Tuesday, August 31, 2010

40 Hottest Brands last year -- who will make the list for 2010?

While consumer spending in 2009 was slowing down, some marketers were increasing their innovations -- and their market share.

Last year's list of the "40 Hottest Brands in America" include start-ups, like Bonobos and ZipCar, collectors' items, like the Jordan brand, and established brands looking to vamp up their sales, such as Walmart Great Value.

Whether it has been repackaging, free samples, or online marketing, these brands have taken the plunge and, as a result, have gained loyal followers and great results. Click here to read more.

Even though we are well into 3Q10, there is still time to make an impact with your brand.  What lessons can we learn?  What brands will make the top 40 list of this year?

Looking forward to your comments.

Monday, August 30, 2010

6 ways physicians take care of themselves - and what patients can learn

At Stinson Brand Innovation, we conduct many research studies to compare and contrast physicians' knowledge with their actual practice.

So, I was intrigued by a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that dove into the ways physicians manage their own personal health and well-being. 

As a whole, physicians are leaner, fitter, and live longer than the average American.  Male doctors have lower levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.  The average American does have a leg up on physicians, however, as doctors are less likely to have their own primary care physician and are more susceptible to prescription drug abuse.

According to numerous studies, doctors who exercise and watch their weight are more likely to advise their patients on the same healthy lifestyle.  Also, healthy physicians appear to be more credible.  According to Professor Erica Frank, "There's a strong link between what doctors do themselves and what they tell their patients to do."

Below are 6 ways that a physician's lifestyle differs from that of the average American:
  • Over 50% of doctors surveyed said they exercise 3 or more times per week, for 30-60 minutes
  • 64% of postmenopausal female OB/GYNs used Hormone Replacement Therapy, even though only 18% would recommend it to their patients
  • Only 2-4% of physicians smoke, compared to 24% of the US population
  • Doctors, while more likely to consume alcohol, are less likely to binge drink
  • 40% of male physicians are overweight, and 23% are obese, compared with 43% and 23% of US males, aged 60 and older
  • About 43% of male doctors ate fish 2-4 times per week, which was associated with a 37% lower risk of dying from colorectal cancer
Click here to read the full profile.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

$1 billion diversification – Endo moves beyond pain products into urology, oncology and endocrinology

At Stinson, we believe that part of brand innovation is meeting expectations of physicians, patients, and payers. But, in business reality, it also means meeting investor expectations. So we keep our eye on the business wires, too. We can learn a lot from the top companies in pharma as measured by relative performance.

Here’s what Investor Business Daily® had to say about Endo Pharmaceuticals on Friday.

Looking at all of its recent acquisitions, you might think Endo Pharmaceutical's business model echoes another firm's. One like Johnson & Johnson's.

That makes sense. Endo's chief executive since 2008, David Holveck, is a J&J alumnus.

He began climbing the J&J ladder in 1999, finally heading J&J's development corporation. An acquisition brought him to J&J. The diversified giant bought Centocor, where Holveck had been chief executive.

Since he took over at Endo in 2008, the company has done what J&J began to do decades ago under storied leader Robert Wood Johnson II: diversify.

Endo had no choice but to diversify, says Kevin Kedra, an analyst with Gabelli & Co. The patents for its main product, Lidoderm, expire in 2015. Kedra estimates Lidoderm will account for 47% of 2010 sales, or $787 million of $1.7 billion in revenue.

Lidoderm is a patch containing the painkiller lidocaine. It's for treatment of post-shingles nerve pain. Kedra says a generic Lidoderm will take away $360 million of Endo's annual revenue. And the Lidoderm patent could end sooner than 2015. The validity of Endo's patent is under legal challenge by Watson Pharmaceuticals, which applied in January to make a generic version. The courts will decide the matter unless Endo and Watson negotiate a deal.

"Endo had to find other growth opportunities and sources of revenue," Kedra said.

The company, based in Chadds Ford, Pa., had to take action, says Irina Rivkind, an analyst with Duncan-Williams. "They were under the gun because Lidoderm is at the patent cliff," she said.

The company, based in Chadds Ford, Pa., had to take action, says Irina Rivkind, an analyst with Duncan-Williams. "They were under the gun because Lidoderm is at the patent cliff," she said.

What made the diversification possible was a healthy balance sheet, Rivkind says. Endo has spent more than $1 billion in cash and earn-outs since Holveck took over.
  • On Aug. 9, the company agreed to buy Penwest Pharmaceuticals, a partner in a painkiller called Opana, for $144 million in cash.
  • On July 15, Endo wrapped up a deal to acquire HealthTronics for $223 million plus assumption of debt. Endo got a range of urology devices, products and service businesses, including imaging and pathology.
  • Back in March 2009, Endo completed its $370 million acquisition of Indevus Pharmaceuticals, which makes treatments for urinary incontinence, prostate cancer and premature puberty. Endos may pay another $267 million based on milestones.
And it still has about $550 million in cash. That means the company can do more deals, Kedra says.

