Why We Did What We Did
Thursday, September 20, 2018
2e is on fire. Like the really good, Frampton-pre-1977 kind of fire.
We’re growing leaps and bounds, spilling over to new floors in our building with more amazing new talent than I knew existed. We’re kicking out some of the most amazing award-winning work the healthcare world has ever seen. Our client roster is adorned with the most exciting brands in the history of life science. We continue to roll out more and more integrated capabilities designed to propel our entrusted brands higher than ever. And of course, there’s being named MM&M’s Healthcare Agency of the Year for the third consecutive year.
So naturally, just as things are starting to settle into a comfortable cadence of awesome, I can’t help myself but shake it all up by acquiring a company with a completely foreign client roster, skill set and zip code.
You may, as have many of my contemporaries, be scratching your head on the logic of acquiring Fire & Rain, a company focused on team development, training and performance improvement for pharma companies. But if you look at the trajectory of the agency business, it makes perfect sense.
Take look at the evolution of life sciences marketing. Early on, pharma and device marketers realized this niche called for a specific set of skills (insert your own Liam Neeson joke here), and in response, finely tuned healthcare agencies emerged. And for many years they flourished!
But then, over the last, say, five years, three Big Shifts have collided, driving many healthcare agencies to their knees, while creating astounding opportunity for others. Here they are:
- More drugs and devices are being launched than ever before. We’ve seen data suggesting as much as 3x increase in the volume and velocity of new drug and device filings over the last 10 years. This screams for the efficiency and agility of nimble, independent agencies like 2e.
- We’re in the midst of a generational marketer baton pass. The bulk of Boomers are transitioning out of brand marketing positions and into senior leadership roles (and in some cases, retirement). They’re being backfilled by the substantially smaller Gen X, with larger organizations reaching out internationally to fill vacant US marketing positions. This new generation of marketer demands collaboration and transparency, both traits of nimble, independent agencies like 2e.
- Healthcare marketing has changed. A successful launch calls for much more than the standard TV spot, print placements and detail aid. Patient empowerment fueled by the digital revolution has exponentially increased the spectrum and complexity of engagement channels marketers are now asked to master. And because budgets don’t also scale exponentially, brands are placing substantial (well-deserved) emphasis on data collection and ROI measurement.
So the industry is being asked to launch more products, with fewer tenured marketers, leveraging an ever-growing bag of tricks. And with the same (or smaller) budget. In my last rant, I sketched a future for agencies in which we evolve past noise creation to function as strategy stewards and tactical navigators for the success of clients. Agencies should deliver expertise and experience that helps clients make better business decisions. I’ll push that a step further: Agencies should function as launch and growth engines for their clients. And that’s what we’ve built at 2e.
Launch and growth. Sounds lofty. Frankly, it is. Truth is, we can’t deliver (with excellence) every conceivable capability a company would need to launch and grow a drug or device. So we focused on building strength in four key areas we believe have the greatest impact on launch success. Coincidentally these also represent the four functional areas that frustrate marketers the most throughout the launch process.
- Capabilities that help clients make better business decisions – Strategy, analytics, upstream consulting, market access, payer guidance, regulatory strategy, etc.
- Capabilities that help clients build and grow their brand – Creative, DTC promotion, disease state awareness, HCP engagement, media strategy, etc.
- Capabilities that help clients build and grow their people – Sales training, leadership development, internal communications, meetings and events, etc. This is where Fire & Rain comes in, and why that acquisition makes so much sense.
- Capabilities that empower clients with technology – eDetailing, digital media, sales toolkit analytics, data collection and analysis, etc.
With these four focus areas engaged, organizations of all sizes have a fully integrated toolkit to successfully launch and grow brands in this new, dynamic marketplace. We now have all the components in place and are proving our mission to commercialize, launch and support therapies more efficiently and effectively than currently possible by either traditional networks or boutique agencies. Even better, we can do it with the agility, authenticity, aggressive thinking and efficiency of a bespoke independent agency and the expertise, reach and horsepower of traditional large healthcare agencies.
So why did an independent healthcare agency acquire a sales training and team development company? Because it was the last missing link in a value chain that will allow 2e to connect people with the therapies and technologies that make life better, brighter and more fulfilling. And in the end, that’s all that matters to us.