London, England — We’ve long been fans of MINI’s strategy to market to its current customers. By creating incredibly generous, uniquely personal and always surprising experiences for MINI owners, they’ve built an exclusive club of insiders who not only buy the brand again and again, they also share their great experiences and stories.

There are tons of examples of their private marketing strategy – from a print ad that only MINI owners could see to an exclusive cross-country road rally. But, the latest “Not Normal” event in the UK is probably the best example of just how far MINI will go to make sure people aren’t just owners – they’re super fans.

Spotters took to the streets, armed with iPads that worked like remote controls for the giant billboards along the roadway. When they spotted a MINI, they quickly customized the billboard to create a real time salute – often with live video and great free offers from a fill up to a breakfast treat:

MINI is the long-time leader in repeat purchasing and customer loyalty – in large part because they create an experience for the customer, not just the prospect. Brilliant move in a category with a high acquisition cost, like cars, cruises, or, say, prescription drugs. Will pharma make that same move to market to existing customers to earn loyalty and advocacy? We found a few hints that thinking is turning that way:

  1. AstraZeneca lets customers cut through the red tape
  2. AZ Touchpoints–available directly and on key product sites like Crestor and Nexium–lets doctors connect immediately with their personal rep or access lots of self service tools – from downloading patient education to ordering samples.
  3. Abbott stays up late to talk
  4. On NightNurseNation, Abbott connects with nurses around the issues and experiences that surround their day-to-day lives. Its 20,000 fans answer questions, share content, and take polls.
  5. GSK and Sanofi code it for convenience
  6. The two vaccine manufacturers added 2D barcodes to their packaging, allowing doctors’ offices to scan crucial information into electronic medical records, potentially saving them significant time.
  7. Pfizer knows when to give it away
  8. Pfizer has long invested in strategic “give aways” that deliver on its internal metric of “return on reputation.” One we particularly like is the “Maintain” program that offered free prescriptions to customers who were laid off during the recession
  9. BirdsNBees answers SOS on SMS
  10. Ok, maybe not pharma exactly, but we love the way the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina replies to its patients. “You text us a question to 36263. Within 24 hours, we text you back with an answer. It’s that simple. We won’t judge you or preach to you; you get the best advice and information that we can offer free of charge. All questions are welcome and no question is too outrageous. We’re here to help.”

Posted by: Leigh Householder


photo credit: wvs via photopin cc

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.