To broaden its product base, Endo has also done some in-licensing.
  • In July, 2009, Endo acquired exclusive rights from Bioniche Life Sciences to develop and market phase-three drug Urocidin for bladder cancer in the U.S. with a global marketing option.
  • In 2008, Endo licensed from Novartis exclusive U.S. marketing rights for Voltaren Gel, a prescription ointment for arthritis pain.
The acquisition of HealthTronics was a huge step into diversification, Kedra says. From a company that focused on pain products until just two years ago, it's come a long way, he says.

"The company wants to cover the whole health care spectrum," Kedra said. "Not just drugs, but also devices and services."

Endo didn't respond to IBD's requests for comment. Holveck laid out his position in the firm's most recent conference call on July 30. "Our diversification beyond pain products into urology, oncology and endocrinology is enabling us to become a full-service provider of health care solutions," he said.

The company is looking for opportunities that are "unique and effective, and differentiated," Rivkind said.

While it has diversified beyond pain medications, those are still a big part of the business.

The most dramatic is the oral drug Opana, an opioid tablet for relief of moderate-to-severe acute pain, where an opioid prescription is appropriate. This is not a routine headache tablet. It's called an oxymorphone with both the helpful and the narcotic effects of morphine and OxyContin. Endo had been partnering with Penwest on Opana, including the extended-release version called Opana ER. On Aug. 9, the same day it unveiled the Penwest purchase, Endo announced that it had filed an application with the Food and Drug Administration for approval of a new version of Opana ER intended to prevent illegal abuse by people looking for a high. The new Opana ER is crush-resistant, the company says. That means it cannot easily be turned into a powder for inhalation or be mixed into a solution for injection. The FDA application caught watchers off guard, Kedra says.

Investors appear to approve of the company's diversification strategy. Endo ranks third in Composite Rating among the 50 stocks in IBD's Medical-Ethical Drugs Group. Shares are up 37% since the start of 2010.

Friday, August 27, 2010

2 words to improve your margin: raise price

In his book The Art of Pricing, Rafi Mohammed discusses the most effective strategies for growing a successful business.  Recently, he summed up his point-of-view in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

The recession saw consumers closing their wallets and, as a result, businesses were forced to drop prices to remain competitive.  While larger corporations were able to cut costs rather than profit, small and mid-sized businesses did not have that luxury.  Fortunately, consumer confidence is on the up, and now is the time to raise prices once again.

What is the best way to go about making this change?

Mohammed recommends framing the increase in a way that consumers can relate: "As you did, we tightened our belts during the recession.  We're happy the recession is over. Our costs are going up, and we're going to have to pass on this price increase."

He also emphasizes the importance of setting prices on perceived value, rather than actual costs.  In order to differentiate your product from another, he argues that you have to offer a greater value to the consumer versus the next best alternative.  So if your product costs more than your competitor's, you need to inform the consumer of the additional benefits they will receive for paying a higher price.

Click here to read the rest of his interview.

And here are some other highlights of the book:

When it comes to setting prices for products and services, even the most sophisticated businesspeople often rely on formulas and seat-of-the-pants instinct, based on what the competition is charging, marking up costs, and doing things as they’ve always been done. The result is that businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to the Fortune 100, leave money on the table.  In The Art of Pricing, Rafi Mohammed shows:
  • The astonishing impact that small changes to a pricing strategy can have on the bottom line
  • How the right pricing strategy can boost profits and grow your customer base
  • Why the right way to think about pricing is as a series of easy-to-implement strategies that allow companies to serve and profit from the largest possible customer base
  • Why the art of pricing involves understanding and capitalizing on the fact that different customer segments are willing to pay different prices for the same product
  • Why an effective pricing strategy is not about price gouging but one that incorporates fairness into every important pricing decision

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Healthcare Marketer’s Exchange features our “father-daughter business partner trip” to Tokyo

Melanie and I were profiled in the July issue of Healthcare Marketer’s Exchange highlighting a trip we took together to Tokyo.  It was a memorable combination of business and family moments, so it was personally rewarding to have it published in one of our industry trade papers.

The articles highlight many of the sights we enjoyed, along with some great, shared experiences. Click here to read more.

The legacy of our family business is evolving – sometimes we are working side-by-side, sometimes across town with different clients and on different assignments. But we’re always sharing ideas and energy.

