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Dispelling 4 Mythological Beliefs About Innovation

According to the ancient Greeks, Prometheus took pity on mankind. He walked among men and noticed that they were no longer as happy as they were when Kronos the Titan was their king. He saw them living in the dark and shivering in the cold because they had no light to help them see and no fire to help them stay warm.

So Prometheus stole a spark from Zeus’s own lightning and brought fire to mankind. It was the dawn of civilization and enabled mankind to flourish.

But while mankind was now off cooking steak and smelting bronze, things didn’t work out so hot for Prometheus himself. For his disobedience he was chained to a rock at the top of a mountain and every day a giant eagle would come tear out his liver and eat it. At night, his liver would regenerate and the ordeal would begin anew each day.

It’s an interesting time for all the digital Promethei, especially those working in marketing. After all, our jobs require that we bring new and unknown ideas to our clients with the hope of ‘futurizing’ their marketing mix to make it more effective. In the America that we live in, almost everyone has a smartphone in his or her pocket. A majority of Americans have high-speed web access, and the sheer number of digitally enabled things we interact with is greater than ever before. The internet of things is upon us. The power and ubiquity of the platforms and APIs available to any given development team means things can be created at a scale and speed that were impossible 5 years ago.

Compounding the situation further is that you can’t flip through Wired or Inc. or Fast Company without reading pages upon pages about the ever-changing landscape of start-ups and internet-based businesses that are reshaping the American economy. The tech business is booming. Being a wild success with a tech idea is becoming the new American Dream and everyone fantasizes about becoming the next great digital titan.

But this has created a Jekyll and Hyde(1) type of situation. In one sense, it’s been empowering. Marketers are embracing new ideas and experimentation with a zeal that hasn’t seen since the early days of the web. Digital innovation is now coveted and the internet is no longer seen as an inferior medium compared to others. Additionally, clients are gaining a greater appetite for ‘new’ and “differentiating’ ideas and the willingness to try things may be at an all time high.


As if they weren’t undervalued enough already, strategy and planning are becoming increasingly viewed as unnecessary, and clients are shifting from defining the objectives for a brand to defining the tactical imperatives of a brand. For example, it’s no longer ‘obtaining new customers’ or ‘getting a patient to stop missing every third dose’, it’s ‘build an app”, or ‘use Shazaam.’ This type of behavior isn’t new, but it does seem to be getting more commonplace with every passing day.

The problem isn’t so much the extensive tactical requests, but the inherent implication that because it’s supposed to be innovative, thinking isn’t necessary, success is easy, and poor design doesn’t matter. Mythologies have evolved with clients about what innovation is and how it happens, some of them so fanciful, they might as well come with wings and a tail. It’s time to dispel those myths and hopefully do so in such a way that we can all stop feeling like our livers are being eaten. Read More…

Things To Do On Facebook When You’re Dead

Recently, a former colleague of mine posted on Facebook that a notification showed up on his page suggesting he become friends with someone who had passed away a short time ago.

As poignant as a moment as that was, given how we as consumers rely more on web based services than ever before, it prompted a series of questions in my mind, namely:

  • Who gets access to your profiles when you die?
  • What happens to your URLs, user names, etc?
  • What happens to your content? Who gets the rights to your iTunes content, for instance? How do you transfer ownership?
  • Will digital wakes or funerals via something like a Google+ hangout ever become part of our culture?

In the world we live in today, more seniors than ever have jumped online. According to Pew, as of February 2012, one third (34%) of internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day.

The seniors of today represent just the tip of the digital iceberg. The issues surrounding the transfer of your online life once your offline life has come to an end are only going to become more pronounced as the Boomer generation gets older.

Read More…

Introducing Healthy Thinkers: Doing Some Good in Healthcare

I just had a major revelation over the Thanksgiving weekend. I realized that my social network includes many people within the healthcare industry and that those people, if they worked together, could have a dramatic impact on the future of healthcare. Some of these people work for “big pharma” or medical device companies. Others run successful non-profits or have launched healthcare technology startups. Some others provide consulting to the industry and have been responsible for many of the positive changes in healthcare over the years.

