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The Yardstick

I was having a conversation last week with one of my contacts in a life sciences company, who was lamenting the fact that not only do unrealistic questions get asked about ROI regarding digital/social media strategies, but that there seems to be a dearth of any holistic way of tracking effectiveness for ALL marketing efforts.

Do we REALLY have a clue about the financial value and return our various marketing initiatives, across all channels? Is there an effective way to benchmark marketing ROI across all channels?

From what I’m seeing, very few companies are taking a holistic view of marketing strategy/effectiveness across multiple channels; most still seem to be stuck in the inertia of looking only at silos, and only at short-term results.

So – if you know of a company that is really making progress in this area (life sciences or not) – can you share in the comments how this is getting done? I’m not looking for answers like, “we backed up a dump truck with all the gold in Fort Knox to the front door of a big global consulting firm and they re-engineered us!” I’m looking for tangible solutions, and/or groundbreaking examples.

What are you seeing? Please stuff the comments with ideas, suggestions, helpful links…thanks!

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Impactiviti: A Labor of Love

I’m a professional “matchmaker” and network builder. I help people and companies connect with the resources they need.

And I love it. I love writing, brainstorming, consulting, and helping good clients and partners get together. I find that when I describe my “job” to people, spontaneously the expression will pop out of my mouth, “I love what I do!

On a holiday called Labor Day, it’s hard to think of a more fitting declaration.

Have I always loved my jobs? Of course not. In the course of my long and not-so-illustrious trek to this stage of my life, I’ve worked as a paperboy, a grocery store clerk, a factory worker, a McDonald’s grillman (twice), a busboy, a waiter, a wine steward, a pastoral intern,  a mason’s assistant, a painter, a med device salesman, a sales/marketing/biz dev guy for a software solutions company – you get the picture.

Some of those were just jobs – exchanging labor for a paycheck. Some were great developmental steps along the way – at times, very enjoyable, but always with an admixture of wearing uniforms and fulfilling roles that didn’t quite fit. Working for people with whom I did not always see eye-to-eye.

I suspect that this career trajectory is pretty normal for many of us. And most of us yearn to be in a place where our work is, and increasingly becomes, a labor of love.

If that’s your yearning, here’s my advice.

[Update: related and thought-provoking post from Mitch Joel. Good stuff!]

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Why I Love Consulting

A very large part of my Impactiviti business is client-vendor “matchmaking” – recommending optimal providers to my clients for their outsourced training and marketing needs. It’s a pretty unique business model in the industry and immensely enjoyable.

However, I have to admit – I still love consulting.

When you’re inside a company, your ideas are unavoidably shaped and constrained by current conditions – existing people, platforms, and processes – so that it is difficult to step outside and take a big picture view. Being able to come in from the outside and ask fresh questions, and suggest new directions, is incredibly gratifying. Sometimes, in a very short period of time, an entire new strategy can emerge.

There’s nothing quite like that. It’s like a long-overdue “Reset”!

And, at times, I need it too. I’m in the process of re-focusing my professional identity and branding, and at some point, even though I provide consulting in those areas, I plan to engage some external help. Why? Because I can’t step outside and see myself and my business clearly. I need another voice. A different creative perspective. Someone not in my little box.

It’s more than OK to admit you need an outside perspective. Some consultants earn a bad name for the entire field by charging an arm and a leg for recycled ideas and a value that doesn’t go beyond CYA (“well, Big-Shot-Consulting-Group said we should do it this way!”) But others do it right – bringing not just industry knowledge, but a new way of seeing and thinking.

(btw, I provide direct consulting in the following areas for pharma/biotech: Sales Training strategy; Technology Platforms for Communication and Training; Social Media Strategy. Outside those areas, I can provide recommendations for other consultants…)

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Glad you asked.

Impactiviti is a networking agency. We exist to help our pharma/biotech clients find ideal vendor/partners for training and marketing projects – that’s what pays the bills. But we’re also encouraging the use of social networking approaches in business communications, and our entire business model is built on person-to-person and on-line networking.

We help you find what you need. Sometimes that’s a new vendor, sometimes it’s contact with a peer in another company, sometimes it’s a new job (or employee), sometimes it’s information. It’s our goal to continually bring value to you by making new connections.