That’s why, when I look back to our trip to Tokyo together, it was a memorable moment that strengthened our partnership at our company…and our relationship.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

8 global CMOs share their insights on worldwide brands

It’s like conducting your own N-of-8® group with chief marketing officers – from a wide range of industries with a wide range of challenges.  As your “facilitator,” I encourage you to read their comments for ideas that could inform the strategy and story for your health, science, or technology brand.
  1. Larry Gulko, Cybex believes there’s big value in teaming up with “Biggest Loser” TV show
  2. Rick Bendel, Walmart says, “'I don't believe that working with a single global agency would give value” 
  3. Lorraine Twohill, Google thinks “Everyone is facing the same knowledge gap no matter where you are in the world”
  4. Keith Weed, Unilever envisions “The more global you are, the more digital you become”
  5. Trevor Edwards, Nike VP-global brand and category management, reminds us “Ideas rule. ideas are in charge”
  6. Alfredo Gangotena, MasterCard expresses “You can have a global message, but it needs to be delivered locally.” (and he’s got the experience to have such an opinion; The quintessential global CMO -- born in Germany, raised in Latin America -- he has lived on four continents, speaks four languages and has marketed products globally from diapers to Disneyland France.)
  7. Philip McAveety, Starwood Hotels and Resorts chief brand officer focuses by stating “Our job is to actually drive trial and drive loyalty” 
  8. Erin Mulligan Nelson, Dell said in launching the company's first global campaign tagged Take Your Own Path, “Social media enables the conversations to happen faster, more globally”
Click here to select and read the full interviews.

Monday, August 23, 2010

2 in A2U means “exponential” influence of attitude

“A growing body of research suggests that...emotions find their way into the office and, when it comes time to pick a medicine, influence prescribing behavior,” says a recent posting on Eye For Pharma (click here to read full content).

In the online article, Nayana Vogel, a consultant with Kantar Health, is quoted, “We all like to believe that we are rational, considered decision-makers. Physicians are no exception. Indeed, when asked, physicians will state their decisions are based on clinical evidence, experience, and the patient situation.”  But, Vogel says, doctors’ emotions wield surprising power over their decisions, especially when it comes time to choose one brand over another.

This supports our proprietary customer analysis and navigational tool, A2U®.  At Stinson Brand Innovation, our experience is that “attitude” exerts an exponential influence on discovering what registers with customers. In addition to understanding customers’ awareness and usage of information, A2U reveals true driving forces behind emotional response, and discovers what registers with customers, and enables you to track the chain reaction of behavior.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Covidien to support Positron Corp. in radiopharmaceutical development

Positron Corporation said Thursday it has signed an agreement with Covidien, under which Covidien will provide technical assistance to Positron in connection with Positron’s development of technology to automate the compounding of radiopharmaceuticals.

The agreement combines Covidien’s expertise in radiopharmaceuticals and regulatory issues with Positron’s expertise in automation and radiopharmaceuticals. Automating the distribution of radiopharmaceuticals has many benefits, ranging from worker safety to cost savings to enhanced customer service. 

“Positron continues to provide unique solutions to the molecular imaging community,” said John Zehner, COO of Positron. “This agreement provides Positron with various advantages and additional resources. We are very excited to collaborate with Covidien on this project.”
Positron is a molecular imaging company focused on Nuclear Cardiology. Positron utilizes its proprietary product line to provide unique solutions to the Nuclear Medicine community ranging from imaging to radiopharmaceutical distribution. Positron products include: the Attrius™, a PET imaging device; the Pulse®, a SPECT imaging device; the Nuclear Pharm-Assist®, an automated radiopharmaceutical distribution device; and the Tech-Assist™, a radiopharmaceutical injection shield. 

More information about Positron is available at www.positron.com

Saturday, August 21, 2010

“How I Built It” -- inspired this poem

On June 3, Melanie  attended the “How I Built It” event for business owners, entrepreneurs, and big thinkers. It was a live panel interview and discussion moderated by Colleen DeBaise, the small business editor of The Wall Street Journal. 

The event brought together 5 successful entrepreneurs who shed light on a few key critical insights on how they got started, how their idea boomed, and how they are growing every day.

The panel consisted of:
Seth Goldman, Co-Founder, Honest Team
Bob MacLeod, Co-Founder, Kiss My Face
Andrew Mason, Founder and CEO, Groupon.com
Alexis Maybank, Founder, Gilt Groupe
Debbie Meyer, Co-Founder, Housewares America

She submitted the following poem to summarize the experiences of the panel members and how they all impacted her in different ways:

And when I looked up at the stage…

I didn’t see stars
I didn’t see suits
I didn’t see pride
I saw how they built it
I saw a panel of dreamers

Ordinary people turned innovators
Asking for capital and fighting for sustainable
Creating channels and finding distributors
Researching better ways to do things

The public making policy
A policy to make things better
Actually making things for the betterment of the public
A public success

A runner was thirsty
Bottled his own tea
Created his own distribution
Coca Cola now sticks to the mission

A brilliant fashionista found a tribe
And created demand online
E-commerce for designer goods
Showing everyone what the internet could

An organic farmer put his products on shelves
Did it his way; lived off the Hudson Bay
Kisses our faces with a brand, everyday