At the same time, I realized that there are a lot of people out there that still need a lot of help from the healthcare community. This might be support for an important initiative, the ear of someone who can bring a new idea or product innovation to life, or even help paying for a prescription.  I realized that it would be simple to bring together many of the people that could help fulfill some of these ideas and requests with those that need help. That’s why I created Healthy Thinkers.

The concept is simple. People submit their idea or requests to the community. The community discusses and votes up the best of these. From there, the community uses all of its social connections to make sure the idea or request gets in front of someone who can actually make it happen. It’s a “degrees of separation” concept. Among all the people that will read this post (and hopefully many more who will join the community), we’re probably only a few degrees of separation away from that key person. For example, maybe someone has an innovative idea for how J&J can improve its OneTouch diabetes monitoring products. I would guarantee that someone reading this post right now knows someone on the OneTouch product team. I’ve found out over the years that our healthcare “family” is pretty small.

I was inspired to put Healthy Thinkers together by a few things. First, it was requests that I received to help people out with healthcare-related requests. The first of these was the Diabetes Hands Foundation who asked me to help them spread the word about their Big Blue Test initiative. I did via this blog post and they far exceeded their goal (not just through my efforts to be sure). Right around the same time, someone asked me if I knew anyone at a certain medical device company so that they could contact them to ask for supplies for a mission trip to Africa. I did and this person got what he needed. And within days of that, an acquaintance asked if I knew how to get a discount on her new medication, as it was way too expensive for her. I knew someone from the product team for the brand she was prescribed and that person got my acquaintance enrolled in one of the brand’s assistance programs. It was a bit fortunate that I personally could help facilitate each of these, but I realized that I don’t know everyone and maybe I just got a little lucky.

So, not one to count on luck, my idea is simple: bring together a bunch of people who have connections throughout healthcare with those that need some type of assistance or support and start solving some problems. You see, I think we do an awful lot of talking, so let’s do something instead.

Pharma companies…you want to know how to get involved in social media? Get involved in this community and offer to help where you can. Nothing but positive PR awaits you.

Consultants and ad agency people…you want to use your skills to help people directly beyond what you do for clients? Join the community and use your contacts to solve some problems.

Patients, caregivers, non-profits…you need help or advice from some key people in healthcare? Come to the community and tell us how we can help.

Will this work? Well, here’s what I know. One of my favorite sites is Reddit. No one is going to claim for a second that this is a serious community of any kind (hilarious as it may be). Think of it as a much better version of Digg. Recently, I started to notice some people asking for real help on the site and actually getting it. I did a little more research and came across a post called “Reddit’s Astonishing Altruism.” Some of the acts include users paying for a shopping spree for a dying girl, helping track down a murderer, and bringing a family music heirloom to life (read that one for sure). However, I noticed that there two things on this list that Reddit shouldn’t have had to handle, but did: buying a new wheelchair for someone who couldn’t afford one and buying a new type of hearing aid for a young woman who was deaf since she was 7.

My question is why couldn’t our community handle this? For instance, our agency has worked with one of the leading manufacturers of wheelchairs in the world and I personally know someone who works for a leading hearing aid company. Knowing these folks, I’m sure they could have persuaded their companies to donate these items.

Call me idealistic if you want, but I think we can do better. I think we have a responsibility to do this and we can do a lot of good with very little effort. So, here’s your call to action:

Join Healthy Thinkers today. Here’s the link:

  • Register. Sign up and tell us who you are. You can be semi-anonymous if you’d like. If you’re a company that might be able to help, start monitoring this forum for places you can help. If you can’t do this, we’ll find you when we need you.
  • Advocate. Spread the word to as many people in healthcare as you can. We need not only the people who can deliver on these ideas and requests, but also people who are going to submit them. So, don’t just tell the people around your office, share it with friends on Facebook too. Know people in the press? Tell them too.
  • Participate. Start a post, comment on an existing one, and vote.
  • Solve. If you see an idea or request you can help with, step up. Respond or pass it along to a contact who can make it happen.

