One of the aspects of the pharmaceutical industry in general that has always amused and bemused me, is our propensity to combine two words – that individually have clear meaning – and to assume the new pairing means something as well. A classic example is ‘property’ and ‘intellectual’. Everyone knows what property means, and could give an accurate definition of intellectual. But what is Intellectual Property really?
In the Contract Research Organisation segment of the pharmaceutical industry there’s another prevalent dimension – marketing. To be successful as a CRO, we have to be contracted to carry out research for a customer, and marketing is the means by which we communicate the value of what we sell… value to our potential customers. And our success in our marketing is measured by our sales.
If I put these two things together then – marketing and ‘two word combinations’ – I sit back and marvel. Well in truth I sit back and wonder at my own ‘new found’ propensity to give things names…Operation QuickStart. Budget Chase. MarketPlace. Project SixPack. And worse still – as I see them written down – is an apparent unexplainable fixation with Capital Letters in the middle of words.
But we are not alone…although I am not sure if this makes me feel better or worse. This last week I realised that our UK weather forecasters have gone down the same path. Last week, from absolutely nowhere, we were introduced to the concept of a ‘Weather Bomb’. Even now I don’t really know whether I am confused by this term or offended. And I certainly have no real idea what sort of weather it is supposed to describe. But ‘Weather Bomb’ was everywhere in the UK media. And somehow this phrase caused more discussion (and more problems) than the actual weather itself. At least for me.
Wednesday evening I was due to meet – for the first time over dinner – an American leader from a partner company. Our companies have done some superb work together in the past, and we were meeting to celebrate what we have achieved and to begin to see what could be possible moving forward. We had interacted by email, but we had not met in person.
It was cold, wet and windy as I approached the restaurant and, for some reason, as I walked in and shook hands, I said something along the lines of …‘it’s so cold…we must have been hit by the weather bomb’. I immediately realised my mistake. My American friend gave me that look which immediately tells me that I have said something that means absolutely nothing and has confused enormously.
And worse still, I then found myself trying to explain what a ‘weather bomb’ was…what it wasn’t…why the expression was being used…who by…and why I had said those fateful words when we first met. Half way through – half way through my first sentence – I realised that I had jumped into a large hole and was rapidly burying myself. That my attempted explanation was not helping. And that I had to improvise. Quickly.
‘Well enough of that’ (I rudely interrupted myself)…‘it’s great to meet you in person at last’ (what I should have said)…‘this is one of my favourite restaurants in town’ (quickly changing topic on myself). It worked. Relief all round.
And we proceeded to enjoy an excellent evening. The restaurant was very good. We discussed business, families, work, children, customers…and marketing. Eventually I even managed to explain my ‘weather bomb’ moment. And in the process I managed to laugh at myself…always helps.
I am sure we will do more great work – and even better marketing – together…