An inventor whose face is her brand
Green bags and cake cutters
More than 100 million sold
HSN is the way to go

A young developer for social action
Creating web tools, but what’s the point
Finds community online
Through a local store of discounts

These 5 innovators have more than 1 thing in common
Surrounding themselves with people they trust
Finding real solutions to problems
Everyday, living innovation, living on the cusp

23,000 visits - we just passed a milestone this week

That's pretty exciting.  And we've got some new ideas planned, so keep coming back.  We appreciate it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

4 reminders on how to keep your network ignited online

Over our 6 years in business, STINSON Brand Innovation has grown because of the strong connections we’ve built.  These connections have led to new business opportunities, new team members, and great partnerships.  Making connections and building on existing connections, however, often require more time and effort than we may think.

One of my associates recently came across a great post on Mashable entitled “How to Reignite Your Business Network Online.”  The article rings true to how many of us network: we meet individuals at conferences or events, send a few e-mails/make a few phone calls, and then slowly lose contact. The key to breaking this habit is being “bold” and reigniting those old connections through online networking.
  1. The first step to reinitiating contact is e-mailing any and all “lost” contacts that you are interested in reconnecting with.  State that you came across their card and are “looking to reignite your network.”  The worst that can happen is that they don’t respond.  If they do send a response, that’s one more connection you have made and another opportunity you have built.
  2. Next, you should “follow up on an e-mail or call with a LinkedIn invite, but don’t try to ‘cold call’ with one.”  If it has been awhile since you have made any contact with an individual, they are likely to reject your invitation to connect.  Be sure you are only sending these invites to those who have responded to your e-mails and/or calls; if they didn’t respond, they’re probably not interested in reconnecting.
  3. Don’t be afraid to take action with your connections.  Ask local connections to meet up for coffee “whenever it is most convenient” for them, ask them for advice, and keep them engaged using social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
  4. Finally, schedule follow-ups.  Don’t let your network go “stale.”  You should base your follow-up schedule on “how close or important the contact is to you.”  Follow-up is most important because it prevents you from ending up right back where you started.
If you’re networking like this, too, then I’m sure we’ll see each other very soon.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

5 areas to assess when designing and evaluating REMS: insights from ParagonRx

In addition to sharing my perspective on branding developments, I enjoy the insights of companies we partner with at Stinson Brand Innovation.  You can read their views by clicking the links in right hand column under “Other Health Science & Technology Blogs.”

Today, I’ve updated that list to include ParagonRx and its blog on pharmaceutical appropriate use, risk management & REMS.

In recent posting I liked, Karen Lenoir, Client Services Director, offers tips on designing REMS assessments in a meaningful manner for measuring specific objectives – balancing the interests of regulators, customers, and manufacturers.  She says there are five areas to consider the following when designing and evaluating a REMS:
  1. Baseline testing – to test for utility
  2. Program implementation – to proactively track and gauge indicators of progress
  3. Stakeholder adoption – to easily integrate REMS into the workflow of the physician’s office
  4. REMS assessment survey – to measure stakeholder (patients, healthcare professionals) knowledge and understanding of the serious risks associated with a product
  5. Safety surveillance – to establish mechanisms for reporting serious adverse events
Karen emphasizes the need to go beyond regulatory obligations. She says, “The value of voluntarily assessing more parameters more often cannot be overstated.”

Click here to read the entire blog, along with the specific questions to guide your REMS assessment.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

$1B potential game changer with Bristol-Myers Squibb cancer agent

The investigators at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2010 Annual Meeting here in Chicago earlier this summer were enthusiastic about new immune therapy drugs that unleash the powers of the immune system on cancer.

One experimental therapy gaining the most attention is Bristol-Myers Squibb's skin cancer treatment, ipilimumab.  In recent trials, ipilimumab has been effective in keeping terminal melanoma patients alive for nearly a year longer than existing treatments.

Ipilimumab is an antibody that blocks CTLA-4. It was discovered about 10 years ago by Dr. James Allison, then at the University of California, Berkeley, and now head of the immunology department at Sloan-Kettering. Allison found that the antibody had the remarkable ability to completely knock out tumors in mice. In initial human clinical trials, the drug was almost quashed after patients were getting sicker and tumors kept growing.  Scientists soon discovered, however, that these were actually signs that the drug was doing its job, rather than making patients sicker.

Scientists are also exploring possible uses for ipilimumab in the treatment of tumors of the lung and prostate.  If testing continues to be successful, ipilimumab and other immune therapy drugs have the potential to evolve into more than just one-target treatments.  Next-generation immunotherapy drugs have the potential to train the immune system to attack cancer cells, similarly to the way a virus is killed.

If all goes according to plan, ipilimumab will be available to physicians and patients in 2012, and analysts are predicting that ipilimumab could reach $1 billion in annual sales within its first 5 years on the market.

