RJ (PMN): Hi this is RJ Lewis your host of the Pharma Marketing Podcast and I’m here today with Stephanie Berez who is the founder and managing director of HEART OF WHY MARKETING and a good friend welcome Stephanie.
Stephanie (HOWM): Thanks for having me.
RJ (PMN): So I’m excited for you because you’re on in entrepreneurial journey and I always love to work with and talk with other entrepreneurs but why don’t you start with a little bit of your background how you got to where you are right now what you been doing over the last 10 years or so that got you here?
Stephanie (HOWM): Absolutely. So the first off thanks everybody and thanks for having me and ultimately my background really started gosh back in 99 I’ll take you there and I’ll tell you that when I took this Marketing class my Junior year in college obviously I’m dating myself so now you know I am truly 40 you know I learned that I had the opportunity to apply everything that I was studying in psychology, history and start to influence and impact the world in positive ways and it was a time where the internet was going to change everything and this digital world is going to be an exciting place to be and I am a creator I’m a creative person I love music and I love to just have fun and lean into life and people and I discovered this whole world of marketing which was just such a beautiful applications. So that’s kind of the beat of that background and then I drove into the world of Marketing working at Pfizer when they had a candy division so for you pharma folks you’re like wait, what? This is in the Post Warner-Lambert Pfizer Merger where there is this little division called atoms that was ultimately acquired by Cadbury and then from there I moved
RJ (PMN): Good candy
Stephanie (HOWM): Oh my god, good candy right? and honestly it was fun and I’d like to say that Sex and Candy is my theme song for those that know that because I moved over to Church & Dwight and after I spent on Arm & Hammer which obviously is an amazing iconic brand. I spent about part of 11 years working on Trojan so obviously a class 2 medical device and really fun to work on at that and then also worked on the women’s health businesses which has first response refresh, replens, precedes so really loving this combination of consumer products but also with this healthcare which makes for an interesting conversation for us today I think.
RJ (PMN): It does, it does. I’m going to date myself too because well you were getting your inspiration to go with the marketing in 1999 that’s the year that I founded eHealthcare Solutions so I was embracing that digital world that you just talked about and that really dates me.
Stephanie (HOWM): Well look at that great things happening at that turn, that’s awesome.
RJ (PMN): So tell me I always find that there’s something interesting in one’s childhood that kind of helps to something or someone or sometimes both that really helped to form one’s personality and kind of often form one’s career path tell me about your childhood and what events or people really had the biggest impact on you?
Stephanie (HOWM): Oh my gosh that’s such a great question and honestly that’s such an easy one for me to answer because I would say that my grandpa Carl and my grandma Rose were really so formative for me so for two different reasons my grandma Rose taught me at a very early age that I can do anything that I want to do if I put my mind to it and I’ll tell you just a bit of a story because I remember being really little may be younger than I should have been to bring my own salad dressing but she gave me the confidence and she’s like you can do it this is fine this is how and she is supportive and couch me and it was a memorable moment you know you don’t remember many things from when you where you know maybe 5 or 6 years old and then my grandfather was amazing he was the son of a teller and engineer went to school at night work for grumman with you know was in the Air Force in his early days like was really this amazing person and stubborn and had grit and perseverance and could build anything and he believed that if you had duct tape and tennis balls you can build anything from it and I tell you that the Innovation and the perseverance that is in my bloodstream gifted from my grandfather and all these moments of tinkering with in his little workshop in the back room in his garage and all these beautiful moments which is so inherent to my childhood and reflecting back on it you know my life as marketer and innovator and a creator I just have so much to be grateful for I had a great childhood I’m very fortunate have a great family and they just were at the heart of so much of what influence me.
RJ (PMN): That is awesome and I’m sure you recounted those stories with them and it’s funny how you don’t really know when you’re working with a child what exactly is having the impact but those two skills you know they build the willingness to try things even when you fail and that grit and perseverance I mean that’s going to serve you very well in entrepreneurial journey and I’m sure it’s served you very well as a marketer.
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah you know it’s been fun and honestly bring influence to people you know into your work world is a beautiful thing so you know I make use of the tennis ball. I’ve done a lot of tennis ball creative related work and assignments and you know if you have a little smile on your face when you bring your history into present
RJ (PMN): That’s awesome. So one of the things about HEART OF WHY MARKETING that struck me when I went to the website is this phrase that use called “Find Your Undeniability” what does that mean exactly and why that phrase?
