Cloudy, With A Chance of Men in Their 50’s

By: Andy Levitt

I am not a science or math person. I never have been. You can ask my two best childhood friends: one who happens to be thriving in finance, the other who happens to be thriving in the clinical trial space.  Try as I might to avoid science and/or math,  what the grown-ups said was true: 'These are the things you will utilize in your adult life' (remember that?). Oh, how I hate it when the grown ups are right. 

In my job - and I would suspect in a lot of jobs out there - every day is a type of science experiment that requires you to commit to a forecast about what will work, and what won't. New variables, new responses, shifts in the market - when you think about it, you need to be a really good meteorologist to read the map and announce with confidence the next business pattern.

A thrilling part of what I do is being wrong. I know that sounds odd, but in this particular instance, being wrong has uncovered not only a whole new understanding of how we engage our ambassadors, but who our ambassadors truly are.

A few months ago, I was on a conference call, about to launch a program and here was the conversation I had with my client:

Client: You know Col, I'm really nervous about the launch of this program given the demographics, males 50+.

Me: Yes I know, and frankly l am too. But perhaps it will help uncover that this is not your true core audience but a secondary one (forecasting, hoping...)

Client: Yes perhaps it will, but I really think we need to have a backup. You know, something that targets the secondary audience, the caregivers, the women.

Pause this conversation for a sidebar.

We all know that women talk and are involved. I'm a woman, I know I talk. And I'm nosy. But c'mon, we have a lot to talk about since we're busy saving the world.

We are usually the unspoken head of household. Most of us are the planners, the chefs, the accountants, the product testers. We do magical things with our kids and our pets, and we never forget to pick up the dry cleaning or order a birthday cake. We are the lifeline to the rest of the family. Oh, many of us work too. Frankly, if there is one hiccup in the chain of responsibility, god forbid we get a cold, the whole eco system almost risks implosion.

Ok. Sorry. Back to the story.

So, here we have a client and a vendor - two women - talking on the phone, doubting the success of a program targeted at males, forecasting outcomes and making assumptions. Of course we have to have a Plan B. The men we are targeting just aren't going to be the ones to get us to goal.

We ladies were so wrong!

Our program launched 6 weeks ago, and we have amazing opt-in rates with more than 65% male participation!  Who would have imagined? And they aren't just signed up, they are .  They write in with questions, they want to confirm how to maximize being an ambassador - they even want to speak on behalf of the condition and the client.

Who are these guys and why are they messing up a girl's theory?

I'm proud to say that this afternoon at the ePatient 2010 Conference in downtown Philadelphia, I had the honor to watch one of those male ambassadors tell a room full of marketers his personal story: why he became involved, and how important the company that manufactures treatment is to him and to his family.

And you know what?  I couldn't wait to thank him, not only for attending, but for proving me wrong.