While it's still too early to claim that we've found a cure for cancer, researchers are optimistic that ipilimumab has the potential to change cancer from a terminal disease to a chronic, yet manageable condition.

Monday, August 16, 2010

5 reasons why “design or die” should be your mantra

The team here at Stinson Brand Innovation is always on the lookout for inspiration on design — and we mean capital D “Design.”  Today, we hear from Robert Brunner, former director of industrial design at Apple, who has since gone on to start his own design company – Ammunition.   Let’s listen to his five insights into why design innovation is something that companies in all industries should be interested in.  And then, translate these viewpoints to our health, science, and technology brand design efforts.

Brunner says:
  1. The idea of design is more than just the creation of a thing.  It is actually a way at looking at what you are doing, and building it to be focused on the people that you need to communicate and connect with.
  2. Design should flow all the way through the product development process – from inception, to marketing plans, to design engineering, manufacturing and customer service.  Everyone should be fully engaged in the idea of the product and what the design is about.  That is why in companies like Apple, the idea of the product – what it is and what it is about – is a constant conversation.
  3. One of the enemies of great design is consensus. Consensus ultimately almost always leads to mediocrity. It doesn’t have to be the CEO, but you really have to have individuals in place who are in a position of power to drive a design vision through the company.
  4. Great design is emotional.  What makes design so important is that you are essentially creating a relationship between your company and your constituents through a product.  A great design usually represents something that has meaning and value for people.  That can be done in a variety of ways and there are a number of companies – the Apples and BMWs of the world – that do that very well.
  5. No matter what you do, at some level you have customers, and those customers have needs, and those customers are emotional beings, and you should be designing that service to meet those people’s needs.

Friday, August 13, 2010

2 tech leaders create health joint venture: Intel, GE partnership

Intel and GE will combine the assets of GE Healthcare’s Home Health division and Intel’s Digital Health Group to form a 50-50 joint venture.

Pending regulatory and other customary closing conditions, the joint venture is expected to become operational by the end of the year. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The venture builds on the GE-Intel health care alliance announced in 4/09 around independent living and chronic disease management.

Once formed, the new company will develop and market products, services, and technologies that promote healthy, independent living at home and in assisted-living communities around the world. It will focus on three major segments: chronic disease management, independent living and assistive technologies.

The new company will be based in the Sacramento area. Louis Burns, currently vice president and general manager of Intel’s Digital Health Group, will be CEO and Omar Ishrak, senior vice president of GE and president and CEO, GE Healthcare Systems, will be chairman of the board.

Click here for more details on the Intel and GE health care joint venture are available from the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal.

(Thanks to our featured blog "Heavy Doses" for sharing this. Click their link in the right-hand column under "Other Health, Science, and Technology Blogs.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

If I sat next to David Gergen on the plane....

The other night, I flew on a late night flight from LAX to SFO.  Also on the plane was David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and advisor to 4 US Presidents. You always imagine what you’d talk about sitting next to someone like Mr. Gergen (or if he’d just sleep on the plane, like I do).

So, the next morning I read this interview with Gergen by Chris Stanley of HSM.  It’s just how I could hear us talking in row 11.

You’ve served under four different presidents.  Which ones did you find most impressive from a leadership point of view?

The single most impressive leader I worked for was Reagan.  He was a conviction politician in the Margaret Thatcher style in that he had deep seated beliefs and principles that guided him.  Both the country and his team knew what it was that ultimately he was trying to accomplish.  Carter who was his predecessor was very wishy-washy.  You never knew from one day to the next in what direction he was going to go in.  Reagan was very different in that sense, just as Thatcher and others have been.  At the same time, in pursuing those principles, he could be quite flexible in means.  He could tack left or right in order to get there.  I have come to believe that “steady in principle, flexible in means” is a very important facet of leadership.  Beyond that, Reagan had a contagious optimism which was very important.  Even if you didn’t particularly agree with his policies, he gave you a sense of feeling more secure, that you were going to get there.

How would you assess the importance of charisma in a leader as opposed to intellect?

I am persuaded by Jim Collins’ analysis that charismatic leadership at the corporate level is much overrated.  But I think it has an important role in politics.  The whole theory of Good to Great is that people who are not very charismatic, who are humble and self-effacing but very steady, persistent, and strong tend to make better corporate leaders.  You add to that theories of emotional intelligence and you've got the makings of a good CEO.  I do think in politics some charisma makes a difference however.  The politicians who have been most effective over the years have also been those who have had a degree of charisma.

I also believe that in politics, as in corporate life, that intellect is important.  I think you do have to have a grasp of the job.  Curiosity is at the foundation of intellect.  George W. Bush had a perfectly good mind - he just wasn’t very curious.  So he didn’t start asking a lot of questions about how the world worked until he got into office.  He tried hard to learn, but he was training on the job.  I think the better leaders are the ones who have been working and asking questions for a long time and who have become more seasoned by the time they get there.  His father, for example, was a much more curious person about the world.  He had a very good sense of how the world ran before he got into office, and he was a very good foreign policy leader as a result.