The income side our Impactiviti’s business model is a referral fee structure – when our clients turn to us for recommended suppliers, and we introduce targeted best-in-class vendor partners, we get paid based on win-win new business. This costs the client nothing, and the other networking services we provide “behind the scenes” also are provided free of charge. This is how we figure it – if we consistently add value with our recommendations and you like what we provide, you’ll talk about us and recommend us to others. Everyone wins.

Vendor selection is both an art and a science. Some vendors may be skilled in one area, but really aren’t the optimal choice in another. Your goal is to have the best “fit” for your need(s), and our goal is to provide you with an optimal match – saving you the time and hassle of trying to sort through pitches and claims by dozens of providers. And the wrong fit can be disastrous – lost time, lost money, and a blow to your reputation.

We also do some traditional paid consulting engagements on sales training strategy, technology, and social media strategy.

Here’s some of what we do to keep you informed and networked:

The Impactiviti Connection – an (almost) daily quick news digest plus analysis, links, and commentary. Sign up right here.

LinkedIn Networking Groups – we administer one for pharma sales/training/marketing professionals, and one for vendors/suppliers/consultants. Overview and link to sign up here.

Live-blogging of conferences – we attend numerous targeted conferences and feed information out in real-time (and post-event) via Twitter and blogger. Here’s the current listing of events.

We also present workshops on social media, and project definition/RFP design/vendor selection/vendor management.

Feel free to contact us (stevew at impactiviti dot com, or phone at 973-947-7429) to discuss any of your needs!

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Connect with Steve Woodruff

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What should be the foundation of a pharma company’s business ethics – the Golden Rule or the Gold-in Rule? That’s the subject of my guest post on the healthcare blog KevinMD. And, lest any think I have unbalanced views, here’s a counter-balancing thought (for the record).

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The days of sending out armies of sales reps equipped with product knowledge and selling skills are over.

In the new environment, healthcare professionals will (rightly) expect representatives from drug companies to provide much greater value on the business level.

Some of Impactiviti’s preferred partners specialize in training offerings to help create more business-savvy and valuable field employees. The business of healthcare is changing and becoming more complex. The ability to think strategically and broadly will continue to grow.

If this type of offering is what you’re looking for, contact Steve Woodruff at Impactiviti. We’ll introduce you to an optimal vendor/partner with a track record of success.

(And, if you’re in need of any aspect of sales force or management training, we can identify optimal partners for you!)

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Impactiviti is a consultancy focused on helping companies identify optimal partners for training/marketing needs. This vendor/client “matchmaking” service is provided free of charge to client companies (preferred partners pay a referral fee when a new business relationship is established).

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A Tale of Two Shoes

I have wide feet. Not a big problem (I guess my balance is pretty good) – except when I have to buy shoes. Since I need to find shoes that are WWW, when I find something that fits, I’ll often buy two sets with different colors (say, black and cordovan) because it ain’t easy to find something comfortable.

This week, I had an early morning flight to Chicago. I’d packed up the night before, but floundered around a bit getting dressed in the early morning darkness, as my wife and I had just switched closets. I put on my comfortable work/travel loafers and headed out to Newark airport in plenty of time for my flight.

2shoes-smDoing the standard routine of piling all my stuff on the conveyor belt for passenger screening, I popped off my shoes to put in the plastic bin, and suddenly noticed, with bemused horror, that one shoe was black, and the other cordovan! They were a matched set all right, in style and fit – there was even a right and a left version. They just happened to be…umm, mismatched!

My first instinct was to look around in profound embarrassment at being such a bozo as to wear mismatched shoes. Then I realized that what I had done was a perfect illustration of what my work is all about helping clients with vendor selection. When you’re trying to find a match “in the dark,” there’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up with…well, something like what you see above! My role, in helping you find a vendor match, is to save you the lost time and (potentially) lost professional reputation by recommending a vendor that is the right size, fit, and style for you.

I was tempted to go in to see my client wearing these shoes as an example. But, professional propriety forced me stop off and do what many of you have had to do in the past – spend extra time and money making up for a mistake when selecting something without enough light. So, now I have a new pair of casual loafers that are pretty nice (but I don’t really need) and I get to drink my own Kool-Aid next time and make sure that I have the right “match” before starting out!

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