One More Thought

Insights @Work, Life, and Work Life

a book on the ground and scary plants in the background

Terrifyingly True Tales From the Wonderful World of Medical Marketing

October is the spoooooookiest month of the year 🎃, so what better time to share some terrifying tales? Following are some treats from a bygone era of bluelines and tricks for today. Prepare to be delighted (or disturbed 🤯).

A bit of background

Once upon a time in the early aughts, I and my ad-land colleagues spent our days awaiting production proofs, preparing MRL submissions (in triplicate 😱), and dealing with endless job jackets, fax blasts, and mock-ups. In those days, I held one of the least visible, yet most critical, positions in medical marketing: editor. Having had the privilege of reviewing and referencing every last project that went out the door, I picked up some tricks along the way.

Icon: tombstone with number 1 on it

MRL’s telltale Icon: heart beats to the drums of the FDA

More than a few medical marketing professionals see the FDA as a sinister overlord lurking in the shadows and MRL as a pack of wolves 🐺 guarding against a dreaded warning letter. Why? Because it makes the job of being “creative” a whole lot more difficult. However, if you get to know the rules inside out, outside in, and sideways, you’ll know what you can and cannot say and be free from that fear. I highly recommend bookmarking the FDA’s Guidance, Compliance, & Regulatory Information site. Also consider perusing the warning letters. They may give you goosebumps, but they’ll also give you a feel for what not to do. Or better yet, have editorial do it 😈. For me, rules and regulations are etched in my brain, much like an epitaph on a headstone Icon: tombstone. But they don’t have to be etched in yours.

Icon: tombstone with number 2 on it

Your style guide is your grimoire 📖

I don’t care what kind of creative magic you’re capable of. Without following a set of brand standards, I fear you’re just setting yourself up for a whole lot of grief. Nobody should suffer through rounds and rounds of revisions because the logo is too small, or it’s too close to another logo, or you’re using the wrong font, wrong color, wrong tone. Or heaven forbid, you use the Oxford comma when it isn’t called for. Write that stuff down. And refer to it! Unless you work on one brand for all of eternity or you have a magic wand , stick to a style guide. It can be as sophisticated as a bound book or as simple as a spreadsheet. If your client can’t provide one, you’ll have to conjure 🧙 one up yourself. Having created a few myself, it’s really not as daunting as it seems. In fact, this blog post is great for inspiration.

Icon: tombstone with number 3 on it

Don’t be haunted by the fear of failure 😱

After years of agonizing over gross grammatical errors and other lexical atrocities performed by my colleagues, I became a newly minted writer. Yes, I had all the rules down pat. Yes, I was a style guide geek. But when it came to actually producing copy, I froze. I feared failure like children fear monsters 👹 under the bed. Putting your creative baby in front of the world for all to see (and judge!) is TERRIFYING. That was over 10 years ago, and I’ve learned that failure is just part of the process. The person who gets it right the first time every time doesn’t exist 🦄. It doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll likely fail at something at some point. Whether it’s a presentation that falls flat or a concept that makes account question your sanity or an ad that gets more jeers than cheers, it’s all part of the process. If you fear failure like I fear 🕷️ (and even if you don’t), this article may be of interest.

Those are just a few tales from my dusty past and a couple nuggets of knowledge I picked up along the way. In the end, the world of healthcare marketing and advertising can be truly wonderful. Or it could be truly terrifying (like when you pick the wrong partner 🧛).

If you’re looking for an agency partner with the collective years of experience to rival a prehistoric reptile 🦖, there’s only ONE SFC Group.

Back to All