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah absolutely and listen I want to make up words so even in this conversation if you hear me say something, you’re right I maybe making up a word and so undeniability it’s not really a word you know you could be undeniable, you can be undeniably but the whole concept of undeniability I love it that you have this ability as a business to really say, okay how do you create something that is unique so that it can only be seen through the lens of your brand in your business you know I think that there are certain companies that do really good job at that tie back to just that uniqueness like you know it’s a target ad before it actually even tells you it’s a target ad the second component to it is just being so desired that there’s this element of being drawn to it magnetically you know, you know that the consumers gonna want what you’re selling because you’re giving something to them that they want or need and then the last component of really you know undeniability is that it’s a feeling, it actually delivers and so therefore people are coming back for more. So the ability to really strategically write that script where you can say I am going to find and cultivate what makes me differentiated and unique what makes it desired to people come back and fulfilling so it come back for more. So it’s this notion of saying, I’m really unique and I have something that consumers wants and need and then they’re gonna repeat and notion of repeating is so important because there’s very few products a very few categories that you can work in that don’t need loyalty. There’s very few things that are one-and-done kind of interaction or purchase and so it’s really really important to do all three things consistently and with intention and that’s a recipe for long-term success.
RJ (PMN): So so true. you know Pharma Marketers are very focused on kind of the they’ve always been but not always but since it’s been legal they’ve been focused on direct to consumer advertising and marketing but certainly watching some of these big brands evolved that have more of a direct-to-consumer strategy where they actually disrupting the whole supply chain spurs a lot of interesting conversations within I think any big brand because they they’ve some of the big brands have been disrupted that way and so this concept of consumer centricity comes up a lot and in fact I did a pole with Pharma not that long ago and we’re you asked you know what’s the biggest influence going to be in terms of purchasing decisions and where historically would get answers like the physician and they’re prescribing habits you get payers in some cases you even hear the government with a pretty big weigh in on that but increasingly overtime when he asked that same poll and you say what do you think it’s going to be in 5 years? Often the consumers comes up as the biggest driver. What does it mean to you to have consumer-centric or consumer centricity in your marketing communications?
Stephanie (HOWM): I think that everything starts with a consumer because they’re the end-user, they’re the end benefiter so if you think in terms of benefits, they’re the once who are benefiting, only other people that you just named are really the gatekeepers and sometimes we need to really nurture those gatekeeper relationships because that’s important that’s how we get to our end consumer and on other ways obviously going direct to consumer is a very different way when you don’t have a gatekeeper but you could say that there’s distractions and there’s pros and cons to that world too. I think what the beauty of staying really consumer-centric is to think about people as people the moment we start to say consumer it still sounds like this like, almost like a theoretical thing but they’re not actually a real person on the other end I love that today we started with the power of a story, creating a power of a story and understanding who it is that were actually helping, who it is that were actually servicing and that to me rolls right into the strength of your brief and understanding your target so you know developing target personas is a really helpful understanding you know really to get to the heart of who these people are, where are they, where are they coming from, what are the other challenges in their life you know what are they wish they can do that they can’t do today so what problems are you going to then help them solve for so if you really can understand who it is that you’re talking too and by the way often times there is more than one who and to me I’d love to talk a little bit about that too in a second but to me if you can really put that consumer at the heart of everything then that can carry through whether or not you’re talking about content or over your content lives you know where you’re talking about your media plans, gosh I think you need a consumer-centric media plan so it’s not just that you’re going out into this world of placing your dollar, it’s you’re going out and saying who am I reaching and what am I reaching them with and where are they in their purchase cycles and where are they in their usage cycles and how can I make their life better and if you do more and more of that then you’re going to help to achieve the goals that you have whether or not you’re just driving awareness or trial or loyalty or usage and obviously a huge thing is consistency of usage I mean we, I’ve absolutely had those challenges in front of me so I think that there’s so many different ways you can approach this but to me it all comes down to how well do you know your consumer and do you really know them enough, are you spending enough time speaking with them either qualitatively or quantitatively I think I’d start there.
