent (nearly 80 percent in emerging markets) have switched at least one provider in the past year because of poor service
  • 82 percent of “switchers” believe companies could have retained them with better experiences and more accurate expectations.”

The folks at Accenture are very very smart. They know that truly engaging Customers and moving them emotionally and rationally to chose your product or treatment is a task becoming more difficult by the day.

So take a step back and review your company’s position, belief and focus on Customer Experience. If you are just rolling out new media channels, going Social, falling in love with Facebook Likes, STOP! Nothing destroys a singular focus that awful condition called “Shiny-object-itis.”

I have offered one formula to consider, but I am just using common sense, media habits and a synergistic mind. What can you come up with?

* Source/ YuMe: http://www.yume.com/insights/video-advertising-whitepapers

**Spource/eMarketer: http://www.emarketer.com/

*** Source / FastCompany: http://goo.gl/L41nrA


***** http://goo.gl/aPFEqo

Video + Emotion + Customer Experience = the Magic Mix? was originally published on Harbinger Associates