An Interview with Joe Shields – Tips on Improving 2019 Brand Plan – October 2018

Joe Shields has led US & global marketing, new product development, strategy and enterprise innovation for Fortune 100 companies in specialty chemicals, telecommunications, biopharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics. He recently co-founded a new venture – Health Accelerators– a marketing strategy & services agency that helps suppliers engage leading life sciences companies and their brand teams.

The DHC asked him some questions about biopharma, innovation and what’s ahead. Meet Joe at the DHC 2019 Trends Session on November 13 at Ferring Pharmaceuticals in Parsippany, NJ. 

DHC: Many biopharma companies seem to move from one hot trend or technology to the next, resulting in a series of short-term gains. How do you sell technology and innovation to senior management for the long haul?

JOEFocus on outcomes. Biopharma companies often talk about selling the destination (outcomes) and not the journey (science & medicines). However, many haven’t yet fully committed to telling their stories to their key stakeholders — like the airlines — that sell exotic locations instead of logistics services. And while we collectively moan at most of the direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads on TV, they do a good job of highlighting the emotional benefits of medicines (being a better mom, dancing at my son’s wedding) in addition to the functional ones (I can garden again, I can sleep through the night).

When selling tech-enabled solutions within pharma companies, we also must focus on the destination (customer or business value) instead of the journey (algorithm, cloud, API) for most of our stakeholders. Fortunately we have a few decades of learning from consumer tech companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google that have done an incredible job positioning their technologies to customers as a means to an end, usually a more colorful, connected and creative life.

DHC: Is patient centricity a fad?

JOE No—it’s here to stay. Consumerism trends in other industries made it inevitable. Customers today are not satisfied simply being passive consumers of the products and services that companies churn out. They demand to be part of the process, to be involved. The internet made crowdsourcing cheap and widespread, and that was a great start at truly involving customers in decision making about R&D, product and service specifications, marketing programs, customer support and sustainability.

In healthcare, integrated systems, biopharma companies and startups routinely include patients in co-creation sessions for new products and services designed to improve both experience and outcomes. And the importance of meaningful patient involvement in drug development is finally being recognized by the US FDA’s Patient-Focused Drug Development (PFDD) guidance that aims to include patients in crafting clinical trial protocols and ensure that endpoints meet the needs of patients in addition to those of researchers.

DHC:As someone who has led Marketing for the blockbuster biologic ENBREL and other pharma brands, what advice do you have for brand managers to prepare for 2019?

JOEFirst, ensure that your programs are designed to achieve specific and measurable business results. Sometimes pharma marketing investments support vague goals like ‘category leadership’ or ‘improving the customer experience.’ If you can’t clearly connect an investment to a precise business strategy or outcome, it’s probably not the best use of your limited funds. Next, ensure that your tactical elements work together as a marketing system. It’s better to invest in a few programs that integrate well and systematically move a prospect through the buying funnel than it is to “spray and pray” your money away. Finally, look for synergies across programs directed at patients, payers and providers. These three customer groups have interdependencies, and your overall approach should understand the synergies and enable smoother handoffs among them.

The DHC thanks Joe Shields for sharing his time and expertise!

Pharma/Biotech/Med Device marketers are invited to come learn more from Joe and other experts on November 13th. The DHC is hosting a free working session focused on ensuring success for your 2019 plans. Request a seat today – click here.