KEY TAKEAWAY: The biopharma industry is in serious need of disruption, but if you’re a marketing disrupter you need not apply. Biopharma wants people who fit in, can attend meetings all day and people who support the industry even when it screws up.
When I first moved to the Boston area I interviewed with, what I thought, was a great company. Two weeks later I learned that someone else was offered the position and the feedback I got was that “I was too outspoken about the pharmaceutical industry”. He said that I should “tone down my tone and try again in a year”. Needless to say I’ll take a pass on that.
I have been able to have a great list of accomplishments because I challenged the status quo and have disrupted antiquated processes and thinking. I have been smart enough to do it professionally and with winning people over rather than like a bull in a china shop, but the results I have provided have added value to my team, my brand and my company.
Why aren’t there more disrupters within our industry? Because there are too many people who are far more interested in fitting in than taking the best path towards better, patient centered marketing. They attend conferences and pat themselves on the back with presentations that elevate their self worth and they shuffle off from meeting to meeting to be good boys and girls.
Agency people have seen this for a long time, but they have invoices that need to be paid so they ignore the lack of disruption within our industry. I have seen two or three agencies leave pharma clients because they are clueless, but we all know this doesn’t happen too much.
My advice? Seek out the people who can not only rock the boat but can tip it over. Reward people who are ashamed to be associated with bad or illegal marketing. We all need to challenge each other each and every day, but we need to do it with courtesy and respect. We need to stop spending so much time in meaningless meetings and instead get out and learn what it really feels like to be a patient.
Until that happens, the industry will be staffed by too many people who care more about their titles than what they actually do for patients.