This is Part 1 of a two part interview with Alan Gross and Jane Townsend. Alan and Jane are two of the four founding partners at GrossTownsendFrankHoffman. GTFH was an agency I was lucky enough to work at for over five years during the mid to late eighties. Today it is Grey Healthcare. Its history and position in healthcare, medical, and pharmaceutical marketing, advertising, PR, and education cannot be over stated. This agency, the partners, and everyone who worked there were pioneers who explored and pushed the envelop for ourselves and an industry.
Besides being dear friends to this day they were the ones who taught me the most about strategies, marketing, advertising, and medical education. They also taught me and anyone who worked with them (never for) how to achieve integrity and honesty in business. They taught us how to go beyond your self imposed limits. They are smart, generous, hardworking, and visionary. We talk about what it was like 40 years ago and how it changed. And it has changed. Perhaps not for the best.
I’m an addicted listener to the Marketplace podcast. They have a series on the show of recordings by listeners called “Tell us what the economy feels like to you”. I liked those and went to their Web site and wrote about myself and how I felt the economy was doing for me. They contacted me and asked me to record my thoughts. I did. I submitted it. Looks like it didn’t make the cut. I am guessing it was bit self-serving. I liked it. Since it appears not to have made it on the show or site I thought I would put it up. Here it is.
I moved from my first agency job on Madison Ave to a start-up downtown. The change was not just geographic it was dramatic. The work was the same client and agency dance yet here when we came back it was less about executing the notes from the client. It was more about deconstructing the market, the audience, the brand, and the science. We did not think words and pictures it was goals, strategy, position, audience, and so much more.
I was going to be an AE. This was amazing. Or was it? There are so many moving parts here I’m not sure where to begin. The point was and is that what you see for ads and sales materials are not these random exercises but well measured considered works. And you add to that the need to target specific audiences with a message and strategy and tactic it became truly the rubic cube of pieces. But this was my start.
I was bored with selling and needed no wanted to do more. The funny thing is as much as I wanted to flee from sales in reality sales is what we all do all the time.
Job two in the medical industrial complex was more of the same but opened an entire new world of business and how to market and sell. I would say this was the basis for communications. The job provided insight into the pricing, bundling, and finding what products would sell what wouldn’t. It also exposed me to a different perspective in the hospital system namely the PA.
Sharing my history in healthcare to begin to identify how I got here today doing podcasts looking at new businesses and fighting the good fight. In some small way what I saw through this small lens of career and did over the past 35 year may give perspective to where we are today. It began in 1973 or so and I am a year out of college working as a bartender.
An original paper in JMIR (J Med Internet Res) “Evaluating the Process of Online Health Information Searching: A Qualitative Approach to Exploring Consumer Perspectives”
This important paper takes a deeper dive into consumers health and learning behavior when using the internet to search for healthcare information. The paper identifies qualitative data regarding search behavior and process and it reviews in great detail the quantitive data. And I would submit that this paper points path to improve physician and patient engagement. Additionally, whether you buy my conclusions/recommendations or not, this paper has all the key and important references. For me this is the data that drives new strategies and tactics that will increase and improve physician/patient engagement.
Finding a Voice Hacking the Narrative — We all have a voice. It’s that internal monologue we have with ourselves. Have you ever considered what that voice is and how it connects to raise above the din? How do I find my voice when I am working to find my way? Can our voice be a guide or a tool to drive a narrative and content?
Why Some Content Marketers Succeed When Others Fail
“How do you do it all?”
Hospice The End and Beyond…yes there is life after hospice. I talk about living after a loved one dies and the role hospice and the hospice team plays in this life altering event when we are left behind. The final week to ten days in hospice was pretty much a blur. A mass of shifting images that still choke me. During that time I was trying to keep myself busy. Again trying to will my way though this with activities around hospice and donna. I filled the day the night going to hospice to be with donna. And start again the next day. And the next. Ground hog day from hell.