What I think is dangerous, though, is to put all the emphasis on intellect and not on character.  I think character remains bedrock.  The two smartest presidents I worked for were either completely undone by their character flaws as with Nixon, or partially undone as with Clinton.  Nixon was the best strategist I ever met.  He had an extraordinary capacity to look 20 or 30 years into the future and act accordingly.  Clinton was a very different kind of mind, very tactical, a mind that was not so imaginative.  He was very good at integrating lots and lots of information.  He had a very solid grasp of policy.  But he obviously had some character flaws, and they upended him.  He fell short of what he might have been.

I think a leader also needs to be ambitious.  You’ve got to have an inner fire.  So for me the three principle elements of leadership are professional competence, character and a level of ambition, and inner fire that will get you there.

Bill George talks about the need for a new style of leadership in the 21st century.  Would you say that business leaders require different skills today than 30 or 40 years ago?

I do think that context matters.  And I do think the 21st century makes different demands.  But I do think there are some things that don’t change across time.   What I’ve been talking about are the things that haven’t changed.  Character is as important in the 21st century as it was in the 19th or 20th.  I think there are some things that are imperishable.  But there are also some things that have changed.  The 21st century does require a capacity to work in teams far more than in the past.  If you don’t have a good team around you as a leader and as a corporation, you are a fool.

I also think that a leader today requires a greater sense of international perspective than ever before; whether it's language or cultural appreciation.  It certainly requires a willingness to live in a more transparent world with far more accountability.  We have moved away from the top down, leader knows all model, to one where you push power down into the organization.  You ask people, especially knowledge workers, to be more self-reliant and have ideas bubbling up not down.  It’s much more of an influence model.

How do corporate leaders go about restoring confidence in their own leadership and business as a whole?

They’re going to have to be extremely prudent in their behavior.  Even as you build your corporation, you’re going to have to make sure that your people are appropriately and competitively paid.  You’re going to be very aware that if you pay people a lot of money, you're going to risk the government coming after you in some fashion - whether that’s flogging you or trying to raise your tax rates.  Government's going to be looking for revenue.  I think you're going to have to be very careful about trying to maintain not only good quarterly earnings but your corporate brand and your reputation.  Look what's happened to Goldman Sachs.  It’s rare you've ever seen a company fall this far this fast in terms of its corporate reputation.  That’s not to say that they won’t dig themselves out - and I think they will - but you can get hit very fast very hard for symbolic things.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

1 place for all your social media content: Flipboard, your personalized magazine

Social media has a whole new look on the iPad.

We here at Stinson Brand Innovation have been using the iPad for market research since its release.

Well, now there's a new app showcase your social media content in one place: Flipboard.

What sets Flipboard apart is its capabilities and ease of use.  Rather than plain-text tweets or Facebook status updates, Flipboard displays photos and snapshots of web links.  Flipboard offers many of the same capabilities as your favorite social networking sites, including the ability to "Like" updates or hide users from appearing on your "feed."  You can also retweet, favorite, and e-mail items to a friend.  In essence, Flipboard is a digital magazine, with its content coming from your social networks and your interests.

Of course, there are a few downsides to this new app, including the inability to cache content to view offline.  Another downside?  This is only available to iPad users.  When we asked on their message board if an iPhone app was in the works, a representative from Flipboard only said, "I can't comment on current development plans, but we all love iPhones around here. J"

Flipboard was released as a free app a couple of weeks ago.  Capabilities are fairly limited right now, but if you're looking for a visually stimulating way to keep up on your social networks, check out Flipboard.

Click here to read more.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

552 hospital Twitter accounts: Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and more amp up marketing -- and social media

Earlier this year, Sarasota Memorial Hospital live-tweeted a kidney surgery, trading more than 1,900 tweets among followers during the procedure.

Welcome to the new front in medical marketing, writes Rich Thomaselli in a recent issue of Advertising Age.  Hospitals jockeying to position themselves for growth amid a perfect storm of aging baby boomers and a health-care-reform bill that will result in millions more insured patients down the road.

To be sure, the outlays are nowhere near the $4.5 billion in ad dollars dispensed by the direct-to-consumer drug category, but it's picking up where DTC left off as nationally known brands such as the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Massachusetts General Hospital ramp up spending.

With a combination of co-branding partnerships, reputation advertising, and an increased presence in social media, hospital and medical centers are trying to establish themselves as the go-to place for particular diseases as more patients comparison shop for treatment.

"We used to think of hospitals in terms of geography -- what's closest and how fast can I get there? Now that's not an issue," said Ned Russell, managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. "The health-care business is developing its own destination segment."

