Category: Habit Engineering

Habits vs. Goals

As most of you already know, I am now spending full time working with my colleague, Dr. Neale Martin, and the rest of the ThinkGen professional team on Habit EngineeringSM.  In a nutshell, we are working to train the pharmaceutical industry to focus on marketing by teaching physicians new, long term prescribing habits instead of our trying to influence short term prescribing decisions.  

More generally, habits are in fact much of the stuff of life. Check this out. As the Charles Nobel quote in this article so clearly articulates, “First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”  

Bottom Line. Today, I would like you to read this brief piece, and ponder the important role that habits play in every human endeavor. THEN. Think how important habits must be in marketing, and how silly it is that pharmaceutical marketers have ignored this truth for so long.  

How Do Marketers Bring Value To The HCP???

Go here and watch the video. The founder of Elevate Healthcare, pictured above, argues that if HCP’s are going to give us their time, we need to bring them genuine value. AND. She recommends that the best way to do so is to find areas of “intersection” between the needs of the HCP and the capabilities of the healthcare company. But how?

Bottom Line. ThinkGen’s work in Habit EngineeringSM can provide us with some important guidance here. More specifically, habits grow more embedded by having the customer make “Investments” in a brand. Investments are things that make it easier to use the product and harder for a new competitor to take the customer away.  

SO. We need to look for forms of assistance we can provide to the HCP that meets some of her needs for greater practice quality and efficiency while meeting our needs to have the doctor become more invested in using the product. Lorna Weir suggests getting the doctor to “lean” on your patient educational materials as a good way to do this. Makes sense. What else?

Put your thinking caps on!

From Neuroscience To Behavioral Science

Check this out.  What you will see is a report that marketing research giant Nielsen is adding a suite of “Behavioral Science” offerings to the menu of its neuroscience unit.  

Interesting. When you think about it, you realize that neuroscience and behavioral science approaches to marketing and marketing issues are really flip sides of the same coin. In my work on habits with Dr. Neale Martin at ThinkGen, for example, I find it extremely valuable for Neale to explain to clients the difference between the Executive Mind and the Habitual Mind, AND to explain to them that these different “minds” actually live in very different areas of the brain. 

Bottom Line. Amazing. How little attention the duality of neuroscience and behavior science have gotten in pharmaceutical marketing research through the years. However. From the number of Habit EngineeringSM projects that ThinkGen’s clients currently have us working on, I think that shortfall is in the process of changing! Rapidly!!!

The Essential Nature Of Habit

Check this out What you will see is the summary of a presentation given a few weeks ago by habit expert Nir Eyal. The point of the presentation is that as we get deeper into the future, a company that is not a “habit” is going to lose. Big time.

Making your product a habit is already a big deal, but Eyal sees the future as making habit even more of a necessity as apps proliferate and screens disappear (Hey, Alexa!).

Bottom Line. At ThinkGen, we have stopped viewing marketing challenges as being about influencing customer decisions. In 2019 and beyond, we will be working with our new Advisory Board Member,  Neale Martin, Ph.D., on getting all of our clients to focus on making the use of their product a habit. Dr. Martin literally wrote the book on habit, and has applied his expertise across verticals, including the pharmaceutical industry, for the last two decades. 

Want to get a better understanding of habit-based marketing? Go here.


Emotional Context

Check this out. What you will see is the story of a doctor who gets a surprise. A patient who he actually hates seeing in the office, thanks to her complaining and dour demeanor, was witnessed actually having a good time, a very good time, in a setting outside the office where she was surrounded by her family. On a subsequent office visit, the doctor questioned “Ruth” as to why she wasn’t more joyful in the office? Her response? How could she be joyful at the office? That’s where she goes to complain about her knees!

In all of the gazillion words I have laid down in these blog posts and elsewhere during my professional career,  I don’t think I have ever typed the words “emotional context.” My fellow ThinkGen Advisor and Habit author Neale Martin always stresses the importance of “context.” Habits, Dr. Martin preaches, not only require cues to set them off. Habits occur in context. When you open the refrigerator, your habits respond to a different context at breakfast time, when your hand reaches for the orange juice, vs. at dinner time when your habit likely directs you more to the bottle of chardonnay. Both habits, different context.

Just so with our emotional habits, which also often respond very strongly to the context in which they occur.

Bottom Line. Emotions. You know what? I don’t think I have ever typed that word before either. Funny. In his seminal book, How Doctors Think, Dr. Jerome Groopman clearly points out that “. . . few of us realize just how strongly a physician’s mood and temperament influence his medical judgment.” And heaven knows emotions influence patient compliance and clinical outcome. But even as a Psychologist who has focused his entire career on understanding the way our customers think, I haven’t really ever written about, asked about or really even thought about emotions or emotional context. 

As my ThinkGen colleagues and I pursue our new Habit EngineeringSM  approach to pharmaceutical marketing and marketing research in 2019, look for all of that to change. Big time!!!