BOOK REVIEW : The Next Evolution of Marketing

Why do you work in healthcare marketing? Meaning. If you’re like me, you believe the work you do matters at a very high level because it ultimately improves human healthcare. The products or services you market either literally touch patients’ lives or are one degree away from doing so.

Yet in an exchange I had with author Bob Gilbreath, a P&G vet and author, he appropriately reminds me that “trust in many healthcare companies, particularly pharma companies, continues to decline and has about the same trust levels as the tobacco and oil industries.”  He’s right. Much of this distrust is due to our marketing strategies and tactics. This is why I found the concept of marketing with meaning in his book The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning refreshingly innovative, customer centric, and purposeful to me as practicing marketer.

Marketing with Meaning

His book, an Ad Age top 10 for 2009, challenges us to move away from talking at customers through traditional marketing tactics, like TV advertising, e-mail blasts, and sell sheets. It classifies these tactics as interruptive, self-serving, and ultimately ineffective.

Marketing with meaning attracts customer participation by providing unique and personally valuable benefits. It aims to educate, inspire, and earn credibility, rather than promote—pull versus push. It’s marketing that people chose, want, and even seek to engage with. The book’s primary premise is that our marketing, itself, can directly improve customers’ lives and in return improve our business outcomes.

The Hierarchy of Meaningful Marketing

To create personally valuable marketing, you have to deeply understand your target audience. Bob aligns his marketing model with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a way to uncover unmet needs and desires. The model is a pyramid with three phases:

1) Solution marketing: provide valuable information, incentives, and services, for example, how-to education, samples, and coupons.

2) Connection marketing: create value-added experiences that customers can share with others, for instance, contests, viral entertainment, and community building.

3) Achievement marketing: help customers improve themselves, their families, and the world, for example, linking your product to a relevant social cause, teaching a skill, and improving their health beyond the use of a product.

When you elevate your marketing within your target audience into the higher marketing phases, customers will seek to engage with your brand. Meaningful engagement will lead to product differentiation, price protection, and long-term loyalty. Ultimately, it will lead to better business outcomes.

From Concept to Implementation

Once you settle on a strategy, there are hundreds of examples, case studies, and ideas peppered in this book that can help you brainstorm. In my dialogue with the author, he cited three recent healthcare best practices: “Bayer partnered with Nintendo to create a video game that helps kids with diabetes learn how to test their blood sugar regularly. Also in the diabetes category, Sanofi-Aventis created an iPhone app called GoMeals that helps people manage their diet. And last year, Pfizer created a program that provides free prescriptions to people who lost their jobs due to the economy.”

The book gets into detail on how to implement this type of marketing with metrics, objectives, and processes. For more information, you can download a free iPhone app in Bob’s blog ( that has links to over 500 examples. You can also view a video presentation at Authors@Google.

I recommend this book to marketers who are looking for new ideas to drive business by better serving their target audience. The concept, if executed, can also help you live a more fulfilling career. In our way, as marketers, it serves as a reminder that through our work we can better our world.

Good marketing!

Ramiro Roman

Published in PM360

Maximizing marketing effectiveness through Change Acceleration Process (CAP)

Last week I found myself at the GE Healthcare Institute listening to a lecture on CAP.  We were privileged to have an adjunct professor from the John F. Welch Leadership Development Center.  General Electric (GE) is the creator of CAP, which is defined by the Harvard Business Review as “a process the equips leaders with a proven method of managing change and prepares them to succeed as change agents.”

If you’re in commercial marketing and are responsible for planning and executing strategic programs, then I’d argue that you should be an excellent change agent.  It’s not enough to be the “smartest” or “most strategic.”  Leave that for the academics.  We marketeers, who make a living out of our profession, need to increase the probability of success of all our programs.  CAP provides a model to achieve this end.

Why do marketing programs succeed or fail?

As I look back over the 18-years of commercial experience, the marketing programs that have worked out were well executed, by design.  The others that have been sub-optimal were because they did not have the appropriate organizational – people – support.  Top of mind on my list of “wish I could take that back” are:

  • New segmentation models that failed to materialize past the binder that was handed out.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) implementation with very little adherence to reporting.
  • Pricing strategies contingent on customer type, which had no governance. 
  • A joint venture with a dual sales distribution plans that were not aligned on incentives. 
  • The list can unfortunately go on, and on…


As I reflect on these, I realize that people issues are the biggest challenge through the execution phasePeople naturally resist change.  When we attempt to roll out new programs to our teams (direct reports, sales, operations, compensation, etc.) we are faced with the same human resistance.  As marketers, we must plan for success with this background in mind.  Only then will our programs have an opportunity to be executed or even stand a chance of delivering on our objectives.