RJ (PMN): Yeah yeah wow you got a lot of great points there and just a tight some of that back to Pharma it’s interesting you know the idea of a persona is so powerful you know as suppose to talking about someone as a consumer or in our case many times we refer to them as a patient and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to a patient panel where the patients are talking to a room full of markers and they say please don’t call us patients that’s just one aspect of our lives we are so many more things were moms, were grandmother’s, were workers you know all these other things don’t refer to us as a patient that doesn’t make me feel good I don’t want to be thinking about my disease all the time but the idea of a persona making it even more personal and really understanding your you mentioned the target I’ve also heard markers talk about that, is that the right term or do we should be talking about an ideal customer or something along the lines as suppose to a target which applies you’re gonna shoot somebody but what we refer to people as targets all the time in marketing.
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah I guess I never really think of that at that way but you have a fair point. I think that one of the things that I would urge people to consider is that when you’re writing a brief and understanding who you’re looking to reach try and avoid using labels so you just brought up a great example don’t use patient well you know maybe get away from some of the broad stroke demographics how boring and uninspiring is a brief that just says oh you know we’re looking to reach women that are 40 to 50 that you know are at that time and let you know that’s not very exciting but if you say we’re looking to reach people that are of an age that they might be a number but they don’t feel so in spirit and they love to hike and they love to be with their children and they love to be on the go but they’re challenge by bla bla bla like you know those are the kinds of things that when you think about it every brief that you write, everything that you do should be there to not just inspire your audience in the end but no work that we do as marketers is done in isolation we’re always working with a team whether or not it’s our creative agency or producers or content creators and they need to feel the heartbeat of your business in order to be on point for you if you take the time to really tell the story of that person that your looking to reach your work could be so beautiful.
RJ (PMN): Yeah yeah that’s awesome, that’s awesome. The other thing that you mentioned was kind of you know it’s not just about making the first sale but getting that consistency of usage and that repeat purchase and that is one of the biggest challenges in Pharma you know it herents the compliance it herents the a taking the medication the right way and b actually coming back and getting the refill and staying on the prescription when your doctor tells you need to take you know three months of this prescription for it to work or you need to take you know the full 2 weeks of a particular medicine. That’s one of the bigger challenges in Pharma and in some conditions in a specialty areas like mental health and some others it’s such a big challenge brands could literally double or even triple their sales if they could crack that nut. So I do want to come back to that and hear some of your experience on getting that consistency of usage and sharing some CPG ideas with our audience on things that have worked for you in fact if you want to touch on that now that would be okay with you.
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah I’d love to. I think that there’s a lot of things that marketers could consider and think about and the first place my mind goes is using technology and I think that there’s so much that could be done just to keep everything top-of-mind you know if you have to take a pill everyday at a certain time then giving, feeding people the idea of how they can set themselves up for success because a lot of people want to do the right thing they just get distracted because look, life is pretty distracting especially right now we have a lot going on and so even just you know a lot of people are using wearable technologies most people have smartphones so whether or not you can use compliance through an app or just sending, setting up calendar notifications you know I’ve seen some really interesting dispensaries that are even sitting countertop in pharma I think that’s a brilliant innovation, I think in the world of CPG also keeping things top of mind through the use of social media and influencers has been a really key tactics to use and when done correctly it kind of starts to normalize behavior because if you see people that you’re admiring for whether or not it’s their cooking talent or their design talent or they’re an athlete or they’re a musician and they are talking and opening up and talking about whatever issue they have I think that it’s a really interesting way to start to normalize it which makes it more approachable which means that if you’re on you know the beach with your friends and you need to take your medication and it [unintelligible 00:17:51] it’s an uncomfortable moment or whatever it might be so I think that so much of it comes down to creating a society of open conversation that these stigmatizes a lot of these issues and I think as brands and as marketers we have an opportunity to positively influence how people are feeling and make them comfortable and I think that if you can make them comfortable that will allow them to use it and honestly the more they use it then the more they gonna need to refill it so I like to focus on usage rather than pushing and you know what obviously with classic marketer any things about push and pull marketing I’d rather pull through more consumption and therefore have people establish very positive you know work habits then make them feel like it’s pushed upon them because when you think about let’s just talk for a second I’m sure there’s a lot of parents listening right now, how hard is it to push your kid to do something versus to kind of give them an idea and set something in front of them and let them kind of walk in to it with more of an open mind and I think that you know we have a lot to learn from our children there’s a lot of good stuff that you can learn from parenting and bring it to the world of marketing too.
RJ (PMN): That’s so funny you said cause I actually a note on my phone called things my son taught me
Stephanie (HOWM): Ah I love it
RJ (PMN): And I write them down all the time cause you’re absolutely right he’s only seven but I learned things from him all the time that’s great and you mentioned that
Stephanie (HOWM): [unintelligible 00:19:25] And you what it is, I just want to finish that thought with kids. Kids are naturally expansive in thinking because
RJ (PMN): Yes
Stephanie (HOWM): they haven’t learned and they haven’t cultivated all those fears that we have and adults are so reductive we’re so well I tried that before where it didn’t work before well I’m not gonna climb that lather cause I might fall and so if we can all you know that’s a big tool in a world of innovation and creativity to embrace that childlike expansive thinking and if you put yourself in the child shoes you know it’s the same thing it’s like walking it the shoes of the people that you’re trying to help and I just think that that gives us empathy that helps us see the world through another person’s eyes and understand helps us understand how to better reach them.
RJ (PMN): Totally I love that expansive thinking and you’re so right there’s no time when I’m more fascinated then watching him play like uses imagination to kind of create a story it’s just so remarkable what comes out
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah
RJ (PMN): So you mentioned that you know people are distracted especially today in this age of covid-19 and you know one of the ways that brands are facing this will give you a little bit of background on pharma there have been a few brands who have actually delayed their launch because of this and when you’re dealing with a drug that’s got a limited amount of patent life that’s a major economic decision to talk about delaying a brand launch after you get approval but what tell me about your how would you suggest brands consider launches in this kind of unusual time you know what suggestions you have for them?
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah that’s such an important thing to be thinking about because gosh I feel it I mean I work on medical devices class two which is much shorter than what some of your listeners are going through in terms of on the latent and impact of life cycles and so I think that it’s really important to realize that yesterday’s playbook may not work in today’s environment and with that in mind it doesn’t mean that your product in what you’re selling is off it just means how do you talk about it and where do you talk about it and to me that’s when the first thing that I would do is say circle back with the people that you’re looking to reach and focus in on what’s going on in the greater world for media consumption and trend and so obviously some of the the rules of yesterday are not going to be as approachable especially with telemedicine being at all time highs right so you’re not necessarily in the office to get a sample if that was a big part of your strategy so you know you need to really stay true to what you’re offering why do you believe in it, so what are you selling and what purpose are you serving to people and really look through the lens of culture to understand okay what are today’s insights, what are what are the challenges of today because I’ll say that you know if you’re talking about a medication that might help with somebody’s backache well instead of talking about a mom who might be shuttling around her kids and studying too much time in a car maybe that mom today is hunched over her laptop too long because her job went a hundred percent virtual and she’s working from home and so how you then play out these stories in your ads in the storytelling and the power of connection needs to be through the lens of today’s culture and insights. Where is the benefits and the reasons to believe may still be the same and may still be consistent because you know your drug is doing what you have as an intended view statement but at the same time the contexts that you started in just made me to be true for today’s culture.
RJ (PMN): Yeah you know what are the major things in today’s culture that most brands are dealing with and I want to get your thoughts on kind of what you think the future looks like but with pharma they’re very historical have been very rely on sales reps a field force to actually go out and call on doctors and I think covid has created kind of the greatest experiment if you will of all time of what effect does it have not having a field force in the field because not only can’t reps go out and see doctors that much right now because of the the disease but the doctors don’t want them there often you know they’re swamp they’re overloaded some of them even in the office they’re doing telemedicine as you pointed out and certainly the hospitals that are dealing with covid patients don’t want reps bothering them right now essentially what do you think this evolves into like what is the future of sales and marketing how’s that role going to change at the traditional kind of sales and marketing model versus where you think it’s going to be as we go forward?
