S&R Blog


It’s Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile!

In its heyday, GM developed an advertising campaign for their Oldsmobile brand in an attempt to sway younger buyers.  Oldsmobile had been a long standing success for GM among middle-aged and older buyers, but they wanted younger customers. So they came up with a new campaign, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”, which spoke to the innovation, sleek styling and sex-appeal that an Oldsmobile could provide.

At the risk of sounding like my own father, I have concluded that doing business today is a lot like that now-famous Oldsmobile campaign.  Doing business today is not based on the practices I was taught to honor, respect and hold sacred.  In fact, today’s business world is quite like the Wild West—plenty of outlaws, snake-oil peddlers and people looking to be the “biggest gun in town”.

The first difference I find is the ability to take people at their word.  With all the muttered promises, downright lies and “handshake” deals that frankly are not worth a damn, you simply can’t do that anymore.  Could it be a generational gap? New generational values? Or am I becoming an old fart?  It almost doesn’t matter, because when you are unable to trust people to do what they say, something is wrong.  Taking people at their word should mean that there is an understanding between two people that certain expectations will be met.

The second difference is a growing inability to conduct business on a face-to-face basis.  As I compose this blog on my computer, check my smart phone for text, e-mail messages, check my voice-mail and find comfort and safety behind my computer screen, I understand where some of the problem resides.  The ability to engage people in a “live conversation”, either face-to-face, via the phone or via virtual meeting technology is increasingly more difficult.  But I simply can’t think of many successful personal or business relationships I have had where I wasn’t able to interact with people “live”.  Really, how can you build trust and understanding when you have to submit proposals and information via a “blinded web portal”?

The final difference is the “it ain’t grown here” mentality.  My business, in great part, depends on selling ideas, creativity and high-quality implementation of those ideas.  Yet it often feels like that is not what our clients really want.  The typical interaction with our clients is often very one-sided: the client says, “We want an electronic sales program that looks like this and says this, and we need a price for that by tomorrow afternoon.”  Now, some of you reading this might ask, “What’s wrong with that?”

What’s wrong is that it may not be true that an electronic sales program is the correct solution to the problem they are trying to solve.  What has been lost is the long-term strategy (translation: today’s stock share-price) that’s critical to the process and driven by the following key questions: What do your client’s customers really want?  How should you create messages and images that ensure your customers understand and accept your brand?  What media will best reach the demographics of your target audience?

If the above are, in fact, the hallmarks of business practices in the future, so be it.  I personally don’t agree with doing business in these ways—but then everyone has their own opinion (and orifice).  It’s just that when you can’t trust people, interact with them on a face-to-face basis and expect them to have an open mind on how they manage their business, it, doesn’t bode well for the future.

So, with that in mind and that said, I think I will change my Depends, wipe the drool from my chin, sit on the front porch of the assisted-living center and try to find some Oldsmobile ads in the magazine I am reading.

David H. Recht

CEO North State Resources
Holding company for S+R Medical Communications

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It’s raining pumpkins in Durham
November 11, 2009, 2:56 pm
Filed under: advertising | Tags: , , , ,

After nearly 2 weeks of feasting on Halloween candy, we still have few post-halloween treats to share with everyone.



25 things every pharma product manager should know before creating a marketing plan for 2010 and beyond
October 9, 2009, 2:52 pm
Filed under: advertising, behavior | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Plus a few more. If you are a non-believer in the effect of social media on the media landscape check out socialnomics. If you are a believer, then what you may not know is how other mediums are changing for the better or worse. Introducing, Did you know 4.0.



If your ad suffers from one of these traits, you may need to rethink it
October 1, 2009, 1:55 pm
Filed under: advertising | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Every brand manager, marketing director, CMO, account person and creative wants to know –  what makes the perfect ad? Is it the headline or the visual? What about that brilliant logo? Maybe it’s the call-to-action or the tagline that keeps them coming back for more? Or that one design element that caused you to stop in your tracks and stand at attention?