If you want to spread the word about Healthy Thinkers, here’s some shortcuts. Click Like to share on Facebook. Include a comment so your friends actually notice it in their News Feed.

Or send a tweet about the community:

We’ll be posting success stories as they happen and also updates on big needs that still aren’t fulfilled on the blog for Healthy Thinkers (still a work in progress, so bear with me). Also, the top ideas and requests will automatically be tweeted by the @HealthyThinkers Twitter account, so follow that to see what’s new and hot on the site.

Over the next few days, I’ll be introducing you to some volunteer “Connectors” who are going to help moderate the site, but also have agreed to use some of their extensive connections to make sure these ideas and requests get done. If you’re interested in becoming one, then send me a message.

One final point, Healthy Thinkers is a completely non-profit, non-promotional effort. There is no money to be made, so don’t join up if you’re looking to promote yourself or your company. I’ve already told you what the site is for, so I hope that motivates every one of you to take a look.

Once more, join Healthy Thinkers today. Here’s the link:

An Award for Dose of Digital…Thanks

If you’re looking for a ton of social media insight or for the latest trends in digital technology in healthcare, today’s post isn’t going to cover much of that. If you want some of the former, then definitely check out “The Beginner’s Guide to Pharma Social Media.” For a bit of the latter, well, you’ll can check out pretty much everything else.

Today’s post has two purposes: first, to announce a major award that Dose of Digital just received, and second, to say thank you for your support in making this award possible.

As many of you know, I work for Bridge Worldwide, which is part of one of the largest agency holding companies, WPP. Each year, WPP has an internal contest called the Atticus Awards. In their words, “WPP’s Atticus Awards honour original thinking in communications services and are open exclusively to professionals working in WPP companies. Each year, extracts from the winning and other outstanding entries are published in the Atticus Journal.” You can follow the link and see some of the past winners, which last year included the outstanding books, The Brand Bubble by John Gerzema, and Personality Not Included by Rohit Bhargava (full list of last year’s winners here in PDF). Awards come in three levels for eight different categories: “Winner,” “Highly Commended,” and “Merit.” There’s also a “Grand Prix,” which is basically a best in show.

I’m pleased to announce that Dose of Digital was just selected as “Highly Commended” in the Digital Communications category in this year’s Atticus Awards. It’s a pretty big honor considering the competition and the past winners, which consist of some of the best and brightest out there. (Check out last year’s “Highly Commendable” winner in the Digital Communications category from Ann Mack at JWT called, “Privacy in the Digital Age [PDF].” Pretty timely.)

As part of this honor, I’d like to thank each of you for your continued readership and support. Without the encouragement I get from you (and the ideas), I likely would have given up on the blog a long time ago. Please let me know if there’s anything you want me to cover on the blog that you haven’t seen yet. It’s the least I can do. As regular readers know, I’m happy to give my opinion on whatever the topic no matter how much controversy I’m likely to stir up.

I also want to take a minute and congratulate by colleague, Bob Gilbreath, for being named a “Merit” winner for his outstanding book, Marketing With Meaning, in the Strategy category (feel free to congratulate him via Twitter at @mktgwithmeaning). If you ask me, that book was more than “Winner” worthy, but it must have been tough competition, as the eventual “Grand Prix” winner also came from the Strategy category. It’s pretty exciting to have two awards for our agency in a single year. If you haven’t read Bob’s book, get it. Get it especially if you work in pharma or healthcare. To me, the concept of Marketing with Meaning applies more here than to any other industry. If you want to see how, check out my series of posts on the topic starting with this one: “How Marketing with Meaning Can Save Pharma — Part 1.”

[Side note: the full list of winners for this year’s Atticus Awards hasn’t been fully released yet. I’ll let you know when they are and where you can get a copy of the journal with excerpts from all the Winners and several other top entries.]

Again, thanks for your support and continued inspiration. Look out for more controversy coming soon…gotta make a run at that “Grand Prix” award next year.