They’re still among us!

Dino brain

The lizard brain has a function but the dinosaur brain…

Thirteen years ago, I was relocated from sales in Arizona, to an in-house position in Billerica Ma., to what was then Bristol Myers Squibb Medical Imaging, ostensibly to head up an on-line marketing/detailing and video production program. I came up with a viral marketing concept after reading Seth Godin’s bestseller, “The Idea Virus.” It was all about opt-in, permission based marketing and how companies should stop with one hit messaging and build a conversation over time and instill the type of trust that is required today.

I came up with the idea of creating an e-mail newsletter and sending it to all the attendees of an upcoming in-house  meeting I had scheduled to unveil the concept. I put a photo of me on the cover dressed in medical cap and gown with a surgical mask for flair and called it “Outbreak” hoping to drive home the viral approach. I sent it to everyone in the building with an invite to any and all that would like to learn more.

I ordered forty-five copies of  “The Idea Virus” and placed them all around the room. Hmmmm, Virus. A bit of an unsettling term back in 2003 I was soon to learn.

When the meeting commenced, I opened with a spreadsheet of all attendees that had received, deleted or not opened the communication known as “Outbreak.” Then I dispensed with the data. I told the folks who had received, opened, forwarded it and where they went on the document and that I now had all this information in a database. Think the NSA gets a chilly reception?

I told Jill she had opened her’s at 6:38 am, then again just before the meeting and what click-throughs, or articles on the page she visited. She was clearly unnerved and called the experience “intrusive and creepy.” She, from marketing. A product manager no less.

The program I was using would also allow reps and clinical specialists to create their own specific e-mail newsletters with “pre-approved” content and boilerplate messaging like “thank you, and here is the info we discussed when we met.”

Arms started folding, people started slinking down in their chairs and brows furrowed. Not one saw benefit. They only saw risk. The air conditioning went on all of a sudden, in December. Totally Jurassic!

Once, I had actually digitized and animated a sales piece for an imaging product and presented it to the CEO on a tablet PC long before the advent of iPads. He laid it down on his desk and starting rubbing the glass screen furiously and asking me if I was sure no reps could possibly alter the content. He wanted me to prove it. I went on vacation.

Sadly, we haven’t come very far, at least with some of the dinosaurs I’ve encountered. It’s not that they don’t have the tools, it’s just that they don’t know it or how to use them. IT can sit in their office and read the paper because there won’t be any flashes of lightning coming from the second floor. A lot of decision makers just don’t think in ways that would benefit them in the digital realm.

When I get in a meeting and start talking possibilities and how to maximize reach, frequency and relationships, I get that wide eyed look. I’ve gone too far. My wife usually packs a sock in my brief case for just such occasions. You can be in possession of all the latest toys but if you don’t know what they’re for, or how to use them, you will still be wearing a loin cloth and living in a cave for the foreseeable future because the digital dinosaur population hasn’t dwindled much at all.

If you have any questions or need advice, please feel free to reach out to me here.

Bob O’Hearn

113 Wintergreen Lane
Groton Ma. 01450

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Please note: I welcome comments that are offensive, illogical or off-topic from readers in all states of consciousness.

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