Sometimes even large companies don’t have a clue about internet marketing

  • Sumo

I had an interesting meeting today. A copywriter friend had recommended me to a guy involved in data capture for a big pharmaceutical client. This guy, A, called me up to discuss first of all whether I’d be interested in creating a few press ads for him. Sure, I said. What do you need? I proposed a meeting in London, West End, and he agreed to that.

We met in a ‘Scandinavian’ cafe in Gt. Titchfield Street called Kaffeiene – picture a narrow cafe with lots of wood – and ordered our coffees. (Great coffee by the way). So we sat at a tall, narrow table and A. took out a recent ad that he said he was hoping to improve on for his client. Fairly boring, but not as bad as the other he’d shown me which looked more like an ad for Quickfit than anything remotely medical.

So A’s task was to attract people to sign up for a drug trial. (I shan’t be specific, for obvious reasons, this is a confidential brief). I took notes – top benefits first, secondary next, and tone of voice… What was interesting to both of us was that his client had only got as far as local press and radio but hadn’t even contemplated internet marketing. This is a million dollar company we’re talking about!

I scribled down some suggestions – squeeze pages, giveaways, facebook pages, ppc and facebook ads, article writing… To my mind, fairly basic stuff, and yet… this company is still in the 1990s…

We couldn’t help remarking how ironic it was that a company that has some of the most innovative minds in research has some of the most conservative minds in marketing. They throw thousands at research and thousands in the bin on their rather outdated marketing.

Anyway, what had looked like a two-three day job writing some ads may now become something a lot bigger – a proper integrated campaign. Which just goes to show how important it is to meet people whenever you possibly can. Had we done everything over the phone we might not have explored the brief further. Of course that isn’t always possible, but it seems to me we become increasingly lazy about the face-to-face. Skype is great, but even then it doesn’t – and shouldn’t wherever possible – replace a meeting in a cafe, with good coffee, and pen and paper and a handshake at the end of it all. All kinds of things can come up in a face-to-face that will remain latent in an mail or phone call. And of course trust grows quicker when you can look a person in the eye.

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