Working Well With Others

Apr 03, 2009
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Sue Potton
Being a good partner is partly a matter of understanding the other guy, partly a matter of truly delivering on what the partnership needs, and partly a matter of keeping your eye on changes in the world that alter the playing field for both of you. What does that mean in practice? When you're planning meetings and events, you need to take into account these important factors and trends:

Less is more Meeting attendees want to achieve more in less time. As a result, there's been an increase in one-day, fly-in-and-out programs in easily accessible locations. Regional meetings are also becoming more popular (for saving time, but also because of environmental issues).

Content is king Keep the focus on key messages and primary strategic/marketing or educational goals. Attendees need to connect and engage face to face even if it's not in the actual world. There's a high demand recently for virtual communities and social networking to support live meetings.

Planning A strategic approach to meetings has never been more important. Measurable goals need to be set and objectives with metrics need to be in place to ensure useful reporting on ROI/ROO. And speaking of reporting, compliance tracking and reporting is also a vital component of this process and needs to be factored into the planning and budget process.

Know the industry The most successful partners understand their clients' needs, goals, target audiences, and challenges (especially regarding compliance). In other words, they know what it takes to deliver the right experience for the client and their attendees. Many hotel companies in North America (notably Hyatt and Hilton) have pharmaceutical meeting specialists who truly understand the sector and the ongoing challenges of working within this increasingly regulated industry.

Respect Trust and business integrity are vital ingredients for building successful partnerships. This is especially true given work that involves confidentiality, security, and procurement of third party services, and a highly regulated environment.

Communication Pharma companies need to help their vendors understand their goals and objectives up front. This improves efficiencies (time and costs), and provides valuable insight that enables the vendor to work as an extension of your organization.

Pharma companies also need to involve vendors as early as they can in the planning process. Vendors can help to optimize the program, consolidate costs, and navigate the complexities of compliance.

Gold standard Preferred vendors are those who specialize in media and content development (including online), and who can marry those skills with a deep understanding of face-to-face marketing. The new centerpiece of effective marketing is the ability to bring together direct response marketing channels in precise combination to drive specific business objectives. This makes for an irresistible value proposition.

Sue Potton is a certified meeting planner, consultant, and currently a Senior Account Director at George P. Johnson Co. in their London office. She can be reached at

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