He noted that "a lot of these national and world-class medical centers have developed their own specialties, and it's become part of their brand value. They need to attract talent and get funding. How do they do that? By increasing their patient base. How do they lure patients? Their advertising. Doesn't seem to matter these days how far away a patient is."

Indeed, 25% of the patients at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., come from 500 miles away or more. To get patients traveling, hospitals are upping the ante. The Cleveland Clinic more than doubled its ad spending from 2008 to 2009, according to Kantar Media, from $3.9 million to $8.5 million. Spending by Sarasota (Fla.) Memorial Health Care System is up 10%, and it's up 15% at Detroit's Henry Ford Health System.

The Ad Age article also includes insights on how they are using their rankings.  Many of these hospitals and medical centers have taken their awards and rankings -- particularly the annual influential U.S. News & World Report rankings -- and crafted reputation ads around them to highlight their respective specialties.

New York-based agency DeVito Verdi, for instance, created an emotional print campaign for Mass General that touted its heart and vascular center, with ads that included text such as "A mother's last words shouldn't come before her child's first." The Mayo Clinic has done the same with its transplant services, and Sloan-Kettering in New York has advertised its success in fighting cancer.

"What's happening out there and one of the things fueling all this promotion and advertising is many of them, when they talk to patients and consumers, talk in specialties," said Mike Guarini, president of Ryan TrueHealth, Wilton, Conn., and a longtime pharma ad vet who has worked on both the agency side and the drug-company side with Bristol-Myers Squibb. "I say 'refreshing soda,' you think Coca-Cola. ... I say 'cancer treatment,' you think Sloan-Kettering."

Cleveland Clinic has marketed its renowned heart care and, in fact, has a deal in place with Lowe's to serve as the home-improvement center's preferred provider for heart care. The Mayo Clinic has a similar agreement with Walmart to be the big-box retailer's provider of transplants if a Walmart employee needs one.

"We try to focus on key facts about the Cleveland Clinic," said Paul Matsen, CMO of the clinic, which started a national ad campaign earlier this year from Adworks, Washington, D.C. "So we'll run some targeted stuff about being the national leader in lung transplantations, for instance, but we've also been No. 1 for 15 consecutive years for our heart center. In July, when the new rankings come out, we'll do some new messaging as well."

Part of that messaging will most assuredly come via social media. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center's director of web strategy, Ed Bennett, hospitals have gone from having 250 Twitter accounts in May of 2009 to 552 currently, and from 250 YouTube channels to 341.

"Hospitals realize that word-of-mouth is the most significant driver you can have, so social media is an opportunity to humanize what can be a scary, complex institution," Mr. Bennett said. "I tell hospitals 'Don't get into social media because you think you're going to get more patients. Do it because you're helping be responsible to people reaching out looking for answers.' "

One of the most famous health-care facilities in the country, the 118-year-old Mayo Clinic, now has a social-media manager, Lee Aase. "Social media is the way word-of-mouth happens in the 21st century," he said. "Twitter is just one of the most powerful networking tools that I've ever seen. It enables you to make connections with people that have a common interest."

What did experts tell Ad Age about the role of health-care reform?  Social media makes sense for the category considering that potential patients are more empowered than ever to take charge of their treatment by using the web. Twitter "is an informational tool," said Mr. Matsen. "It's not replacing the web or targeted advertising, but it's a great complement. For instance, we've integrated our YouTube page onto our Facebook page and we've gotten almost 300 videos. We've also taken some of our web tools, like 'Find a Doctor' and our health- and e-newsletters and put them on our Facebook page. It's a great information hub."

Mr. Matsen, however, wasn't quite convinced that the uptick in marketing for hospitals and medical centers was completely due to the health-care reform bill, noting that "most of health-care reform will not go into place until 2014, so it's a bit premature to say it's affected our strategy."

But Gerald Kominski, professor of public health and associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said, "They are chomping at the bit. [Hospitals and medical centers] that have been identified as having high-quality care at low cost, clearly they want to advertise that fact. The marketing dynamic is there."

Added Saatchi's Mr. Russell: "[Health-care reform] certainly plays a role in this. What they're doing, and rightly so, is taking the initiative to be part of the conversation that they know is happening now and will continue."

Monday, August 09, 2010

2.3% tax: what impact on medical device innovation?

Today, we add our voice to others commenting on a feature of the new Affordable Care Act: a 2.3% tax on revenues from the domestic sales of medical devices. This tax is set to go into effect in 2013 to partially pay for the cost of healthcare reform.