Stephanie (HOWM):Yeah and that’s a powerful question because nobody has that crystal ball but what I can say is that I really believe in the use of technology and so many of us has proven how much we can get done from a virtual world I truly believe that sales and marketing working together can be really really important and collaborative and I think the world of that sales person they are your marketer to that gate gatekeeper like we were talking about before and I really think of it as you know more of that B2B marketing for the purposes of B2C and I think that there is such an opportunity to really lean into the technology because if doctors are doing telemedicine appointments with their patients then to me you can be so much more productive as a salesperson if you don’t have to spend hours and hours driving around in your car now you have the time to then book more appointments spend your time even if you’re not booking more appointments and you have the same number of doctors you should be able to spend more time diving deeply into the data and doing more strategic planning and connecting back to your marketing team ensuring that your strategies are in line or that whatever you’re learning from the doctors that you’re engaging with your feeding back to your marketing team so that he could obviously work in a continuous optimization standpoint but I think that it’s up to each one of us no matter what role we’re playing to search for the silver linings in the fact that we are challenged by different business dynamics and I think that when we look for those silver linings that’s where innovation happens you know innovation is not just by product it’s also by service and I think that the really smart folks that are working as sales reps right now or marketers right now you’re the ones that are going to be out there rewriting the rules so go ahead and rewrite it because to me in the end if you’re achieving your objective of communicating the features in the benefits and the reasons why whatever it is that you’re selling is a really important tool for doctors to use in engaging with the people that their meeting with each day that come for them for help then you’re doing your job and so if you are able to tell her that based upon todays news and who your working with then you’re gonna be successful and I think it’s exciting.
RJ (PMN):Yeah yeah that’s great. You mentioned like for a launch the playbook has kind of been torn up and it’s a different world. Generally I think the marketing playbook to degree has been kind of torn up and it’s a different world we’re hearing from a lot of clients about an increase focus on NPP or non-personal promotion you know what is the supplement to the rep, what is an augmentation to the rep and a lot of times that comes down to media and digital media in particular you’ve partnered with a lot of media entities overtime and done brand partnerships with a lot of different media entities what do you think some of the core elements are today that make for a good solid brand partnership between brand and media?
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah and I think that that’s so critical and that the number one thing top of mind is an organizing philosophy where your messaging can feel authentic and reach the right people and I think that from there you can be so creative to be able to work and bring something to life in a way that’s engaging and you know what they say like sometimes you need to engage with something in order for the messaging to really be sticky and I think it’s our job to think of sticky marketing situations and if you are you know engaging with I don’t know like we can talk about anything like I think major league baseball does a great job of bringing to life their partnerships because whatever you know your food that there in a brand of partnership with well there is not only sign is but they’re saying they’re talking about it and then the host that are even even commentating on you know the games are eating it and sampling it and you know the end watcher doesn’t even believe doesn’t even know that that’s actually a branded integration and I think the most successful ones are the ones that don’t come across as pushy they’re not advertising it so if you can come into situations where somebody can talk about like you know if an athlete able to say wow my tennis game was so great today I’m so grateful for the fact that you know I’m on this new medication and it’s working really well for me again just thought starters but it just feels so authentic whether or not you’re talking about to a media agency or to an influencer or to a celebrity I think brand partnerships they’re so critical for us to really believe and really not look at something cause consumers get so many advertising new messages each day it’s a little played out sometimes.
RJ (PMN): Yes yeah I forget what the current status but I remember this is going back a few years it was like twenty thousand a day we were hit with the last time I saw the number it was even higher than that which is kind of amazing
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah
RJ (PMN): And it’s probably actually getting higher not lower with all the evolving technologies. Let’s talk about technology for a second
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah
RJ (PMN): I think and often lot of people who are probably listening to this podcast maybe four months ago didn’t know what zoom even was and today they’re probably spending you know 30 hours a week on it. The technologies have really kind of risen and they seem to be accelerating we did a poll recently and it was kind of a pun intended poll where we said you know what’s the main driver of your digital transformation strategy was it your CEO, your CMO, your CTO or covid-19?
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah that’s it. I mean the fact that you’re asking that question that’s concerning but I get it.
RJ (PMN): But you know to no surprise about 80% of people came back and said covid-19 it’s basically taken, taken that is forced us to take our five-year digital transformation strategy and condense it down to five months and that seems to be happening a lot and interestingly the technology seems to be there to support in many ways like you just said we all seem to be adapting you know probably better than I think most would have thought to this new world. How do you think about technology when it comes to marketing like marrying the two together, what’s the best way to leverage tack for the business?
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah yeah. So I am a huge fan of leaving leaning into things that have never been done before and you know really I love to get into a beta test I think it’s amazing cause you learned so much and you optimize so a couple of things one is make sure that you understand your measurement and make sure you understand what you’re looking to learn and the second thing is taking an ongoing approach to optimization because if you’re trying something new and you’re doing it for the first time you have to know that some things are not going to work out that great and whatever they are keep an open mind and improve upon them but the third thing and this is kind of where things can drive me bananas is when you lean into technology just for the sake of leaning it to the technology. My personal view is that this whole world of adaptation right now is working so well because it had a purpose that sit behind it our purpose was to actually be able to work and actually be able to communicate because everything was stripped away from us and so they are for people had to adapt because there was a purpose they had to be able to keep their business running whatever that might be my pet peeve is when people fall in love with the technology and then say okay well now how do I use this in my business and not think about marrying it back to objectives in how that could see that technology could help enable success and I think it’s great if you see a technology and you fall in love with it but I also think it’s great if you say that who I don’t really see a fit for me or this could distract me from my business or this really isn’t a good fit for now but might be later so I’m all about trying new things but I think it’s really important to make sure that it’s helping you solve a problem or helping you to fill your need and then executing it with every sense of purpose in mind because if you don’t tie back to that then it’s kind of like what’s the point what’s the point if it’s going to serve as a distraction for you.
RJ (PMN): Yeah totally so measure, optimize, try and improve. Talk about what those measurements look like, like how do you establish KPIs and how do you think about KPIs and particularly when you’re going after something kind of new that you haven’t done before.
Stephanie (HOWM): Yeah yeah I think that some of the biggest issues that I’ve seen come from not measuring what matters and so I’ll flip that to the positive. Please measure what matters and the reason why is because if you have a whole group of people caring about a certain metric and that’s not a metric that helps you achieve your objectives then you’re wasting a lot of green power and energy and it’s so important to set what you need to achieve and then understand some of the leading and lagging indicators that help you achieve that goal and I think it’s really important to then look at measurement through the lens of optimization so I’ll share with you an example that you know we had that I’ve experienced, when you’re working with YouTube and some YouTube buys can have very small media buys and some if you’re buying the Masthead which is what everybody see is when they go on to the home screen is an enormous expenditure well you better do some testing in your smaller media buys optimizing your thumbnail, optimizing your headline, optimizing you know any bit of that content before you put it up for the main show when you’re spending a tremendous amount of money so I think that there is so many ways to use data I don’t like when data is just used as a check the box kind of line cause that’s really not helping anybody it’s all about saying how can I leverage measurement for the sake of optimizing and spend maybe 10% of your media dollars take a beat and learn and then spend the other 90% this way you can make sure that your dollars are working [unintelligible 00:35:22] let’s not look [unintelligible 00:35:24] at ROI, let’s build in that sense of optimization so that you can then have the benefit of greater returns during the actual campaign.
RJ (PMN):That’s that’s awesome, that’s awesome. Well I know our listeners are getting a strong ROI on the 30 minutes they just spent listening to your thoughts on marketing. If they want to get in touch with you to get an even better ROI and continue the conversation. What’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Stephanie (HOWM): Thanks my email is email@example.com it’s Stephanie with a PH or you can check out what I’m up to, I have the website Heartofwhymarketing.com
RJ (PMN): Awesome. Steph, I can’t wait to go to dinner with you again and you know mask or no mask we’ll figure it out but when this things starts to lighten up and we’re all out and about I’d love to to break bread with you again sometime soon
Stephanie (HOWM): Yes fingers crossed but sooner [unintelligible 00:36:27] my friend.
RJ (PMN): Yes agreed. I want to thank you for being our guest today on the Pharma Marketing Network Podcast and that was Stephanie Berez you just heard from Founder and Managing Director of HEART OF WHY MARKETING. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you next time.
Listen to this podcast, Ep. 011 – Stephanie Berez here: https://www.pharma-mkting.com/the-pharma-marketing-podcast/