The CAP model can help

CAP is a handy tool that can be applied to any change we seek to implement.  As a marketer, I should see all my initiatives as change, particularly large programs, because at the core of it I am seeking a group of people to embrace, support and respond to the marketing programs.

Keep these 7 CAP phases in mind as you’re planning your next marketing program:

  1. Find leaders for the change.  Have a program sponsor/champion and the right team members who demonstrate visible, active, public commitment and support of the change.  People who walk the talk.
  2. Create a stakeholder-shared need.  A compelling reason to change, whether motivated by threat or opportunity, is instilled within the organization and widely shared through data, demonstration or demand.  Stakeholders need to be part of the need creation, no one likes to be told what to do, they want to be part of the solution – capitalize on this.    
  3. Create and communicate a vision, with input from stakeholders, early on the process.  The desired outcome of change is clear, legitimate, widely understood.  Outline your behavioral expectations for all stakeholders – define success in behavioral terms. 
  4. Mobilize commitment, down to the lowest levels.  Demand a strong commitment from constituents to invest in change, make it work, and provide the appropriate senior management attention.  Constituents commit to change and new standards.
  5. Help to make the change last.  Provide communication vehicles for change and learnings to be transferred throughout the organization.  Early wins are publicized to build momentum for the change.
  6. Monitor the progress.  Progress is benchmarked and realized.  Create relevant metrics by stakeholders to ensure accountability.
  7. Changing the systems and structures.  Making sure that the management practices (staffing, development, rewards, measures, communication, organizational design, IT, etc…) are used to complement and reinforce change.  


Utilize these steps as guides.  CAP is a way of leading, not just a simple list.  Your success will largely depend on your planning of the change and how you move your projects through these phases.  Try it!  I guarantee you more success!!!

Ramiro Roman




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3 Principles in the C.A.S.E. for Authenticity

  “To thine own self be true”

– William Shakespeare

Last week I wrote about the workshop presented by Professor Gareth Jones, a Fellow of the Centre for Management Development at London Business School.  The article has received high attention from readers and a high click-through rate in social media vehicles, so I wanted to follow-up with one more aspect of the Community, Authenticity, Significance, and Excitement (C.A.S.E.) leadership framework.

While the whole model is valuable and synergistic, I found the “Authenticity” portion the most refreshing.

What does a leader look like?

You have an image of that perfect being.  Deep inside you’ve been programmed with this stereotype.  Admit it to yourself.

However, the research Professor Jones and his partner, Dr. Rob Goffe, Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School, prove that all models of leadership eventually become extinct – therefore wrong.

Credibility and Trust

Think about the best bosses you’ve had in your career.  If you’re like me, these people have a diverse skill set and background.  Yet, what they have in common is that they earned my trust.  That is no different than what your followers expect from your leadership.  Whether you face it or chose to ignore it, YOU ARE A LEADER.  The question then becomes how you exert your leadership.  If you want to be successful, like those bosses you recalled, then you need to earn the trust of your team.

People only follow people who they trust and believe.  Volumes of research validate this.  In order for people to believe you, you have to be yourself.  Period.  The moment you fake your actions your followers will see through you and disengage.  This is why in spite of the organizational expectations or pressures you must remain true to yourself.

Professors Jones, in his workshop, provided 3 Principles to remain authentic:

  1. Consistency between words and actions – do what you say you’re going to do, all the time.
  2. Provide a common thread in your role performance – be consistent in your behavior, weaknesses and strengths.
  3. Be comfortable with your origins – remain true to your roots and whole persona.

At first read, these 3 Principles seem extremely simplistic.   And they are, but ask yourself “how many leaders do I see living these 3 Principles consistently”?  The answer is obvious – the simplistic is rather difficult, especially over time.

 WIFM (what’s in it for me)

Beyond the business aspect of being better leaders, following this advice keeps you closer to your core values.  I’m dumbfounded by people who say “I’m this way at home and that way work” – to me, with all due respect, it seems hypocritical and burdensome to try to be two different persons.  By being yourself at home and at work, you will not only be a more effective leader, you will find yourself happier altogether.

Ramiro Roman