I find it ironic that the name given to the healthcare reform act – affordable care – may end up having an opposite effect. My fear is that if this happens, it will result in one of two consequences:
  • Medical device companies will be forced to make a trade-off decision between reducing costs which may lead to more lay-offs or prioritizing international markets over domestic ones; or
  • Medical device companies will be forced to build this cost into the price of the products and pass the cost to the patients, which will drive up the cost of care for everyone.
Additionally, one of the inevitable negative effects of raising taxes is on innovation and competitiveness. This tax could move the break-even point further away, forcing companies to sell more product or increase the price in order to establish or maintain the same profitability. This means new investments in R&D will look less attractive and US companies will find it harder to survive against their foreign competitors.

You can read reactions from corporate leaders in the Catheter Valley near Boston, from companies like C.R. Bard, Navilyst, Covidien and AngioDynamics, by clicking here.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

10 most addictive sounds in the world

Sound plays an important part in our lives.

Whether listening for traffic when crossing the street, or hearing that familiar dial tone when making phone calls, sound has the power to motivate us to buy more, want more, and dream more.

According to a study conducted on 50 volunteers by Buyology, Inc. and Elias Arts (and published in Fast Company), sound has a remarkable effect on consumers.  In fact, many advertising jingles have a stronger addictive power than familiar sounds in nature, such as birds chirping or waves breaking.

Check out this list of the Top 10 Most Addictive Sounds, and see how many you can hear or sing along to in your head:
  1. Baby's Giggle
  2. Intel's Bong
  3. Vibrating Phone
  4. Classic Cash Register
  5. National Geographic Theme
  6. MTV Theme
  7. T-Mobile Ringtone
  8. McDonald's Theme
  9. "Star-Spangled Banner"
  10. State Farm Theme

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

$500 million needed to bankroll new cholesterol drug

Here at Stinson Brand Innovation, we're always on the look-out for novel ideas that accelerate the development of new medical treatments.  So we are intrigued by what Swedish biotech company, Karo Bio, is doing with its potential cholesterol game-changer.

Their problem: raising $500 million for testing to gain FDA approval.

Their solution: Karo has developed is enlisting the help of noted cardiologist and FDA advisor, Steven Nissen.  With Nissen's help, Karo is working to recruit a big drugmaker to finance clinical trials, and to convince the FDA of a clinical trial that could cut the usual approval time in half.

This new drug, eprotirome, works in the liver to clear cholesterol from the body, in contrast to Lipitor, the largest selling cholesterol drug, which blocks the liver enzyme needed to produce cholesterol.  Upon approval, eprotirome could reach sales over $1.3 billion a year.

The proposed expedited approval plan includes testing on more patients for less time and money.  The goal is to push through the approval process in less than 3 years, saving nearly $200 million.  With assets of only $35 million, however, Karo still needs a big pharma partnership.  The biggest obstacles to achieving this goal come in the form of Lipitor's looming 2011 patent expiration, and the doubts many healthcare professionals have about fast-track drug approvals.  The real task is determining if the drug's benefits of outweigh the risks of a fast-tracked approval.

Monday, August 02, 2010

4 examples of researchers sizing up nanoparticles in drug development

We here at Stinson Brand Innovation have been following research using nanoparticles in many applications of drug development:  treatments for tumors, infections, and brain diseases, as well as for imaging techniques that enhance visualization of molecular-scale events in brain tissue and culture dishes.

In a recent article in The Scientist, biochemist Michael Sailor of the University of California-San Diego, says the technology for designing nanoparticles “is kind of like where we were when we were building Model T cars.”

Creating nanoparticles — which are usually between 1 and 100 nanometers long and made from a variety of materials — and putting them to work within complex biological systems can be quite a challenge and it’s not something scientists do alone. Rather, the field of medical nanotechnology requires expertise from material scientists, engineers, and biologists, says Sailor.

There are a number of parameters to play with. For example, researchers might see that they can alter their particles’ shapes and sizes through simple changes to their preparation steps. These can lead to better targeting to the right organs, or extended release of a drug. Alternatively, scientists might be able to combine two less-than-stellar nanoparticle techniques to create a synergistic system. Maybe they’ll need to create an entirely new nanoparticle, ideally one that’s biodegradable if you eventually plan to use it in humans. These challenges require patience, but if done right, the quantity of nanoparticles produced can be easily scaled up.

Kelly Rae Chi, a writer for The Scientist, spoke with four researchers on the cutting edge of nanoparticle design. Click here to read what they said about the challenges and opportunities nanoparticles bring to drug development.

1.      Shape Shifting

Project: Designing nanoparticles to treat infectious diseases
User: Padma Devarajan, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technology, University of Mumbai, India

2.      Cooperative Particles

Project: Nanoparticle design for cancer diagnosis and therapy
User: Michael Sailor, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California–San Diego

3.      Cleaving Chitosan

Project: Designing nanoparticles for extended-release drug delivery to the eye
User: Hong-Ru Lin, Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Southern Taiwan University, Tainan

4.      Penetrating Mucus

Project: Designing nanocarriers that penetrate human mucus barriers
User: Justin Hanes, Professor of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore