The difference is small

The difference between being in a cave in pitch darkness and being in a cave and glimpsing a distant opening is physically almost imperceptible, but one tends towards passivity and the other tends to be dynamic.

This Pharma Marketing blog posting about the shifts away from broadcasting or channeling a message towards having a conversation gives an insight into a major event.

Here is an extract of what John Mack gets right:

How? By letting the patient in. Let them add their voices to your communications. How do you do this? First you must embrace the reality that people-to-people communications are more powerful than any DTC ad or unbranded education Web site.

And then a bit where it all goes a little pear-shaped.

And that by letting the patient have the venue to create a community or state an opinion facilitated by your company is the best way to channel the power of peer-to-peer communications.

Sadly, the two passages come from the very same paragraph. Surely all the image problems of gift pens and lunches for doctors aren’t simply going to be repeated in patient groups?

The beauty of blogging is that, unless you’re a corporate executive of the kind that thinks emails should be dictated to secretaries, you don’t need money or technical expertise.

All we want from drug firms is to allow their employees and bosses to tell us who they are, what they do, and how things are going. A bit like at a party. You can bring a bottle, but if you’re paying for all the drinks you’re not a guest.

The drug industry is feared, not trusted, upopular. Stopping the “we have a message for you” approach and engaging in a conversation is unlikely to make things worse for the drug industry in terms of public perception.

The only mistakes to be be made are: 1) to try to control the forum (which will fail and make things looks worse in the process) or 2) to have a script instead of just saying it as it is. The script gets out sooner or later and all those helpful comments in the margins from the coach “shake head solemnly,” “show more feeling here,” and “smile genially and wink,” will cost a lot more than the scriptwriter’s fees.

So “Customer Manages Relationship” is still a terribly clumsy term and it’s a concept with lots of things wrong with it.

But is it easier to move in the right direction from here? I think so.

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