Whatever it may be, the folks at Business Week (Steve McKee) have created a simple list to tell you what it shouldn’t be:

1. Boring. Yep, boring. Why do we watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, or go online? Three reasons: information, entertainment, and engagement. Ads that fail to offer at least two of these three benefits flop.

2. Boorish. You shouldn’t think of your advertising as being about your brand, you should think of it as an extension of your brand (see “A Practical Guide to Branding”). If it’s loud, annoying, insulting, offensive, or self-centered, people will think the same of your products or services (see “The Cocktail Party Test for Advertising”).

3. Safe. If you worry too much about offending someone, you’re likely to not attract anyone.

4. Trying to do too much. The best an ad can do is communicate one single, compelling idea, and in the age of the Internet—when people know they can go online to get all the additional information they need—it’s crazy to ask an ad to do more than that.

5. Fixing a non-advertising problem. A common mistake many companies make is trying to use advertising to fix another problem. It may be faulty or outdated product design, an uncompetitive cost structure, customer service letdowns, or any number of other things. It’s not as if they do so intentionally; it’s just that it’s a whole lot easier to put on a new coat of paint than it is to fix the foundation that’s causing the drywall to crack.

Read Steve’s full list here.



Has pharmaceutical advertising regressed?
September 17, 2009, 3:27 pm
Filed under: advertising | Tags: , , , , , ,

Simple and effective. More classics can be found at AdViews.



How to use market research in a recession

Everywhere you turn you’re bound to hear about how the recession has put a death grip on the wallets of consumers and has refused to let go for any extended period of time. As a result, products are staying on the shelves longer, profits are going into the red, and marketing budgets are being chopped with ginsu-like precision.

As mentioned in an earlier post, cutting budgets may not be the way to recession-proof your brand in this time of uncertainty. But should you need to reduce your marketing budget, John Quelch (Harvard Business School) gives a few pointers on how to get the most for your dollar when it comes to finding the right data and insights for your brand.

Stay focused. Savvy marketers focus their research on the products, brands, and markets that are key to their marketing strategy. In a recession, it’s essential to get a clear read on existing core customers, including those who are most loyal to the brand and those who are most profitable, rather than fritter away research resources on potential or peripheral consumers.

Enlist trusted partners. Marketers and research suppliers who trust each other and have established long-term relationships can jointly plan how to extract more insights and make better decisions based on fewer expenditures.

Value experience and judgment. CMOs should tap the knowledge and intuitions of managers and researchers who’ve lived through previous recessions. In setting prices, for example, such insight can help calibrate the optimal level of price promotion offers.

Seize opportunities overseas. Some large multinational marketers, such as Unilever, are shifting research expenditures away from Western Europe and toward emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. Relative to the developed economies, the costs of research in emerging economies are less and the payoff from incremental insight can often be greater.

Go online with a dash of skepticism. Online research is cheap, fast, and the wave of the future. Tools like SurveyMonkey allow non-expert users to create custom surveys in minutes. As an alternative to offline focus groups, custom online panels of consumers can be formed for qualitative research on new product ideas or new ads.

Don’t cut across the board. Just as important as knowing where to cut research is knowing where not to cut. When marketers are creating fewer new ads and introducing fewer new products, it is doubly important to use rigorous pretesting to select the strongest alternatives.

Keep an eye on the new consumer. No one has a perfect record of predicting the future, and the recession is making it harder for consumers to envision or articulate their needs. Even so, and despite budget pressures, smart marketers devote a portion of their market research to getting a handle on future changes in consumer behavior.

The full article can be found here.



Hey, Big Pharma! Here’s Twitter Search in plain English.
July 16, 2009, 2:39 pm
Filed under: advertising | Tags: , , , , , ,

If you have yet to dip your toe into the micro-blogging phenom known as Twitter, I suggest you start here (100 pharma uses for Twitter) or here (social media in plain English). But if you’re figuring out where Twitter can fit into your future plans, I would suggest you watch this: