What would Steve Jobs have said about your eDetail campaign?

I recently saw a Steve Jobs YouTube clip from the 1997 Apple worldwide developer conference. There he was, in his trademark black polo neck, perched casually on a bar stool, taking questions from the floor. There’s a good chance you might have seen it too as it’s been watched by over 6 million people.

One man in the audience stood up and said: “Mr. Jobs; you are a bright and influential man” (so far so good) but then he added, “…it’s sad and clear that, on several counts, you don’t know what you are talking about. I would like you, to express in clear terms, how, say, Java addresses the ideas embodied in OpenDoc…”

Essentially, what this man was saying to Steve Jobs was: “you don’t understand the technology”.

This reminded me of a recent discussion we witnessed at a meeting with one of our clients.

It centered around one of their recent eDetail campaigns. Apparently, less than 10% of reps were using the tablets the company had supplied to them.

As you can imagine, such a disappointing usage figure quickly prompted a heated debate. On one side, it was argued that “the reps clearly did not understand the platform”. Similarly, a counterpoint was made that “the marketing department weren’t developing solutions that made best use of the platform”.

The truth is that the eDetail simply wasn’t addressing the fundamental needs of the reps. They weren’t using it because it added absolutely zero value to their sales calls. Much worse, what transpired was that the eDetail was actually making their calls much more difficult than they had previously been with a print detail aid.

Unfortunately, this is an issue we’ve seen played out at a number of pharma companies. And it isn’t the fault of the marketeers or reps.

Closed Loop Marketing (CLM) platforms were conceived at a time when the internet was in its infancy. They were originally set up to realise the opportunity of the laptop computer. Companies would simply take their paper detail aid and put it onto the laptop, and, later tablets.

Now, nearly every CLM platform is really just a locally-hosted web solution which captures data and uses it to deliver a semi-personalised experience.

But ultimately, it is a restrictive, and obsolete technology. Website user experience, and supporting technologies already deliver personalised experiences that far outpace any CLM. But too many organisations have invested too much in CLM to simply admit any shortcomings and “pull out”. (The observant will have recognized this as classic loss aversion in action.)

Which brings me back to Steve Jobs.  His answer to the challenge was: “You’ve got to start with customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology.” And everyone knows how well Apple grew under Steve Jobs.

Maybe it’s time more of us in healthcare marketing followed Steve Jobs’ example and paid more attention to the customer than the technology.

Escaping the Prison of the Over-Rational

The latest findings in neuro-science have profound implications for business as, in many cases, they overturn long-accepted truths… Truths which can hamper us by limiting our creativity and innovation.

One of the key findings shows how focusing on over rationalised thinking and taking an over processed approach to strategy can trap us in a ‘hall of mirrors’ where we see only the familiar, leading us to explore more about what we know about what we know…

The solution lies in utilising this developing knowledge and its attendant deeper human understanding. We need to understand the place of intuition, particularly in creativity and innovation, and its role in breaking us out of the hall of mirrors. We also need to recognise where a highly rationalised approach is indeed correct, depending on how we want to engage with our audiences, or on what we want or need to create. This approach can provide exciting new answers to business challenges.

Here are a few examples of the practical applications of this approach:

  1. Why this matters to market leaders, and how it can be totally  different for challengers
  2. Why is it vital to have time away from a problem or task if we wish to intuit a solution – get the “aha!” effect
  3. What are the implications for testing and researching experience and how to do that without destroying them
  4. Why communications ‘burn out’ and when can that be a positive advantage
  5. Why audiences notice information, how they process it and what persuades them to act on and communicate new information

Clearly from a business perspective, we are often more comfortable with approaches that appear more neatly stepwise and extremely rationale. Indeed, it is common that we discount intuition as “guessing” or “gut feel”, but in many cases it can be the only way to break out of the cliched and over familiar and end up somewhere really different.